A Conversation with Brian Boger

January 17, 2014 


When I first picked up Southern Fate I thought because the author was an attorney it was just another legal thriller, but the opening didn’t neatly fit into the thriller formula.  I read on thinking perhaps it was a mystery but the first body didn’t show up until Chapter 9.  Obviously not a mystery, so I read on and suddenly it swept me up and blew me away like a hurricane.  The genre was literary and quintessentially Southern with elements of both mystery and thriller.  The novel centers on the inner story of a South Carolina attorney Frank Rhodes and the journey to his fate and fortune.

Introduced as a rather pathetic character Frank Rhodes is an accident prone klutz and a mediocre lawyer whose only passion is hunting and fishing.  The only thing making him worthy of attention is his extreme good looks.   Suddenly things change for Frank in a big way when he lands a windfall judgment instantly propelling him into the national spotlight.  On the road to money and fame he soon learns the bad news his wife is leaving him for another women.  And things get complicated quickly when a serial arsonists plaguing the city with one of the first victims being a member of Frank’s non-traditional family.  Meanwhile his brother teaches him an unorthodox method on how to get develop rhythm to thereby overcome his clumsiness, a lifelong affliction.

There is much going on in Southern Fate with numerous subplots.  The book is full unexpected plot twists and Boger takes the reader into areas past traditional Southern writers feared to tread.  He incorporates several popular motifs commonly found in Southern literature including sense of family and sense of place.  However we see some newer motifs developing. For example the non-traditional family and same sex relationships.  At a young age Frank’s father was killed by a burglar.  His mother and another single windowed mother with a son of similar age merged households to form a non-traditional family headed by two women.  While these women are heterosexual another non-traditional family with young children taking root when Frank’s wife leaves him for her same sex lover with young children.  These types of non-traditional modern family models are uncommon in traditional Southern literature but realistically capture today’s society.  Lesbian relationships have rarely been openly presented in such openly fashion and again capturing the dynamics of today’s modern families.

Another traditional motif is the sense of place.  Southerners are exceedingly proud of their region and as social historian Carl N. Degler once described the South as a region “where roots, place, family and tradition are the essence of identity”.   All of which are apparent in Southern Fate which in this jet age moves from Columbia to Charleston, New York, the Bahamas and Costa Rica.  However, make no mistake the stories beginning, middle, and end are deeply rooted in Columbia, and Boger does not spare the details of Columbia’s rich Civil War history recounting the tales of Sherman’s march.  Indeed the ghost of the War against Northern Aggression and the horrors Columbia faced under Sherman conjures up a deus ex machina villain the serial arsonist.  Like Bo Radley suddenly arriving on the scene and not a moment too soon.

This is perhaps the books one major shortcoming.  We never get to know the villain or his motivations only that he has targeted women belonging to the Daughters of the Confederacy in the name of Sherman.  There are no red herrings or clues to suggest anything about the character and his motivations.  The villain emerges in the end and disappears in a puff of fire and flames.  As a reader in the end I was left frustrated with too many questions as was Frank.  Perhaps this was the author’s intent.

As social issues and politics evolve with time so does a society’s literature, and Southern Fate stands as an exemplary work of modern Southern literature.   The author is a practicing attorney, the father of three.  He and his wife live in Columbia where he studied law.  He also holds a degree in English from the University of Virginia.  Brian Boger pushes the boundaries and thereby expands the conventional motifs placing him among the vanguard of new Southern writers.

I would dare suggest being on the future lookout for Brian Boger.  He expects to release his second title in 2014.  When asked about the project, he says “the working title is Champagne Friday.  It’s another legal thriller type book with some (surprise) literary themes like loss, redemption, vindication, and young men leaving their Bacchanalian Rite of Passage behind them for good women.  It’s a humdinger of a book developing strong female characters appealing to a broader female audience.  The women are cool.”

If the women are anything like the men of Southern Fate it should indeed be a humdinger.  Southern Fate is an incredibly delightful read, rich with local color and chocked with quirky characters.  Boger’s voice and style are a cross between John Gresham and John Brendt.   The state capital Columbia might want to get behind their adopted favorite son because Southern Fate could very well do for Columbia what Midnight In the Garden of Good Evil did for Savannah.

Mark Duggan

August 19, 2011 

He was known as Starry Mark amongst his circle, but outside Tottenham London few had heard of Mark Duggan until August 4th when he died from a police inflicted gun shot wound.  One witness reported the police shot Duggan at close range after they had pinned him to the ground.  The investigation surrounding the shooting is being conducted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC).  Facts surrounding Duggan’s death remain murky.  The 29 year old father of four was of mixed ancestry (British and Afro-Caribbean).

On August 6th Duggan’s relatives and local residents marched on the Totteham Police Station to demand information surrounding the circumstances of Duggan’s death.  Some members of the crowd attacked two nearby police cars, setting them on fire.  The incident sparked rioting across the city.  Police officials later apologized for failing to provide information to the victim’s family in a timely manner and for providing the media with misleading information.

But for the police official’s failure to respond to family and public concerns the protest march and ensuing riot might not have occurred.  In the aftermath the government’s swift crackdown and zero tolerance response under the guise of justice has been anything but with two people jailed for four years each for inciting riots on Facebook – riots that never took place – and one person sent to prison for six months for stealing $5 worth of water.

The British authorities are being criticized for its heavy handed reaction giving little attention to the causes behind the riots.  Riots just don’t happen, but grow out a simmering discontent.  Youth unemployment is the highest in 20 years.  The British Office for National Statistics show the “inactive” population which comprises young people who are neither working nor unemployed stands at nearly 3 million, the highest level since the data was first collected in 1992. The analysis says two-thirds of these 16- to 24-year-olds are staying on in education, perhaps to stave off unemployment.

Compounding the problem in December British lawmakers pushed through a controversial hike in university tuition fees.  Tens of thousands of angry students took to the streets of London and across the nation in protest arguing this effectively prices many out of a college education.

One wonders if similar signs of austerity and high youth unemployment in the States are likely with violent clashes signaling anti-establishment protests.  In the 60s we saw African American communities destroyed by riots; many never recovered.

Austerity and riots take a heavy toll on the communities that can least afford them.  Starry Mark wasn’t the cause of this riot but a human toll of global conditions.

If Obama Were White

July 16, 2011 

Republicans have two goals in mind. Obstruct and prevent the reelection of Barak Obama and to prevent the raising taxes on the wealthy. Whether the American voters go along with the plan remains to be seen. In any event it’s become increasingly clear the GOP is playing a dangerous game willing to destroy the economy rather than raise taxes. And when Mitch McConnell stated his number one goal was to make Obama a one term president he meant what he said. It’s never been about what’s good for the country but what’s good for the Republican Party. Much of their opposition to Obama’s presidency can be laid at the feet of the Tea Party faction. The Republicans co-opted this partner in destruction hoping to harness the movement’s energy opposing Barak Obama and Democratic policies. Unfortunately the Tea Party has shown itself to be untameable.

Never before has raising the debt ceiling been linked to spending. This strategy laid down by the Republicans isn’t working and may well backfire. The Tea Party leaders including Bachmann and Palin are steeped in ignorance surrounding Economics and International Finance among other matters affecting Americans. As we watch the debt ceiling fight unfold let’s not forget how the Republican Party has led us down this road to perdition with two wars and tax breaks for the wealthy. Nothing good can come out of this fight for the Republicans.

Under President Obama, taxes are at the lowest level in 60 years but Republicans either fail to admit or are too stupid to look back in history. Experts agree that if the debt ceiling is not raised by August 2, the country–indeed the world–would face a “huge financial calamity.” No big deal the Tea Party. Most Americans are in agreement, the Republican stance is unfair and reasonable yet they continue marching toward that cliff.Unfortunately the rest of country is tied to their safety harness and likely to go down behind them.

One wonders if Obama were White would there such outrageous bitter caustic vitriol?  The Republican’s double barrel destruction may backfire. Let’s hope.

Has Jose Baez acted in the client’s best interest?

June 19, 2011 

Jose Baez’s defense of Casey Anthony has not been in the client’s best interest, the Bar’s legal standard under the Code of Professional Responsibility.  Baez’s representation has been more self serving, and as one blogger commented Mr. Baez is as criminally minded and as simple as his client. The law requires that an advisor act solely in the best interest of the client, even if that interest is in conflict with the advisor’s financial interest. Casey Anthony is a pathological liar, and if the defense team were smart, they could/would encourage her to confess and hope for a little leniency. What we have seen in recent weeks are desperate attempts to muddy the waters with trial by ambush tactics, allegations relating to paternity tests, incest, and an implausible drowning. Jose Baez is not only trying his case, but the court’s and the public’s patience as well, hence Saturday’s in court session.

As reported by ABC News Baez was admitted to the bar with a checkered past and has since risen from unknown local attorney with no death penalty experience to national prominence in a high stakes life or death trial. Admitted to practice in 2005, he was denied admission to the bar for eight years. According to the Supreme Court of Florida he was denied admission because of his failure to pay child support to his ex-wife and secure life and health insurance for his teenage daughter. It states that he had previously declared bankruptcy, written bad checks and defaulted on student loans, the court said.

Casey Anthony was declared indigent after Jose Baez revealed he had blown over $250,000 received on Casey Anthony’s behalf – $200K of which was paid by the “American Broadcasting Company” as “licensing fees” for Casey Anthony’s “pictures.”

The Florida Supreme Court said his financial mishaps coupled with failure to pay child support “show a lack of respect for the rights of others and a total lack of respect for the legal system, which is absolutely inconsistent with the character and fitness qualities required of those seeking to be afforded the highest position of trust and confidence recognized by our system of law.”  A lack of respect continues in the recent desperate red herring defense strategies and behavior likely to draw contempt citations at the trials end.  Baez’s conduct from the very beginning has been highly suspect and not in the client’s best interest.

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