(A review by Greg Smalley, Publisher/Film Journalist at 366 Weird movies.) (The featured image on this post comes from 366Weird movies banner. The design was courtesy of Joe Badon Art.)
I have been highly negligent in plugging this novel I’m posing with–” Brother Cobweb “–written by my friend, Alfred Eaker. (And available at Amazon and other retailers).
Later in this (longish) post I’ll hint at reasons why (besides laziness) I’m so late writing it up–but first about the book novel itself. It describes the childhood and young adulthood of Calvin, a sensitive and intelligent boy who has the misfortune to be born into a family of strict Pencastostals. Calvin escapes into art to deal with some frightening family abuse, while finding that likeminded people who share his love of opera, the arts, and staging gladiatorial conquests with praying mantises are few and far between in rural Indiana. (Well, the gladiatorial contests are kind of a hit, but the rest stands). Eventually, through his art, Calvin escapes the suffocating background and breaks free of the cycle of abuse.
I think this novel will reverberate with anyone coming from similar culturally impoverished circumstances, or from cult-like or abusive backgrounds. Its contention that art can overcome upbringing is believably inspirational. It’s also well-illustrated in bold, slightly comic-book style by Todd M. Coe. (When I first read the story, I thought that it would work even better as a graphic novel, which would allow Alfred to bring some of the more surrealistic visions to life. Thankfully, Coe and Eaker are collaborating on such a project, which hopefully will be on market soon).
The novel is semi-autobiographical. I believe I know Alfred well enough to know which episodes have a basis in fact and which are invented for dramatic purposes. I hope that some of the rougher passages of maternal abuse are imaginary. The book helped me to understand where certain recurring motifs in his artwork originally arose: the cowboys, the Catholicism, the mermaid references. I wish that all my friends would write semi-autobiographical novels so I could get to know them better.
I have actually been living with this novel for longer than most–not as long as Alfred, of course, but for a good while. I read it when it was just a screenplay idea. I read the first draft. I’m amazed at the transformation it’s gone through to become the polished, completed work it now is. I’m in awe of, and full of envy for, Alfred’s perseverance and dedication to realizing this dream through so many years. I am certain it had already been brewing in his brain for many years before I first saw that early sketch about a decade ago.
So I am very close to this book and to its author, which makes it hard for me to talk about it objectively. I am worried about not praising it enough, and I’m worried that if I do praise it, people will dismiss my praise because I’m Alfred’s friend. So I have tried to recommend it specifically to those who I think will identify with it–to repeat, people who have grown up in abusive fundamentalist backgrounds. And to people who know Alfred, obviously–I assume you’ve all bought your copy by now, or abused your friendship to get a free copy like me. Thank you, Alfred, “Brother Cobweb” was a privilege and one of the sweetest gifts I’ve received.
About Gregory J. Smalley:
(Directly from his profile at 366Weird Movies. Available at: https://366weirdmovies.com/author/366weirdmovies/. Accessed: Sep 30, 2020)
“Originally an anonymous encyclopediast who closely guarded his secret identity to prevent his occult enemies from exposing him, a 2010 Freedom of Information Act request revealed that “366weirdmovies” is actually Greg Smalley, a freelance writer and licensed attorney from Louisville, KY. His orientation is listed as “hetero” and his relationship status as “single,” but Mr. Smalley’s “turn-ons” and “favorite Michael Bay movie” were redacted from the FOIA report. Mr. Smalley is a member of the Online Film Critics Society.”
You can follow his work at the link provided or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greg.smalley.9
About 366Weird movies:
Motto: Celebrating the cinematically surreal, bizarre, cult, oddball, fantastique, strange, psychedelic, and the just plain WEIRD!
Banner: The featured image on this post comes from 366Weird movies banner. The design was courtesy of Joe Badon Art.
(By Mada J. González, Journalist and Contributor at Alfred Eaker Site)
This is an excellent site for those movie lovers and fan critics. It is extremely well organised, easy to navigate, and it has a ton of resources.
Thruth be told, when I started working on this site with Alfred Eaker — so that we could make the contents more easily accessible to people–, I got part of my inspiration from 366Weird Movies sites. In fact, it may not look like it, but I even chose the same template, as it would give me a way of presenting the content of this site in a way that would make it stand out.
I love the way in which resources can be found at 366WeirdMovies; equally important, I value the disclaimers at the bottom relating to how people can reproduce their content, the kind of affiliate programs they are linked to, as well as the approachability they project, when they offer people an easy way to submit their work.
From the point of view of a journalist, that approach is gold. I am acutely aware, though, that users come to 366WeirdMovies page over and over again looking for insipiration, and they might not be aware as to why that is the case. I am sure people are drawn to their page because of all of the care and previous thought drawn into it to reorganise it and making it more accessible to people (As well as the valuable content posted).
I only have good things to say about Greg J. Smalley and his work. No wonder he introduced himsel as an encyclopediast. One day, I will get there with this site and other endevaours of mine. Until then, I cannot praise his site high enough. But don’t take my word for it. Judge by yourselves. Visit 366WeirdMovies, and have a look at the year books they produce for all of us to enjoy cinema.
You can have a look at any of these yearbooks for free. There are plenty more at 366WeirdMovies site. We are sure you will find something interesting in them. Look inside this one, and get ready to be inspired…
366 Weird Movies 2019 Yearbook (2019 Yearbook Kindle Edition)
366 Weird Movies 2018 Yearbook (2018 Yearbook Kindle Edition)
366 Weird Movies 2017 Yearbook (2017 Yearbook Kindle Edition)
About Alfred Eaker:
Alfred Eaker is a prolific fine arts painter and muralist, an award-winning filmmaker and film critic, and a traditionally-published author. Following on the success of his debut novel, “Brother Cobweb,” Eaker is currently collaborating with Todd M. Coe on the related Graphic novel: “The Brother Cobweb Chronicles.” It will be available in the spring 2021. The audiobook version of Brother Cobweb is also being produced, and will soon be released too.
As an inquisitive American artist, he has always been deeply engaged in social, religious, and political climates. Eaker is currently working on a mural painting entitled “Elvis: An American Hymn.” Through it, Eaker is trying to bring affirming answers to issues of race, integration and hope so desperately needed at this moment in America.
Look inside “Brother Cobweb,” the Novel
“Brother Cobweb” is now available through Open Books Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all major bookshops and distributors. If you want to understand America today, travel back in time 50 years and witness firsthand the American Religious Right, not as they present themselves, but as they truly are…