|What readers are saying...|
|Alex D. (Dover, NJ): "Beautifully, brilliantly done! I got into it as I read the pages… I had to know what happened to your main man… Reading it did give me an insight to another world, life, as it were, and I'm somewhat sorry I didn't have the chance in time to witness it like you. I enjoyed it thoroughly."|
Duffy R. (Buffalo, NY): "When I sat down to start the WP just a couple weeks ago, I wasn't surprised that the first 80 pages slid right on by. I had to wait a couple weeks to finish the semester before I could pick it up again. When I did, the rest of the story was read in three days; I just couldn't stop myself; it stayed me up late, it lated me for work, it was all worth it."
Marcia B (Boring, OR): "I have finished what you sent me. I was so rattled, I cried. Now my mind is in total confusion. I realized I was crying because I wasn't there."
"So what's the status with Arien? I know I was a bit tardy in reading the most recent update, but please don't penalize me for it. I can't help it if I cried when it ended. Do you think we could create another Woodstock? The time seems right."
"I'll spend the rest of my life knowing that I have
a friend who really lives the "magic".
|Greg B (Boring, OR):: "I finished your book last night! It was a great read. Your personality shines through the entire text. Where did you learn all of those great three syllable words?"|
Therese L. (Yakima, WA): "I am happily into your creation. I really like your story, I like Arien - he is very close to my heart as he reminds me so very much of my 13 year old grandson Austin who is having a very tough time at home with our daughter and a tough time in school also. He could be very close to going to a school like Youth Promise House. - he has to be 14 and that will be this winter. But, back to Arien and your book - I love your style - it's very readable and I feel immediately drawn into the story and characters. I'm very curious about Andrew. I think maybe he is an angel."
"I love your descriptions - (this voice) "coaxed him out like a thin beam of sunshine in a deep, dark place." Also, "along the scenic highway flaming trees glowed red and golden between folds of tall Douglas fir and were reflected like strewn embers on dark green fields and rocks in turbulent, cliff side streams." Also, "shocking sky of sharpest blue and boiling white puffs." And, "the magnificent expanse of the glittering river between its great bluffs and swooping birds."
Mitch Barrett, musician & songwriter (Barea, KY): "Hello brother Edward, i have been so busy surviving and your book is my escape! I just got to the part where Arien smashed his hand into the barbed wire! This really is the coolest thing I have read in years (and I read a lot). Thank you!"
"I am presently reading it in any free time I can find, I love it and Wow thanks for the shout out in the beginning! I will pass it on to my friends.....maybe I should recommend they buy it instead of reading my copy... Thank you so much. I haven't had my hands on a great book in awhile. The last book I enjoyed this much was "Lamb" Christopher Moore. Peace"
"Oh my friend,did you ever read a book and halfway through you wish it wouldn't end? Well have and usually just have to deal with it, but I have been so busy that I only get to read a little at a time (my time/me time) and it has been wonderful! I'm just finishing. Ya got to get this movie deal going before I'm to old to play Arien. Maybe to late? Anyway, I love it your book. Send info on how folks can get it and we will get it out!"
|Scott K.: I just finished the book. Oh, you're killing me. I love the story you have created! Your story fills my heart with the desire and innocence of a young lover. I am empowered, encouraged and finding a stronger light within myself by the striking resemblance of my life and spiritual path found in the experience of Arien in this book, and in my experiences with you and in the circle. You are brilliant and have created a masterpiece. I could see it as a movie, easily. Thank you for sharing your creativity. I absolutely cannot wait any longer for the next book, now.|
Karyn C. (Oregon City, OR): I read your book on my flight back to Erie/Bradford. I am definitely looking forward to the sequel, as I really enjoyed it and I read every single word!!!!!
Your descriptions of Red House Lake (where I spent many summers swimming, canoeing, and dancing in the pavilion), the Salamanca/Great Valley area (where many of my relatives settled, especially in Great Valley and nearby Humphrey Center where my grandmother and grandfather were born and raised and where I've visited many times including Green Cemetery where a lot of my Bentley relatives are buried) brought back so many memories. As an added treat, right in the middle of the book I was reading, I drove over the very same Rte 86 and 219 from Erie to Bradford, dodging in and out of New York State along the way, and close to the same time of year of the setting of your book. Even recognized the "Jimerson" name -- discussed many times in my family. So cool!
What will the group do without Arien? Guess I'll just have to wait and see, won't I? I liked Andrew and Otter, and Arien's lady!!!! And the rest of them????? They must be devastated. Thank you for letting me share your fantasies.
by Sally Reno
|The Woodstock Paradox, which details the
adventures of Arien, a teenager from the future who goes to
the Woodstock Festival of 1969, is at once unique and universal,
a bildungsroman and speculative fiction, meticulously researched
and freely imagined.
The story of how it came to be written is nearly as surprising and instructive as the premise of the book itself. It happens that the author, Edward DeVito, worked for a number of years with at-risk youth. One of the ice-breakers he thought up to help the kids to break out of their immediate dilemmas and start talking to each other was: If you had a time machine right now, where would you go?
DeVito was astounded to discover that at least one kid in every group would say, "I would go to the Woodstock Festival." It got to where DeVito found himself asking the same question (and getting the same answer) whenever and however he chanced to meet a 16, 17 or 18 year old. At last it occurred to DeVito that perhaps he himself was meant to be the time machine of his own theoretical question.
Yet, this is not a book that will appeal only to a certain demographic. By turns warm and compassionate, painfully honest and hilarious, The Woodstock Paradox is an off-the-map road trip to self-actualization and finding the meaning of community. Along the way are insights into questions that concern us all. Not least, how did we as a society go so badly wrong and how is it we may find our way home?
Guaranteed to rouse the reader from daily banalities and restore a sense of wonder and mystery, this one is highly recommended for seekers, dreamers, and adventurers of all ages and backgrounds.
Sally Reno is a writer, producer and newscaster for Pacifica Radio. Her stories have appeared, or will appear, in numbers of digital and print journals including, Moon Milk Review, Pure Slush, Fast Forward, Lady Jane's Miscellany, Connotation Press, Used Furniture Review, Sante Fe Literary Review and flashparty, as well as several print anthologies. She was a winner of National Public Radio's 3-Minute Fiction Contest and Moon Milk Review's Summer 2011 Prosetry Contest.
By Frank Brownell
If you were to ask a young person of today, "If you had a chance to go back in time to any one event, what event would you like to attend," I am willing to bet a significant number of those asked would answer, "I want to go back to Woodstock." Woodstock, the cultural milestone of the 60's, the high water mark of the hippie generation, the reference point against which all other counter-cultural events of that era are measured, for better or worse.
Conceived in the Village of Woodstock, New York, but born in White Lake, Town of Bethel, Sullivan County, New York, the event continues to this day to elicit feelings of peace, love, and brotherhood, and a collective belief that there is hope for the future, if only humans can work together in a spirit of togetherness and overcome their prejudices and preconceived notions of what is, and is not possible, by acknowledging the existence of an entity and force far more powerful than mere humans.
In his book, "The Woodstock Paradox," Edward DeVito does just that, as he transports Arien, a troubled young man living in 1990 in a halfway house in Portland, Oregon back to 1969, through an electrical charge that jolts him to a time just months before the festival. And in so doing, he not only takes Arien on the trip of his young life, he takes the reader along with him as well, in a remarkably realistic portrayal of what it must have been like to travel cross-country in a caravan of psychedelic painted vehicles occupied by a colorful assortment of visionaries, runaways, draft dodgers, revolutionaries, music lovers, and thrill seekers eastbound across America to the seminal rock concert of the ages.
More than once I found myself going to the road atlas, checking on the progress of the troop, as their numbers swelled along the way, while being treated to a continual reminder of events that transpired during that time, from riots in Berkeley to acid trips on remote rock outcroppings to men walking on the moon to campfire talks made all the more intense by the passing of well-rolled doobies, to song lyrics that inspire to this day, and to communal feasts that seemed to spring out of the earth.
It really is a remarkable journey, as Arien ends up leading the way to Max Yasgur's alfalfa field in the middle of the Catskill Mountains, avoiding various psychic snares along the way, overcoming the deaths of beloved family members, who remain with them in spirit throughout the trip, and even brushing shoulders with the young girl who would end up being his mother and name her son after the strikingingly beautiful young man who seemed to glow with his own inner light that she had met all too briefly at Woodstock.
To me, a real life paradox of the Woodstock experience is that although the Village of Woodstock exploited the event for all it was worth, and became a haven for travelers looking to capture the essence of the festival, the actual location where it occurred ran and hid from its legacy, going so far as to deny even the planting of a small monument marking the site until 17 years after it happened. Apparently, the thought of all those hippies running around in the mud, naked and making love in the surrounding fields, smoking pot and dropping acid, bathing in Filippini's Pond, but most importantly, living in peace and harmony for an entire weekend in extremely close proximity to one another and without many amenities of modern-day life, such as food and water and shelter from the rain, was just too much for the local residents to bear. The animosity in the Town of Bethel even went so far as for the town leaders to refuse Yasgur's most generous offer to donate the field to the town, apparently fearful of a political backlash that might cost them re-election.
It took more than three decades before an extremely wealthy businessman and visionary in his own right, Alan Gerry, the founder of Cablevision, was able to successfully navigate the minefield that was the Woodstock legacy and buy the original site and build a magnificent museum and performing arts center, named BethelWoods. And even more to his credit, in a truly fitting tribute to the event, he maintained the natural amphitheater where the festival was held in its pristine state. Visitors to the site to this day can see the field exactly as it was just prior to the festival, can relive where they parked and where they crashed through the fence and where they sat and camped and slid in the mud and communed with one another, or if they weren't there, can easily imagine that they were.
But perhaps the biggest paradox of Woodstock is that, after reliving the feelings and spirit of the festival through Ed's words, truly being transported back to that time, I was left with a very real yearning and sense of loss and sadness, and couldn't help but wonder, what happened to that feeling of peace and love and togetherness that crystallized so completely and magnificently one rainy, glorious weekend in August of 1969? What happened to that feeling that together we could change the world for the better, that we could end wars and hunger and build a world that was safe and secure for all living things? How ironical is it that instead of making the world safer and more compassionate, those of us in the Woodstock Generation seem to have observed the creation of a world that is even more warlike and harsh, and even less compassionate and caring, than it was in the 1960's? And to me, that is the true Woodstock Paradox.
Frank Brownell is the former editor of the Sullivan County Democrat, and a participant in the greatest festival of all time.