Tag Archives: Brother Cobweb, The Novel

Gregory J. SMALLEY REVIEW FOR BROTHER COBWEB

(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).

Gregory J. Smalley, recommending Brother Cobweb

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:

Site: https://366weirdmovies.com/

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.


366WeirdMovies Yearbooks

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…

Look Inside 366WeirdMovies Yearbook 2019

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

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 PressAmazonBarnes 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…

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

Richard Propes REVIEW FOR “BROTHER COBWEB”

A Difficult, Emotionally Demanding and Rewarding Read

(Originally published in Brother Cobweb book page on Amazon.com)

“Brother Cobweb” isn’t about the patriarchal love that is so often worshipped by the contemporary evangelical church. You could possibly say it’s about the “red letter” love, though even that feels sort of incomplete in a world that so loves to piecemeal the teachings of Christ into something comfortable and familiar and safe and risk-free.

There’s risk galore to be found in “Brother Cobweb” and that’s a huge part of what makes the book such a wondrous read.

“Brother Cobweb” doesn’t flinch in portraying the brutal realities of Calvin’s life, but it also doesn’t flinch in celebrating his magnificence amidst it all. The cycle of abuse and violence in which Calvin lives bruises him and batters him and scars him and tells his soul stories, but somehow he starts to figure out what love is anyway and his glorious imperfections inch toward breaking the cyclical nature of his life and chopping down that family tree.

It’s nothing short of a miracle that Eaker never exploits Calvin, instead holding him up as a sacred truth that there’s nothing in this imperfect life can truly define us and that if we choose wrong we can always choose again.

And again.

Those who find themselves in The Lighthouse have perpetuated their cycles, so often choosing hate instead of love and dogma over spiritual truths and anything resembling a true faith journey. Calvin, far from alone but clearly in the driver’s seat, chooses love and chooses spiritual truth and chooses the vulnerable unpredictability of a faith journey and becomes more of a believer than everyone in The Lighthouse combined.

“Brother Cobweb” calls out hypocrisy and lies and bad theology and the damage that we do to one another, yet it does so with humor intact and a surprising amount of tenderness toward everyone including those who have failed and failed and failed.

Early Painting by Alfred Eaker of White Evangelical Religious Services (Pentecostal) that he endured as a kid and later on became immortalised on his fictional novel “Brother Cobweb”

If you are familiar with Eaker’s works, you’ll recognize pieces of his history here from BlueMahler to PinkFreud to explorations of his spirituality that can so often be found in his painting and in his remarkable cinematic work.

I’ve long felt a connection to Eaker’s world, both as a film journalist who has reviewed his directorial efforts and as the recipient of his own review of my book “The Hallelujah Life.” While our paths haven’t crossed, our life experiences and spiritual journeys seem irrevocably intertwined and and almost familial in their expressions. Eaker had offered me the chance to read an advance copy of “Brother Cobweb” not long ago, yet I was busy taking yet another detour in my life as my spina bifida kicked my a** one more time and I lost another limb.

It was a brutal experience and an opportunity to learn how to give and receive love one more time.

So, instead, I picked up a copy of “Brother Cobweb” myself, drawn to the Eaker I’ve come to respect and admire and adore who possesses an aesthetic spirituality, an artistic curiosity, and both heart and mind that demand truth in all its brilliance and brutality.

For some, “Brother Cobweb” will be a difficult, emotionally demanding read but it is an absolute must read for those who have been wounded by faith organizations, Pentecostal and otherwise, and the flawed yet fascinating characters who fill their sanctuaries.

Published by Open Press Books, “Brother Cobweb” is available in both print and Kindle versions and is illustrated with sublime insight and wonder by Todd M. Coe.

***

Look inside Brother Cobweb kindle edition here:

About Richard Propes:

Richard Propes is a Publisher/Film Journalist at The Independent Critic, and activist with initiatives such as The tenderness tour.

***

About Alfred Eaker:

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.

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

Early Review for the novel Brother Cobweb by author Cheryl Townsend

Opening with the ranting of a Pentecostal preacher into the mind of seven-year old Calvin Elkan, who in lieu of attention, creates art in a drawing pad as his derrière numbs atop a hard pew. A caricature of near monster features, Brother Cobweb is born, a minister of pseudo-satanic lunacy.

Growing up in a blue collar home with a younger, innocent brother, his over-worked, typical father, religiously crazed mother, and beacon of sanity and hilarity great-grandfather, Calvin is juxtaposed to creativity and suppression as the mother battles for his sinking soul against anything not in praise of God. Might I add that those battles were truly such. Abusive, spiteful and manipulative, mother Nancy was “Carrie’s” mother to the nth degree.

Needless to say, great-grandfather “Pop” (an atheistic Jew) is the comic relief in this drama. Calvin, still grappling with what to believe, is steadily leaning alee from the absurd. The ensuing disgust of his my-way-only mother is simmering like the fires of Hades. Bonding through music and creative imagination, Pop and Calvin sequester solitude in a bedroom off limits to the tyrannical mother.

When Pop passes, there is no safe place for Calvin. The abuse intensifies, as even his passive father defers to Nancy’s rages. But there is music. Sweet movements to quell. Savage beasts be damned!

Making it to art school, with scholarships, Calvin is instructed to study the predecessors of his preferred era. Professor Hillcrest nurtures. Calvin learns and flourishes. After a final attack from his mother, he moves out, barely surviving on meager wages. Life feels hopeless, he succumbs to despair.

Early unused cover art for the novel by Todd M Coe

Finally finding his niche with a group of artistic friends, Calvin gets into a gallery and begins a new phase of life. There is a woman whom he begins to hang out with and eventually relents to marrying her out of her bad home life. But it’s not for him. She is not the one.

Always there are men of religious beliefs that filter in, good or bad, to steer him. A life of subjugation renders him easily persuaded, but he does hold fast to his anti-stance against any holy rolling, tongues spewing ravers, welcoming the company of two Catholic priests.

Revelations surface, secrets expose themselves, attempts to rectify are extended. Calvin finds his soulmate, his place, and his release. As happy as such a life can be expected, there is a resolved ending. A hip hip hurray with even a resounding amen!

Snips of theological insight, musical and artistic education are an added bonus to an engaging read that should assuredly make you think hard on your own spiritual path. When and if Calvin creates his own church, I hope one comes nearby.

***

If you find this review helpful, you might consider giving a go to the first chapters of the novel here…

About Cheryl A Townsend:

Cheryl A Townsend is a poet, photographer, and previous editor/publisher of Impetus/Implosion Press and owner of cat’s Impetuous Books. 

About Alfred Eaker:

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.

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

Early Review for Brother Cobweb by artist/author Michelle Moore

Alfred Eaker’s Brother Cobweb is a unique coming-of-age story that explores religious fanaticism, childhood powerlessness, the reverberating effects of abuse, and other influences that shape the adults we ultimately become. A tale of resiliency, reconciliation, and redemption, with plenty of ass-kicking and comeuppance along the way, Brother Cobweb is a powerful account of self-discovery that will resonate with readers long after the final pages . . .

***

You can look inside “Brother Cobweb” here:

About Michelle Moore:

Michelle Moore, Artist and author of two poetry chapbooks: “The Deepest Blue” (Rager Media) and “Longing for Lightness: Selected Poems of Antonia Pozzi Translated from the Italian” (Poetry Miscellany Press). My poems, interviews, and reviews have appeared in many publications, including Commonweal, Heavy Bear, Apalachee Review, Black Dirt, Rattle, Penguin Review, and White Ink: Poems on Mothers and Motherhood published by Demeter Press.

About Alfred Eaker:

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.

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

Keith Banner, EARLY REVIEW FOR BROTHER COBWEB

(Keith Banner. Author of “The life I lead” and “The smallest people alive”)

Alfred Eaker’s Brother Cobweb is a great example of a whole-hearted Bildungsroman – a novel that finds humor and a little horror in the coming-of-age story of Calvin, an artist living in an evangelical universe that constantly enthralls and disgusts him.  Eaker writes about Calvin’s journey with up-close panache, and a sort of Pop Art irony fused with newfound faith.  By the end of Brother Cobweb, you have insight not only into what it means to be free of a religion you don’t need, but also what it feels like to find an actual spirituality that can carry you through.

***

You can enjoy “Brother Cobweb” and have a taste for it here:

About Keith Banner:

Keith Banner is the co-founder of Visionaries + Voices and Thunder-Sky, Inc., two non-profit arts organizations in Cincinnati.  He is a social worker for people with developmental disabilities full-time and has taught creative writing part-time at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) for over 20 years.  He has published three works of fiction, The Life I Lead, a novel (Knopf, 1999), The Smallest People Alive (Carnegie Mellon Press, 2004), a book of short stories, and Next to Nothing (Lethe Press, 2014), his second collection of stories.  He has published numerous short stories and essays in magazines and journals, including American Folk Art Messenger, Other Voices, Washington Square, Kenyon Review, and Third Coast.  He received an O. Henry prize for his short story, “The Smallest People Alive,” and an Ohio Arts Council individual artist fellowship for fiction.  The Smallest People Alive was named one of the best books of the year by Publisher’s WeeklyNext to Nothingwas nominated for the Lambda Literary Award in 2015.

About Alfred Eaker:

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.

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

JONATHAN MONTALDO. AN Early review for the novel “Brother Cobweb”

(Jonathan Montaldo. Co-editor of “Soul-Searching: The Thomas Merton Story”)

Alfred Eaker’s Brother Cobweb is a portrait of Pentecostal crazies that could populate a short story by Flannery O’Conner. The book’s main character, Calvin, survives religious hypocrisy and a mother’s physical abuse with the help of a tolerant, benevolent great-grandfather, the real hero of this tale of crooked lines whom “God” fails to make straight. The novel is a roller-coaster of highs that drop forward and lower quicker than they ascended. No easy, happy endings to this well-told, fast-paced story about the role of “God” in freakish human experience. Eaker’s novel draws a complex picture of religion in which the Weird is graphically made flesh.

***

You can look inside “Brother Cobweb,” by Alfred Eaker.

About Jonathan Montaldo

Jonathan Montaldo is co-editor with Morgan Atkinson of “Soul-Searching: The Thomas Merton Story.” His work can be found at: http://monksworks.com/

About Alfred Eaker:

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.

Follow Alfred Eaker Online: