Authors We Love, Part VIII: Rob Kristoffersen on Dean Bakopoulos

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Today our guest reader is none other than Rob Kristoffersen. He is a writer for teamhellions.com, focusing primarily on music, but books and movies as well. In August, Rob will be releasing a short story called “I Am Afraid of the Ancient Astronaut” He will begin research for his first novel in the fall of 2012; a fictional account of the lives of the Fox sisters.

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“For the most part, we pictured our fathers sad and alone. We could see them riding in flea-ridden freight cars on bumpy tracks. We could see them struggling to make campfires on a beach as the wind whipped off the ocean and sand stung their faces. We saw them in anonymous cities, dwarfed by skyscrapers, trying to get together enough spare change for a hot dog or a bowl of soup. We saw them climbing desert mountains, muscles tearing and burning with fatigue, tongues swollen with thirst.”

For the reader, there will always be the author that comes along at the right time for the right moments. To get you through the dark, make the light brightest, and create the characters you most resonate with. For me, that man is Dean Bakopoulos. I first discovered him, when his debut novel,Please Don’t Come Back From The Moon was published in 2005. At a time when I seldom purchased books, this one found me. Strange to say, but I remember entering Borders book store (R.I.P.) and ignoring it on my first walk by. I was there for DVDs and CDs, not books. On my way out, empty handed, I noticed the artwork on the cover; I picked it up, examined it, and was sold instantly. I felt connected to it, like a human being to others.

The book seemed more like a music album, comprised of ten tracks with unique chapter titles. The books appellation was appropriated from a Charles Mingus composition, and may have been a factor in the purchase. As a music critic now, it’s an additional seller. I ripped through it in a week, which is fast for me considering I was adverse to books at the time. Not that I didn’t want to read them, but the school system’s penchant for stuffing overrated hum-buggery down your throat was still strong in my mouth. Granted I was removed from high school for three years, and college for one, but defiance is strongest in those who fight hardest against that which they find oppressing. This book taught me: leave that mind behind and embrace literature as an outlet more than a malice. I revisited this work over different periods in my life; when my mom left my dad for the second time, when my dad passed away, when I moved into my first apartment. Much of the world still new to me, The Moon was there.

The story of Mike Smolij and his fatherless town, resonated more with the relationship I had with my mother. Granted it’s never been perfect, and it’s become more difficult since my dad’s passing, but Mike’s struggle was not unlike mine. His struggle to define himself in this post father world is unorthodox, particularly in his relationships with others. It’s relation to my generation is heavy.

For a while after, I abandoned it. It was always there in my mind, but I never acknowledged it well enough until last year. When Dean’s new work, My American Unhappiness, was released in 2011, I was going through another crossroads in my life. I had just come off of unemployment, unable to collect more payments, I couldn’t return to college after I had made so much progress; I was lost, with no real saving grace. This book was the last purchase I made on unemployment, it was a necessity for me, having waited so long for a follow up.

When I received it in the mail, I was elated, but let it fall by the wayside for a couple of weeks. In that time, I landed a job, and soon after I started writing for a blog. But before the blog, there was this book, this tome of someone’s hard work; my favorite authors hard work. I fell in love again, a book, but more really. Here, he created a transfer for my depression and sadness. A book is always more than a book to a person who’s read it; often times it’s a love affair, an obsession, a therapist, our political proponent and outcry, and most importantly a friend to those who need it. These books are my best friends, reliable, deeper with every connection; emotional with it’s tears, genuine with it’s laughs, and blatant with it’s words. In short they’re beautiful, and Dean Bakopoulos, I owe many thanks to him for doing something he never set out to do.

“There are many of us who love our country, who have spent decades examining its complex woes and its noble ways, and simply cannot bring ourselves to be the sort of highly visible cheerleaders our media demands. The spirit of critical inquiry and constant reflection is too bright within us. I wonder how many capable, smart, and worthy public servants might shy away from office simply because they are not comfortable with such outward displays of emotional patriotism.”

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To find Rob around the web

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