Thursday, March 8, 2012

Virtual Blog Tour: Doxology by Brian Holers Book Review

Goodreads Synopsis: Vernon Davidson is an angry man. After a lifetime of abuse and loss the 61-year-old is ready to get back at God, his co-workers, and everyone else is in his north Louisiana hometown. He drinks too much to numb the pain, shuns his friends and embarrasses himself in the community. The once-cautious Vernon spirals into a reckless mess. 

Only when he is reunited with his estranged nephew Jody is he forced to confront his situation. Jody is struggling in equal parts after inflicting a self-imposed exile upon himself by fleeing the family, and thereby himself, for a new life thousands of miles away. Now his father, Vernon’s brother, is dying and Vernon agrees to retrieve him for his brother’s sake.

Jody embarks on a reluctant journey back to his Louisiana home and the two men together embark on a journey that will ultimately change their lives.

Brian Holers’s Doxology examines an impossibly difficult question: how does a man go about forgiving a God he has grown to despise after the tragedies and endless disappointments he has faced?

Follow Vernon and Jody on their road from loss to healing in this deep and moving book that will challenge and surprise you, as it takes you deep into the backwaters of rural Louisiana.

Doxology does for small town Louisiana men what Steel Magnolias did for small-town Louisiana women, exposing flaws while showcasing their inner strengths. It is a tale of grandfathers, fathers, sons and brothers, and recreates family dynamics and memories in a way that forms a doxology, a song of praise for the male family bond, the emotional ties men conceal from the world and each other.(less)
Paperback272 pages
Published August 10th 2011 by Bdh Productions

Except (one of my favorite scenes)

Sunday is Vernon’s wash day. And though he has enough money to buy a dozen of the nicest washing machines known to man, Vernon Davidson washes his clothes by hand. For his washing, as for everything else Vernon does, he has a system. As far as Vernon is concerned, his clothes come out looking cleaner and newer than any machine could get them. He wears all of his clothes during the week according to the schedule he has printed in black marker on the insides of the garments. Five sets of work clothes, three sets to rotate before or after work on those five days, and two sets for the weekend. When he wakes each Sunday and slips off his underwear, his drawers and closet are completely empty. If the morning is cool, Vernon goes out and washes his clothes wearing only a cotton robe. But if any warmth hangs in the air, as it often does by the first of March, Vernon goes out in the yard and washes his laundry naked.
Vernon wakes on the first Sunday in April with a nagging headache. He rubs his temples and lies thinking about Leonard. Finally he shakes it off, opens his eyes and stands up. Though spring is well along, a touch of chill is in the air, so he puts his robe on after kicking his underwear into the giant laundry pile, then goes into the kitchen to start breakfast.
For the last dozen years, since he quit going to church, Vernon starts Sunday mornings with a large breakfast of eggs, bacon, French toast, orange juice and coffee. He could have started working Sundays years ago if he had wanted, just to fill the time, but he never has. Sunday is the only day of the week he eats anything besides fried bologna and cheese sandwiches, which he makes twice a day for himself in the same greasy cast iron skillet he uses on Sundays to make his breakfast.
Once the coffee is going and the bacon and eggs, Vernon walks back into the bathroom. Though he usually doesn’t stop by the mirror in the hallway, this time he does. He turns and looks at himself face on. He opens his bathrobe, stands and flexes the long, corded muscles that still run through his torso after sixty years, pats the flat part of his stomach. In the bathroom he grabs a comb, comes back to the mirror and quickly whips it through his long gray hair. He works the comb through, notes again that he hasn’t lost a single strand. Then he combs through his thick gray beard and fluffs it just a bit. He smiles at himself wide, taps his perfect teeth. Better to turn gray than turn loose, he says to the reflection as he pulls on a chunk of his hair. I’m still looking good.
He goes back to the kitchen, takes his squeezable jar of yellow mustard from the refrigerator and squirts a quarter inch of the oily yellow substance into a glass. Then he unscrews the lid of a bottle of Jack Daniels, smells it out of habit, winces, and pours in three fingers’ worth. His stomach gags, as it often does, with the first sip. Vernon lowers the glass, catches his breath, and raises it again. This time it all goes down, and the bitterness radiates out through the hinges of his jaws, his stomach, the top of his head. He slams the glass down on the counter, proud of his effort. After a minute the sour taste goes away, and the whiskey begins to do its work on the rest of him. Everything starts to settle. By then the food is ready, and he slides it all onto a plate, pours a large cup of coffee, and sits down to eat.
By the time the food is gone, the good part of his drink is leaving him, as it seems to do earlier and earlier these days. He goes back to the kitchen for another round of the whiskey and mustard. Then he clears the dishes from the table and, with the sink already full, puts them on the counter. “Leave those for the cleaning woman,” he mutters to himself. He eyes the mess in the rest of the house, papers all over, dust on the floor. Vernon likes to pretend.
Back in the bedroom, he picks up all the clothes and places them in the proper piles. Then he carries them all to the rear door, steps outside, and looks across the creek running through his back yard. Vernon smiles. Everything in his yard is the deep, rich green of spring, and not a weed is anywhere to be found. He’s thought about planting flowers once or twice, something to break up the single note hue that soon enough will turn to brown. But, though everything outside is as it should be, nearly all color is missing from Vernon’s yard.
Nevertheless, things are looking good on his side of the creek. On top of that, a few days earlier someone showed up while he was at work and cut the grass at the Baptist church camp on the other side of the creek. Funny how things work out. Vernon sold that property to the church fifteen years ago, back when he was still part of it.
The arrival of spring means a lot of things. It means the mill where he has worked for thirty six years will bring some young guys in, guys Vernon will harass into doing his work for him. It means the bullfrogs that sing their throaty songs as he lies in bed at night will be back in tune any time now. And it also means Easter, and the Baptists he loves to terrorize will be showing up for lunches on the grounds at their camp across the creek starting next Sunday afternoon. And when they come, the men to stand around and talk about fishing or hunting over fried chicken and beans, the women to compliment one another on their new dresses, the boys to run around the playground and wear grass stains on their new Easter pants, Vernon will be there washing his clothes in the yard, in all his bearded, gray haired glory, as naked as the good lord made him. And that’s exactly what he’ll say to whichever one of those do-gooder men comes to the edge of the creek to complain about it in response to the shrieking of their children or the pecking of their wives.
“This is the way the good lord made me!” he shouts into the air, shrugs off his robe to the ground and spreads out his arms. Practicing for the first confrontation of the season. He can already picture the guy standing over there, usually Jerry Reeves or Tom Staples or Donnie Lyles. One of them is who they usually send. He just loves to see the looks on their faces as they stand there in their Sunday best, striped or polka dotted choke chains hanging from their necks, trying to look him straight in the face and not to let their eyes wander downward.
They always say the same things. “Come on Vernon, it’s kids over here. Come on Vernon, put some clothes on brother, my wife…” Sometimes they even try to guilt him. “Look at you brother Vernon, look what you’ve turned into, you orta be ashamed of yourself.”
But Vernon Davidson cannot be guilted. Not after what he’s been through. And certainly not after the four or five glasses of whiskey and mustard he’ll have in him by Sunday noon.

DoxologyDoxology by Brian Holers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Are you in the mood for something a little different without going down the road of paranormal or fantasy?  This book may just fit the bill.  It is actually difficult to discern what genre this book falls into.  It definitely has inspirational elements and some family elements, but beyond that, I am just not sure. How do you classify a book about someone dying?

There were many elements that I really enjoyed in the book.  I loved the inspirational elements in the story.  I found Vernon the most interesting character in this aspect.  Some of his antics were a little over the top, but it was good to see where he ended up in the end.  It seems that God continues to remind that God will guide me through every hardship and trial, and it is amazing to find this sentiment in what would be considered a secular book.

The profanity in the language was quite mild, and the sex was minimal.  I was grateful for both although I think both were not really necessary.  But that is just my opinion.  This is honestly a minor issue for me.

I have to admit that at times I found this book rather boring.  I did not find myself truly connecting with any of the characters.  And, although minor, the names Jody and Pearl seemed so feminine that I often had to remind myself that these were men not women!  I would have loved to have seen more women in the book, but that is just a personal preference.

My largest complaint with the book was the style in which it is written.  I struggled to keep the story straight in many instances.  The author jumped around a lot between characters and present/past/future.  Unfortunately, sometimes the complete story of a character is not told in its entirety.  And the book ended so abruptly.  I actually thought I may have misread the last couple pages (I had not).

In conclusion, I wish I could say that I love this book whole-heartedly, but my review remains mixed.  I will say that the messages of the book ring clear, and that alone is worth the read.

I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not financially compensated in any way, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

View all my reviews

To follow the entire tour, check out the other blogs here.


  1. Thank you for reading and sharing your honest opinion of Doxology, Ruth. I'm glad the message struck a chord with you! If you have a moment to cross-post to Amazon and GoodReads, that would be tremendously helpful. Like many readers, I think it's good to see a mix of reviews up on a book page. If they are all 5 stars, then sometimes fishy seems to be going on, you know?

    Thanks for being a part of this tour,

  2. Hey Ruth, thanks for your review and for putting in the time to be thorough and frank. When you put a book out there, not everybody will like everything about it, but it really means a lot that you put your thoughts together here. And btw, in the South, Jody and Pearl are totally masculine names! Actually can go either way, but more commonly men's names. I grew up with guys named Stephanie, Stacey, Laurie. Unusual here in the great NW. Thanks again, I am glad that in the end you got a positive message from Doxology.


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