Seeds by Richard Horan: A Book Review

*It is important to note that my review is based on the uncorrected proof.

Seeds covers author Richard Horan’s trek across America in an attempt to collect seeds from the trees of some of his favorite authors. When I was first made aware of this book, I couldn’t wait to read it. The concept sounded fascinating. For the most part, it is a great book and provides a lot of interesting information. However, there are some things that are problematic.

The book seems to alternate between two voices – Horan’s personal voice and his more professional journalistic voice that provides the factual information. It gives the narrative a feel of inconsistency. Also, there were numerous times where Horan interrupted the narrative flow and scenes with asides within parentheses that began with: “Later on I learned…” The reader is pulled completely out of scene to be given this unnecessary information and then forced to try and re-assimilate back into the scene. Nearly every sentence contained within parentheses in the book could be deleted without altering it in any way.

Horan frequently described the people he came in contact with in a condescending manner. It is off-putting to the reader. This book would have been much better if Horan had stayed with one voice consistently throughout, preferably the one that stated the facts as they were rather than the one who randomly interjected personal opinion and unnecessary asides. When Horan interjects his personal opinion it feels as if he doesn’t trust the reader to come to the same conclusions as he did. The facts he provides are enough to bring those same feelings to the reader without his personal opinion which can be quite jarring at times. The details Horan gives are also inconsistent throughout the book. Sometimes he provides minute unnecessary details about every single thing that occurred at a particular moment and sometimes he provides details in a way that feels forced and list-like. Other times he doesn’t provide enough detail and leaves the reader to make assumptions.

I did not like the “Back Home” chapters. They were also inconsistent. For example, Horan’s wife joins him at one point and the reader has to assume that he has been home to pick her up, but there is no “Back Home” section prior to her appearing. I understand the purpose of those chapters and their placement, but the information would have been better blended into the already existing chapters or in a separate chapter at the end of the book. I would also have liked to see at least some of the pictures Horan is constantly mentioning in the book. It would have been great if they were dispersed throughout the book or in a section at the end.

All that being said, I loved the information provided in Seeds and taking the journey with Horan. I especially loved his assertion that trees are living, breathing beings that have witnessed historical events long before we were here and – if we stop being so uncaring – will be witnesses to the future long after we are gone. I think it is fascinating that trees have witnessed so much important history, that they keep many secrets we will never know, and that they have served as constant companions to many of our favorite authors. Another aspect that works really well is that it’s clear Horan is very knowledgeable and passionate about the subject matter of which he writes. This adds a level of legitimacy to the book. The reader knows Horan chose to do this because he loves it not just as a stunt to get a book deal.

I read Seeds slowly and was excited to return to it each day to continue on the journey with Horan. I loved learning the history behind some of my most beloved authors. If you can get past the author’s personal opinions and unnecessary asides, I believe you will enjoy reading Seeds too.

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2 thoughts on “Seeds by Richard Horan: A Book Review

  1. Some of the inconsistencies you describe sound to me like poor writing technique which is too bad because the book otherwise sounds fascinating.

    Good post on your part no poor technique on your part.

    Vi

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