Dialogues with the Wise Woman

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Dialogues with the Wise Woman by Richard Todd Devens is written as a series of dialogues between George Sistern, a forty-six-year-old pianist, and his therapist, Mildred. After George is scammed in Vegas by an unscrupulous self-proclaimed master poker player, he is consumed by self-loathing and disgust, the event blown out of all proportion in his mind. He seeks out Mildred, at a friend’s referral, to help relieve his anguish. Mildred helps George through his mental minefields, and through her, George finds peace. He also meets mob-affiliate Tony Blangiardo, who offers to help George get the money back he lost to the scam artist. These three characters weave and interweave in one another’s lives from here on out, facing questions of good and evil, morality, psychology, and much, much more.

This work meets the objectives named by the author—laying out a series of discussions as dialogue between characters and allowing the reader to make up their own mind regarding the debate. In this respect, meeting author intention, the book is entirely successful, and is, as the author notes, as good as it could be.

As far as how the book functions as a piece of fiction, even as creative nonfiction, it challenges the perceptions of what can be considered a functioning novel. As purposely it lacks a great deal of valanced language, or even a coherent plot, reader expectations may be disappointed in being delivered a whole narrative without a discernable rising and falling of dramatic tension and stakes.

George works through his trauma through long conversations with Mildred, and while it’s very interesting and thought-provoking (as intended by the author), it does not serve to provide the reader with the expected story experience. If anything, it creates more of an allegorical vibe to the book, showing the reader how to find one’s way through difficult situations and keeping things in perspective. If the object of fiction is to couch these lessons in a story, this book does not achieve this easily, lacking, as it acknowledges, storytelling and conflict.

Dialogues with the Wise Woman is an ambitiously told book. As it is a book based mostly in dialogue, it largely speaks for itself. Readers who enjoy debate between characters and the discussion of complex ideas in a vacuum may find something to enjoy in this book. This may be a miss for readers who prefer their morality tales clothed in more traditional methods of storytelling.

Reviewed By:

Author Richard Todd Devens
Star Count 2/5
Format eBook
Page Count 159 pages
Publisher Gatekeeper Press
Publish Date
ISBN 9781662933219 Buy this Book
Issue January 2024
Category Popular Fiction