REVIEW OF LOVE STRADDLE BY IAN LIPKE, EDITOR OF MEDIA-CULTURE REVIEWS AT QUT

Love Straddle has been reviewed by Ian Lipke, editor of Media-Culture Reviews

Here’s a bit of what he says:  This novel by Martin P. Knox is vast in scope, scintillating in the brilliance of its conception and staggering in the creation of its hero. This is the work of a major talent, and I am very, very surprised that no traditional publishing house has published his work before now. That Martin Knox has decided to put his faith in the quality of his work and step out alone into the world of self-publishing says a lot about the character and courage of the man. His writing is tough and unrelenting and a real pleasure to read.

What a hoot! This book is recommended very highly. Get hold of a copy from Amazon. You’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

See the full review on the REVIEW PAGE.

Love Straddle

by M.P. Knox

(2014)

 

ISBN: 9780992462307

Love of Books

RRP: $AUD29.80; 596 pp.

Amazon US & UK POD

Paperback RRP USD: 26.70

E-book RRP USD: 8.99

Amazon

Reviewer Ian Lipke is Editor of Media-Culture Reviews at Queensland University of Technology.

M.P.Knox’s Review of Ian Lipke’s novel Nargun is at:

http://reviews.media-culture.org.au/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=5851

 

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Media release

Selwyn is in love and vulnerable. He puts the girl he loves in a straddle with another girl friend, to reduce his exposure…in theory… but it all goes tragically wrong.

Prolific writer M.P. Knox has released his second novel Love Straddle – a fiction story thatcaptures the mood of the 1960s, the era of the Cold War, the youth revolution, hippies and women’s liberation. The author has created a unique, unusual hero with flaws, quirkiness and emotions he struggles to express. Selwyn is a sexual version of the asexual Sheldon character in the sitcom, ‘The Big Bang Theory’, not unlike Don Tillman in ‘The Rosie Project’ and Doc Martin in the BBC TV series. Selwyn lives by theories and over-thinking when others expect understanding, this sometimes make him appears emotionally cold; at other times charming. Readers can diagnose Selwyn’s behaviour, decades before compulsive behaviour is labelled as a mental disorder.

Selwyn is attending Liverpool University of Technology in the UK, with all the excitement of the sound of The Beatles. His plans do not include falling in love with alluring and smart biology student Vicki.

He may be an ambitious and successful engineering student, but he has much to learn about relationships. Each of the 105 chapters concludes with humour and insight in a rule he has learned, without being sexist. 

Vicki is his obsession but she won’t pass on ‘free love’ the way town girl Barbara will. To be invulnerable to relationship uncertainties, Selwyn invests in non-sexist love with the two girls as a straddle in the commodity: love. Will Vicki ever forgive him for ‘selling her short’? But with each girl behaving nothing like he predicts, how can it result in anything but tragic consequences? Selwyn is literally on a cliff’s edge.

He climbs the corporate ladder and becomes the CEO of a major oil company in Canada. His compulsive love spirals down into sex addiction, then alcoholism, becoming a workaholic and a foodaholic and his relationships crumble. When a disgruntled employee exposes scandalously low oil recovery, an African government makes demands that lead to disaster. Vicki goes to help him. Will he be blamed for the catastrophe? Ultimately, when he is finally free from his work and family loyalties, will he ‘close’ his trade of Vicki’s love? His behaviour leads to the question: will he ever accept the terms of love with one woman? The ending is a surprise with a twist.

This novel is an insight into how career and partner choices can affect personal well-being. It takes the reader on an epic journey of thought and discovery. It is a story that will have you pondering long after you put the book down. See more about the book at: https://lovestraddleanovel.wordpress.com/

By the same author, a speculative fiction novel The Grass is Always Browner (Zeus Publications 2011).

LOVE STRADDLE is available from Amazon both as a paperback and as an e-copy for Kindle or from bookshops.

     AMAZON USA LINK                                                    AMAZON UK  LINK

 

The Novel Love Straddle has been released

Martin Knox has released Love Straddle as a paperback and eBook for Kindle. If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the release you’ll be pleased to know Amazon gives you a peak inside. Once you start reading you’ll want to discover the whole book, so click on the link below and you won’t be disappointed.

Buy the book now on Amazon.

Image

STATUS UPDATE

The first printing is small as I would like to include reviewers comments prominently in a second printing soon.

I expect the book to be printed by May 14th 2014, with the same date for availability of the paperback on Amazon and the e-book on Kindle.

It is a fiction Love Story of an obsessive love, presented as a 600 page 6 X 9 book.

To help you review this book, a short synopsis, a long synopsis and an author objective review, are  all accessible from the Contents page.

I believe Love Straddle will particularly interest women but also have a broader readership. The press release below indicates some of the themes that may be of interest to readers. The Contents page has comprehensive cover of topics encountered in the book.

Although the author currently lives in Australia, the book is set mostly in the UK and Canada.

Published by Love of Books, Brisbane, Australia, 2014

http://www.loveofbooks.com.au

Cover designed by Donna Munro

Website:lovestraddleanovel.wordpress.com

mpknox46@aapt.net.au

TO BE RELEASED June 02 2014

Paperback available from all Amazon websites and http://www.loveofbooksclub.com

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Straddle-Mr-M-P-Knox/dp/0992462304/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402190236&sr=1-1&keywords=love+straddle

eBook available from Amazon Kindle and all major eBook sites.

Recommended retail prices, before discount, are AUD & CDN 29.80, USD 26.70, GBP 15.95

E-book prices are AUD & CDN 9.99, USD 8.99, GBP 5.40

Love Straddle to be released soon

Martin Knox has published his novel Love Straddle in Australia. It will be sold through Amazon to overseas buyers but he is still seeking an overseas publisher. If you wish to publish this novel please go to the contact page.

Selwyn is in love and vulnerable. He puts the girl he loves in a straddle with another girl friend, to reduce his exposure…in theory… but it all goes tragically wrong.

Love Straddle Small Cover

Love Straddle first print cover

Prolific writer M.P. Knox is about to release Love Straddle – a novel thatcaptures the mood of the 1960s, the era of the Cold War, the youth revolution, hippies and women’s liberation. The author has created a unique, unusual hero with flaws, quirkiness and emotions he struggles to express. Selwyn is a sexual version of the asexual Sheldon character in the sitcom, ‘The Big Bang Theory’, not unlike Don Tillman in ‘The Rosie Project’ and Doc Martin in the BBC TV series. You can’t help but love Selwyn as he is driven by ambition, compulsion and love to find the rules for an uncommitted love life. The author has explored them with humour and insight, without being sexist. Selwyn lives by theories and over-thinking when others expect understanding, this sometimes make him appears emotionally cold; at other times charming. Readers can diagnose Selwyn’s behaviour, decades before it is labelled as a mental disorder. His behaviour leads to the question: will he ever accept the terms of love with one woman?The ending is a surprise with a twist.

When Love Straddle begins, little was known of personality disorders, obsessions, addictions or wastage of natural resources. Selwyn is attending Liverpool University of Technology in the UK, with all the excitement of the sound of The Beatles. His plans do not include falling in love with alluring and smart biology student Vicki. He may be an ambitious and successful engineering student, but his relationships with women are bizarre. Vicki is his obsession but she won’t pass on ‘free love’ the way town girl Barbara will. To be invulnerable to relationship uncertainties, Selwyn invests in non-sexist love with the two girls as a straddle in the commodity: love. Will Vicki ever forgive him for ‘selling her short’? But with each girl behaving nothing like he predicts, how can it result in anything but tragic consequences? Selwyn is on the cliff’s edge as he precariously straddles love. As he climbs the corporate ladder his relationships crumble, leading him to spiral down from his compulsive love into sex addiction, then alcoholism, becoming a workaholic and a foodaholic . He becomes the CEO of a major oil company in Canada. When a disgruntled employee exposes scandalous waste of the World’s oil, an African government makes demands that lead to a disaster. Vicki goes to help him. Will he be blamed for the catastrophe? Ultimately, when he is finally free from his work and family loyalties, will he ‘close’ his trade of Vicki’s love?

Box Love Straddle infoThis novel is an insight into personality problems and the way we function in relationships. It takes the reader on an epic journey of thought and discovery. It is a story that will have you pondering long after you put the book down. If you would like to interview this articulate, philosophical and entertaining author, or want to receive a review copy of Love Straddle from a limited preliminary printing, contact: mpknox 00617 3255 3710 or email mpknox46@aapt.net.au See more about the book at: https://lovestraddleanovel.wordpress.com/ By the same author: The Grass is Always Browner (Zeus Publications 2011)

LOVE STRADDLE is available from Amazon both as a paperback and e-copy for Kindle.

Love Straddle – a novel

This book is a complete manuscript ready to submit to publishers. Publishers interested in this novel can contact author Martin Knox via the Contact page.

Love Straddle Cover Art

This is a sample only of what the book could appear like in published version. 
 

PROLOGUE

It is July 2006.

As we climb away from Calgary, the seat belt indicator gongs. I loosen the strap and recline in my business class seat. I have this mental skill of being comfortable and enjoying air flights. I imagine that I am a pupating insect, like a silkworm caterpillar. I have woven a cocoon around me, taking up all the space I am allowed. I am in suspended animation. I have found out all the controls and resources at my disposal and how to use them. Fully reclining seats, footrests, air blowers, lights, video, audio, attendant summonsing: I know them all and make myself comfortable. I am a glass half-full person. Rather than being confined in a space that limits me and denies comfort, my capsule is a perfect size for comfort, with controls that empower me to metamorphose and emerge ready for different conditions.

 The flight to London will take long enough for me to reflect on past events that have caused this journey and the natural laws of behaviour that I have recently discovered. If I had known them before, this journey would not be necessary, or I would have made it many years ago.

Now I will tell you my story – at least, my part in events – including my own and other people’s emotions, that engineers like me normally ignore. But emotions are important, as I have lately discovered.

PART 1: LOVE EXPOSED (1966)

In which Vicki tricks me into revealing my affections.

 

CHAPTER 1   ASK NO QUESTIONS

Things had started going wrong at Boston, USA in the Summer of ’66. The only way  seemed up for Vicki and me, as I waited to see her during the summer vacation, at the end of our second year at Liverpool uni, forty-one years ago, when I was an engineering student.

I sit on the edge of a chair and pretend to look at a brochure about this Department of Applied Psychology at New England University, Boston, USA. Maybe the girls’ vacation jobs here fell through, although Vicki had written saying they are expecting us at this time.

Tom looks archly down his hooked nose, as he thrusts and retracts his jaw to the reggae rhythm from his portable LP player. The rest of his face is Nordic, with white skin, high cheekbones and a blonde forelock spilling over his forehead. He wears a colourful tropical beach shirt with a cravat at his throat. Below his long body, his legs are short and his jeans are turned up at the bottoms.  He gyrates jerkily around the reception room. When the vinyl record finishes, he sits down.

“Where is your woman, man?” he asks me in his high voice and singsong Jamaican accent.

“Vicki wrote that she would be here, ” I looked at my watch again. “They are six minutes late.”

People expect me to have a Saxon or Teutonic face, rectangular in shape with a square hairline, because of my unemotional nature and  preoccupation with independence and efficiency.  But my face has the heart shape, widow’s peak hairline, high overhanging brow and shaven dark beard of the Celts. These distant ancestors retreated to mountainous areas of  Wales or Cornwall or Scotland, out of reach of successive waves of Roman, Saxon, Viking, Dane and Norman conquerors. Nevertheless,  I look okay and girls don’t usually keep me waiting. By now, even my idol, Dr Spock, would be growing impatient.

Just then the two girls breeze in, wearing white lab coats, smiling broadly.

“Selwyn!” Vicki says. “It’s great to see you.”

“Hello, Vicki,” I say. “It’s terrific to see you. I didn’t know you are selling ice creams.”

We hug. Her clean smell and the firmness of her body are reassuring. Tom hugs petite Angela, only slightly smaller than him. Like Vicki and me, the two are seeing each other, but are not yet an item. We hoist our packs and Vicki leads us along a corridor.

We pass through a reception area with “Pediatric Psychology” on a sign above the desk.

“My feet have a mind of their own,” Tom says, doing a couple of reggae steps.

“Pediatrics is not feet, it is children,” I tell Tom.

“Same thing,” he says. “Children always get under your feet.”

We come to a door labelled “Adolescent and School Psychology”.

“Is the problem with adolescents that they won’t submit to the discrimination that their school has to do?” I ask.

“You are cynical,” says Vicki turning to look at me. “We can’t allow them to be themselves, can we?”

“Definitely not,” I say. “They have to learn to work and pay taxes. Look, Vicki and Angela, I hope we are not interrupting what you are doing?”

“No, not at all,” Vicki says. “Actually, I think you may be able to help us,” she says in her plummy Oxford voice. “We would appreciate your participation in some tests.”

“Okay. Sounds interesting,” I agree automatically. “What kind of tests?”

“Changing behaviour.”

“They  use the cane to change behaviour in schools, “says Tom. “They force people to—”

“No, not any more. That used to be the way. Social scientists used to explain the way people behave as conditioning by the environment. Did you hear on the news about unethical experiments being conducted by ‘behaviourists’?”

“Yeah, I heard about Skinner,” I say. “He starves pigeons down to 60% of their bodyweight. Then he puts each pigeon into a small box, just big enough to turn around in.”

We arrive at a lift. There are seven floors and it is at the top. Vicki calls it and it starts coming slowly.

I continue, “Skinner had these letters, ‘F.O.O.D.’, written on buttons inside the box. When the bird pecked the buttons in the correct order, a food pellet was released. Skinner went home for the weekend leaving the pellet machine to reward progress. When he came in on Monday, some pigeons had learned to peck the sequence, FOOD.”

“The other were probably feet up,” Tom says. “That is cruel, man.”

“It is cruel, I agree,” Vicki says. “Um, do we want a world ruled by behaviourism?”

As always, Vicki’s serious talk is jerky, punctuated with ums and ohs. Her hesitancy is neither lack of ideas nor lack of vocabulary. It signals something like “Pay attention. My message may not be what you expect.”

“Behaviourism is what most of us do now, ” I reply. “We change people by Skinner-ing them, or by making others do it for us.”

“Alas, I agree. We do, Selwyn.”

“Is there a problem with that, Vicki?”

“It treats individuals like blocks of wood. An, um, authority controls groups of people and pushes them into any position it wants. It does not allow for individual differences or allow them any say.”

The lift arrives. We all get in, with several others, and the lift starts upwards.

“Is a behaviourist a fascist, then?” Tom asks.

Everyone looks at him. He is an extrovert.

“They could be,” Vicki says. “Fascism conditions the masses to want nationalism.”

“Rule Britannia, marmalade and jam—” Tom sings, gyrating his shoulders with a reggae rhythm and clicking his fingers in time.

We stop at the first floor, where there is a sign, “Industrial and Organisational Psychology”. Two people in white lab coats get out. They have been silent in the corners of the lift. Then we continue upwards.

“Were they observing us?” I ask, putting on a furtive face. The girls laugh.

“Possibly,” says Vicki. “A study at Chicago has found that when workers are observed by anonymous strangers, they work harder.”

“Are you working harder Angela?” asked Tom kindly.

“Absolutely. My brain is flat out.”

“Doing what?”

“Trying to figure out whether those creepy guys were observing us.”

“Observation is a different way of controlling people and is individualised. So it isn’t fascist.”

“What if there is no control?” asks Tom.

“Voluntary behaviour can be self-controlled,” I say. “for example when people change their minds it —”

“— is called cognition.”

“That’s what I was going to say, cognition.”

“Like starting a car when it is in gear,” says Tom. “You get a jerk.”

We all grin broadly and look at him, but no one says anything.

“Hmm, a little,” says Vicki, encouraging him. “When you have a sudden insight.”

Tom is pleased with himself. “How do you know when someone has an insight,” he says. “You can’t look inside their head.”

“We infer it from their behaviour,” Vicki replies.

“When they start in neutral,” says Tom.

“When people change their behaviour by cognition, we say they have learnt,” I add, recalling Vicki’s textbook. “This may be by imitation, insight, problem-solving, intelligence or conscious thought. When these occur, it is inferred that there has been a change in the mind. They can—”

“Yes, Selwyn,” Vicki says. “You are correct again. There are any many learning methods we use to change minds – for example, an aim of justice is to correct criminals’ minds and behaviour.”

We get off at “Forensic and Legal Psychology”. We walk along a corridor and pass doors inscribed “Witness Memory Research” and another labelled “Trial Consulting”.

I pause in front of the doors.

“I guess witnesses forgetting to turn up at trials is a big problem.”

I keep a straight face, as usual.

“Yes, but here we are looking into what meanings people, um, take from certain words. When humans see the letters, F.O.O.D., for example, some may think of hunger and others of dieting, depending on their cognition. People make up their own minds.The problem is how to ask witnesses to recall their experience without bias. We are looking into cognitive persuasion that recognises that.”

“Perjury sends them to prison.”

“Persuasion is more humane and accurate than conditioning people with fear.”

“Out with behaviourism and in with cognition?”

“Correct.”

Vicky walked on, with us following.

“Before questioning a witness we need a method for finding out their true background attitudes and preferences.”

We come to a door labelled “Interrogation and Confessions Research Unit”.

“Let’s ask here, ” says Tom. “Though we might have to slap them around a bit.”

“This is us,” says Vicki.

We go in, take off our packs and sit in a small reception area. We can see a passage leading away with rooms on both sides. Tom rubs his back against his chair. He has acne from his waist to his neck and it causes itching.

“I hope the methods you use are not questionable,” I say. I don’t often make jokes, so I give a small laugh, so the others will know it is a joke.

The three burst out laughing. It isn’t that funny and they seem to be laughing at me. I like to be the centre of attention.

“Coffee? Tea?” Angela asks.

“Or me?” Tom prompts.

“Me not available. Sorry, Tom.”

“Me want Vicki,” I say with a goofy laugh.

“Me not stupid. Me know what Selwyn want Vicki for,” Vicki says.

“That’s not fair,” I say. “I imagine you are alluding to coitus. I had verbal intercourse in mind.”

“That’s what I was worried about,” Vicki says quickly and we all laugh.

They are used to my bluntness now. With me, they always know where they stand and this time they like it. Sometimes I upset them without meaning to.

When I first met Vicki, I had thought the hesitations in her speech marked indecision, giving her time to think. I realize now that Vicki’s ideas are carefully tended and self-confident, so that her response to any incident is razor sharp. Her hesitations seek attention to  profundities. She is as neat, stylish and understated on the inside as she is on the outside. When I am with her I am self-conscious and clumsy. My understanding seems shallow, my opinions facile and my humour juvenile.

We order our drinks and Angela goes to get them.

“So you are investigating interrogation,” I say.

“Yes. We are trying to find out how people respond when questioned,” says Vicki.

“Questioned about what?” Tom asks.

“Criminal activities,” Vicki says.

“How do you know that they have been doing criminal activities?” I ask.

“We infer it from their behaviour.”

“Hmm. I’m going to be on my best behaviour,” Tom says.

“We measure involuntary behaviour,” says Vicki. “For example, if you were involved in a crime, when asked about it, your feelings may cause you to sweat.”

“Why?”  asked.

“Anxiety may stimulate your metabolism, generating heat that you try to lose by perspiring.”

“What if it was a murder in cold blood.”

“Even if your circulation is unaffected, you could be anxious, causing sweating and your skin’s electrical conductivity may increase.”

“Are you going to use electricity on me?” asks Tom, showing anxiety.

“Only to measure your behaviour, not to cause it. We use a low voltage across electrodes on your skin. Suppose we asked you What is your favourite food?”

“My favourite food is ackee with saltfish,” says Tom.”Just thinking of it makes me feel hungry, man.”

“A remarkable result,” I say.

I look around to see if they like my sarcasm, as I have been practising.

“Yes, Selwyn, his feelings are remarkable,” says Vicki. “If his mother in Jamaica makes his ackee with saltfish, he might feel anxious and sweat, because he misses her.”

“Isn’t that the same as saying that he is anxious because he misses his mother’s ackee with saltfish?” I ask.

“No. They are two different feelings. He might miss his mother and feel anxious, while not being hungry at all.”

“Tom is always hungry,” I say.

“Tom, do you miss your mother?” asks Vicki.

“No. Only when I’m hungry,” he answers. He gives me a tiny wink. “Then I feel anxious. But I only sweat if it is a hot day.”

“There,” says Vicki in exasperation. “You see, he is only capable of one feeling: hunger. It is the foundation for all his behaviour, just as Pavlov’s dogs salivated when a bell was rung, whether they were hungry or not.”

“The way to an engineer’s heart—”

“That’d be right!” Vicki says. “Pavlov could have used engineering students instead of dogs!”

“Hmm. He would have rung a bell when he fed them and observed how they drooled even if there was no food.”

“They would also salivate if the observer was a girl,” Tom adds.

Angela brings our hot drinks. We sip them.

“Thanks, Angela,” I say. “I was fresh out of saliva.”

“Engineers have one-track minds,” laughs Vicki.

“Not our fault,” I say. “It is endemic to our profession. Engineering has traditionally been a masculine pursuit, having iconic technologies that mimic sexual intercourse, such as trains and tunnels and reciprocating motion. Some technologies have been granted female status, such as ships, which are always referred to affectionately by the feminine pronouns, “she” and “her”. Consequently, sex is never far from engineer’s minds, as indicated by the frequency of sexual innuendo in engineering communication. For example, uncertain situations are—” .

“Thank you, Selwyn. You do not need to remind us how sexist engineers are,” Vicki interrupts.

I do not feel good about being labelled as sexist. All engineering students at LUT are males, whereas Vicki and Angela are in Biological Science, which has a handful of females.

“Anyway, “Vicki continues, “if Tom has strong feelings and anxiety triggered by thinking about his favourite food, he may perspire more and we can see the change in electricity flow between two points on his skin. Let’s go and test some other associations,” she says, getting up.

She leads the way to a laboratory, where she introduces us to her supervisor, a large man, Tony, with a shock of unruly hair. He shows us into a soundproof room with a chair like a dentist’s. To one side there is a control room.

“Welcome to the Lie Detection Laboratory,” Tony says. “Today Vicki and Angela have asked me to demonstrate a simple test.”

“Did you say ‘lie detection’?” I ask, puzzled.

(Continued in book)

THE AUTHOR

1.3 AUTHOR

Martin Knox is a fiction writer living in Brisbane, Australia. He studied chemical engineering and management science at UK universities, receiving BSc Hons 1st Class and M.Sc. His research was into alternative systems of government, with fieldwork at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington and Teesside Social Services Department.

He emigrated to Canada and was employed as a petroleum engineer in Alberta and Saskatchewan. After a year of travel in Central and South America, he sailed by yacht from Rio to Trinidad.

He worked as a petroleum consultant in London, married Liz, an Australian and emigrated to Queensland, Australia where he worked as an evaluation engineer for coal mining projects. They had two children, Zoe and Tessa. At age 40 he resigned and became a secondary school science, and English teacher. He wrote curriculum materials for teaching multistrand science to senior students by distance education and taught students at remote locations in classes online. In 2007 he was divorced and has since remarried.

He is involved with writers’ groups, book reading and current affairs discussion groups. He  travels to see family and friends overseas and for experiences to use as a basis for his writing.

1.4 BLOG

Below there is additional material related to Love Straddle

1.4 OTHER PUBLICATIONS

Martin Knox’s speculative fiction novel ‘The Grass Is Always Browner’ was published by Zeus Publications in 2011

1.4 PURCHASE

1.5 CONTACT 

1.6 LINKS