Review: ‘Odd Man Out’ by James Newman

oddOdd Man Out by James Newman
Bloodshot Books (November 2016)
150 pages; $8.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Odd Man Out was originally released as a signed limited edition from Thunderstorm Books, but this truly is a book everyone should get to read, so now it’s deservedly getting the wide release treatment from Bloodshot Books.

It’s been a few years since The Boy Scouts of America changed their policy to allow gay members. In Newman’s Odd Man Out a conservative Christian Church is struggling with allowing the scouts to continue using their building as a meeting place.

There’s a vote, which does not go in the Scouts’ favor, and this brings back memories Dennis Munce has managed to block for nearly three decades. What follows is the story of of what happened during a trial run of the Black Mountain Camp for Boys in the Summer of 1989.

James Newman is a gifted storyteller with an eye for detail:

 Alongside the tables sat about thirty beige metal folding chairs, like the ones my favorite wrestlers were always hitting each other over the head with on WCW Saturday Morning.  

It’s not like I’m reading an account of events, but more like I’ve been transported to the actual place and time.

The banter among the teenage boys was much like what I heard from my cruder friends growing up. Although the campers in Odd Man Out are wonderfully diverse, there is one in their midst who is decidedly different: Wesley Westmore.

When you’re young there is no greater sense of relief than when the bullies’ sights are no longer turned on you.

By now, I think you might have a pretty good sense of where Newman’s tale is headed. There are monsters in Odd Man Out, but they are not the monsters of fiction. Here the monsters are real. Just as real as you and I.

It’s as if the writer anticipated the fallout from the recent presidential election. True, these behaviors have existed for a long time, but this story could not be more relevant. It’s a tale which had a profound effect on me. If you’re willing to keep your mind open and experience the true horror of this novella you might just be in for a mind-altering read.

I give Odd Man Out my highest recommendation.

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