Todd A Writes Again

Don’t call Barry Cherry a pornographer. He’s a filmmaker. Who makes films like Too Hot For Tube Tops. The kind of soft core porn immortalized by Skinemax and USA Up All Night (The show that made Gilbert Gottfried a celebrity, oh how I miss it). If you’re wondering what soft core porn is…… just think T&A. Barry used to live and work in Hollywood, until he got tired of the fast pace, ass kissing, tell people what they want to hear so you get a job atmosphere. So he picked up stakes and moved to our very own Nashvegas.

These days he makes a few videos a year. Each is shot in his Brentwood, TN home and showcases four aspiring starlets whom he calls Barry’s Cherries. Barry is living the dream with beautiful women in his pool and nothing to look forward to but a laid back summer. But then his old protégé, Roxy, shows up with the typical Nashville dilemma. She got drunk and had sex with a wannabe country singer, and he filmed it. Now he wants to release it, but she doesn’t want to be Pam to his Tommy Lee.

That’s the set-up for Todd A’s new book Barry’s Cherries. Todd was kind to send all interested bloggers a free copy of his first book, Being Good, back in March. It was good enough that I was going to buy a copy of this new one. But apparently Todd thought my last review didn’t suck too badly, because he sent me a copy in the interests of getting a little buzz going. The joke’s probably on him, since no one much reads me, but a review is a review I guess. I’m sure you’ll see a few more comments from local blogger big shots around soon.

I really enjoy Todd’s conversational style of writing. The way he sets up his first person narrative it’s like I’m sitting on the deck with a friend listening to him tell me a story while we have a few beers. The narrative is warm in a way I can’t pinpoint, and it really encourages me to keep reading when I should be doing other things. This style is a lot of what made Slav so likeable in Todd’s first novel. The ‘sitting on the deck with a friend’ sense is only enhanced by the fact that the story takes place in Nashville. There were references to Nashville institutions like the Red Door, East Nashville, and Nashville Scene throughout. At one point there is even a debate about which local morning show host is more sexy, Victoria Hansen (formerly of WKRN, why Mike, why?!?) or Kelly Sutton of the Fox morning show. All the local references may be a turn off to non-Nashvillian readers, but it certainly made me feel more at home. (I vote for Victoria, but I wouldn’t kick Kelly out either.)

I think Barry is what Todd’s protagonist from the first novel, Slav, may be in twenty more years. They both have a no BS, do your own thing attitude and a sense that they’re fun guys to hang out with. But Barry has the benefit of 20 more years of life and knows that making nice can sometimes get you what you want instead of just shooting off at the mouth. Barry is also a lot more laidback, and is willing to have four young women in his house without feeling the need to hit on them.

I think the humor may turn off the more serious potential readers, but if you’re a fan of Kevin Smith this is right up your alley. Todd makes great use of bathroom humor in a running gag about taking and leaving while also providing me with a line to use at my next prostate exam. And a homage to an 80’s sitcom is worked into the entire story. I’m itching to give it away, but I’ll let you figure it out yourself.

Once again, my main criticism is the ending. It seems so abrupt. There’s a nice long build up, and then suddenly all of the major plot points are resolved in a very heated chapter. I can’t really pinpoint why this bugs me, but it’s almost like divine intervention the way things suddenly resolve without any involvment by the main character. At least this time we got to watch the climax ourselves, rather than hear about it happening out of view.

Todd, if you read this, I really need to know….. What happened to Eric? It’s cruel to leave loose ends and make me wonder this way.


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