Title: Confronting Religious Fanaticism: An Eye for an Eye Book One
Author: Steve Shear
Genre: Literary Fiction
Confronting Religious Fanaticism (A triadic NOVELization exploring the orthodoxic ills in Western Religions) all starts with An Eye for an Eye as the reader sees firsthand how religious fanaticism affects Ira Neebest, the primary protagonist, and three generations of his family starting with his mother Rebecca. Born into Jewish orthodoxy in Jerusalem, Rebecca escapes a marriage arranged by her Hasidic father by traveling to her aunt and uncle in America. There, she meets Leonard Neebest, a confirmed atheist, in this explosive Book One overrun with secrets, suspense, and retribution.
In Book Two (coming out soon) we learn about Natalie, Ira's wife, who as a child is abandoned by her parents at a Catholic boarding school where she is sexually abused and involved in a murder (Break Hearts & Hungry Bears). Book Three (also coming out soon), takes us on a journey with Ira who returns from the jungles of India after being kidnapped by ISIS and the Iranian Ayatollah for writing a Nobel Prize winning novel about the evils of religious orthodoxy (Ira Neebest and The First Coming).
What this triadic NOVELization does is reassert all those most important issues that the atheists of the day have been talking about, but I wanted those very same issues wrapped in literature with plots and subplots and imagery. I wanted to show how average people, my characters, are affected by their beliefs or their non-beliefs in a god and religion, again wrapped in literature and not bundled in statistics and past genocides that appear merely as black ink on page after page. I want my readers to see the flesh and blood of those genocides dripping from the pages into their own laps, so they are able to touch and feel and smell the consequences humanity has on humanity.
My name is Ira Neebest. I live in San Francisco, far from Tucson and St. Louis and much further from New York City. All three of these cities figure heavily in the story I am about to divulge, a true story I might add. On the one hand, it is not exactly in the vein of Mary Poppins. On the other hand, it is not nearly as dark as … say Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. This is the story of my family, three generations worth, and yes, about me, Ira Neebest. If you say my name quickly you just may come up with Irony Best, the best of irony, and I assure you that is the case, as you will come to see.
The first Act of this story centers around my mother, Rebecca Goldshein Neebest, and my father, Leonard Neebest, along with their parents and Rebecca’s aunt and uncle; the second Act Two focuses on my wife and life partner, Natalie Perrogi, her very good friend Sam Grassly, and her grandfather Harry O’Brien; and the third and final Act of this story centers around me. Everything I’m about to disclose is either firsthand, second hand, or in small part third hand. In order to make this three act story more readable, I have taken the liberty of placing much of what I have to say in the mouths of my parents and my wife and to a limited extent some others. Regardless, I vouch for each and every detail that is printed on these pages. Now, let us turn to a brief summary of things to come.
My mother along with six siblings were born in Jerusalem. Her contribution to the story chronicles a back and forth journey between Jewish Orthodoxy and Secularism. Rebecca Goldshein was born a Hasidic Jew in Jerusalem but found it impossible to understand the demands her family and their religion placed on her. My father’s story involves his atheist upbringing and his intense love for Rebecca. Indeed, the two, my mother and father, may not have had what might be called a marriage made in heaven, but it was a love affair that rivals Romeo and Juliet.
My wife Natalie’s journey took her from Soda Springs Idaho to Marshalltown Iowa as she ran away from her past, from an abusive impoverished childhood. It was only much later that she became a self-assured adult and nationally recognized painter and then a victim of hate lying in a comatose state, all because of a novel I wrote. Sam, Natalie’s ‘savior’ in so many ways, is a retired priest and lawyer who by chance, or not, met up with Natalie at a diner in Marshalltown. If not for Sam, Natalie might not have become the wonderfully magnificent person she is. Indeed, if not for Sam, she might be languishing in prison to this day.
Finally, I describe the birth of my novel, The First Coming, or as my father called it, my Great Manifesto, and the extraordinary difficulties it caused Natalie and me. I was shot because of this book. I was abducted and crashed in the jungles of India because of this book. Most important, because of this book, my beloved Natalie became comatose in a hospital in Tucson, Arizona as I wandered the Indian jungle in a deluded state.
Inasmuch as atheism is highly prevalent in all three acts of this story, let me be clear. I hesitate to use the term ‘atheism’ because there are some people, probably most people, who assume the term refers to the steadfast conviction that there is no god.
This could not be further from the truth. There is no one on earth who seriously holds that conviction, even if they say they do. Who of us mortals could possibly know if one god, two gods, or many gods even exist … or not? What I mean by atheism is more a way of life than a strict adherence to a matter of fact. I cannot say if the God of Abraham is real or not. Nevertheless, I live my life as if there is no God of Abraham or any other god including Zeus and his fellow Olympians, and I live as if there is no afterlife, no heaven or hell, no second chances, and no Judgement Day. To that extent I consider myself an atheist.
What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
On a scale of one to ten, my organization skills are a -93.55, not the negative sign. However, I must admit the best way for me to combat stress is to make a list, star the most important things, and cross them off before bed. Sometimes, like many people, I complete a task before I list. That way, I can check it off immediately. Well, maybe my organization skills are improving. Now I’d say I’m a -77.89.
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
Stress busting???? Well, yes, I would say it is by golly! For two important reasons. First, it is the first of three important stories that I am sure the reader will immediately wrap his or her mind around, stories about how fanaticism in the three major western religions affects the world around us, the reader’s world, possibly the reader himself or herself. Second, I believe the reader will fall in love with Leonard and Rebecca, my version of Romeo and Juliet who don’t have it particularly easy once they fall in love.
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Runs May 1 – June 3.
Drawing will be held on June 4.
The Trials of Adrian Wheeler was my first published novel (L&L Dreamspell, 2011). It was awarded runner-up in the San Francisco Book Festival 2015. I am happy to say that The Trials of Adrian Wheeler has been optioned as a movie by EVW Entertainment (producer of the movie Break the Stage), and the screenplay has been written by Erik Wolter and me. EVWE is now looking for partners to produce the movie.
The Wild Rose Press published The Fountain of Youth, my second published novel, in May of 2017. It has received exceptional reviews, some of which appear on Amazon and Goodreads. Also, the stage play has just been completed. The screenplay has also been written by Erik Wolter and me. EVWE is now looking for partners to produce the movie. The Click, my third novel, was published by The Wild Rose Press in September of last year. Again, the screenplay has been written by Erik Wolter and me. EVWE is now looking for partners to produce the movie.
Book One of my trilogy, Confronting Religious Fanaticism – An Eye for an Eye, has just been published. Books Two and three, Black Hearts & Hungry Bears and Ira Neebest and The First Coming, will be coming out soon.
My wife, Susan, and I collaborated on The State vs. Max Cooper and The Steele Deal (published by ArtAge Publications), courtroom plays in which the audience serves as the jury. Both are being produced around the country.
I have been writing poetry for over fifteen years (some of which has been published) and am also a portrait and figure artist and sculptor, having been represented by a number of galleries in Denver and Boulder, Colorado. I am presently represented by the Delta Gallery in Brentwood, California and online by Vango Art. My work can be seen at my website, www.steveshear.net.
I practiced patent, trademark, copyright and other forms of intellectual property law for over 40 years, and I was the executive director and founder of Silicon Valley Seminars. We conducted Intellectual Property workshops throughout this country, Israel, German, and Canada since 1984.
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