A journalist, author, playwright, and teacher, Ben H. Winters is the mind behind great books such as “Sense and Sensibility, and Sea Monsters” and “The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman.”
Ben H. Winters’ books mainly focus on fiction, but he is also a well-known poet credited with writing poems such as “Literally Disturbed: Tales to Keep You Awake at Night” and “Romantically Disturbed: Love Poems to Rip Your Heart Out.” He also has a long history as a playwright that dates back to his time in school. Some of the plays that he has taken part in include “Slut” (performed in 2005) and “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” (performed in 2006).
However, in spite of his long history in the industry, it is his New York Times’ best-seller titled “Sense, Sensibility, and Sea Monsters” that brought him into the limelight in 2009. Since then he has continued to write other novels such as “The Mystery of the Missing Everything” and “The Last Policeman” among others. Here is a look at two of his best novels.
Sense, Sensibility, and Sea Monsters – A Brief Review
“Sense, Sensibility, and Sea Monsters” is a parody novel written by Ben H. Winters and co-authored by Jane Austen. As the best-selling novel of the New York Times in 2009, the novel combines elements of Jane Austen’s 1811 novel titled “Sense and Sensibility” as well as “Sea Monster” stories.
The novel is about a work of fiction about an event known as “The Alteration” which triggers conflict between mankind and sea monsters that include sea serpents, giant man-eating jellyfish, and giant lobsters, just to mention a few. The main character in the novel is Henry Dashwood, a wealthy resident of Norland Park who sets out on a journey to discover the source of “The Alteration”. Unfortunately for the brave explorer, his journey and life are cut short when he is attacked by a hammerhead shark, giving way to another main character played by his son, John.
Upon his death, Henry Dashwood leaves his entire fortune to John, the son he conceived with his first wife. John is charged to take care of his step mother and three step-sisters: Margaret, Marianne, and Elinor. Unfortunately, John is influenced negatively by his greedy wife, and he ends up moving into his father’s estate, which forces his step mother and step-sisters to move out and live with their relative, Sir John Middleton. This, in turn, gives way to an intriguing drama about love and deceit as the three sisters and their mother endeavor to find a stable home and ideal companions.
A true work of fiction, this novel features bizarre creatures such as the half-man-half-squid Colonel Brandon as well as undersea cities. Fortunately, in spite of all the hardships that the three girls and their mother face, the ending is a happy one as they all find loving suitors and a stable place to call home.
The Last Policeman – A Brief Review
The Last Policeman is another of Ben H. Winters novels that won an award—the Edgar Award—in 2012 and rightly so considering all the work that went into creating it. In spite of being a work of fiction, Winters details how he endeavored to make the novel as seemingly real as possible by consulting with experts in fields such as police techniques, astronomy, economics, and psychology. The result was a four-part series that received its fair share of criticism but, nevertheless, wowed its audience.
The novel brings several occurrences together to form an intriguing story of earth’s destruction, murder, and fraud, just to mention a few aspects. On one hand, the main character of the story, Det. Hank Palace, sets out to investigate the death of Peter Zell, which is initially considered suicide. However, as he later finds out, Peter Zell’s death was, in fact, a homicide concealed to look like a suicide so as not to expose fraud in the insurance firm for which Zell worked.
On the other hand, there is a discovery of a new asteroid named 2011GV which threatens to collide with the earth. The likelihood of the 6.5 kilometers wide asteroid hitting the earth cause panic and wide-spread economic, social, and political collapse as everyone anticipates the worst. In response to the instability, governments around the world set up strict emergency laws that include restriction of sale and purchase of firearms, legalization of marijuana, wage and price controls, and tough penalties for possession of drugs other than marijuana.
There is a temporary relief for four years as the asteroid disappears from the radar, but that does not serve to end the wide-spread panic and anticipation around the world. Eventually, the asteroid reappears and, this time, researchers at NASA are certain that it will hit the earth. Considering the size of the asteroid, it is projected that the impact would be powerful enough to obliterate civilization and kill off a major percentage of the human population. Resigned to their fate, the people abandon all social and professional responsibilities, and many decide to spend their last days doing the things they always wanted to do most.
The novel “The Last Policeman” proved so intriguing upon its release that it was considered suitable for adoption as a TV series. Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the producer of the movie series “Transformers”, made known his desire to adopt the book into a TV series. However, Winters was skeptical about the proposition since, according to him, TV series would have limited time frames for episodes to play out as intended and portrayed in the novel. It is still not yet clear whether the novel will make it into the big screens, but there is speculation that the novel is just the first in a trilogy since the plot line remains unsolved at the end of the story.
Ben H. Winters is indeed one of the best authors in his niche as evidenced by the highly esteemed awards that some of his novels have bagged. He is eloquent, imaginative, and creative considering the stories that he conjures. He is also realistic to some point as his novels take into account actualities in history, economy, politics, society, and psychology. It is abundantly clear that he is not done yet, and the writing world will be eagerly waiting for more of his poems, plays, and sci-fi novels.
Books in order of publication by series:
Last Policeman Books
|The Last Policeman||(2012)|
|World of Trouble||(2014)|
|The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman||(2009)|
|Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters||(2009)|
|The Mystery of the Missing Everything||(2011)|
|Literally Disturbed (poems)||(2013)|
|Romantically Disturbed (poems)||(2015)|
|The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (with Stephen Sislen)||(2010)|
Non Fiction Books
|The Jewish Comedy Thesaurus||(2007)|