Revised Second Edition

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
424 Pages
Reviewed on 10/30/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Richard Siciliano lives in Northern California. He spent many years working for social services and community action agencies, and along the way concluded that the commandment, 'Thou shall not kill,' did not come with any footnotes or conditions.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite

Extraneous by Richard Siciliano is so well written it will make other writers raise the bar for the quality of their own works. It is so funny it will make you cry, a masterpiece of introspection, and a testament to how much we are into ourselves that we sometimes find we are unable to mesh with reality. Yet, I found Extraneous eerily grounded in the day to day minutia of surviving in the modern world. I found this one of the main strengths of the novel. Details of how to wind your way through a maze of government paperwork and daily encounters with our legal system made this novel stand out for me. This is life in the modern world and sometimes it is crazy and overwhelming. So much so that it will convince us that it is we who are crazy. This is what drives our sympathy and affection for the main character.

I totally love and relate to Arnold, the protagonist of Extraneous. What I loved most about him was the way he paid attention to everything that goes on around him. Attention to detail is not a common trait. I started learning it in the military and I know I haven’t mastered it, but Arnold is a Master of It. Combine that with his natural abundance of compassion and you have a great character. There are so many great characters in this book, and they all fit into this modern, very realistic plot. These are the people of everyday modern life, people we sometimes fail to notice. But Arnold notices them. This is his strength and weakness. The setting is well done, shown through the eyes of a man who doesn't miss anything. And as I mentioned in the beginning, you won’t find better writing anywhere.

K.C. Finn

Extraneous is a work of light-hearted fiction penned by author Richard Siciliano, now in its revised second edition. Combining pathos with the comedic situations of real life, the hapless hero of the tale is Arnold Haus, cut down by a massive emotional breakdown. When Arnold moves to a temporary residence in a city hotel, intending on rehabilitation, it sets in motion a series of events which lead him through a whole new series of emotional discoveries. Forced to meet other ‘extraneous’ folk whom he never would have imagined getting to know, Arnold learns about the world around him and slowly discovers a new purpose in life through serving and helping the community.

I found Arnold’s story to be one of sweet, smiling moments more than laugh out loud humour, although many of the strange people he meets at the hotel will give you a giggle at first glance. Author Richard Siciliano writes well to convey Arnold’s own unorthodox ways of dealing with crisis, using witty dialogue that sounds straight from real life and familiar situations that really resonate with his readers. There is also a real attention to detail in character building. I particularly enjoyed Arnold’s growing contentment towards the end of the tale as the pieces of his life come together: a very well constructed plot ensures a feeling of satisfaction and enjoyment for all readers there. Overall, Extraneous is an amusing work with a lot of heart that is sure to be an uplifting read for fans of literary drama and allegorical tales.

Romuald Dzemo

Extraneous by Richard Siciliano is a great story with compelling characters and themes on personal development, the quest for meaning, and social issues. Arnold Haus is depressed and doesn’t seem to have any desire to live anymore. Matters get worse when he runs out of money. Intending to apply for disability benefits, he has to leave his apartment and live in a cheap residential hotel. His encounters with people like him, people who still have a fire in them, inspire him to begin a business that sells bric-a-brac and used books and records in an old store. His relationship with an elderly priest who has known failure and frustration leads him on a completely new path. He finds purpose in the most unexpected of places.

The novel opens with an encounter. The protagonist, Arnold, is in a consultation with the doctor and what he says, as well as his stream of consciousness, gets the reader intrigued and interested to know who this character is and what troubles him. The prose is beautiful, insightful, and filled with passages that unveil the psychological state of the protagonist with unusual clarity. Here is an example from the very first page: ‘He was trying to explain himself truthfully, and yet as he listened to his words he detected intimations of pomposity and evasion, as well as the potential for an insult if this man, his occupation notwithstanding, secretly harbored phobias of his own.”

The internal conflict is deftly handled and the humanity of the characters is explored with intelligence and skill. It was easy to feel that part of me was in the protagonist; the entire story is filled with realism and it deals with existential themes that most readers are confronted with every day. Extraneous is a novel about meaning, about transforming the absurdity of life and building meaningful connections. Richard Siciliano makes the story real and exciting, creating characters that feel like an extension of what most readers are.