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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Having read Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond in high school, to the consternation of his teacher, Tom Beattie is obviously a Thoreau fan and Fronting Onlys is his unique tribute to the life and literary works of the 19th century essayist and poet. And in a series of funny and imaginative chapters, with “complemental” verses to match, he comes up with a hilariously funny book that is both highly entertaining and curiously informative. Beattie effortlessly brings the two-hundred-year-old transcendentalist author into a contemporary setting in his mock up interviews, which ironically highlight the fact that Thoreau’s writings still resonate, especially among the environmentally conscious, even in this modern era.
And in a way that can perhaps be described as plain cute, wise cute and abstract cute, Tom Beattie’s Fronting Onlys is a creative gem. It is absolutely not your usual biography that spews out facts and dates, often times neglecting the real person behind the story. Indeed, Beattie seems to resurrect Thoreau from the pages of his book into our living rooms or bedrooms, as the case may be. And it is just in time for the celebration of Thoreau’s 200th birthday anniversary, which is accompanied by the manic speed of the changes in our technology-driven way of life. Beattie’s creative writing style borders on the absurd and it turns out to be quite engaging and effective so that as we try hard to keep up with the rest of the world, Fronting Onlys will make us pause for a moment to take notice of the most important things in life.