Fiction - Literary
234 Pages
Reviewed on 02/27/2022
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Author Biography

Joe Pace is a writer of literary and science fiction. He studied political science and history at the University of New Hampshire, and his writing reflects his ongoing academic and practical interest in both.

Joe has also served in elective office, taught American history, and worked in business banking. His assorted interests include comic books, pickup basketball, Greek mythology, and the occasional marathon. He was elected student body president as an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire and then served nine years on the Select Board in Exeter. After coming up short in a bid for New Hampshire's Executive Council, he returned to municipal governance as a Selectman in his new hometown of Kensington.

As a storyteller, he seeks to weave memorable characters and places with unforgettable stories that speak to the human condition. His literary inspirations include John Irving, Lloyd Alexander, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Patrick O'Brian. He's also an unapologetic Star Trek, Marvel, and West Wing guy.

Joe was born and raised in seacoast New Hampshire and still calls it home with his wife, Sarah, their sons Bobby and Xavier, and their dopey dogs Sam and Joy.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

When I reflect on Moss by Joe Pace, three words come to mind immediately: deep, unique, and extraordinary. All three adjectives apply to Pace’s characters, plot, themes, and fact, everything about this novel. Quite honestly, I cannot get this exquisite literary novel out of my thoughts, and here's why. The style is primarily reflective narrative. In many novels, that approach slows down the pace of the plot. But Oscar Kendall, the narrator, is such a conflicting blend of emotions that, like a Venus flytrap, he grabs a reader’s psyche and won’t let go. The same applies to May: she fascinates both Oscar and the reader. What is it with her? Why does she behave as she does? And then there are the almost strange members of May’s family. Each character is unique; their motivations and actions are complex. But it is how all these characters’ lives intersect that gives readers a plot so extraordinary that few of us see the twists coming our way. When they do, Moss becomes unforgettable.

But Moss’s intense impact on the reader goes beyond its plot, characters, and style. Overshadowing everything in Oscar’s life is his father, Isaiah Moss, a famous author Oscar knows very little about until he inherits his father’s cabin and his old typewriter. Through letters that Isaiah has written to his estranged son, and through May’s experience, readers so thoroughly feel the devastating effects that war has on those called to fight that we are beyond moved. Pace’s ability to capture the emotional and physical suffering is unique: it cuts deeply into readers’ minds and hearts and holds us captive long after the story has ended. As a would-be writer, I felt compelled to make notes on some of the insights Isaiah Moss offered on writing, e.g. “My writing teachers were my eyes and ears and my imagination…ears are more important to writers than eyes or hands.” Moss is a deep and unique novel, and Joe Pace, like the fictional Isaiah Moss, is one extraordinary writer.

K.C. Finn

Moss is a work of fiction in the literary, interpersonal drama, and slice of life subgenres. It is aimed at the adult reading audience, contains some explicit language and sexual situations throughout, and was penned by author Joe Pace. The ‘Moss’ of the title is the surname that belongs to the famed Isaiah Moss, a prolific writer. Our protagonist is his illegitimate son, Oscar, who has never dared to publish any of his own writing for fear of the long shadow his father’s legacy has cast. But when Oscar inherits his father’s writing cabin on Isaiah’s death, not only does he find an unpublished manuscript that could be his ticket to fame, but a tapestry of dark threads that made up many aspects of Isaiah’s life that Oscar never even knew about.

Author Joe Pace has crafted a thrilling work of literary fiction that homes in on character backstories to deliver a reflective and emotive tale of parental expectations, illusions, and secrets. Oscar is an especially well-developed central protagonist for the tale: a tortured soul with plenty to write about, but a powerfully stifling weight is placed upon him by his upbringing in Isaiah’s shadow. The novel is beautifully tense and well-paced as Oscar discovers more and more about his father that he really didn’t want to know, but along with him, we can’t look away as the darkness unfolds. Compelling and chilling, packed with drama and intrigue, I would certainly recommend Moss to readers who crave accomplished, high-quality fiction that still keeps a swift pace and delivers on every plotline.

Anelynde Smit

Moss by Joe Pace is a brilliantly written story. It follows the life of Oscar Kendall, the estranged son of Isaiah Moss, a world-famous writer, who finds out about the death of his father through other people. Oscar is left a cabin on the lake and goes to see what is inside, but nothing prepares him for the things he is about to find. He finds, among other things, Ruby Pierce, one of the many women with whom his father had affairs, and her granddaughter May, a war veteran with a beautiful face but a broken spirit. He also finds an unpublished manuscript which is possibly his father’s magnum opus. The story takes us from the broken relationship with the father-son dynamic to the healing of wounds long since forgotten about. It is an amazing look at the human heart and its ability to respect and hate at the same time because, as flawed as Isaiah Moss was, his son did respect him. What will he do with this manuscript no one knows about? What role will May play and how far is Oscar willing to go to accept his father’s unconventional style of parenting. This is a truly moving story with twists that you will not see coming; a must-read for anyone.

Moss by Joe Pace is an incredible book. I really felt something reading this; the loss of his father might not be a huge event for him, but to the reader it really hits hard. You feel bad for Oscar and his estranged relationship with his father, especially the coldness in the tone of the letters, which was the only connection they had. You want to root for them to make up, but that doesn’t happen in the happy ending way you want to, and somehow that is very 'Moss'. I could really see this as a mini-series on TV with its vivid details provided by Pace. I loved every second of this book, and I really want to read the rest of his works. Moss is such a heavy story but went down so smoothly you get lost easily in the work, and with Oscar’s thoughts all written down, you become part of his world. I highly recommend this book to anyone.