Quality of Quantity

Redemption of an American Expatriate

Fiction - General
466 Pages
Reviewed on 08/26/2016
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Author Biography

James J. Houts was born on the threshold of Death Valley, in a remote region of California’s Mojave Desert. A born wanderer, he has traveled the world extensively, living and working in many cultures. After teaching high school English for several years, he traveled the U.S., tending bar in desert towns, Colorado ski resorts, and on Bourbon Street in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. During his career as a chemical engineering consultant, he lived in California, Hawaii, and as an expatriate in the Republic of the Philippines. He has worked throughout the globe and has spent a great deal of time in Southeast Asia and the People’s Republic of China, where he learned to speak Mandarin Chinese. He has managed engineering projects in Europe, South America and Africa. Educated in Southern California, he studied chemistry and biochemistry as an undergraduate and chemical engineering and technical writing in graduate school. His scientific research in electro-analytical chemistry has been published in The Journal of the American Chemical Society. The author's first novel, Spirit of Error, is the winner of three eLit Awards: Science, Current Events-Foreign Affairs/Military, and Fantasy/Science Fiction. His nonfiction series, Reminiscences of a Stock Market Flea, The Stock Market Flea: Trading the Crash of 2008, and The Stock Market Flea: Lessons from the Front, has won two NABE Pinnacle Book Awards. His most recent novels include Carnival of Cannibals, and Quality of Quantity. Some of his essays and short stories are online at Medium.com/@jamesjhouts. The author currently resides in Los Angeles, where he writes and trades the Options market. Follow him on Twitter @jamesjhouts, on Facebook/James J. Houts, and his web page: www.jamesjhouts.com.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Sefina Hawke for Readers' Favorite

Quality of Quantity (Redemption of an American Expatriate) by James J Houts is a fiction novel that will appeal most to adults, but some mature young adults may also find it intriguing. Quality of Quantity is a bit like watching a train crash; you know it is something sad and yet you cannot pull your gaze away from it. The author uses a somber tone to pull the reader in and to explore the concepts of love, loss, regret, and ageing. The narrative is designed to not just open a person’s eyes to the reality of life, but to cause a person to question themselves, their lives, and their choices.

Quality of Quantity is filled with metaphors. The first sentence of the book begins with metaphors; it reads “Time may be a river, but memory is a meteor shower, a staccato beat of energetic impacts.” The book is filled with language like this that just flows beautifully on the page and in the mind. Every single word is chosen with flawless precision for the maximum effect on the reader. My favorite aspect of the book was the formatting of each chapter with how each chapter occurred at a different time in the main character’s life; it truly allowed me to feel like I could understand the character without having to know everything - instead, the writing style allowed me to fill in the blanks using my own imagination.

Margaret Janzen

For many readers, I believe, this book will be a journey of introspection. The author has a gift for description that brings you with him on his world travels. That alone would make this book a "must read", but beyond that is a story of personal pain, self-absorption, excess, regret and ultimately self-knowledge. We look in the mirror and we see this person - perhaps not with his eyes of privilege, or the glamorous life-style, but with the perspective of lessons that only come with living our life the way we thought we were meant to. Such an enjoyable, sometimes cringeworthy, read. Heath's story is painted with the words of a true artist, every line filled with thoughtful significance. I highly recommend you take this journey, you won't regret it.

Lolly K. Dandeneau


“Time is cruelly physical to the old and psychologically arduous for the young.” This is a book I think ‘Lads’ will enjoy. Not to say women won’t, but as I read along I was entertained by the stories of lust, love, fighting… I particularly enjoyed the moment when he fights the school bully who has tormented between sixth and seventh grade. Naturally he has a moment of popularity when the sexy Reese makes her move on him, although he has a girlfriend. I laughed too about this: “Never a functional liar and terrible at keeping secrets the next time I called Melissa, I needed to decide if honesty really was the best policy or if deception might work best. I chose poorly and picked honesty- of course Melissa broke up with me.” Ha, being good has it’s punishments too. He turns shallow in high school, leading his life in the ideal image of a macho dude. Isn’t this familiar to many of us? Maybe sometimes honesty and the outcome makes a young kid think. hey- maybe I should grow up and tell self-serving lies, be evasive, and why not enjoy the pleasures of decadence? He goes on to love many others, of varied cultural differences. Travel, an expatriate, finding that there is no one left to impress. Lots of sexy women, the girls the girls, ego…What happened when he stopped objectifying women? Well you have to read to find out. The chapters titled by songs made me sing my way through, reminding me of music I haven’t heard in a while. Oddly, this is the second book I have read that mentioned chewing tar ball gum? I had never heard of such a thing. When the roads in the summer get hot, little asphalt comes up and the kids chew this, turning their teeth black- which is a memory set off when he sees men in Taiwan with black teeth from the nuts they ate for sexual prowess. It is funny how memories exist in a web, tickle one thread and an old part of your life makes an appearance in the center. There is silence in some family secrets, shameful things that happened to his twin. His own ‘scumbagging’ is hard to read, the reality of exploitation fictionalized or not is too close to reality. Maybe women read such things differently, firing up our sisterhood instincts- I can’t say. I just felt my hackles rise. There is a bit of explicit interactions, and he finds upon reflecting back on his years in Asia that he is a part of the very things he hates (particularly after what happened to his twin sister). In Buddhism he changes his life of excess, particularly sexual excess, taking part in exploiting women and in sense the narcissistic life he created for himself. Some of the stories made me laugh, many I was cringing and thinking “Heath, you’re a pig.” But that’s kind of the point, he was- and he changes. Do I think woman are going to think it’s wonderful and have warm fuzzy feelings because he changed? Eh, maybe a few. I understand the point of writing about Steven’s tales is to show how embracing eastern philosophy and facing that he was damaged by his childhood past he was able to better himself. Still, there are moments I thought “I can’t stand this guy.” Maybe that was the point, because there were early instances when I rooted for him, but his older self was less palatable. Certainly a break from my usual reading, it was different. I just feel like this is more one for the guys. Available now May 2016 Cheyenne Spring Publishing

Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A fictional memoir…tells the story of Heath, a retired executive reflecting on his life of indulgence and world travel. The tale unfolds in a nonlinear fashion, jumping between youth and middle age…Over time, he reconciles the painful events of his childhood with a more nuanced understanding of Western materialism and the exploitation that it sparks, providing him with a fuller appreciation of life and relationships. The novel benefits from a plainspoken, self-aware writing style and an intriguingly reflexive narrative structure. The author’s attention to detail can make for quite immersive reading…