Fiction - Literary
293 Pages
Reviewed on 05/31/2022
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Author Biography

A career as a newspaper editor, publisher, and manager took Robb Grindstaff from Phoenix, Arizona, to small towns in North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin, from seven years in Washington, D.C., to five years in Asia. Born and raised a small-town kid, he's as comfortable in Tokyo or Tuna, Texas. The variety of places he's lived and visited serve as settings for the characters who invade his head. His novels are probably best classified as contemporary southern lit, and he's had more than a dozen short stories published in a wide array of genres. His articles on the craft of fiction writing have appeared in various writer magazines and websites, and one of his seminars was presented at the Sydney (Australia) Writers Festival. He also has taught writing courses for the Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of Australia, and Savvy Authors. Robb retired from the newspaper business in the summer of 2020 to write and edit fiction full time.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Slade by Robb Grindstaff is a unique attempt, using an unusual style and format, to pinpoint and highlight both the light and dark sides of the human psyche. Written as a series of interviews, the story focuses on the incredible survival and life story of Slade Bennington. After young Slade is horrifically injured in a car crash that killed his beloved sister, Jolene, he is, as he so beautifully puts it, “born again”. As a double amputee, with horrific facial injuries and burn scarring, Slade faces a massive rehabilitation task. Writing down his thoughts and musings during this time ultimately sees a book emerge about his life that becomes an international best-seller and a major motion picture. All this fame and attention give Slade incredible wealth and the unexpected love of the beautiful starlet hired to play Slade’s sister in the movie. A second book, a semi self-help book, propels Slade to superstardom, where he is able to charge exorbitant amounts of money for one-on-one counseling and seminars. Throughout it all, despite the critics and detractors who label him a “cult leader”, a “brainwasher,” and give him the moniker of “Shaman to the Stars”, Slade maintains his simple, down-to-earth philosophy and continues on his life’s journey; a life of love with his beautiful wife, Annie and their three wonderful girls. But with superstardom comes risks and Slade and his family will forever be the target of misguided souls who read much more into Slade’s works than was ever intended.

Slade is an incredibly powerful and thought-provoking story. Author Robb Grindstaff hit upon a stroke of genius in the styling of this tale. By using a series of interviews, conducted by someone writing the story of Slade’s life, we are able to get a deep insight into the motivations and emotions of all the principal characters, something not always achievable with a straight narrative style. I particularly appreciated the candor of the interviewees throughout the story. This made actions and reactions crystal clear for readers. I loved the thoughtful analysis of so many ideas and philosophies. By casting Annie as a retired movie star, whose focus in life these days was the study and teaching of comparative religion, the author was able to discuss many of the great religious leaders and philosophers of history, which I found compelling. I did enjoy Slade’s continued bemusement at his own success and his simple, down-to-earth belief in who he was, what he was doing, and his purpose on this earth. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this story is the exploration of the human psyche and the battle between inherent good and inherent evil in all of us. This is a powerful story that does what all good stories do – it makes you think, it makes you question your own beliefs and motivations and, most importantly, it entertains you deeply. Some of the subtle humor was instantly appealing to me and just added to my enjoyment. This is a fantastic book on many levels and I can highly recommend it.

Heather Hirschman

At the age of twenty-nine, a horrific accident left Slade Bennington in a two-week coma, his body torn apart. However, during this time he was aware of all the surgery and discussions by the medical staff. When he regained consciousness he felt reborn. He spent months in hospital and began writing down his thoughts about life and how it works. The writing continued to pour out of him once he was home. Purely by chance, his ramblings became an enormously successful book, followed by an Oscar-winning movie and another best-selling book. Against all odds, his world exploded with people wanting to talk and listen to him. His book tours sold out and fortunes were paid to have one-on-one sessions with him. In Slade by Robb Grindstaff, we discover that unfortunately, some thought him to be the devil incarnate.

I enjoyed Slade by Robb Grindstaff. It is written as a series of interviews with people close to the central character, Slade Bennington, as well as those who hold him in contempt. It covers absolutely every aspect of his life and each interview reveals an integral part of his story. I loved that some chapters left you hanging, others provided an “aha” moment, but then there are those that slapped you in the face. The book covers some theology, a type of philosophy, and some plain common sense. All of it is written in an easy-to-read, never boring style. There is a theory that the best writers are those who are or were journalists and Grindstaff reinforces that notion.

Pikasho Deka

Slade by Robb Grindstaff is the story of Slade Bennington, a man who survives a devastating car crash, leading him to write self-help books and unwittingly propelling him into the life of a celebrity. The story is told through a series of interviews with Slade Bennington by a journalist, who includes the closest people to Slade and some of his biggest detractors in the book. Severely disabled after the accident, Slade's self-help book is an instant success, landing him a Hollywood movie deal. But controversy arises when Slade starts an unusual relationship with the teenage star of the movie, Annie, almost twenty years his junior. Additionally, as his popularity rises, he develops a cult-like following he never envisioned. Some hail Slade as the greatest man they ever knew. Still, others call him a con artist and a sociopath. Who is Slade?

A timely satire of the celebrity-obsessed culture plaguing our society, Slade is an intriguing and authentic piece of work that has plenty to offer. Author Robb Grindstaff's experimental narrative structure and stylistic choices may take a moment to get used to, but after a few pages, the story flows past without a single hitch. Slade is a complex character. A charismatic and intelligent man, often seen as the shaman to the stars, he isn't without his flaws. That's what makes him thoroughly compelling to the reader; the fact that for all the fame and fortune, he still feels human. If you like to read uniquely told satirical stories, I recommend Slade.

Steven Robson

Slade by Robb Grindstaff is a unique fictional testimonial to Slade Bennington, a hero to the masses and villain to some, whose life unfolds in a very real and palpable way. Told through a series of interviews with Slade, his family, friends, associates, and individuals he has impacted, Mr. Grindstaff, as the interviewer, compiles a truly wonderful picture of life in all of its wonder and unpredictability. This story pivots on one major catastrophe that impacts a 29-year-old Slade; an impact so profound that it completely changes the course of his life, the lives of those he loves, and indeed so many more that may never have known him. The uniqueness of Slade is perhaps its greatest strength, allowing readers a kaleidoscopic view of these very real people through the eyes of a great number of individuals. There remains one unanswered question after the exceptional climax, however, and this may trump everything else, firing an ongoing debate in the minds of every reader of Slade.

Robb Grindstaff’s Slade was a fabulous read, pulling me into a story that was compellingly interesting and very heart-wrenching in every way. The concept of someone experiencing the harshest of brutalities life can throw at them and coming out the other side a new person may not be new, but the way Slade portrays this journey most definitely is. I found so many subtleties wrapped within that were deftly created: the demonstrated attitude of Mark Devlin; the introduction of firearms to Slade’s girls; the unanswered questions concerning the direction of the fatal shot which killed Devlin; even the death of Jolene on her way to terminate. This is what life is in its raw form. Sometimes there are no do-overs and sometimes there are, and if we get those chances, what we make of them will ultimately define us as human beings. Slade is a book I would not hesitate in recommending to every reader of high-quality, real-life drama. A very impressive book.

Rabia Tanveer

Slade by Robb Grindstaff is a literary fiction novel written in the style of an interview. Slade Bennington was left severely disabled after an accident when he was 29 years old, but he is more alive than he ever was before. The accident changed his life in more ways than he could imagine. Previously he had been a troublemaker, insensitive and immature, but after the accident, Slade became a bestselling author in high demand. His biography was turned into a movie and Slade made new relationships that he cherished. While he had fans and admirers, he also made enemies. One enemy, in particular, was ready to do whatever it took to punish Slade for sins even he was unaware of.

The premise of the story was as unique as the author promised. I loved Slade, his dark humor, and his positive outlook on life. At first, I thought Slade was suspiciously positive, especially considering his accident and condition. However, the more I read, the more I realized how a single incident changed his life forever. The narrative style was different but entertaining at the same time. Schuyler and Matt had an important role in Slade’s recovery whereas Randall became very important to Slade. I loved how Slade’s character development went on a steady upward journey and only got better with time. The interview-style narrative was intriguing and helped Robb Grindstaff keep readers interested. Slade was more effective than I anticipated and that only made me want to read on. I would highly recommend this novel!