Buffalo Lights
Book Review

Buffalo Lights
Author: John Farr

Publisher: Self Published
Price: US $9.99

In today’s day and age, with a plethora of online content, can one lone guy self-publish an e-Book and be successful? To help answer that, lets look at a new self-published book by Macintosh scribe John Farr.

Let me preface this review by saying right up front that I consider the AppleLinks.com writer and editor a friend. One of the few online writers I have actually met in person, and one of the very few whom I send email to on a regular basis. And while I do have quite a different outlook on life, politics, and Macintosh experience than John, I must say I love reading his weekly columns. I have enjoyed his writing since he first began his gig over at AppleLinks, as well as his brief stint with MacAddict and his own blog.

Saying all that, can I fairly review John’s new e-Book objectively? I think so. In fact, because of my friendship, I feel compelled to perhaps be even more critical of Buffalo Lights.

Buffalo Lights is an e-Book published in Adobe Acrobat format. The last draft of the e-Book comes in at 128 pages. For a price of $9.99, that equals around eight cents per page. In contrast, an average paperback book costs $7.99 for 350 pages, equaling around two-cents per page. So why would you want to spend more for less content?

Easy answer: you pay for good content, not just ink (or fonts) on a page. While there are thousands and thousands of books you can spend your money on, most really are not worth reading. Buffalo Lights, however, is.

Buffalo Lights is one mans journey into the unknown. It is about how one man, following the pull of a mid-life crisis, uproots his family and makes a radical change. But John does not take the journey alone. Along for the ride, and a co-driver, is his wife Kathy. And while we get glimpses of John’s life through her eyes, this book is really about John’s physical change, his spiritual refueling, and his radical departure of all the has come before in his life.

The journey starts in Maryland, where John’s life and sense of self is all about doubt and some regret. Of paths not taken, opportunities missed, and unfulfilled dreams. Some would call this a mid-life crisis, as I do, though I don’t know if that description is entirely accurate. Perhaps a mid-life change would be more appropriate.

The journey leads to Taos, New Mexico, where nothing is the same as Maryland. The pull of this part of America is an alluring dream for John and Kathy, and they leave behind a good job (Kathy’s, not John’s) sell their home, and take the plunge. They are convinced that a better life awaits them in the drought, mountains, and sagebrush that is New Mexico. Do they find what they are looking for? Is your physical location key to your spiritual growth? Do your dreams and life’s ambitions come true with a change of venue? You will have to read Buffalo Lights to learn that; I am not going to spoil it for you.

The book does not end, not really. This is his life from around 1998 through 2002, a collection and rewriting of columns and articles written for different publications throughout the past four to five years. Fortunately for those not familiar with John’s writing, none of it feels dated. None of it feels like catch up. It is all fresh and new, even for those of us (like myself) who have been reading John for years. The book feels fresh and new.

As a book reviewer, I get al the books I review here at MyMac.com for free. Buffalo Lights was not an exception. But after reading this book, I felt compelled to actually buy it. That’s right, I read the entire book and paid for it afterwards. Did I do so because it is John, or because this book is truly worth my ten bucks? I am not a rich man, and as a publisher, I respect good content above all else. This book is worth more than ten bucks, and so I spent my money not to ease John’s financials but because this is a masterpiece of writing.

I do not use the word masterpiece lightly. If you go back through every book review I have written in the past seven years, you will not find that word anywhere. The only book I have read in the last ten years, besides Buffalo Lights, I could use that honorifics with, would be Pillars of the Earth. And I don’t use it here as a favor to John, but because this book really is that good.

Do you want to read the writings of a man who has a lot to say, with the ability to captivate a reader? This book is for you. Being a self-published endeavor, you can expect some errors. A sprinkling of grammar and spelling mistakes can be found within, but they are few and far between. If anything, when you find one, it reminds you that this is not a product of the publishing juggernaut industry, but rather the work of a passionate writer fully in charge of the content. It breathes life throughout, pulling the reader into a world most of us are not familiar with. You know, while reading, that your spent money is going to the creator of the work, not to the public relations department of a huge corporation.

Coming up with a metaphor to describe Buffalo Lights is not easy, so I won’t try. It is a great, great read, one you will be happy to spend ten bucks on. It is also a work in progress in many ways, and your price will entitle you to updates to the book as time goes on. Since starting Buffalo Lights, John has already released two updates to the book, correcting this and that.

An opus of a thwarted dreamer, Buffalo Lights is a must read.

MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5

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