Independently Published (2022)
Reviewed by Stephanie Elizabeth Long for Reader Views (09/2022)
When aspiring screenwriter Tommy Pharoni loses one of his best friends, Harry Injurides, to suicide, he is distraught. Tommy’s tight-knit group of friends mourn Harry and get nostalgic over drinks at a hole-in-the-wall bar one night, and that’s when it happens. Harry Injurides enters the bar. It’s not a Harry doppelgänger, nor isn’t it a hologram; it is him in the flesh, or is it? Harry has been resurrected. This is unfathomable; as one could imagine, his friends have many questions. But Harry is hazy and speaks in nebulous circles. After that night, he disappears, only to be seen sporadically over the next year.
Rejection is a hard pill to swallow, which further crushes Tommy’s dreams of selling his screenplay. He slaves away at his nine-to-five and watches his friends become seduced by wealth—controlled by money and power. But one day, amidst his meager existence, Tommy has an epiphany. Inspired by Harry’s ramblings and journalling, Tommy starts writing. He doesn’t relent until he has a gospel and the makings of a new religion. Seemingly, overnight, The Symposium is born. It’s gaining momentum; it’s what the people need. Tommy quickly becomes the face of the modern religion, riding high on the coattails of his late best friend’s philosophies. But his amount of success comes at a hefty price when Tommy learns that business and religion are mutually exclusive—and everyone wants a piece.
“Pharoni” by Colin Dodds is an immersive philosophical book for free-thinkers. For those that reject societal norms and seek refuge from the soul-sucking expectations of their everyday lives—the square pegs being forced into round holes. The author deftly weaves a tale of self-discovery and evolution and delivers the writing with a poetic flair that will capture readers’ interest. If you’ve ever found yourself questioning the very fabric of religion—what does it mean to believe, or how do the masses become so easily indoctrinated? Then you want to read this book.
Like it or not, money makes the world go round. But unfortunately, it can propel humans to do intolerable things, like sell out friends, take bribes and fabricate religions for profit. “Pharoni” illustrates the evolvement of Tommy and his friends as they measure their worth by the weight of their pockets. The author did an excellent job of showing how wealth can bring out the worst in people—obliterate friendships and set flames to a marriage.
Beyond the thought-provoking ramblings about faith and money, the author deserves praise for his riveting, almost lyrical approach to writing. I can’t say I’ve read anything quite like it before. The book is chock-full of delicious metaphors and thoughts likely to spark further rumination. Moreover, inspired by Tommy’s love for screenplays, the dialogue between characters is written in a transcript style, which is a challenging feat in a manuscript because it can be difficult to convey feelings. But, like every other aspect of the book, the talented author nailed it.
Simply put, “Pharoni” by Colin Dodds was a literary experience. Highly philosophical, resplendent, and brimming with intrigue, the writing evokes emotion and will leave an imprint on its readers—a well-earned five stars!