After practicing law for many years, Jim Lively decided it was the appropriate time to pursue his true passion as a writer and contemporary visual artist. Jim just received the 2016 Merrimack Media Outstanding Writer Award for his new novel, Punitive Damages. It is a fun and whimsical read as we follow the adventures and misadventures of P.J., the gray canine female protagonist. This is Jim’s third novel.
Jim’s artworks have been recognized in numerous juried competitions and publications. He has exhibited all over the United States and in Europe. Jim was recently presented a Certificate of Excellence by the 2015 Palm Art Awards. His recent art films,"The Soul of Vinyl; Abbey Road Side 2 screened at the 2016 New York Independent Film Festival, art film "Still Mad as Hell" is an official selection of the Erie International Film Festival and the Directors Circle Festival of Shorts Film Festival and art film "The Case of the Deranged Sommelier" is an official selection of the Directors Circle Festival of Shorts Film Festival.
“Stories of animal-human bonding are not uncommon, but what sets Lively’s (The Puzzle Aesthetic, 2012) novella apart is the fact that the story is told from the point of view of a dog. When readers first meet the story’s protagonist, a Weimaraner, she is on a hospital bed being treated for injuries from an accident she can’t remember. As her mind clears, she realizes that she has no recollection of anything from her previous life, not even her name. But she becomes ever more certain that she “must be of aristocratic stock,””
– Kirkus Reviews
A kindhearted couple rescues a down-on-her-luck Weimaraner, but now all parties must face a five-day trial period.
Stories of animal-human bonding are not uncommon, but what sets Lively’s (The Puzzle Aesthetic, 2012) novella apart is the fact that the story is told from the point of view of a dog. When readers first meet the story’s protagonist, a Weimaraner, she is on a hospital bed being treated for injuries from an accident she can’t remember. As her mind clears, she realizes that she has no recollection of anything from her previous life, not even her name. But she becomes ever more certain that she “must be of aristocratic stock,” as she is all too aware of the indignities of institutional life in the animal hospital as she heals from her fractured leg and broken teeth. She is eventually adopted by a “grumpy guy” and his “kinder and gentler” female partner, who give her the name PJ. As the three get to know each other, PJ teaches her new owners about her needs by using her wits and dexterity to escape from every restraint and enclosure, often with hilariously destructive results. Although the man becomes increasingly irritated with each new transgression, his essential good nature, coupled with the patient and perceptive influence of the woman, leads to eventual understanding and true friendship between dog and human. Lively’s writing is vivid and engaging, and he creates three believable and memorable characters. His detailed description of PJ’s perspective on the trial period of her adoption may offer important insights to help new pet owners understand the emotional needs that lie behind destructive behavior. The author skillfully introduces PJ’s point of view, with a focus on scent that makes it realistically doglike. But developing such an alternative narration becomes complex, and Lively never makes it clear how PJ can understand the couple’s English conversations perfectly, yet she seems unable to communicate directly with the other dogs she encounters. Such inconsistencies jar a little, and a reader is left feeling that PJ’s existence must be a little lonely with so much knowledge and so few ways to express herself. Perhaps a series of PJ books is in order to allow the further exploration of the inner world of dogs.
A captivating story of one dog’s experience of crisis and healing, illustrated with the author’s evocative portraits of Weimaraners.
Pub Date: June 30, 2016
Page count: 174pp
Publisher: Merrimack Media
Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2016
A Dallas widow has lethal plans for the lawyer whose defense of an insurance company leads to her husband’s death in Lively’s thriller.
John Simon sues Mutual Indemnity Insurance Company when it won’t cover a necessary medical procedure. He loses the case, and since he can’t afford the million-dollar procedure, he dies from cancer. Mutual Indemnity’s attorney Charles Pierce is so upset by the outcome—certain the company should have OK’d the claim—that he retires. But John’s widow, Jamie, has already directed her ire toward Charles. As she works in a veterinarian’s office, she has ready access to ketamine. She initially wants to make Charles’ life miserable, though killing him is the ultimate goal. Covertly adding ketamine to his drinks, however, proves exceedingly difficult. She finally manages to book the same cruise as Charles—a monthlong trip from LA to Sydney, Australia. It seems a perfect opportunity for Jamie to fatally poison the retired lawyer. But the cruise is a hotbed of trouble, leading Charles to question his sanity. Lively’s novel feels like two stories in one. The first consists of Jamie’s attempts to poison Charles, which entail hiring a private investigator and enlisting the aid of a prostitute. Subsequent scenes on the cruise ship, which make up half the novel, concentrate on Charles, though readers know Jamie is lurking on board. Plot turns at sea, like a theft and a possible accident, do somewhat convolute the narrative. It nevertheless retains an impressive intensity. Likewise, the ending offers satisfactory answers while leaving a few developments open to interpretation.
An elaborate revenge plot makes for a twisty, often nerve-wracking tale.
Page count: 294pp
Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020
Author, Artist and Film Maker
Passion in life
Art, Reading and Art Film Making
Punitive Damages: Merrimack Media Outstanding Writer Award, 2016
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