“A Personal Trip through Hell”

Tracy Riva  Fletcher, NC  (May 9, 2011)

Out of Fear” by Don Hutcheson is the tale of Will Stallworth, an advertising executive returning to his home state of Georgia to take the job of his dreams, but just when things should be the brightest they’ve ever been for Will his life begins to slowly unravel.

Will is haunted by nightmares of his brother’s suicide years before.  His relationship with his parents is stressed. His mother is a paragon in his eyes, a perfectly aged Southern grand dame of a mother who represents the finest qualities of Southern women everywhere: grace, poise and irrefutable dignity presented in a solidly middle class life touched by loss and sorrow.

His father, well that’s another story entirely. Whereas Will’s mother is kind, graceful and accommodating, Will’s father is harsh, cold and distant as the lunar landscape. But mortality calls to everyone and it’s time for Will’s father to pass beyond this life into whatever is on the other side. Instead of drawing this family closer together Will’s father Donald’s impending death puts even more pressure on Will and draws the simmering cauldron of Will’s repressed rage toward his father closer to surface. Instead of reconciliation this deathbed scene will be filled with recriminations and words harsh enough to scar a man’s soul.

… one deal can make or break an entire career.

Hutcheson’s main character Will Stallworth is complex and interesting. At times Hutcheson gets too caught up in narration, but the story is still a rich one taking you behind the scenes of the advertising world and the pressure it puts on people. How one deal can make or break an entire career. How one misstep in the very public limelight of the advertising world can spell ruin and how sometimes a man’s worst enemy can be the very person who was once his friend and confidant.

Out of Fear is Will’s story, with everyone else acting as secondary players on the canvas of Will’s life and impending breakdown. He has few people he would consider allies, even fewer he would consider friends. He faces the worst of things on his own, beginning to come around only when he is finally able to see he can help someone else who he does considers a friend. It is this friendship, as well as Stallworth’s own redeveloping sense of self-worth that gives Will the courage he needs to begin rebuilding his shattered life.

Told from the male perspective, the sex in Out of Fear is raw. There is no painting it pretty, dressing it up and calling it love. It is quite simply robust sex between two consenting adults who have no need to play adolescent games of love. It is self-serving, seeking its own pleasure and it is about as raw, vulgar and truthful as it gets. 

…the sex in Out of Fear is raw.

Hutcheson called it erotic but in an email conversation with him I pointed out this definitely didn’t leave me turned on, in fact it had the opposite effect as it was so geared toward the male perspective of sex and there was no representation of the female point of view in the act, other than as a partner for the male. As Will points out, sex between consenting adults is fun, but a slightly more rounded perspective could have added volumes to the book in this aspect.

…if you are interested in psychological thrillers then go ahead and give Out of Fear a try.

I have mixed reactions to Out of Fear by Don Hutcheson. It wasn’t my personal cup of tea, but I can acknowledge that another reader might really enjoy it. It is well-crafted, my only complaints being too much time spent in the narrative style and too many stereotypical characters, but, this is Will’s story and because of that I’m not certain how well-developed certain other characters needed to be. In the end, Hutcheson tells an interesting tale despite the few flaws I found with it so I would say that if you are interested in psychological thrillers then go ahead and give Out of Fear a try.

All told Out of Fear is a reasonably good read. As previously noted, some of the characters are flat and predictable. The mother is a paragon of virtue, the father a walking, talking creep and the dead brother is keeping a secret that haunts Will throughout the story. Will and his sister are thick as thieves; they had to be to survive life in their house after their brother killed himself. His co-workers are either driven or tormented with nary a single sane soul among them. But by the final pages Will just might find something he didn’t even realize he was looking for, justification, release and redemption. Maybe he’ll find all three; we’ll have to wait for future books by Hutcheson to find out.

Find out what happens in Will
Stallworth’s life next!

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