Judge - 23rd Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Award
I’m not surprised to learn from his author’s bio that Charles Souby lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, because the sense of place is extremely strong in his novel A SHOT OF MALARIA. The book follows the misadventures of Daniel Martin, who is hooked on heroin (and lots of other things), and his struggle to get his life together. What’s most remarkable about the book is that Souby manages to make Martin, who, in the hands of another writer, might be quite revolting, completely appealing and sympathetic. This is not a bad man; this is a screwed-up man. Souby depicts the 1990s with a remarkable vividness—I remember these years quite well myself, though on the opposite coast. And while I think the book does tend to be a little bit longer than it should be and could use some tightening and editing, the pace held me, as did the writing itself. The novel’s grounding in specific details—details of drug use, of sex, of pop-culture references to films like THE GODFATHER, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, and DRUGSTORE COWBOY—give the book an immediacy and a vividness that many writers simply don’t know how to pull off. I feel, reading A SHOT OF MALARIA, that I’m in safe hands, that the writer knows precisely what he’s doing. I don’t know to what extent Souby is drawing from real-life experiences in the writing of this book, but if he is, he’s put those harrowing years to excellent, beautiful use. While I think some of its content might offend the squeamish, it’s a book that I believe will resonate with readers who stick with it. We might not all be heroin addicts, but we all have our stuff, whatever that stuff is."
Cyrus Webb - Conversations Live
Charles Souby's gift as a storyteller shines...
"In A SHOT OF MALARIA author Charles Souby introduces us to Daniel Martin, a man that is not just battling his own demons but trying to figure out the world in which he lives. Thanks to people that he meets along the way he is taught some valuable lessons, but will he be able to learn from them and become the man he wants to be? That is just one of the questions he must confront.
What the author does so well in this book is showcases how even in fiction readers are able to see the truth of the world and our own lives. What Daniel is trying to figure out in his life is not so different from what so many of us are trying to discover. the main question is are we willing to do the work necessary to get the answers.
Definitely a book that will make you smile and think, Charles Souby has given readers a thoughtful experience with A SHOT OF MALARIA."
Norm Goldman - Book Goodies
A moving and deeply affecting work...
"Set in the 1990's in the San Francisco Bay area where the author is an improv actor, Charles Souby's second novel A Shot of Malaria chronicles the tragic life of a drug and alcoholic dependent musician, Daniel Martin.
Admittedly, this is a moving and deeply affecting work containing a wealth of perceptual observation that exacts a huge emotional toll as it convincingly portrays an addict who is tragically adrift leaving readers wondering how our protagonist will be able to somehow hang on and survive with all of the bitterness, despair and loss he suffers.
Daniel is a very complicated and messed up character whose days are taken up with drinking in bars with other addicts and visits to a methadone clinic, where methadone is dispensed to those who abuse heroin and other narcotics. The primary goal of these clinics is to try and extinguish or reduce opioid usage by putting the patient on methadone. At times these treatments can prove to be successful, however, the use of these treatments is often viewed as controversial.
In the opening chapters we find Daniel being interviewed by one of the temporary counselors of the methadone clinic, and, as we discover, he has not come to terms with the seriousness of his fifteen years of addiction. He informs the counselor that he only needs a short term treatment to find work and put his life back together. Subsequently, Daniel is assigned to a permanent counselor, Elsie Schwartz, and upon meeting her for the first time, we learn that he makes a little money by playing banjo on the street and that he periodically receives US savings Bonds his grandmother left him that are administered by his aunt.
During the course of further counseling sessions Daniel recounts that all his friends are addicts whom he meets for social entertainment in neighborhood bars. We are also told that one of his closest friends, Cody is dying of cancer. Daniel becomes very much attracted to Elsie, whom he falls in love with knowing full well, however, that nothing will develop other than their professional relationship. He confesses to her that he has been very lonely for quite some time and he will not be able to clean up his mess unless he has a girlfriend. As the tale progresses Daniel meets up with a variety of women one of whom he does enter into a serious relationship, however, she likewise is on drugs and alcohol and to top it off is married to a drug dealer, who is insanely jealous to the point that Daniel's life is in danger.
Souby's detailed and emotionally honest portrayal of Daniel's desperation is right on the money and it takes the experience and knowledge of a recovering addict that makes an engrossing reading out of an entire novel focused on one character, which is precisely what Souby has accomplished with this novel. In addition, his deft touch with dialogue, feel for detail as well as his narrative pacing are all admirable, and when you combine this with his wisdom in understanding the depth of hopelessness of an addict, you have quite a memorable and insightful read. For many years Souby himself struggled with addiction and in an interview with Good News Planet Souby indicates that addiction and recovery have been the bedrock of his writing. He states that “in many ways it is the best metaphors for the human condition and he believes that all of our discontents in life are based on survival and the fear of not getting what we want.”