Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Book: Pious

I have the pleasure of now knowing the answer to that burning question on everyone's mind: "What happens when an interactive designer take a shot at writing a book?" Well, it's a question that I at least had, given the fact that I'm one such designer and have toyed with the idea of writing a novel also. Well here's a guy who did, who actually did, and he's my friend and former co-worker Kenn Bivins.

Several years ago while working at Moxie Interactive of Atlanta, I met Kenn and Shawn Jones, designers like myself, who shared several common bonds. The three of us would go to lunch about every day, more often than not to Atlantic Station, a sprawling retail courtyard always abuzz with activity. Kenn had a penchant for Moe's Southwest Grill. Shawn and I, on the other hand, would do our best to sway him away from the contrived "Welcome to Moe's!" greeting that the servers would mechanically repeat with forced enthusiasm every time we walked in, or were dragged in by the likes of Bivins.

Over the course of nearly three years, Kenn became lovingly nicknamed "Dark Cloud" Kenn, possessed of a justified cynicism that I had only begun to understand as my own life transformed violently with the death of my father and a crushing divorce all within the same year. Our lunch breaks became more of a meeting of 2 1/2 than three, as I reflected into the distance about a life that had gone off the rails of tradition and into the unknown with the separation of myself and my ex-wife. Kenn and Shawn had been through this all before, but at the time there was no light at the end of the tunnel as they had seen, and slowly but surely I grew reclusive and took a new job opportunity elsewhere, trying to physically escape the memories that Atlanta had accumulated. Since then Kenn also moved on, taking up an Art Director position at JWT.

I left Moxie to find a respite for myself, reconnect with family, and pursue my passion for design and technology with Lahiri Studios, and as of late, writing, with this blog. And during that respite I also took up some new reading, particularly, Pious. I always admired Kenn's active life outside of work; where the rest of us were so tied down with our full-time responsibilities and simply making ends meet, Kenn made it a point to have a life outside of work. Beyond the father, the designer and friend, in Pious I had the opportunity to witness Kenn, the writer. And with Pious I learned a little bit more about a person from whom I sought advice and wisdom through some very difficult years.

Kenn has expressed that Pious is a book about forgiveness and redemption, and I would add to this that it is also a book about misunderstandings that can escalate into life-changing events. Something that I am all too familiar with at this point. Looking at the main character's mistakes makes it painfully obvious that our lives are far from within our own grasp, and this can either be celebrated with spontaneity and a sense of adventure, or perpetually lamented for those of us with a fixation on illusory appearances and control. It's a highly recommended read, and that much more enthralling given the fact that it was written by my close friend and a fellow designer.

To learn more about Pious, click here, and check out the Amazon link above.

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