Wanderers

This week’s other featured books, “Finding Bluefield,” by Elan Barnehama and “Earth as It Is in Heaven,” by Karl Elder, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Author’s page.

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THE BOOK: Wanderers.

PUBLISHED IN: 2012.

THE AUTHOR: Edward Belfar.

THE EDITOR: Ms. Kimberly Verhines is the director of Stephen F. Austin State University Press. There was no single editor assigned to work with me, though staff there did some minor copyediting.

THE PUBLISHER: Stephen F. Austin State University Press.

SUMMARY: Wanderers is a collection of fifteen short stories. Two—“Roman Honeymoon” and “Visitations”—which depict a marriage at its beginning and end stages, are linked directly, while the rest stand independently of one another. Others are tied together thematically and by setting. Many of the stories feature characters coping as best they can with loss and dislocation and searching for redemption and love. Five of them are set in Kenya.

Edward BelfarTHE BACK STORY: Wanderers does not have an overarching back story. Instead, it has fifteen of them. The sources vary, with some stories having their origins in direct observations, experiences, or events that I have read about, while others are entirely made up. To cite one example, “Ashes” germinated from an article I read about two research psychologists who had such a bitter rivalry that one of them requested in his will that he be cremated and have his ashes thrown in the face of the other. I asked myself, “What sort of person would do a thing like that?” A picture of such a person began to take shape in my mind, and then I began to hear her voice and to populate her world.

I wrote the stories over a period of several years, mostly in the early and mid-2000s, and had all of them published individually in various literary journals before I collected them into one volume. I submitted the collection as my entry in the Stephen F. Austin State University Press fiction contest in 2012. It was chosen as a finalist and subsequently published.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Though, as I have noted, all but two of the stories can stand alone, I chose Wanderers as the title because I thought it reflected a certain thematic unity. Most all the protagonists are wanderers in one way or another, trying to navigate their way through geographical and emotional terrain that they sometimes find unrecognizable.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The collection should appeal to readers who enjoy literary short fiction. I believe that readers will find the stories by turns poignant and funny.

Though set in a variety of locales, the stories explore experiences and emotions common to all. “A View of the Fireworks” depicts a day in the life of man overcome by grief following the death of his daughter. Stories such as “Matters of the Heart” and the title story, “Wanderers,” feature characters trying to come to terms with aging and increasing frailty. Some of the stories set in Kenya explore loss of a different sort: that of a remembered home. In “The Ruined House” and “Departure,” the protagonists return, after long absences, to a Kenya they no longer recognize.

Despite the sometimes grim circumstances in which the characters find themselves, the tone of the collection varies. As in real life, humor exists alongside pathos. Some of the stories have a fairly light tone and feature elements of the absurd. For example, in “The Rule of Law,” which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a jaded lawyer recalls a malpractice case in which he defended a fake New Age healer in a suit initiated by a sleazy patient feigning injury.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Residing inside the pages of Edward Belfar’s short story collection are a series of wanderers who find themselves far from home both geographically and emotionally. Some of them travel halfway across the world while others are literally trapped within themselves, but all of them are searching for a way back into the feeling of home.

“Belfar does a fantastic job of fleshing out his characters and their backgrounds. Without using too many words, he is able to convey complicated relationships and emotions. He delves into his characters’ pasts — their secrets, longings, and injuries — while still maintaining forward momentum in a fairly compact medium.

“I usually read short story collections in sips, reading a few stories here and there but I gulped this one down.

–Leah Mosher, Books Speak Volumes blog

“The stories in Wanderers have their own bleak beauty, and I would definitely recommend this collection, especially to fans of Richard Yates. This is a writer whose future works I will follow with interest.

–Lisa Almeda Summer, Bibliohphiliac blog

“To me, a great short story is one that makes you uncomfortable. One that puts you in a living room, hospital room or a crowded train where you know you aren’t supposed to be. That’s how Wanderers by Edward Belfar made me feel. Each story is descriptive and imaginative, yet real and often very raw. In most of the stories, Belfar seems to place the emotional issues at hand buried under the text so the reader has to sort them out and discover why the story invokes a certain emotion. In some stories, a quick second read unwraps a new layer and made me pick up on something completely missed on first read.”

–Laura Cannavino, Luxury Reading blog

AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in New York City and on Long Island and now live in Maryland with my wife, Kathleen, to whom Wanderers is dedicated, and a very strong-willed Corgi named Pepin. I work as a writer and editor. Wanderers is my first book. My fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Tampa Review, Confrontation, Natural Bridge, and numerous other literary magazines. My short story “Errors,” which is featured in Wanderers, was chosen as the winning entry in the Sport Literature Association’s 2008 fiction competition.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: As noted above, five of the fifteen stories are set in Kenya. My wife grew up there, and we have made several trips back to visit family and friends and to do the things that tourists do. Captivated by both the beauty of the country and the hospitality of the people I met, I immediately fell in love with Kenya.

At the same time, because I had an opportunity to see a side of Kenya that tourists typically do not, I found my first visit there in particular to be jarring in many respects. As do many developing countries, Kenya has extremes of wealth and poverty. Because crime is so prevalent in Nairobi and other cities, those who can afford decent housing live behind walls with armed security guards posted at the gates. In many places, the infrastructure is substandard. Power outages and water cutoffs were frequent occurrences in Nairobi when I was there. Many of the roads were barely passable, and the air was filled with soot. Corruption pervaded everyday life. I heard many stories of bribe-seeking police and customs officials.

That first visit occurred during the final months of the twenty-four-year presidency of Daniel arap Moi, a corrupt autocrat who at one point employed former Trump campaign chairman and current felon Paul Manifort to lobby for him and burnish his image in the West. When Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, my wife lamented, “What has become of my adopted country?” I replied that it had become her old country. Regrettably, that remark does not seem quite as hyperbolic as it did then.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: The link below will take you to the version of “Errors” as it originally appeared in the journal Aethlon, after being chosen as the Sport Literature Association’s 2008 fiction competition winner. The version that appears in Wanderers is slightly modified.

http://library.la84.org/SportsLibrary/Aethlon/2008/AethlonXXVI1/aethlonXXVI1zh.pdf

LOCAL OUTLETS: The book is currently available only online.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Texas A&M University Press. PRICE: The full retail price is $16.95, but the book can be purchased for less through third-party sellers on Amazon.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

I can be reached through the contact page on my website or through email. See links below: http://www.edwardbelfar.com/ embelfar@gmail.com

Earth as It Is in Heaven

THE BOOK: Earth as It Is in Heaven

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR: Karl Elder

THE EDITOR: Rob Pockat, Signe Jorgensen

THE PUBLISHER: Pebblebrook Press

Related imageSUMMARY: In dialect quite unlike any other, a xenophobic teenager reveals the story of his destiny begun when he confesses under the spell of his one-room schoolhouse teacher and surrogate mother that he possesses memory of the future. Only a crazy, he fears, would believe what he knows to be true, that he will become the world’s best three-cushion billiard player, despite that he has never seen such a table in his life. For now, he must endure calamity—magnified by an array of wearisome paranormal gifts, including that of a somnambulist who draws in his sleep—in his rural community, where mayhem and miracles abound, moving him into the role of witness and reluctant disciple of a new religion espousing an ecological ethic.

THE BACK STORY:

From an interview conducted by Gina Covelli:

G: As far as process goes, you have all these books that inspired you, how did you put this together. It started back in the 80s when you wrote the first draft.

K: There’s not much that changed from the first draft. Not much at all. [The changes] had to do with making the language consistent afterwards. The storyline itself, very little change from the 80s. I found, completely by accident, the first note I took – what I believe to be the germ of Earth as It Is in Heaven. It’s on the back of a small piece of letterhead from my first job in Missiouri in the late 70s, which probably means I had been kicking the novel around in my head for five or six years before I began it in earnest. I can only remember one change. I added a joke. I thought of it when I was reading a passage to a class one day. For me it’s the funniest line in the whole damn novel. I prefer not to say what that is. But for me, personally, it was, “Why didn’t I think of this earlier!”

G: Was it a story line you mapped out or was it something that came very organically?

K: Organic. The underpinnings of the story involve life experiences that are like little platforms and I jump off of that platform onto another thing. I’ll give you an example. When I was 12 years old, I spent a lot of time in the summer riding my bicycle around town. The town was only 650 people and I know all the streets, and one day I’m about two blocks from my house, and I see a car I’ve never seen before and the car is moving, not parking. And a few minutes later, I see the car again, and it’s still moving. That’s the impetus for the Corvair the narrator sketches [in the novel]. Because there was, in this little town, a bank robbery. So I hear about the bank robbery, and of course I’m like every other kid, I don’t have anything else to do, I go to see what’s going on at the bank. In fact I may have heard the alarm, but I can’t say for sure because with this particular bank, the alarm was known to go off on its own. But I’m standing out there with a bunch of other people outside the bank, and all of a sudden this guy comes out of the bank. He’s wearing a three-piece suit. And he wants to know if anyone’s seen a strange car. He’s the FBI. So they took me into the bank and they had paint samples of cars and he wanted me to pick it out. I picked it out even though I’m somewhat color blind. But back then, there weren’t that many shades of silver. It’s little things like that in my experience. I do know this, though: it was my dream to create a story with a female Christ figure.

WHY THIS TITLE? No other title could serve.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The novel defies classification in that it is a blend of genres: a story of initiation, magical realism, mystery, suspense, new age, and character-driven literary fiction.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“A parable of religious mysticism that’s part love story and part mystery, with a touch of rural hijinks, Karl Elder’s new novel is a welcome addition to the list of titles from one of Wisconsin’s top poets.

“The Jacob and Lucile Fessler Professor of Creative Writing and Poet in Residence at Lakeland College, Elder has received national recognition for his unique and highly skilled achievements in complex poetic forms. His first novel displays the same experimental streak as his poems and shares a similar metaphysical bent.

“Written in first-person narrative, Earth as It Is in Heaven: An Aural Novel chronicles the religious evolution of Charles “Stick” Cousins, as cultivated by the woman who is his teacher and spiritual mentor, Luda Corvus. The revelatory energy and pace of the novel work to make the reader an accomplice/witness to the miracles that gradually accumulate, leading to transformations in Cousins, Corvus, the town, and potentially the reader.

“The novel is written in a dialect of Elder’s invention, which could have been a huge distraction. While familiar enough for the average reader to understand, it took me the first twenty pages to adjust to the speech patterns. As an aural novel in which the sound of the language is emphasized, the rhythm of the dialogue is as important as the plot.

“Here one of the locals swears Cousins to secrecy before revealing a secluded beaver dam inhabited by dream-like creatures no one else can see:

“Old Cro-Magnon Man, he stops real sudden-like and he turns to me. He looks me square in the eye. He says, ‘They say you ain’t told a lie in your life, Stick.’

“Well, I sure never heared that. And ifing they was voting—whoever ‘they’ is—I s’pose I’d’ve elected to stay home on account of I never known what the truth is most times.” 

“Elder’s storyline itself seems almost subservient to the evolution of character enlightenment occurring throughout the book, existing at times only to serve the novel’s concept of transcendence.

“Stick” Cousins’ guileless transparency of character ultimately makes him the perfect witness to and innocent collaborator with Luda Corvus’ evolution of self into selfless, and the transformation of their small town’s patch of earth into “earth as it is in heaven.”

“With references to early TV, pocket transistor radios, and a “new” restaurant called McDonald’s, the setting is a small town during the 1950s. Yet it feels like rural 1920s, conjuring 1950s noir novelist Jim Thompson’s tale of dustbowl Oklahoma, Cropper’s Cabin, and the poetic short novels of Richard Brautigan, which are spiritual, surreal, imagistic, whimsical and at times gentle.

“Much of Elder’s poetry is minimalist, stripping the world down to a few objects that symbolize another world behind that which the objects inhabit. It’s a technique Elder handles well in his poems, and he uses it to advantage here in Earth as It Is in Heaven. Like his complex and masterful poems, Karl Elder’s first foray into fiction deserves attention.

Review by Michael Kriesel, Poetry Editor of Rosebud

AUTHOR PROFILE: Karl Elder is Lakeland University’s Fessler Professor of Creative Writing and Poet in Residence. Among his honors are the Christopher Latham Sholes Award from the Council of Wisconsin Writers; a Pushcart Prize; the Chad Walsh, Lorine Niedecker, and Lucien Stryk Awards; and two appearances in The Best American Poetry. His most recent books of poems are Gilgamesh at the Bellagio from The National Poetry Review Award Book Series and a chapbook, The Houdini Monologues. Elder’s short fiction and essays have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:

From an interview conducted by Gina Covelli:

G: Was it a story line you mapped out or was it something that came very organically?

K: Organic. The underpinnings of the story involve life experiences that are like little platforms and I jump off of that platform onto another thing. I’ll give you an example. When I was 12 years old, I spent a lot of time in the summer riding my bicycle around town. The town was only 650 people and I know all the streets, and one day I’m about two blocks from my house, and I see a car I’ve never seen before and the car is moving, not parking. And a few minutes later, I see the car again, and it’s still moving. That’s the impetus for the Corvair the narrator sketches [in the novel]. Because there was, in this little town, a bank robbery. So I hear about the bank robbery, and of course I’m like every other kid, I don’t have anything else to do, I go to see what’s going on at the bank. In fact I may have heard the alarm, but I can’t say for sure because with this particular bank, the alarm was known to go off on its own. But I’m standing out there with a bunch of other people outside the bank, and all of a sudden this guy comes out of the bank. He’s wearing a three-piece suit. And he wants to know if anyone’s seen a strange car. He’s the FBI. So they took me into the bank and they had paint samples of cars and he wanted me to pick it out. I picked it out even though I’m somewhat color blind. But back then, there weren’t that many shades of silver. It’s little things like that in my experience. I do know this, though: it was my dream to create a story with a female Christ figure.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Earth-as-Heaven-Aural-Novel/dp/0692567992/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1540235808&sr=8-2&keywords=karl+elder+earth

LOCAL OUTLETS: Stoneboat and Great Lakes Writers Festival

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon and Pebblebrook Press

PRICE: $12.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: elderk@lakeland.edu

Weather Report, Nov. 12

Field with orange stones Free Photo

(Kenya. Photo from Bedney Images)

Our currently featured books, “The Outcast Oracle,” by Laury Egan and “Success: Stories,” by David Taylor, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or just click the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, NOV. 13-19.

“WANDERERS,” BY EDWARD BELFAR.

Wanderers is a collection of fifteen short stories. Two—“Roman Honeymoon” and “Visitations”—which depict a marriage at its beginning and end stages, are linked directly, while the rest stand independently of one another. Others are tied together thematically and by setting. Many of the stories feature characters coping as best they can with loss and dislocation and searching for redemption and love. Five of them are set in Kenya.

“FINDING BLUEFIELD,” BY ELAN BARNEHAMA.

Elan Barnehama’s first novel, Finding Bluefield (BoldStrokesBooks), a road trip through the 1960’s, explores what happens when society’s invisible become visible. His short fiction has been published in numerous journals, and his many interviews and essays have appeared in Huffington Post and elsewhere. Elan has taught writing and literature at several colleges, led community writing workshops, was a Fiction Editor for Forth Magazine, had a gig as a radio news guy, and did a mediocre job as a short-order cook. Elan is a New Yorker by geography, a tortured Mets fan by default.

“EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN,” BY KARL ELDER.

In dialect quite unlike any other, a xenophobic teenager reveals the story of his destiny begun when he confesses under the spell of his one-room schoolhouse teacher and surrogate mother that he possesses memory of the future. Only a crazy, he fears, would believe what he knows to be true, that he will become the world’s best three-cushion billiard player, despite that he has never seen such a table in his life. For now, he must endure calamity—magnified by an array of wearisome paranormal gifts, including that of a somnambulist who draws in his sleep—in his rural community, where mayhem and miracles abound, moving him into the role of witness and reluctant disciple of a new religion espousing an ecological ethic.

 

 

 

Finding Bluefield

Finding Bluefield by [Barnehama, Elan]THE BOOK:  Finding Bluefield.

PUBLISHED IN: 2012

THE AUTHOR: Elan Barnehama

THE PUBLISHER: Bold Stroks Books

SUMMARYWhen Barbara Phillips arrives in Bluefield, Virginia, to begin her medical residency, she thinks she is headed for an uneventful few years filled with work in an obscure little town where no one knows her—which is exactly what she wants. 

Everything changes when she enters Nicky’s diner and begins a journey that will last a lifetime as she falls in love against her better judgment and best-laid plans. The free-spirited Nicky later attends the 1963 March on Washington and impulsively and anonymously sleeps with a man in hopes of getting pregnant and starting a family with Barbara. When Nicky gives birth to Paul, her sister steps in to adopt Paul for his own “protection.” 

Elan BarnehamaNicky, Barbara, and Paul escape Bluefield and make a life in upstate New York, only returning to Bluefield years later upon hearing of the death of Nicky’s sister. As their journey comes full circle, Barbara, Paul, and Nicky find their return to Bluefield is the catalyst for facing family secrets and forging family ties.

WHY THIS TITLE?  We are all seeking our own Bluefield – sometimes it’s a place, but mostly it is a part of us. Finding Bluefield is about finding oneself through losses and love and family.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT.  This book goes beyond lesbian fiction, as it is a universal story about love and acceptance – either from one’s self or society – whose central characters happen to be two women who want to share their lives together and be a family. From a historical perspective the book spans from 1960 to 1983 and you are taken back to relevant periods where the underdog is longing to be heard through civil right issues. Along with that, the book is a ride through southern and northern cultures, religious pondering, cancer, humor, food and wine. Amongst the underlying social meaning behind the story. Finding Bluefield, is about Nicky finding herself through her losses and love of her family. 

REVIEW COMMENTS:

As a 1st book it is not only really good but above all different. I have liked the particular style, so different from the usual…This book is different and bold in a unique way. 
–Rainbow Book Awards


Barnehama’s characters are a sympathetic and roundly likeable bunch. He makes easy heroes of those who face, and gracefully route, general prejudices. . . . Finding Bluefield…makes affecting arguments for work toward a more just world. An agreeable and earnest novel which highlights the innate humanity of the families which society sometimes forgets to honor.   
— ForeWord Reviews


Novelist Elan Barnehama’s latest book Finding Bluefield tells the story of lesbian love set amidst the politics of the 1960s.  
​– SheWired.com 

The genius of this book is that it all comes very low key, packed into the personal lives of Barbara, Nicky and Paul. The characters are wonderful and very likeable and the author never, ever stands on a soapbox, but lets the issues quietly soak into the very fabric of the story. This is one of these rare books where every word and every sentence counts and where the story is flowing effortlessly. Kudos to Elan Barnehama.  
— Philologus

Virginia is for lesbian lovers in this 1960’s period romance. A doctor from New York and a  roadside diner waitress fall in love— and make one of the cutest couples I’ve met all year.  Their courtship involves jumping into a convertible, making love, eating pies… can I join them, please? 
— Susie Bright, The Bright List on Audible

Many readers (and more likely critics) will ask the all-too obvious question: can a male author fully convey the female experience? Certainly the same was questioned of Wally Lamb when he penned the literary masterpiece She’s Come Undone. Like Lamb, 
Barnehama takes many risks and – just by simply writing the novel – challenges the very audience he’s writing for. By doing so, he is again reminding readers and critics alike that the sole purpose of a great writer is to tell the best story possible. In Finding Bluefield, Barnehama achieves this, leaving his readers with a well-crafted epic saga about two women who are searching for a world in which 
their love can survive.  
— David-Matthew Barnes, Lambda Literary

AUTHOR PROFILE: Elan Barnehama first novel, Finding Bluefield (BoldStrokesBooks), a road trip through the 1960’s, explores what happens when society’s invisible become visible. His short fiction has been published in numerous journals, and his many interviews and essays have appeared in Huffington Post and elsewhere. Elan has taught writing and literature at several colleges, led community writing workshops, was a Fiction Editor for Forth Magazine, had a gig a radio news guy, and did a mediocre job as a short-order cook.  Elan is a New Yorker by geography. A tortured Mets fan by default.

The Outcast Oracle

The Outcast Oracle by [Egan, Laury A.]

This week’s other featured book, David Taylor’s “Success: Stories,” can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the monthly First Tuesday Replay. Or, just click the author’s name on our Author’s page.

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THE BOOK: The Outcast Oracle.

PUBLISHED IN: 2013.

THE AUTHOR: Laury A. Egan.

THE PUBLISHER: Humanist Press (the publishing house of the American Humanist Association).

SUMMARY: Set in 1959 on the shores of New York’s Lake Ontario, fourteen-year-old Charlene Beth Whitestone has been deserted by her parents, leaving her in the custody of her grandfather, C.B. Although he loves Charlie, he is a charming con artist, moonshiner, and religious fraud who inducts her into his various enterprises yet also encourages her dreams of becoming a writer. When C.B. suddenly dies, Charlie is left alone and must use her wits and resourcefulness to take charge of her life, all the while wrestling with the morality of continuing her grandfather’s schemes. When a handsome cowboy-stranger, Blake, arrives, he insinuates himself into C.B.’s religion business and into Charlie’s heart. Despite her resistance, Blake mounts a lucrative PR campaign, touting Charlie as an “oracle” and arranging for her to perform miracles.

The story is recounted by Charlie with wry humor and a keen awareness of human foibles. A smart and independent girl, she battles abandonment, social rejection, sexual pressure, her family’s alcoholism and amorality, finally discovering her strengths and identity. Similar in tone to books by Mark Twain, The Outcast Oracle pokes fun at organized religion and people’s gullibility.

THE BACK STORY: As with some of my novels and stories, a “voice” came to me one day. In this case, it was Charlie’s, who had a distinct style and cadence that is not my own. The experience feels a little like channeling, though I have no idea how or why this happens. Right away I liked her and greatly enjoyed the many months I spent in Charlie’s delightful company. An additional inspiration was the setting near Lake Ontario outside of Rochester. I had spent time there visiting a poet friend, and the area caught my imagination.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Charlie, the main character, wants to be a writer and—as many writers are—tends to be introverted and solitary, somewhat rejected by her classmates. When she is set up as a seer, against her wishes, the two elements come together. The Outcast Oracle is a perfect title for this book.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?  The novel is marketed to young adults as well as adults much in the same way Mark Twain’s titles cross between the two age groups and appeal to both. Bright and creative teen girls will find this novel entertaining and its heroine a kindred spirit, but older readers will enjoy the humor and story as well. This is also a portrait of a young and developing writer and illustrates some of the personality traits and social/familial experiences that may fuse together and create a creative person.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Egan tells the story in Charlie’s first-person countrified style, but with True Grit–style lofty grammar and sentence structure, in keeping with Charlie’s abundant talent. It’s this highly literary, easily accessible writing that lifts this story to the very top of the heap. Simply delicious fun from start to finish.”— Kirkus Reviews

“A deftly woven plot populated by memorable characters make The Outcast Oracle a riveting read from beginning to end. A kind of updated “Elmer Gantry” style novel, The Outcast Oracle is very highly recommended for young readers ages 14 and up. An entertaining and literarily elegant work of contemporary fiction.”— Midwest Review of Books

“Readers will fall for Egan’s coming-of-age story, hook, line and sinker. It’s unusual and different, and displays the author’s wild imagination and vast vocabulary. Egan captures the essence of an innocent teenager and the turn of a decade (the 1960s) perfectly. YA fans will relate to the special relationship C.B. and Charlie share. There’s many ups and down will confuse your emotions, but the humorous undertone allows for comic relief when needed most.”—RT Book Reviews

“…a page-turning tour de force, full of humor, irony, winks at societal conventions, and serious revelations about the ruses and abuses of organized religion. This lively tale stars Charlene “Charlie” Beth Whitestone, an all-American teenage girl grappling with the pain of growing up, feeling alone, and finding her path through a thicket of family disasters. Hers will be one of the most enduring voices of contemporary fiction—humanist, feminist, or otherwise. She’ll make you think; she’ll make you laugh out loud.”—Karla Linn Merrifield, author of Lithic Scatter and Other Poems.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Similar to the heroine of my novel, I grew up in a beautiful natural environment, though one in New Jersey, with a view of the Atlantic Ocean and forests. Oracle is not autobiographical in the details, but I was also a solitary child who found solace and meaning in writing, which I began at age seven with a poem and then a novel at age thirteen. My observer/loner experience—shared by Charlie—seems to be common to many creative people.

Although I’ve worked in publishing all my adult life, it was only during the last twenty years that I have seriously returned to my childhood passion, writing. I now have the great fortune to be able to write full-time. My first novel was a psychological suspense, Jenny Kidd, set in Venice and written in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith. A collection, Fog and Other Stories, came next and contained mostly work that had been published in literary journals. The Outcast Oracle followed, with a comedy, Fabulous! An Opera Buffa, released in September 2018, and a literary suspense, Wave in D Minor, contracted for 2019. Interspersed with the fiction are four limited-edition poetry collections: Snow, Shadows, a Stranger; Beneath the Lion’s Paw; The Sea & Beyond; and Presence & Absence (available through my website).

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The idea of creating a character who was a non-believer (like myself) and sympathetic was intriguing. I wanted to address religiosity with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek style that was inoffensive but also made points. For teenage readers, my goal was to provide support for those who feel they are different, who struggle with the need to conform to their peer groups and yet who simply can’t quite fit. Showing this conflict and how Charlie sets her own unique course despite various pressures will, hopefully, give hope to many.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: A sample chapter is available at Humanist Press: http://www.humanistpress.com/outcast-oracle.html and on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Outcast-Oracle-Laury-Egan/dp/0931779367/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1539981687&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Outcast+Oracle

WHERE TO BUY IT: Humanist Press: http://www.humanistpress.com/outcast-oracle.html Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Outcast-Oracle-Laury-Egan/dp/0931779367/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1539981687&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Outcast+Oracle Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-outcast-oracle-laury-a-egan/1117001989?ean=9780931779367

PRICE: Paperback: $13.95 (at the publisher) eBook: $7.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:  I would be delighted to hear from readers of The Outcast Oracle or my other titles. Contact me through my website: http://www.lauryaegan.com (or for more information about my poetry collections.) My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/laury.egan and blog: http://www.lauryaeganblog.wordpress.com.

Success: Stories

THE BOOK: Success: Stories

PUBLISHED IN: 2008

THE AUTHOR: David A. Taylor

THE PUBLISHER: Washington Writers’ Publishing House – www.washingtonwriters.org

Success: Stories by [Taylor, David A.]SUMMARY: SUCCESS: STORIES is the 2008 winner of the Washington Writers’ Publishing House fiction prize. These stories probe the lives of people caught in an increasingly intertwined world, close to home and abroad. Exploring a human calculus of love, betrayal, and fantasy, this moving collection makes those dramas vivid.

THE BACK STORY: These stories came together over a decade when I worked various jobs in different cities, and came up often against people’s (and my own) ideas of what it meant to succeed. The stories are not about ambition exactly — few of the characters are ambitious — but their expectations reveal a lot.

WHY THIS TITLE? I wanted to play on “success story” and open it up to show the concept as a sort of prism of what each person brings to it, in their expectations of themselves or others.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The stories give drama and perspective on the idea of success and how we view it in people’s lives. In the words of Publishers Weekly, the “14 lively tales…uncover gentle irony in the commonly held notion of a successful life.” StorySouth called the collection “Superbly-crafted tales…that explore the most vital crises of existence, when human emotions–desire and isolation, suspicion and jealousy–boil over… blooms in complexity every time the reader revisits it.”

David A. Taylor

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Gritty dialogue, lean prose, layered plotting, and an eye for the perfect detail make these stories a satisfying and engaging read”–Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of A Curious Land: Stories from Home, winner of the 2016 American Book Award

“In 14 brilliant short stories, Taylor unpeels the lives and loves of ordinary people to reveal nuggets of extraordinary truths…Deceptively spare and absolutely unforgettable.” –Caroline Leavitt, author of Cruel Beautiful World

“A book of fine stories”–Richard Bausch

“As strong as anything in the Raymond Carver playbook…”–Washington City Paper

“Like all the best stories, the tales in Success challenge our assumptions and make us look again at what we thought we knew.”–Kate Blackwell, author of You Won’t Remember This

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m a writer who crafts character-driven narratives that explore history, science and culture, with mediums ranging from books, articles and film to short fiction. Whether in fiction or nonfiction, my methods often combine oral history, original research and reporting. My short stories have appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, and my nonfiction includes Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America and Ginseng, the Divine Root: The Curious History of the Plant That Captivated the World. My new book, coming in December, is a narrative nonfiction book titled Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II. Visit http://www,davidataylor.com.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). The story “Pelagro’ previously appeared in Eclecticahttp://www.eclectica.org/v6n3/taylor.html

LOCAL OUTLETS: Available at Politics and Prose: www.politics-prose.com

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: https://www.amazon.com/Success-Stories-David-A-Taylor/dp/0931846900

PRICE: $9.99, or $5.99 for the Kindle edition

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: dataylor22314 [at] gmail.com

First Tuesday Replay, Nov. 6

THIS FEATURE HAS A TWO-FOLD PURPOSE: 1. TO ALLOW THOSE RECENTLY ADDED TO OUR FOLLOWER’S LIST TO LEARN ABOUT BOOKS THEY MIGHT HAVE MISSED AND 2. TO MAKE SURE PREVIOUSLY FEATURED AUTHORS AND THEIR WORK AREN’T FORGOTTEN. IF YOU’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ANY ONE OF THE BOOKS REVISITED HERE, SIMPLY CLICK ON THE “AUTHOR” PAGE, THEN ON THAT AUTHOR’S NAME.

“DRUNK ON SALT,” BY JAMES NOLAN

Writes the author: This is a short book of twenty-four uncollected poems, almost all of which have been previously published in magazines and anthologies, everywhere from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Review and the Southern Poetry Anthology to bilingual magazines edited in Barcelona and Amsterdam. Several have been translated into Spanish, and I have performed many of them at my readings in San Francisco, Barcelona, and New Orleans.

“Most of these poems are what I call ‘tribal’ or public poems, rather than personal, and several—about immigration, AIDS, inequality, terrorism, and the homeless—pack an in-your-face political punch, either incantatory or satiric. I’ve been missing the public face of poetry in contemporary American letters, a tradition that goes back to Walt Whitman, and so I chose to include poems that speak both to us and about us. When politicians and pundits lie and manipulate so routinely, who can we look to for the truth but poets?”


“ELECTRIC LOVE,” BY PHILIP PALIOS.

After years of living amidst the fog of addiction, Jordan Santarelli is cut off by his dealer and on the run over a past due debt. As he emerges into sobriety, he chooses to fight the overwhelming injustices that he had previously turned away from. Jordan believes the only way to spark action among the uninspired is to create a significant disruption. Impatient and angry, he attempts to shut down the Internet to force social change. Will he succeed?

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“MOSH IT UP,” BY MINDELA RUBY.

“The story decided I would write it, not the other way around,” says Mindela. “One morning, immediately after I returned from the Squaw Valley Community of Writers summer conference, I woke up at the crack of dawn and, unpremeditated, sat and wrote the first chapter of the book even before I prepared my cherished tea and toast. I’d never written with such wild abandon before. Unfortunately, after that auspicious start, it took over ten years to finish the book, with several rewrites along the way. To research, I went to some Sex And Love Addicts Anonymous twelve step groups and listened to a lot of punk music. I also had to come to terms with my own history of addictive behavior.


“METAPHYSICAL VOYAGES,” BY JENNY HAYNES.

Metaphysical Voyages – A Selection of Stories for the Spiritually Inclined is a collection of seven stories from Jenny Haynes. Each story expresses an aspect of the author’s own spiritual journey and all express her innate good humor and spirited imagination. 

f you think of this life as a waking dream, these stories prompt you to look at what needs to be released and what needs to be embraced in order to make that life the happier dream.

Every human being has a story they came here to tell. Your life is the greatest expression of your own human and spiritual potential. Your life is your story. These stories speak to that deeper truth of our spiritual natures. They speak of the power of imagination and the wonderful lives that we can create if we can just see beyond the fear and suffering that suck the joy out of our hearts.

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“JUGGLING KITTENS,” BY MATT COLEMAN.

Said one reviewer: “Toss Tom Perotta, Raymond Chandler, and Hunter S. Thompson in the air, and you’ve got JUGGLING KITTENS: an electric, energized romp through the wilds of Ruddy Creek, Arkansas. When an outcast student goes missing, his doe-eyed middle school teacher takes it upon himself to find him. What ensues is a switchbacking chase from local character to back woods, churches to small town secrets. At once outlandish and heartfelt, hilarious and deeply macabre, this novel explodes with colorful, lively prose and crisp dialogue that will have you turning pages. A riveting, accomplished debut by a terrific new voice. Coleman’s substantial talent is one to watch.” — Sara Lippmann, author of Doll Palace: Stories.


“STAR CATCHING,” BY DAWN LaJEUNESSE.

A family struck by tragedy is forced to rebuild their lives around a new mold. Sarah Crawford’s family vacationed every summer with her beloved Gram and Gramps. Every day was a fun adventure, but Sarah’s favorite was their special night of star catching, with Gramps and her dad.

On the last night of vacation, Sarah overhears her grandparents saying how much they look forward to selling their house and traveling unencumbered after Gram retires.When an accident on their way to the airport kills Sarah’s parents and brother, Marian and Ed cope with grief and the unanticipated responsibility of raising Sarah. Sarah’s recovery is complicated by guilt over ruining her grandparents’ plans. She decides she must return to Washington, to the home she shared with her parents.

Precocious academically, in her immaturity she doesn’t grasp the unrealistic nature of her goal and the dangers she encounters in her attempts to achieve it.