Nothing to Lose

This week’s other featured books, “Beautiful Raft,” by Tina Barry and “Sampler: Fifty Short Stories,” by Don Tassone, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

————————————————————————-

THE BOOK: Nothing to Lose

PUBLISHED IN: Stevens Point, WI (2018)

THE AUTHOR: Kim Suhr

THE EDITOR: Monica Swinick

THE PUBLISHER: Cornerstone Press

SUMMARY: Drawing on the rich complexity of the American Midwest, Kim Suhr peoples her debut book of fiction with characters that we know, carved out of the Wisconsin landscape and caught between expectation and desire. An Iraq war veteran stalks the streets of Madison. Four drunk friends hunt deer outside of Antigo. A mother tries to save her son. A transplanted New Yorker plots revenge against her husband. A man sobers up and opens a paintball range for Jesus. A woman with nothing to lose waits for her first kiss. Personal and powerful, Kim Suhr’s “Nothing to Lose” shows us a region filled with real people: less than perfect, filled with doubts, always reaching.

Kim SuhrTHE BACK STORY: These stories were written over many years, and about half of them were published in literary magazines before the book came out. When I finished my MFA, I realized I had written more than enough stories to make a collection, and the sifting and winnowing began. What remains is, I hope, a glimpse into others’ lives that will open my readers’ perceptions and their hearts.

WHY THIS TITLE: The book is titled after the final story in the collection. The characters in these stories are regular people, people who might seem like they have nothing to lose; however, each has a different struggle worthy of our attention.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: For the eclectic collection of characters and situations that explore various facets of our shared humanity. Also, short stories give us the opportunity to zoom into that moment of transformation so many readers are looking for without the time investment necessary for a novel.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Kim Suhr’s new collection of short stories is like a drawer full of knives. Each one sharp and designed with a purpose. Some cut so close to the bone they will make the reader wince. Others so richly carved in detail, the bizarre becomes believable.” — Jennifer Rupp

“Once I started the collection of short stories ‘Nothing to Lose’ by Kim Suhr, I was captivated. Author Suhr is at once a brilliant storyteller and a gifted writer. And, while her voice is engaging, she artfully disappears in each story allowing the reader to get lost in the prose and characters. Each story is unique and transformative, offering characters that jump off the page.” — Nick Chiarkas

“Kim Suhr’s latest short story collection, Nothing to Lose (Cornerstone Press, 2018), is a beautifully written tapestry of human connection. We see into the multi-layered lives of various characters. These voices are our voices.” — Cristina Norcross

“Each story is a little literary gem, thought-provoking and written in a deceptively simple fashion and yet, each one is different from the others. I read the book over several days, savoring it like an expensive box of chocolates.” — Karen McQuestion

AUTHOR PROFILE: Kim Suhr lives and writes in southeastern Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in Midwest Review, Stonecoast Review, Rosebud, The Other Stories Podcast, and others. She holds an MFA from Pine Manor College, where she was the 2013 Dennis Lehane Fellow for Fiction. She is director of Red Oak Writing and a member of the Wisconsin Writers Association.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I write to try to understand people who are not me, to find empathy for those who see the world very differently from how I do. My biggest hope for my readers is to come away from my stories a little more connected to their humanity and to develop compassion for the “other.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). This is the opening story of the book, “Night Vision,” first published at Solstice Literary Magazine.

Night Vision

LOCAL OUTLETS: Books & Company, Oconomowoc WI; Boswell Books, Milwaukee WI; A Room of One’s Own, Madison, WI

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon (also available as an audiobook from Libro.fm and Audible)

PRICE: $14.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: https://kimsuhr.com/about-the-author/

Beautiful Raft

See the source imageTHE BOOK: Beautiful Raft.

PUBLISHED IN: 2019

THE AUTHOR: Tina Barry.

THE PUBLISHER: Robin Stratton at Big Table Publishing.

SUMMARY: In 1946, the artist Marc Chagall, his partner Virginia Haggard (30 years his junior and pregnant with their son David), and Haggard’s five-year-old daughter Jean McNeil moved from New York City to the rural hamlet of High Falls, New York, where they remained for two years. The prose poems, short fiction and hybrids in Beautiful Raft, written in Haggard’s and McNeil’s voices, tell the fictionalized story of their time in the country.

THE BACK STORY: I began writing the story in 2015, when my husband and I moved from Brooklyn, NY, to the hamlet of High Falls, NY. When we arrived, I began researching the area and discovered that the artist Marc Chagall had lived there in the 1940s. His house and the studio where he painted is still there.

Chagall’s arrival in the hamlet was a big deal at the time, so there were a lot of photographs in local publications. Very little was written about Haggard and McNeil. Who was this woman and little girl? I discovered that Haggard was the daughter of an English diplomat, spoke several languages, and was an aspiring artist herself. I began researching their time here, and soon after started writing in the women’s voices.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Beautiful Raft is a metaphor for Virginia, who the characters in the book turned to for affection and support.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The book appeals to lovers of art and the people who create it, poetry and short fiction. People interested in life in a small country village circa 1940s, will find its setting of interest. Beautiful Raft is a woman’s story, a child’s story, and an exploration of widowhood, motherhood, love, death, and renewal. It’s also an exploration of how women lose their identities to powerful men. One reviewer called it “erotically charged,” so there’s that too.

REVIEW COMMENTS: 

“Easily accessed and stunningly executed, Tina Barry’s Beautiful Raft brings to life a world of characters and another time. As much a love story as it is a social commentary, the end result is a triumph: an illustration of personhood that begins a larger conversation on gender roles and being — a conversation that is rarely understood so completely as through the view of the person that lived it.” — Kate Kernan, Harbor Review, October, 2019

“Tina Barry’s Beautiful Raft floats effortlessly on a lucid opalescent stream. Barry, a trained visual artist, has found worthy collaborators in the personas of artists Marc Chagall, his lover Virginia Haggard, and Haggard’s five-year-old daughter Jean McNeil, who once lived in her own High Falls, New York backyard.

“Precision of language leads to insight; compassion to clairvoyance, resulting in characters so astutely observed we can practically see the paint caked beneath their nails. The authority with which the characters are drawn adds a scholarly underpinning to this sensuous work of historical fiction in verse.” — Lissa Kiernan, Glass Needles and Goose Quills, Two Faint Lines in the Violet.

“The poems and interludes in Beautiful Raft examine not only the deep complexities of a family but also the interplay between art and society. Beyond Barry’s probing portrayal is an examination of the concept of artistic mastery and what it takes to both create andbe seen in the world.” — Jen Knox, Resolutions

“What I love so much about Tina Barry’s Beautiful Raft is how her curiosity turned into a fury-fueled exploration of how and why the partners of famous men are often ignored. With her imagination on fire, Barry searches for answers by allowing both Haggard and her young daughter to tell their stories. And what voices she gives them. What odd, intimate and arresting voices.” — Robert Vaughan, Funhouse, Addicts and Basements, Rift (with Kathy Fish)

From blini “in a cape of butter, tipping a caviar hat” to visits from Pierre Matisse who “leans against an ivory-carved walking stick he doesn’t need,” Barry offers a poetic succession of taut, highly charged prose poems. Kaleidoscope in style, the book shifts from page to page, casting a different light on this loving but uneasy relationship in this deftly constructed and haunting collection.” — Alexandra van de Kamp, Kiss/Hierarchy.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Like Virginia Haggard, the focus of Beautiful Raft, I’m a former artist married to an artist. And like Chagall, Haggard and McNeil, my husband and I made a similar move from Brooklyn, NY, to the hamlet of High Falls, NY.

“I’ve contributed articles about relationships, food and fashion to newspapers and magazines, been a restaurant critic for a newspaper (best job yet), and now work as a writing tutor at a local college, and a teaching artist at Poetry Barn and Gemini Ink.

Mall Flower: Poems and Short Fiction (Big Table Publishing, 2016): https://www.amazon.com/Mall-Flower-Tina-Barry/dp/0996540512/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1J89OIZ5CHCNF&keywords=mall+flower%2C+tina+barry&qid=1573058898&sprefix=mall+flower%2Caps%2C142&sr=8-1

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  Like all my writing, Beautiful Raft supports and encourages women.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

Something Amber

The darkened room smells of baby, and cooked lamb. Over that, the scent of snow. You’d draw my head differently than I hold it now, cocked like a dumb bird listening. Jean’s breath, not a sound really, just the opening of air. And David’s slight baby rumbling. He’s of you and of me but not. Serious somehow. You sketched him as connected circles, like the paper chain you cut from old drawings. We hung it over the table. Something festive to break up the winter. I like to draw your hand. The hand with that thumb. Such a thumb! Wide as the stump of an axed tree. Thoughts of you make me thirsty. I’ll drink something amber. The glasses’ edge etched with your thin cardinal lips. And kiss you that way. My lips over yours.

LOCAL OUTLETS:

Postmark Books, Rosendale, NY.845-658-2479. https://www.postmarkbooks.net; Rough Draft Bar & Books, Kingston, NY. 845-802-0027.roughdraftny.com.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945917490/ref=rdr_ext_tmb) and Big Table Publishing (V= https://www.bigtablepublishing.com/product-page/beautiful-raft-by-tina-barry). For a signed copy, readers can reach out to me at tbarrywrites@gmail.com.

PRICE: $15.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: tbarrywrites@gmail.com, TinaBarryWriter.com, @tinabarry188, https://www.facebook.com/tina.barry.

Sampler: Fifty Short Stories

Sampler: Fifty Short Stories

THE BOOK: Sampler: Fifty Short Stories

PUBLISHED IN: October 2019

THE AUTHOR: Don Tassone

THE EDITOR: Stevan Nikolic

THE PUBLISHER: Adelaide Books

SUMMARY: The 50 stories in this collection are wide-ranging. Some are serious, oth-ers light. Most are gentle, but a few are disquieting. There is fantasy, spirituality and politics here. Many of these stories are slices of life. Most are short. All are an invita-tion to think more deeply.

THE BACK STORY: Most story collections have a theme. But stories come from our experiences, and our experiences are diverse. So why limit a collection of stories to just one theme?

WHY THIS TITLE: This is an eclectic assortment of stories. One story is even a prose poem. The final story is non-fiction. “Sampler” seemed to fit.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: We’re all busy these days, but we all love a good story. Most of the stories in Sampler are short. I created this collection with busy people in mind.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“If there were ever any doubts as to whether Don Tassone could make a successful tran-sition from corporate exec to creative storyteller, he’s put them to rest. In Sampler, Tas-sone glides effortlessly between humor and melancholy, politics and romance, sharing his wisdom through the vessel of narrative. Contemporary anecdotes like “A Little More Conversation” contrast with timeless ones like “Barefoot,” yet all 50 short stories in this collection share a common bond: they stimulate the mind.”  — Dominic Vaiana, writer, marketer.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Don Tassone is the author of a novel, Drive, and three short story collections: Sampler, Get Back and Small Bites. His fourth story collection, New Twists, will be published in October 2020. He lives in Loveland, Ohio and teaches at Xavier University.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I write as an invitation to think and feel more deeply. I hope the stories in Sampler do that.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1951214609

Weather Report, Nov. 11

Related image

Marc Chagall (photo from Widewalls)

Our currently featured books, “Home Everywhere,” by Megan McNamer and “The Hero,” by Helene Sanguinetti and Ann Cefola (translator) can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or, click the author’s name on our Author’s page.

————————————————————-

UPCOMING FROM SNOWFAKES IN A BLIZZARD, NOVEMBER 12-18.

“BEAUTFUL RAFT,” BY TINA BARRY.

In 1946, the artist Marc Chagall, his partner Virginia Haggard (30 years his junior and pregnant with their son David), and Haggard’s five-year-old daughter Jean McNeil moved from New York City to the rural hamlet of High Falls, New York, where they remained for two years. The prose poems, short fiction and hybrids in Beautiful Raft, written in Haggard’s and McNeil’s voices, tell the fictionalized story of their time in the country.

“NOTHING TO LOSE,” BY KIM SUHR.

Drawing on the rich complexity of the American Midwest, Kim Suhr peoples her debut book of fiction with characters that we know, carved out of the Wisconsin landscape and caught between expectation and desire. An Iraq war veteran stalks the streets of Madison. Four drunk friends hunt deer outside of Antigo. A mother tries to save her son. A transplanted New Yorker plots revenge against her husband. A man sobers up and opens a paintball range for Jesus. A woman with nothing to lose waits for her first kiss. Personal and powerful, Kim Suhr’s “Nothing to Lose” shows us a region filled with real people: less than perfect, filled with doubts, always reaching.

“SAMPLER: FIFTY SHORT STORIES,” BY DON TASSONE.

Writes one reviewer: “If there were ever any doubts as to whether Don Tassone could make a successful transition from corporate exec to creative storyteller, he’s put them to rest. In Sampler, Tassone glides effortlessly between humor and melancholy, politics and romance, sharing his wisdom through the vessel of narrative. Contemporary anecdotes like ‘A Little More Conversation’ contrast with timeless ones like ‘Barefoot,’ yet all 50 short stories in this collection share a common bond: they stimulate the mind.”

Home Everywhere

This week’s other featured book,  “The Hero,” by Helene Sanguinetti and Ann Cefola, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

—————————————————

Image result for Megan McNamer + author + photoTHE BOOK: Home Everywhere.

PUBLISHED IN: 2018.

THE AUTHOR: Megan McNamer.

THE EDITOR: Diane Goettel.

THE PUBLISHER: Black Lawrence Press.

SUMMARY: Home Everywhere is about wanting to join the hot and noisy world, rather than viewing it through plate glass windows from air-conditioned rooms or matching images to a description in a book. It’s about trying to un-mediate experience. It’s about wanting to break on through to the other side, while, at the same time, fretting about how much to tip. And it is about the confusion and uncertainties and hubris and plain old mundanities that accompany the more inchoate impulses of travel.

Oh, and it is about wanting to escape death. It’s about wanting to create a stage and strut upon it, to put boundaries around experience and exist within that sphere. For a while.

THE BACK STORY: I wrote sections of this separately, they weren’t intended to be part of a larger story. Some small travel vignettes were based on a guided tour to Bangkok that I went on with my aunt and uncle in l998. Some longer sections were memoirish pieces I’d been working on for years. Finally I decided that they all belonged together, and I set to work stitching up the parts to make it flow. So this is a book about a trip, with stories. That’s how I think of it.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I took the title from a quote by Novalis that I read in something about Heidegger. “Philosophy is really homesickness, an urge to be at home everywhere.”

I find it evocative more than explanatory. Another Heidegger-derived (I think) quote sticks in my mind: “We are always waiting for something. We are always waiting for something as a whole. This something as a whole is the world.”

And then there’s Barbara Pym, who writes about “the desire for something afar, from the sphere of our sorrow.” She was probably quoting some Romantic poet, or maybe one of her clergymen or “excellent women” were doing the quoting, while tucking into a simple lunch or sipping a measured glass of sherry. (Aha –Google says it’s Shelley.)

For me, there is a kind of sorrow in the notion of “home everywhere,” a homesickness, a nostalgia for something you’ve never seen. (But Home Everywhere, my novel, is often funny, I believe. My best friend from first grade kept sending me “LOL” texts, attached to lines from the book as she was reading it. Of course, we share some sensibilities that others might not have.)

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If a reader picks this up and reads it as a travel book, he or she will be baffled and maybe slightly annoyed. It isn’t exactly an anti-travel book, though. It’s about travel as pilgrimage and as theater and as “regular” life dislodged. Dislodged but still tethered to home, whether the traveler wants that to be the case or not.

These characters are not profound or unusual. They might be Evan Connell’s Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, signing up for a chartered tour. Somewhere it’s been written of Evan Connell – “This sensual yearning for knowledge, this insatiable wanderlust – what Anatole France called ‘a long desire’ – is Connell’s constant subject and his greatest theme.”

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Home Everywhere … is a controlled crash, a tour of a sublime tour de force, satisfying on many levels and telling in every tongue.” — Michael Martone (book blurb)

“In Home Everywhere … Megan McNamer shows us that the companions are no less important than the destination. Life brings everyone to unexpected places that are not on any map, and the reader gladly joins in for the ride.” –Laura Esther Wolfson (book blurb)

“…a fascinating kaleidoscope of a novel.” –Grady Harp (San Francisco Review of Books)

AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in small towns in northern Montana and come from a writing family; both sisters are published novelists, and writers in various genres are scattered throughout my contemporary and historical familial connections.

I have degrees in Music (BA from University of Montana) and Ethnomusicology (MA from University of Washington) and acknowledge that background as my primary source of inspiration and training as a writer. If asked to explain, I can’t, exactly. It’s something to do with trying to decode and capture the ineffable.

The highlight of my week is playing Balinese gamelan music with a community group in Missoula, MT (Manik Harum).

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I am interested in travel writing that delves into (or maybe just lightly touches on) theory. Certain bits of this novel are stolen from others (Laurence Durrell, Alain de Botton, Barbara Pym). Barbara Pym, of course, wasn’t a travel writer, but her work in the offices of the African Institute in London inspired some sly send-ups of ethnography, ethnographers and concepts of “the field.” She also has many characters in her novels who make seemingly obtuse observations that are so mundane they become profound. I love that stuff.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: 

1. M(r). Butterfly

His real name was something else. It had tones and diphthongs and unaspirated p’s. It was piquant and fluttering, the way he pronounced it, his voice guarded, clandestine. Quickly then he reverted to the businesslike “Ron,” a created character, clearly. Ron was a combination of police, priest, parent, and pimp. “Get into the temple,” Ron might say, his language pragmatic and unadorned. Everyone liked him. It was nearing the end of the millennium, in the waning days of November, the waxing days of December, the darkening days of winter, the holiday season in the Western world. Time to flee the festive hearth and set off for a ten-day trip to a foreign land. (A reprieve of sorts, this bargain tour, from states of longing, aloneness, and relentless cheer.) When they first shuffled down the chute upon arrival, they arranged their faces to say: We are well-traveled people and students of culture. Some made their faces say even more: I have slept in the rainforest canopy. I have rubbed shoulders with shamans. I don’t tour, I trek. I have trekked to places never before seen by the common traveler. The tourists knew that they were just tourists. I have observed factory workers amid the clang of their toil. I have studied the courtship songs of refugees. I have gone right into the homes and made friends for life!

There stood the beaming Ron outside baggage claim, wearing a crisply-laundered white shirt with thin green stripes, a small brass name tag centered neatly on the pocket. His smile, which appeared to be absolutely genuine, was also instantly, guilelessly flirtatious. “My name is R-O-N,” he said, pointing with his left index finger to invisible letters in the air, a large sliver watch glinting on his wrist like a signal mirror.

“Ron!” the tourists responded, a bit precipitately.

“Ah, your English is excellent,” he smiled, looking right at each of them, a flicker of irony hovering about his lips. They were made to feel good, in cahoots with Ron. He seemed to be saying: I know, and you know, and I know you know, and I want you to know I know, and I want you to know I know you know all those clichés. About all those others. Not you.

“Follow me,” Ron chimed, and swaggered away, confident of their attention. They gathered their things and followed him, over skyways, up ramps, and around corners.

They followed him to the accompaniment of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a melancholy, duple-metered rendition strummed on a steel guitar. (Ron had a fussy, near-prissy physical brio that exuded machismo itself, deconstructed and distilled. That was what some of the tourists noticed. Others simply noticed that his pants fit perfectly.)

Through sliding glass doors, they followed him, waddling stiff-legged after the long flight, elbowing their way out into a steamy, incubator-warm parking garage filled with growling buses waiting in the 4 a.m. neon glare at full, repressed throttle. A quick stab of travel sadness was generally experienced. Or might it be joy? They were here. None of them had been here before. A door had stood open and now it was closed and they were in. Here they were.

The only colors in the gaseous gray were purple clumps of garlands, reminiscent of leis, and the brilliant magenta of the costumes of the lei attendants, languorous, silk-swathed girls accompanied by camera-equipped boys. The sex trade! No, welcome teams. Working the arrivals.

The camera boys wore the same green stripes as Ron, though not so nattily. They stood with the girls at the open doors of the buses, an appropriate number of garlands draped over each girl’s arm, brochures and tin buttons arrayed on a tray. Various toxins vied for space in the semi-enclosed area. As each panting, decompressing passenger ambled gratefully toward the steps of his (or her) designated vehicle, a girl lassoed him (or her) with a lei, saying “Welcome, Sir (or Madam),” with a quick fold of the hands to the forehead. Then the girl stood next to this perspiring, sleep-craving stranger, smooth cheek to rumpled cheek in a mini-position of intimacy, while a boy snapped a photo, redeemable later for US $10.

They wanted to be good sports about this. They wanted to seem unthreatened. They didn’t always travel in hordes (they wanted this understood), but so what? They hoped to convey a stance that was not “anti,” but “post.” We’re beyond being ill at ease. That was what the well-traveled hoped to convey with their stance, distinguishing themselves from the nervously beaming novices.

Everyone looked at Ron, who was monitoring the proceedings with a white, linen handkerchief kept close to his mouth and nose, presumably to filter the fumes, or maybe to dab sweat from his upper lip. Holding the folded square in place, he guided them into the bus with his free hand, the fingers performing a regular little twirl at the end of his languid arm, the heavy watch winking, the overall effect that of a blessing, a mock blessing, a tinge of carnival, a dancer moonlighting as a doorman. They wanted to match Ron’s dramatic flair. But the tourists weren’t there yet. Some tried to duck the photo, others dodged the lei. A woman dropped several packages of peanuts she’d saved from the flight and also her reading glasses, which she retrieved with a pounce. This awkward behavior created a catch in the smoothness of the whole maneuver, the face of her welcome girl became knit with the faintest of frowns. Ron came to the rescue, lowering his handkerchief and bestowing the moment with a sudden big grin, his teeth showing even and radiant in this personalized extension of his uniform smile, itself so full of pleasure and professionalism.

He exudes a male animus that an equally-short Norman Mailer would kill for, a would-be novelist in the group made a mental note to write. He exudes a soft concern, thought the would-be novelist’s wife. And total authority.

“Everything is okay?” Ron tilted his head ever so slightly. The tourists nodded mutely, eyeing the hard holster swivel clip cellphone case he had strapped to his belt, next to a black, collapsible umbrella, as compact as a billy club.

“Get into the bus,” he smiled. They did, with no further struggle. Floating through the city and toward their beds, the tourists wondered if the cool fingers they’d felt on their arms belonged to the silky girls or to Ron. Faint sensations still lingered of just the barest moments of contact, like moths brushing skin. Slipping into nodding half-dreams, they became the moths and Ron their captor. Then Ron and the girls became entangled. He wore shimmering colors; they wore his name tag. Then the tourists were the ones all wrapped up with Ron. He reclaimed his name tag. It said RON. The tourists wore their own tin buttons. These said PARADISE PROMISE. As the bus sighed along, they sank fully to sleep, convinced they had finally arrived.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Fact and Fiction https://www.factandfictionbooks.com/ Shakespeare and Co. http://www.shakespeareandco.com/

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc. Black Lawrence Press https://www.blacklawrence.com/home-everywhere/ Small Press Distribution https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9781625578044/home-everywhere.aspx

Also — Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Ebay.

PRICE: $21.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:  http://www.meganmcnamer.com meganmcnamer@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/megan.mcnamer https://twitter.com/meganmmcnamer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hero

Image previewTHE BOOK: The Hero

PUBLISHED IN: 2018

THE AUTHOR: Hélène Sanguinetti (at right)

THE TRANSLATOR: Ann Cefola. (Photo below)

THE EDITOR: Charles Alexander

THE PUBLISHER: CHAX Press, whose mission is to increase the impact of new writing in our culture, has published close to 200 books by innovative poets for more than 30 years. Located in Tucson, CHAX takes pride in producing letterpress books that emerge from intense collaboration between poet and book artist.

SUMMARY: The Hero, a book-length experimental poem, combines multiple genres and typographical elements to explore the fallacies of war. In this her fourth book, Hélène Sanguinetti leverages poetry, prose, dramatic dialogue and visual wordplay to create a literature that is intriguing and disturbing at once. As in earlier work, she examines questions of national identity and effects of common disaster. The challenge, for Ann as translator, was to convey the jarring, cubist quality of the work, rather than make it more linear and rational—therefore, easier—for the reader. See “Review Comments” below for more on the text.

THE BACK STORY: Published by Flammarion in France more than a decade ago.

The HeroWHY THIS TITLE?: The Hero is not only a character but serves as an archetype, a container to hold the best of human impulse, and in wartime, often the worst.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If you are interested in the best of contemporary French poetry, or want to be challenged by someone doing something inventive with language, then The Hero is a must-read.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“The text of The Hero coaxes the reader on at the same time that it resists him. One searches for something to ground it, but it keeps us on the border between narrative and free association. The reference points that emerged for me brought up a vague idea of a story about a day after I finished it, kind of a ghost story. Sort of a combination of Finnegans Wake and the poetry of Artaud. The hero is the reader.” — Eric Greinke on Amazon

“Hélène Sanguinetti’s The Hero is not a book of poetry for the faint of heart. It challenges readers, fracturing the story of the hero to analyze it from every angle. It is up to the reader to search for answers, and expert puzzle master Ann Cefola, who has translated this book from the French, is to thank for bringing this literary kaleidoscope to the English language. The Hero will leave you worn down and breathless. More importantly, it will leave you wanting more.” — James Lord Parker in Lines+Stars

“After spending time with Hélène Sanguinetti’s poetry collection The Hero, any attempt to classify, label, or contain the work feels counter-intuitive. Translated from the French by Ann Cefola, this collection vibrates, slithers, and undulates—the language itself echoing various natural elements with which it is so obsessed. By way of loose guidance, Sanguinetti divides the collection into eleven sections or poems, consisting of locations (The Expanse, The Town, The Canal, The Ditch), characters (The Son, The Women, A Poor Man), and experiences (The Battle, The Meal, Victory). This is where the guidance stops, and our task as readers is to observe and form connections, however tenuous, among the parts we are given.” — Alice Maglio in The Collagist.

“Sanguinetti takes on the archetype of the hero from every angle—at times many simultaneously—and in a language itself heroic in its leaps and shifts and its inventive riffs that tap into ambient legend, with its steaming horses, epic journeys, and, of course, battle. Volatile style, startling content, super-charged tone—Cefola captures them all in her splendidly nuanced translation, a rare case in which nothing at all is lost, and the English language gains a powerful and beautiful book.” — Cole Swensen from back cover of The Hero

AUTHOR PROFILE: Ann Cefola, a poet (Free Ferry, Face Painting in the Dark), has been translating the works (The Hero, Hence this cradle) of contemporary French poet Hélène Sanguinetti for 20 years. Translating has opened unexpected opportunities for Ann, who often speaks to writers on this topic. To find out more, subscribe to Ann’s popular annogram poetry and arts newsletter/blog.

TRANSLATOR COMMENTS: Sanguinetti is catching fire in the United States—journals snap up her work and publishers have heightened interest. The reason may be that our cultural environment seems as chaotic today as the subjects in Sanguinetti’s nonlinear poetry. On some level, the not-knowing, serendipity, and complexity make sense.

SAMPLE

Chapter 4 The Battle from The Hero.docx

WHERE TO BUY IT: CHAX Press, Amazon.

PRICE: $18.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: You can reach Ann through her website, http://www.anncefola.com

First Tuesday Replay, Nov. 5

This feature has a two-fold purpose: 1. To allow those recently added to our followers list to discover 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 of the books revisited here, simply click on the “Author” page, then on that author’s name.

Between Nowhere & Lost by [Christle, Alexandra]“BETWEEN NOWHERE AND LOST,” BY ALEXANDRA CHRISTL.

When 1960s housewife Helen Hodges chances to meet textile mill owner David Drummond in her small South Carolina town, her repressed longing for a child is reawakened and discontent floods her life. As union and racial tensions in the town escalate, Helen is torn between her Catholic faith, her duty to her husband, and her growing desire to be with David. Overrun with guilt, Helen forsakes her lover and chooses to remain with her husband, until she learns some life-changing news and rushes to tell David before he leaves town, and her life…forever.

“BLACK HEARTS, WHITE BONES,” BY WLLIAM CHARLES FURNEY.

William writes: “Having been born and raised in the “Down East” region of coastal North Carolina, I grew up where local legends about pirates and their folklore live on to this day.  Many of my vacations growing up were spent in places like Nags Head, Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Charleston.  The sports teams at East Carolina University – the closest college to where I lived – are called ECU Pirates and feature pirate logos and mascot.

About eight years ago I began coming across references to Anne Bonny and Mary Read in my reading and it struck me as odd that so little had been written about them.  How could two notorious women pirates be so unknown?  And what little information I could find in my research was either woefully unbelievable, dismissive, or condescending.  As someone who was raised by a strong woman and a man who respects them, I knew I had to write a story that would do them justice and in a serious way.  With Black Hearts White Bones, I think I achieved that goal.  If my efforts help them gain a more prominent place in history, then I will consider my story to be a very satisfying success.

Rainbow Gardens: Some Wars Never End by [Malone, James]“RAINBOW GARDENS,” BY JAMES MALONE.

Japanese immigrant Harry Shikita dreams of becoming successful by building Rainbow Gardens, America’s first neon-lit motel.  But the 1920s are a tough time to be an Oriental in America, and Harry must deal not only with prejudice and foul play, but also the trolls.

Yes, trolls — the kind that turn to stone. Cursed descendants of Cain, the trolls are trying to find their way back to God through their Redeemer. The trolls think Harry’s their guy, but he’s on his own quest to be accepted, to be an “old boy.”

Each time Harry’s slapped down, he gets up and starts again. But things only get worse for Harry after Pearl Harbor. Innocent of any wrongdoing, he finds himself interned for the duration of the war while his son fights the Nazis in Europe.

If Harry finds a way to forgive his adopted country, can he become the trolls’ bridge to God’s Grace? The answer lies within the neon paradise of Rainbow Gardens.

“THE MARTYR’S BROTHER,” BY RONA SIMMONS.

The Martyr’s Brother is a work of suspense featuring a contemporary theme and a female sleuth. Five years ago, a suicide-bomber named Nadheer detonated an explosive-filled Toyota outside a Middle East military checkpoint. The blast shattered more than those immediately around him—it forever changed two other lives. Shafra, his brother, who worshipped Nadheer and longs to follow in his footsteps, and Alicia Blake, whose husband’s violent end in the same terrorist attack haunts her and drives her overactive imagination. Now Shafra has arrived in America, with his sights set on Atlanta. Alicia holds the key to stopping him before he rips the world apart, but time is ticking away.

Grace Period: My Ordination to the Ordinary by [Popham, Melinda Worth]“GRACE PERIOD,” BY MELINDA GRACE POPHAM.

Grace Period recounts the spiritual journey launched by the break-up of the author’s marriage and her teenage daughter’s descent into an intractable depression that led her to an Ivy League seminary and to the discovery that pain is the Miracle Gro of spiritual growth.

Writes Melinda: “Writing is how I process my life. Grace Period is how I processed the barrage of painful life events that brought me to my knees and that led me, at age fifty-six, to Yale Divinity School, not in pursuit of ordination to ministry but quite simply to “my plain old ordinary sacred self.”

“GONE TO POT,” BY JENNIFER CRAIG.

After losing her job and learning she might also lose her house because of a bad investment, Jess, a fiercely independent and hilariously wry British Columbia grandma, resorts to growing pot in her basement to make ends meet. She then has to juggle her public life as a grandmother and member of the town’s senior women’s group – The Company of Crones – with her secret life as a pot grower. The unusual characters she meets along the way include Swan, the enigmatic young woman who introduces her to the grower’s world, and Marcus, the socially awkward “gardener” who shows her the tricks of the trade. Both of her new young friends are more than they appear, and Jess’ adventures in pot growing break down barriers in both her old and new circles. The delightful outcome of an almost legitimate business leaves Jess and her associates flushed with success.