Grand Slams

Grand Slams: a coming of eggs story by [Gager, Timothy]

THIS WEEK’S TWO OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “COMMUNITY CATS,” BY ANNE E. BEALL AND “ONCE IT STOPS,” BY FLORENCE FOGELIN, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

—————————————————————

THE BOOK: Grand Slams: A Coming of Eggs Story

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR: Timothy Gager

THE EDITOR: Mignon Ariel King

THE PUBLISHER: Big Table Publishing

SUMMARY: The first thing one notices in Timothy Gager’s Grand Slam: A Coming of Eggs Story is the Holden Caulfield-like anti-hero protagonist Woody. There is an ensemble of characters in the novel who make up the staff and management at a chain diner, Grand Slams, and Gager deftly weaves their backstories and inner lives into the fast-paced narrative. (Mignon Ariel King)

Timothy GagerTHE BACK STORY: Most of the low-level workers in the diner are more invested than their superiors. Keating, a nasty bastard of a boss, does as little as possible while screaming at his employees, most notably emotionally abusive toward Kayak Kenny, a developmentally challenged bus boy who fantasizes about buying a canoe. Kenny believes girls will fall in love with him if he has a canoe, swept up in the romance of floating on the pond with him. Keating floats on cocaine and a rather sleazy sex life. He sweeps women off their feet with the lure of free drugs. Sugar is the diner’s beauty; she is lusted after by every man who comes within reach of her pretty, pony-tailed, short skirt- and cowboy-booted beauty. More power to the male author who makes Sugar one of the most intelligent, focused, compassionate characters in the book. Her flaw is pathologically bad taste in men. She has a small life and thinks small, but she evolves and matures faster than her age-appropriate male interests. Sugar’s introspection leads her away from the sweaty, portly, mustard-stained tie and rumpled suit grasp of Keating. Her next conquest is a socioeconomic upgrade, Sayid, an Egyptian man who is too sexually repressed (for religious reasons) to use Sugar as a sex object. He courts her, and this is obviously something to which she is unaccustomed but which she grows to realize she deserves. Meanwhile, Woody pines for her from afar, as he did in high school, while being her platonic friend. (Mignon Ariel King)

WHY THIS TITLE: It’s a nod to the chain diner the author actually worked at.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Throughout the novel, the almost-adults keep the momentum going in the midst of the socially odd and borderline tragic, invested adults. How will this trio grow up while surrounded by infantile, base, or simply lost adults? The reader is invested by the third chapter in finding out.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Absolutely Brilliant!” — Jeffrey Milleron

“Early in Grand Slams: A Coming of Eggs Story, one of the main characters, Maura, says to Woody, a new employee, “You should be grateful that Grand Slams gives you another chance in life. It saved my life.” At that very moment in this brilliant novel by Timothy Gager, he has in two sentences established the critical mass for the story. From that moment in the story, Gager introduces a colorful assortment of characters who have ended up in Grand Slams, for whatever reason, and then delves deep into their lives and personal relationships—of all who are connected to the restaurant. In many ways, the restaurant itself becomes a microcosm of life through the individual stories of these employees. Gager is brilliant the way that weaves the stories of the employees throughout the story and how each one is inextricably linked to other characters in the novel. From Maura, the veteran food server who has been with Grand Slams from the very beginning to Woody Geyser who is only working part-time during the summer, the interactions between these characters as they unfold are what makes this novel a treat to read. While reading this novel, I was reminded of that classic American cyclical novel, Winesburg, Ohio and the way that Sherwood Anderson linked the characters and their individual stories with each other. The same can be true about Grand Slams with each chapter having its own title as if each one could be a stand alone story. This is by far, Gager’s best work. He’s a writer of extraordinary talent and one we should all read.” — D. S. Atkinsonon

“I do have a soft spot for pancake house centered fiction, but I also have high standards. Gager puts together a beautiful one in this book though. It seems so realistic of that kind of place at the time that it’s funny, tense, and even tender. I cared about these people and what would happen to them as if they were really people I knew well. Very well done.” — W. Mahoney

“Having worked in a restaurant very similar to Grand Slams, I love how Mr. Gager captures the lives of those poor, struggling souls, floundering along in a nothing job yet trying to find some meaning. Mr. Gager gives us characters we come to care about, and he brings them to life with sparkling dialogue that is at once witty, engaging, and even poignant. You will laugh, enjoy, and become absorbed in this story about every day people and the stories that bond them.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Timothy Gager is the author of thirteen books of short fiction and poetry. His latest novel, Grand Slams, (Big Table Publishing) is his second He hosts the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts for over fifteen years and is the co-founder of Somerville News Writers Festival. His work appears in over 350 journals, of which ten have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has been read on National Public Radio.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I used to work at a Denny’s Restaurant while I was on my college breaks from The University of Delaware. Low and behold my main character is working at a Grand Slams Restaurant during his college break for UMASS, Amherst. The book wrote itself, based on the characters and their dysfunction—just like in the real restaurant.

“If it were any other chain I would have used their real name but because of where I worked, I knew how petty they are/were so even when being satirical, I didn’t want to take any chances of being sued for all my riches. Also, it is set in the 1980’s in the Boston area and many places that I feature in the book, no longer exist… Chi-Chi’s, Jacks, The Web Brook.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://timothygager.blogspot.com/2017/02/snow-day-read-first-forty-pages-of.html

LOCAL OUTLETS: Porter Square Books, Newtonville Books, Barnes and Noble.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon or through the publisher.

PRICE: $16

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: ctgager37@yahoo.com.

Advertisements

Community Cats

THE BOOK: Community Cats: A Journey Into the World of Feral Cats.

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR: Anne E. Beall, Ph.D.

THE PUBLISHER: IUniverse.

SUMMARY: It all started when a rat ran over her husband’s foot and author Dr. Anne E. Beall began a journey into the world of feral cats. The Bealls had experienced rat problems for a long time. Then, a neighbor told them about a program called Cats at Work where one could get feral cats that would take care of the rat problem.

In Community Cats, she tells how she entered the world of feral cats when she Anne E. Beallsigned up for the Chicago Cats at Work program with Tree House Humane Society. Tree House practices TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return), and they trapped, neutered, and relocated a feral cat colony to Beall’s home. She narrates what she learned about the unique world of feral cats and about the people who are involved with feral cats and who advocate for them

Community Cats shares the story of what initially began as a creative solution to a rat problem and became a journey that led her to reach out to others in the feral-cat world. Beall interviewed other colony caretakers and leaders in the TNR movement and learned about how feral cats live, how they relate to one another, and how they relate to their caretakers. She also conducted survey research on American’s attitudes toward stray cats, TNR programs, and spaying/ neutering.

Beall learned that feral cat programs have a huge impact on the caretakers of the colonies, on the neighbors, on the community, and on the cats themselves and details those findings in Community Cats.

THE BACK STORY:  I decided to write this book because I was so moved by the feral cats whom I “hired” to get rid of the rats in my neighborhood. Originally this working group of cats just removed the rats in my area, but eventually they ended up capturing my heart. I realized that they were highly vulnerable creatures who were at great risk for a variety of hazards. They ended up trusting me and doing an invaluable service for me and my neighbors. When I realized that they were not like the typical house cat, I decided to learn more about them through the people who advocate for them and who have created TNVR (Trap Neuter Vaccinate and Relocate/Return) programs all over the United States. I interviewed many different people over the course of 6 months and learned many stories about these cats and the role they can play in people’s lives. I  also conducted survey research of 1,500 Americans about their attitudes toward these programs. After doing this research, it took me another 6 months to write the book—so about 1 year in total.

WHY THIS TITLE? I chose this title because it was definitely a journey into a totally different world—a world of unique people who are doing their best to advocate for a group of animals who are largely misunderstood and often trapped and killed. It was also a journey into the lives of animals who have managed to survive and thrive.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If you’ve ever seen a stray cat who was extremely fearful, you probably saw a feral cat. They’re not like your average house cat and they often live very difficult lives. But there are millions of them in the United States and they can provide an invaluable service to the communities in which they live. If you ever wanted to see the weak prevail and understand how nature eventually wins (with a little help from humans), this book is for you. Feral or Community Cats have a role in our world and they’re smart, resourceful and frightened creatures who deserve compassion.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Community Cats was awarded the distinction of being named a 2016 Foreward Indies Finalist.

https://www.forewordreviews.com/awards/books/community-cats/

“Beall writes about confronting feral cat populations with a compelling combination of heart and head. In Community Cats, Chicago resident Anne E. Beall acts as an evangelist for the trap, neuter, and release (TNR) method of handling feral cat populations, writing both passionately and eloquently about this unique solution that is “changing the world one cat and one person at a time.” Beall was looking for a way to deal with her overpopulation of backyard rats, nourished by nearby restaurant garbage, when she found out about the Cats at Work program.

“Through it, her local humane society traps and neuters feral cats in vulnerable situations, then places them with trained volunteers who care for a small outside feline colony.

“Beall was pleased with the success of the program and became smitten with her “Rat Pack.” Beall shares many anecdotes about her adopted feral kitty trio–Eloise, Duke, and Allie–including how her neighbors and indoor cat feel about them (don’t worry, it’s all positive). The book also relates stories from other caretakers and animal advocates. This technique very effectively explains various aspects of the TNR method and animal welfare and makes otherwise complicated and nuanced concepts very concrete. For example, it might seem counter intuitive to medically treat and release feral cats back outside, but Beall notes that the TNR method humanely tamps down cat populations overall, because caretakers maintain feeding routines, outdoor litter boxes, and housing units that the neutered TNR cats not only don’t repopulate, but zealously guard against intruders.

“As she persuasively explains, if feral cats were just trapped and taken to live or be euthanized at shelters, other unneutered feral cats would zoom into their abandoned habitats and continue their impressive rates of reproduction. Beall’s prose has a matter-of-fact tone and, with its measured, assured layering of arguments, is a convincing appeal for more widespread adoption of the TNR method, especially given the estimated sixty-nine million feral cats in the United States. Her interviews with other feral cat caretakers and individual case studies reveal how some dedicated cat rescuers struggle to feed and shelter their colonies with limited incomes, while living in urban areas that are “pet deserts,” where food and supplies are difficult to obtain.

“The bird-loving author also devotes many pages to discussion of how to mitigate feral cat predation of local and migrating birds, including several surprising findings. Beall owns a market research firm and supplements her prose with detailed analysis of polling data that her company collected from fifteen hundred persons regarding their opinions of stray cats, spaying/neutering, and other pertinent issues. This information is well analyzed and is augmented with many charts and graphs.

“The book also contains a helpful bibliography and many black-and-white photos of Cats at Work felines and their housing. Animal lovers will enjoy reading this book and learning about the TNR movement. Community Cats also has great appeal for anyone interested in contemporary social and public health issues. The social scientist writes winningly from the heart and the head, and it’s a terrific combination. — Rachel Jagareski, Clarion Reviews.

 

“Ms. Beall writes an absolutely delightful account of her experience with (and subsequent study of) the care taking of feral cats. While we all have encountered a stray or feral cat in the outside during our lives, we rarely think about the existence of feral cat colonies, how they live, and how humans can help them. The book describes the trap-neuter-release method of working with feral cat colonies to leverage their natural instincts for much needed rodent control, and respect their “upbringing” (not socialized with humans) in the outside world. The author does a wonderful job of describing and honoring the dedication and personalities of several colony caretakers. We get to know them and appreciate their drive to perform daily work at their own expense to care for these cats. She also gives dignity to the many cats (and one special dog!) with descriptions of their behaviors, habits, appearances, and the names they are given along the way. One chapter is devoted to the results of the hefty research her market research company conducted on the view point of the U.S. population on cats. You will love this chapter if you are a statistics enthusiast, and it does a thorough job of empirically proving that TNR preservation of cat colonies are supported (vs. trap and euthanize). Nevertheless, I felt that the author’s simple and thoughtful descriptions of this largely unknown world are proof enough to anyone that this is a cause worthy of our attention and energy. Ms. Beall creates an absorbing, can’t-put-down tempo with her writing on the subject matter. The icing on the cake are the pictures of some of these wonderful cats included in the book. I am recommending this book to my cat lover’s group. I only wish that my own indoor kitties, Bailey and Cooper, could read it too!” — E. Kirchon.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Anne E. Beall, Ph.D. is a trained researcher who runs a successful market research company in Chicago. On nights and weekends, she’s a writer who provides a voice for those who don’t have one. She’s passionate about animals and believes that we are more connected to the animals around us than we know. She has written 4 books, most recently one about how animals and people help one another (Heartfelt Connections). She received her MS, MPhil and PhD degrees in social psychology from Yale University.

https://smile.amazon.com/Anne-E.-Beall/e/B00MDBTDJS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1506107768&sr=1-2-ent

SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://www.communitycats.us/first-chapter.html.

Chapter 1 How It All Began.

It all started when a rat ran over my husband’s foot. The city of Chicago had just fixed our sidewalk, and we surmised that the construction had disturbed the rats’ homes and that they were trying to relocate. We saw rats at all times of the day and night. The rat on my husband’s

foot (right in front of our home) was the last straw. We mentioned the incident to a neighbor, Tim Cole, who told us about a program called Cats at Work where you could get feral cats who would take care of the rat problem. We had experienced rat problems for a long time. We live off an alley behind several restaurants, so it’s a natural place for rats to live. Rats are part of urban life. And all city dwellers get used to seeing them every so often. However, we became concerned because they were around our home and under our garage. And they seemed to be proliferating. A neighbor told us that if rats build enough tunnels under a structure, it can collapse. So, we tried a variety of methods to get rid of them. Nothing really worked. So there I was, looking up this program on the Internet, wondering if a feral cat colony would work for us.

Tree House

We learned that Tree House had a Cats at Work program, and we applied to become one of the program’s managed colony caretakers. We were accepted after showing that we could make a commitment to the cats, and we were soon in touch with Liz Houtz, the Community Cats program manager at Tree House. We applied to have a colony of three cats. Liz told us that we needed to feed them twice a day and provide them with a litter box and that Tree House would supply us with outdoor shelters, an outdoor cat box, and a heated water/feeding bowl for our cold Chicago winters. Our cats were scheduled to arrive on a Sunday. Liz arrived with the makings for a large cage (about eight by four feet), two outdoor shelters, a litter box, and another box that could be used for feeding. And Liz’s colleague arrived with three tabby cats in three small cages. She put them on the steps, and immediately one of the cages started rocking. That cat wanted to get out! My husband, Liz, and I set up the large cage and put the shelters into the cage along with the cat box. We live in a hundred-year-old building, and we put the cage underneath our front stairs and porch. It’s actually a large enclosure that is outside of the rain and cold, and Liz felt it would be a great place for the cats to acclimate. She explained that they needed to be in the cage for the first three weeks while they got used to the environment and the sounds around them. They also needed to get used to a new feeding schedule and new caretakers. After we set up the large cage for them, we opened up the little cat cages, and they ran quickly into the large cage and right into their shelters. We barely saw them. We closed the cage and let them get used to their new surroundings. Our cat colony arrived in early November before it got really cold in Chicago. We were one of the last people to get a cat colony for that year, so we felt lucky. And so it began

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com (https://smile.amazon.com/Community-Cats-Anne-Beall/dp/1532001509/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506106784&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=communityc+ats and select Barnes & Noble retail stores.

PRICE: $3.99 for Kindle version and $13.97 for paperback.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: https://www.facebook.com/CommunityCatsBook/ http://www.communitycats.us/home.html Beallrt@sbcglobal.net.

 

Once It Stops

Image result for Florence Fogelin + poet + photographs

THE AUTHOR: Florence Fogelin

EDITOR: Jeffrey Haste

PUBLISHER: Deerbrook Editions, PO Box 542, Cumberland, Maine 04021

SUMMARY: A poetry book has no plot, but I hope mine shows a journey from mid-life travails to an embrace of married love and life itself, ending with “I will not eat the berry that’s been counted/ sooner than I’d live life one day at a time.” I celebrate greediness for the present and for the future.

BACK STORY: I began writing poetry as a child of 50 years, with intermittent publication in journals — and a chapbook, Facing the Light, in 2001. I published soon after beginning to write poetry, then publication became rare. Still I found new joy in reading poetry as a poet (so different from being just a reader) and kept at my writing. I intend my poetry to be accessible and — as other poets have said — “to say what I mean and mean much more.” I have lived with a philosopher for 60 years, and I hope and pray that it shows in my work.

WHY THIS TITLE? “Once It Stops” is the title poem and is a rather gloomy evocation of driving home after a major snowstorm, suffocating in its softness. The title also evokes thoughts about the fragility of love and of life, concentrated especially in the final section, with poems entitled “Forget and Forgive,’ “Finale,” “In Black,” and “The Boathouse: A Love Poem” — “a demolition job” and “a kind of shared therapy.”

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Poetry should evoke emotion without being emotional; we turn to it out of a need for words, often at pivotal times in life. We don’t want to participate in another’s experience (that’s for a novel), we want to relate the poem to our own thoughts: “what oft was thought and ne’er so well expressed.”

REVIEWS:

“Wise, worldly, and deft at connecting unlikely yet fascinating topics – perhaps as a reminder that poetry has no problem with String Theory” — Florence Fogelin is a graduate of Duke, with a master s from Yale.” — Foreword Reviews.

“Fogelin’s poems amaze with range; her voracious intelligence encompasses stinging societal critiques: “Washington’s smooth face expresses a way to remember,/a why to forget”; and “slouching, buttless boys who somehow manage/to keep their pants on” and beauty: “a farm house . . . hangs by a thread of wood smoke” the philosophical and cosmic, high and low: an “up-thrust middle finger . . . outlasts a pope.” Compassion and fearless self-implication balance her dark wit: “I lifted up the scab and peeked/to see the future.” –April Ossmann, author of Anxious Music and Event Boundaries (Four Way Books).

‘”Once It Stops’ is a heady mix of the erudite and the quotidian. It is a mixture of the precisely observed natural world and the deeply philosophical questioning of how that world exists and is perceived that animates the writing. She says: “I claim as home any place I choose to be. / Never having belonged, / I love not belonging.” She also finds herself in deeply human connections. In “Window Washing,” the physical act becomes a metaphor for all that remains unspoken between lovers. What Florence Fogelin is doing is vital: playful, psychologically insightful, and startlingly precise. Fogelin is the real deal; she delights in the worlds we are given, and the words that let us sing of them.” — David Allen Sullivan, author of Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, and Black Ice.

AUTHOR PROFILE: The last page of my book, Once It Stops

c.v. of a poet

It only seems

that I have not been

in a single line of work:

student, teacher, historian,

mother, management-trainee,

writer, editor,

mistress

of the classroom, a college, many kitchens,

wife, lover, friend.

Always a translator

of English into English.

LOCAL OUTLETS:

Norwich Bookstore, Main Street, Norwich, VT 05055

Dartmouth Bookstore: 33 Main Street, Hanover, NH 03755

OTHER OUTLETS:  Amazon, or contact the publisher

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: ffogelin@gmail.com

Weather Report, October 16

Fries and Burger on Plate

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “WOLF SEASON,” BY HELEN BENEDICT, “BITTERROOT,” BY STEVEN FAULKNER AND “AMERICAN FLOWERS,” BY TYLER FLYNN DORHOLT, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

———————————————————————————————

For a writer, no experience is a waste of time.

Whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant, memorable or forgettable, everything that happens in a writer’s life can one day be recycled as part of a story.

Even working at Denny’s.

“I used to work at a Denny’s restaurant while I was on my college breaks from The University of Delaware,” writes Timothy Gager, whose novel “Grand Slams” is featured on Snowflakes thus week. “Lo and behold, my main character is working at a Grand Slams restaurant during his college break for UMASS, Amherst. The book wrote itself, based on the characters and their dysfunction—just like in the real restaurant.”

It’s a formula that has worked over and over — start with a mundane setting, then people it with quirky characters.

In the case of Anne Beall, meanwhile, a personal experience opened the door to a non-fiction look into the world of feral cats.

“I decided to write this book,” she writes, “because I was so moved by the feral cats whom I ‘hired’ to get rid of the rats in my neighborhood. Originally this working group of cats just removed the rats in my area, but eventually they ended up capturing my heart. I realized that they were highly vulnerable creatures who were at great risk for a variety of hazards. They ended up trusting me and doing an invaluable service for me and my neighbors.

“When I realized that they were not like the typical house cat, I decided to learn more about them through the people who advocate for them and who have created TNVR (Trap Neuter Vaccinate and Relocate/Return) programs all over the United States. I interviewed many different people over the course of 6 months and learned many stories about these cats and the role they can play in people’s lives. I  also conducted survey research of 1,500 Americans about their attitudes toward these programs. After doing this research, it took me another 6 months to write the book—so about 1 year in total.”

Our third book comes from a collection of experiences, poetry that Florence Fogelin has mined from a long life lived attentively.

“A poetry book has no plot,” she writes, “but I hope mine shows a journey from mid-life travails to an embrace of married love and life itself, ending with ‘I will not eat the berry that’s been counted/ sooner than I’d live life one day at a time.’ I celebrate greediness for the present and for the future.”

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, OCT. 17-23.

“GRAND SLAMS,” BY TIMOTHY GAGER

The first thing one notices in Timothy Gager’s “Grand Slam: A Coming of Eggs Story” is the Holden Caulfield-like anti-hero protagonist Woody. There is an ensemble of characters in the novel who make up the staff and management at a chain diner, Grand Slams, and Gager deftly weaves their backstories and inner lives into the fast-paced narrative. (Mignon Ariel King)

“COMMUNITY CATS,” BY ANNE E. BEALL

It all started when a rat ran over her husband’s foot and author Dr. Anne E. Beall began a journey into the world of feral cats. The Bealls had experienced rat problems for a long time. Then, a neighbor told them about a program called Cats at Work where one could get feral cats that would take care of the rat problem.

In Community Cats, she tells how she entered the world of feral cats when she signed up for the Chicago Cats at Work program with Tree House Humane Society. Tree House practices TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return), and they trapped, neutered, and relocated a feral cat colony to Beall’s home. She narrates what she learned about the unique world of feral cats and about the people who are involved with feral cats and who advocate for them

Community Cats shares the story of what initially began as a creative solution to a rat problem and became a journey that led her to reach out to others in the feral-cat world. Beall interviewed other colony caretakers and leaders in the TNR movement and learned about how feral cats live, how they relate to one another, and how they relate to their caretakers. She also conducted survey research on American’s attitudes toward stray cats, TNR programs, and spaying/ neutering.

Beall learned that feral cat programs have a huge impact on the caretakers of the colonies, on the neighbors, on the community, and on the cats themselves and details those findings in Community Cats.

“ONCE IT STOPS,” BY FLORENCE FOGELIN.

Florence writes: “I began writing poetry as a child of 50 years, with intermittent publication in journals — and a chapbook, Facing the Light, in 2001. I published soon after beginning to write poetry, then publication became rare. Still I found new joy in reading poetry as a poet (so different from being just a reader) and kept at my writing. I intend my poetry to be accessible and — as other poets have said — ‘to say what I mean and mean much more.’ I have lived with a philosopher for 60 years, and I hope and pray that it shows in my work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wolf Season

 

Wolf Season by [Benedict, Helen]THIS WEEK’S TWO OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “BITTERROOT,” BY STEVEN FAULKNER AND “AMERICAN FLOWERS,” BY TYLER FLYNN DORHOLT, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHORS’ NAMES ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

——————————————————————-

THE BOOK: Wolf Season.

PUBLISHED IN: 2017.

THE AUTHOR: Helen Benedict.

THE EDITOR: Erika Goldman.

THE PUBLISHER: Bellevue Literary Press. Publisher of the novel, Tinkers, by Paul Harding, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010.

SUMMARY: After a hurricane devastates a small town in upstate New York, the lives of three women and their young children are irrevocably changed. Rin, an Iraq War veteran, tries to protect her little daughter and the three wolves under her care. Naema, a widowed doctor who fled Iraq with her wounded son, faces life-threatening injuries. Beth, who is raising a troubled son, waits out her marine husband’s deployment in Afghanistan, equally afraid of him coming home and of him never returning at all.

Helen BenedictAs they struggle to maintain their humanity and love, and to find hope, their war-torn lives collide in a way that will affect their entire community.

THE BACK STORY: All my writing life, I have explored various aspects of social injustice, so when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, I determined to do the same in the context of war. I began by listening to dozens of women veterans, more of whom were serving and dying in Iraq than in any American war since World War Two. The women were eager to tell their stories but sometimes, during these interviews, they would fall silent, hands shaking, eyes filling with tears, unable to speak further. This moved me profoundly and I came to understand that the true story of war lay within those very silences; the private, internal experiences hidden deep inside a soldier’s heart. I wanted reach that internal story through fiction.

Yet soldiers’ experiences are, of course, only one side of what goes on at war. I also wanted to tell the other side — that of civilians. Thus, I found some Iraqi refugees to interview, just as I had the soldiers. They were eager to help me. They, also, wanted to be heard.

This led me to Wolf Season, my novel about women, and men, on both sides of this war and how war affects not only those who are caught up in it but all those who love them: the children, the parents, the partners. The stories of Rin, Naema and Beth and their children, and of the men Louis and Todd, reflect what I found in those secret places in the human soul that have always been the territory of novelists.

D.H. Lawrence once said, “…war is dreadful. It is the business of the artist to follow it home to the heart of the individual fighters.” I wrote Wolf Season because I, too, wanted to follow the war home to the heart.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I titled the book Wolf Season not only because the story contains wolves, but because wolves have long symbolized a range of things from the evil to the spiritual. Also, I learned that the phrase, “wolf season,” can be used to mean a time of madness. War is a time of madness, as is its devastation on human beings.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have affected small town communities across America, and yet few writers have looked at the effects on women and children, let alone on Iraqi refugees. I would hope people who care about the war, who fought in it, or who have loved ones who fought in it, might be especially interested in this novel. But I also think we all should be aware of what war does, as this country is constantly embroiled in one war or another, paid for by our taxes.

On a lighter note, the novel also has a somewhat magical feeling about it, and a lot of tenderness – between mothers and children, between children themselves, and even between men and women. And then there are those fascinating, majestic, fiercely intelligent wolves.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“No one writes with more authority or cool-eyed compassion about the experience of women in war both on and off the battlefield than Helen Benedict. In Wolf Season, she shows us the complicated ways in which the lives of those who serve and those who don’t intertwine and how—regardless of whether you are a soldier, the family of a soldier, or a refugee—the war follows you and your children for generations. Wolf Season is more than a novel for our times; it should be required reading.” — Elissa Schappell, author of Use Me and Blueprints for Building Better Girls

“A novel of love, loss, and survival, Wolf Season delves into the complexities and murk of the after-war with blazing clarity. You will come to treasure these characters for their strengths and foibles alike. Helen Benedict has delivered yet again, and contemporary war literature is much the better for it.” — Matt Gallagher, author of Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War and Youngblood

“Gripping. . . A low level of dread builds slowly, drawing readers toward the inevitable climactic clash, though Benedict’s memorable and complicated characterization is the true highlight.”

Publishers Weekly

“Fierce and vivid and full of hope, this story of trauma and resilience, of love and family, of mutual aid and solidarity in the aftermath of a brutal war is nothing short of magic. Helen Benedict is the voice of an American conscience that has all too often been silenced.

“(To read) these pages is to be transported to a world beyond hype and propaganda to see the human cost of war up close. This is not a novel that allows you to walk away unchanged.” — Cara Hoffman, author of Be Safe I Love You and Running

AUTHOR PROFILE: Like many writers, I was something of a loner as a child, in love with reading. This was partly because my father was an anthropologist, so even though we were based in London, he was always whisking us off to live in far-away places for months or even years at a time, where I didn’t go to school and had few playmates aside from my sister. We lived in Mauritius for two years and the Seychelles for six months, islands in the Indian Ocean. The books I loved then were Mary Poppins, Tove Jansson’s Moomin Books, Pippi Longstocking, The Oz books and C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series—all novels, I realize now, that featured brave, rebellious, adventurous girls.

Inspired by these wonderful books, I wrote a novel at age 8 and another at 11.

At 12, I read Jane Eyre, a book that infected me with a passion for social justice, as did Black Beauty. Whether for girls or horses, I wanted life to be fair! Later, when I was in my teens, my family moved to Berkeley, California during the time of Black Power and the Panthers and demonstrations against the Vietnam War. I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Soul on Ice and went out on marches, and my passion for social justice grew into something more adult and political.

I went to high school and college in both the U.K. and the U.S., moving back and forth every few years. In college, I read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch, among many other seminal works of feminism, firing up my passion for justice even more. And as a student, I worked in a women’s prison, which twelve years later formed the basis for my first novel, A World Like This. After graduate school, I moved to New York, and later spent a year in Paris.

I have always had a political side and a literary side, which is why I ended up being both a journalist and a novelist. My reading tastes, however, tend to lean toward fiction. I love Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin, Tolstoy and Dickens, Emile Zola and Pat Barker’s trilogy on World War One, Reparation, which influenced by own war writing. And I still love everything by Charlotte Bronte, a feminist way ahead of her time, and by George Eliot, a psychologist ahead of hers.

When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, I became determined to explore the effects of war on human beings. Three years of research led me to write The Lonely Soldier, a nonfiction book about women at war, and then Sand Queen, a novel set in Iraq. Now, here is Wolf Season, a novel about how war affects not only those who are caught up in it but those who love them.

For more about my other books, see http://www.helenbenedict.com.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I had many adventures researching Wolf Season. Most were moving, some sad, others uplifting — I am always amazed by the resilience of women and children. The Iraqi mother whose teenaged son had been killed in Baghdad, yet who laughed when her 9-year-old, Mustapha, upon hearing I am a British writer, asked me if I’d written Harry Potter. The woman soldier who lives in the woods with her wolves, and who peppered her speech with extraordinarily colorful sayings that inspired me to create Rin Drummond. The young Iraqi woman who had lived through torture and near death, but was so eager to advise me about Naema Jassim. I also had a wonderful time at Wolf Mountain, where I was virtually alone with several wolves for many hours, watching them play and sleep and eat. Wolves have an elegance and independence that is wildly beautiful.

I hope to have captured some of those adventures and moving moments in fictional form for this book, so readers will also feel moved and adventurous as they move through the story.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1942658303 https://www.amazon.com/Helen-Benedict/e/B000APN43U/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

LOCAL OUTLETS: Your local bookstore

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781942658306 WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

http://blpress.org/books/wolf-season/#.WN7JtVFqHEo.facebook https://www.amazon.com/dp/1942658303

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wolf-season-helen-benedict/1125858917?ean=9781942658306#/

PRICE: $16.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:  http://www.helenbenedict.com/contact.htm

 

Bitterroot

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51xozzPNUOL.jpgTHE BOOK: Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty and Loss

PUBLISHED IN: 2016.

THE AUTHOR: Steven Faulkner

THE PUBLISHER: Beaufort Books

SUMMARY: A modern father and son travel the Oregon Trail with that remarkable 19th-century traveler Pierre Jean De Smet who leads them to the Rocky Mountains where they join Lewis and Clark during their difficult crossing of the continental divide—several weeks that almost killed them. Along that trail they meet the Nez Perce tribe who helped save the lives of Lewis and Clark and their “corps of discovery”. On the return trip, father and son join the Nez Perce in their long flight from General O. O. Howard and the U. S. army.

Image result for Steven Faulkner + author + photographs

 

This is a travel book like Blue Highways or John Graves’ Goodbye to a River, with vivid accounts of historical events along the way: the Chinese Massacre in Rock Springs, Lewis and Clark’s miserable climb through the Bitterroots, the Nez Perce battle at Big Hole, the Battle of the Little Bighorn from the perspective of a Sioux boy who lived through it.

THE BACK STORY: True Story: father and son take to the road, the trail, the river to experience the old West.

WHY THIS TITLE: The story centers on the Bitterroot Valley and the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana and Idaho, but it also picks up the beauty and bitterness of life in the old West.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  If you like travel books that reveal history, a father-son story that opens a relationship, and encounters with strangers that open up side canyons in the landscape, this is the book.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

A starred Kirkus Review:

“A well-recounted father-and-son journey in the Missouri River country . . . A fine travelogue worthy of shelving next to Jonathan Raban and William Least Heat-Moon.”

Publishers Weekly:

“Faulkner juxtaposes the past with the present. . . . The teams past and present share demanding land, threatening weather, and colorful interactions with people along their trail. . . . Faulkner’s verbs vivify, his quotes enlarge his experience, and his poetic descriptions exploit all five senses.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Steven Faulkner grew up in the Sudan and Ethiopia in Africa, and later in Arkansas and Kansas. After dropping out of college, he married, had children, and worked a variety of jobs: driving dump trucks and concrete mixers, carpet cleaning, roofing, newspaper and doughnut delivery, and spent fourteen years as a carpenter.

He returned to school and acquired the necessary degrees from the University of Kansas and now teaches Creative Writing and American Literature at Longwood University in southern Virginia.

His previous book Waterwalk: A Passage of Ghosts has been made into a movie starring Hollywood actors Robert Cicchini and Chase Maser and has been released across the United States and Canada. It is now available on DVD. Faulkner has published essays in many literary journals and magazines including: North American Review, Fourth Genre, Southwest Review, Shenandoah Review, DoubleTake, and Wisconsin Trails Magazine. His work has been noted in Best American Essays and anthologized in Beacon’s Best.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’ve always loved travel writing that deepens my understanding of landscape by taking me into the history of a region. I want to see a place with eyes old and new. We enter the past and experience it more fully if we take with us the words of those who lived it. When we attend to words, they attend us, and we find ourselves within the story and the story rewriting our lives.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:  C:\Users\faulknersp\Documents\Big Hole.html

LOCAL OUTLETS: Barns and Noble, Farmville, Virginia.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

Amazon

Local bookstores

Publisher: Beaufort Books, 27 W. 20th St., Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011

PRICE: hardback: $24.95 CONTACT THE AUTHOR: faulknersp@longwood.edu

Website: stevenfaulknerwriter.com

American Flowers

 

THE BOOK: American Flowers.

PUBLISHED IN: 2016.

THE AUTHOR:  Tyler Flynn Dorholt.

THE EDITOR: Dane Bahr.

THE PUBLISHER: Dock Street Press, out of Seattle, WA: “a boutique-publishing house specializing in compelling narrative non-fiction and clean, intelligent fiction.”

SUMMARY: American Flowers is a book of prose poems, with black and white photographs. Split up into six parts, the book also includes photographs of the original handwritten poems, which separate each section, and is 250 pages long.

THE BACK STORY: I’ve been writing prose poems for years and at some point in 2013 I realized I was writing contained prose poems, or lyrical splashes, about themes that related to one another. This might have just been proximity: I wrote all of these on post-it notes and affixed them to the same book, next to one another. I also wrote all of them by the same small window, from an apartment in Brooklyn. Much of the writing was corresponding to ways I was thinking not necessarily about, but out of photographs.

Once I had collected the writing, I was uncertain as to what shape the lyrics/blocks/strophes should be. After being assembled, the book was a finalist at a couple of poetry presses and also a finalist for a Lyric Essay contest, and so I knew it was missing something to make it feel and become its own book. I didn’t have a problem with this sense of hybridity, but it allowed me to understand that the shape of the work was meant to be in blocks, or paragraphs, and that the photographs I was taking in and around the writing were reflections of the writing. Even vice versa. That’s when photographs were added.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The word America, or American, has always seemed as equally personal as it has public to/for me. But, and whereas I used to think of its global heft, and its connections to patriotism and a collective beingness, I’d been thinking about it more inside the viscera of locality when composing these poems. American flowers to me are the sun-dunked strands of wheat and dandelions lopped off by lawnmowers and wild strawberries on the sides of fences and beige, struggling leans of weeds in the cracks of city sidewalks. But that doesn’t necessarily directly correspond to the writing. What does, and this didn’t become evident to me until someone asked about it, are the ways in which petals and buds correspond with one another. A flower, like a thought, doesn’t always bloom, doesn’t always become or meet an idea, doesn’t always sound up into a riveting glow. I liked the way that could be interpreted, even if I was the only one directly thinking of it that way. It became easier for me to think less about the hybrid nature of the work. The blocks didn’t need to be blocks. They were flowers.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I think that people can read one or two poems, and look at one or two photographs in the book, and wherever their mind goes experience more fully their own memory. I think it’s an odd debut book, in both its size and approach toward the poem, but I feel as though these poems and images allow another avenue into a reader’s memory bank, or a chance to think differently about something new or fresh to them, and thus the reader can trust themselves to open pages, even randomly, and sit with themselves inside of them. Plus the photographs are somewhat of a bonus.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “Dorholt has written a hugely impressive book. You will be asked to go on a journey when you read American Flowers, but don’t be so naive as to ask why. The answer is in the experience. And there is no better proof of the worth of that experience than what you will come away with, on your own.” Thomas Cook, at Fanzine 

“Muscular, intricate, dazzling, simultaneously homeopathic and ardent, the constantly reinventing and cross-pollinating language to be encountered in these pages is enduring in the most unostentatious sense of the word. American Flowers is a gift to lyricism itself.” Joe Milazzo.

AUTHOR PROFILE: In college I was fortunate to study with the marvelous Joyce Sutphen (the now Minnesota poet laureate) and then, later on in graduate school, with Lisa Fishman. I like to think of these as the Midwest years, and both Sutphen and Fishman opened doors for me to dial my own tones. In that mix of time, I count a year spent abroad at Trinity College Dublin, where I was influenced (under the tutelage of Terence Brown and Philip Coleman) by the work of Yeats, MacNeice, and Heaney. I speak of geography and names because I’ve been involved in the poetry communities of many cities–Minneapolis, Chicago, Brooklyn–and each city has lit up different poetic avenues for me, both in terms of form and history.

I find that, and although I’ve taught writing at a few colleges and universities, the continuance of the poem for me has occurred in a solitary fashion, outside of the workplace. Having worked as an executive assistant, in numerous capacities across many industries for the past decade, I move into the poem and its production with an energy of the off-hour. I thus tend to be focused on generating work that often ends up being the perfect length for a chapbook, and this is probably why I love that length for a book. I find my manuscripts either fit into chapbook size or, like American Flowers, something beyond the normal length of a book of poetry, something between 150 and 250 pages. This isn’t to say I don’t have manuscripts between 48 and 80 pages (they’re sitting on my shelf and inside my computer right now) but I’m conscious of how books come to be and that perhaps there are many other ways for them to come into being than common practice might suggest. Part of this is why I love editing so much. It helps inform my own writing. Since 2009, I have co-edited and published the journal Tammy. We are filling our ninth issue now, and have published over 150 writers, many of whom we’d never encountered before. We have ventured into publishing chapbooks but a few of them are longer than chaps, somewhere just short of books. I love discovering this work, or setting up a platform for the work to discover the three of us editors at Tammy.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: American Flowers begins with the lyric and the poems within it report to a cycle of beginnings, of beginning to think, attend to, flesh out, and address the feelings of thinking. I think what continues to fascinate me the most about poems, and this ties back to the length of my book and the idea that books of poems shouldn’t have to be a certain length, is that we as writers are perhaps never done writing about something. I don’t know I’d say that this means we’re always writing about the same thing, but that there is a commonality of reach at play, and because of this many books don’t ever seem done, or at least that’s where I stand right now. American Flowers inspired a second book of equal length for me, American Hours, and though there are many differences between the two, they are part of a similar idiom of reactivity and infiltration. Prosaic meditation, yes, but also lyrical remediation.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Here is a random flower from early on in the book:

I want to tell you where I am, staring into the fire we built to remember what has left us, parting from nothing more temporary than the field we cross in retrieving the extemporaneous, log on log for trees from forest, raising those hands up in the scream of bees, nobody ready for the inventors of peace or harmony to intervene with our unease, even if it’s from their words where we can return to ourselves, flowing out stemless to picket the pointless sky, stock phrases in our never-tongues, the whole cinema slumping right when the hero steps on the bridge, & that we walk out there, between mountains, to the edges of the ridge, & take a picture of what cannot be seen. 

LOCAL OUTLETS: Syracuse University Bookstore. Milkweed Books in Minneapolis, MN. Berl’s Poetry Shop in Brooklyn, NY.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Dock Street Press’s website. SPD Books. Amazon.

PRICE: $17

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: tylerflynndorholt@gmail.com or @tfdorhol on Twitter.