OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “MONUMENT ROAD,” BY CHARLIE QUIMBY, “BURIED,” BY FRANK TROY AND “PERFECTLY NEGATIVE,” BY LINDA CARVELLI, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON THE OUR AUTHORS PAGE.
If there’s a theme to this week’s Snowflakes in a Blizzard offerings, it might be this — things you didn’t know about things you thought you knew.
You could start with Darci Schummer’s short story collection, “Six Months in the Midwest,” which is set in a part of the country largely ignored by fiction writers. Darci reminds us that a good story is a good story, whether it takes place in New York City, Paris, or the frozen tundra of Minnesota in winter.
Most music lovers whose curiosity takes them beyond the work of Peter Ilyich Tchaichovsky and into his personal life know that he was said to have been gay, despite his short-term marriage and several long-term relationships with women. If your response to that is “So what?”, Arthur Levy’s historical novel “Coda” adds a new element — the great composer’s sexual preference may have been life threatening in mid-19th century Russia.
Finally, there is John Hewitt’s comic take on the Napa Valley wine country. Read it, and you will never think of that place again without smiling.
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, SEPT. 27-OCT. 3
“SIX MONTHS IN THE MIDWEST,” BY DARCI SCHUMMER.
In the dark heart of a Minneapolis winter, a young boy struggles to understand his mother’s failing health as she teaches him Polish, the language of her dead mother. From a distance, a frustrated English professor dines with her mentally ill ex-husband in a park on which a mansion once stood. A single mother struggles to let go as her teenage son seeks his independence. A drag queen and his partner battle a snow storm while debating the future of their relationship. A retired garbage collector finds solace in the ballet, and the owner of a liquor store tries to find companionship on the streets and in the bars of Minneapolis. Equal parts bitterness and beauty, the sixteen stories in this collection are plotted snapshots of a city in its most unforgiving season.
“CODA,” BY ARTHUR LEVY
At the peak of his career and popularity, Russian icon Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky died mysteriously. Rumors were that he died of cholera – unlikely, as Tchaikovsky’s house staff was well aware that water should be boiled. There are other possible scenarios of the untimely death of this healthy man in his early fties.
In 19th century Russia, being gay was perilous. The punishment was severe; knowing someone was gay and not reporting it warranted torture, if not death. Tchaikovsky was gay.
This account of foreboding doom reveals a secret between Tchaikovsky and his lover, Ivan, encoded in sheet music. Tchaikovsky’s plan is to stealthily evade death. That encoded blueprint survived to this day. Coda is fiction, but is anchored on carefully researched historical literature and Tchaikovsky’s letters.
“REPTILE WINES,” BY JOHN HEWITT
When a leading family in California’s wine-obsessed Napa Valley confronts a rebel daughter they call “The Reptile” she launches her own label, and ignites a revolution that’s out of this world.
Wine country tour guide Miles Trout vows to find the truth behind the suspiciously public death of his cousin, Reptile Wines co-owner, Lucky Tarpitz. When the corpse disappears, Miles is pulled into a dark world of loan sharks, money launderers, charlatan diviners and overzealous federal agents. Lucky’s scheming mother Angelina, the high-voltage spark behind Reptile Wines, continually leads Miles astray while Lucky’s distraught relatives mount a nonstop campaign of booby traps and ambushes.
In his crazed search, Miles spends extravagantly on Lucky’s lazy racehorse Love Blisters, dances with a witch and carries on a stumbling love affair with female jockey and former exotic dancer, Pixie Limber.
Then Miles strikes pay dirt by unearthing the hideout of an allegedly dead winemaker and astronomer who’s been inviting space aliens to the wine country. The ATF and FBI have their man, but Miles knows one more place south of the border where Lucky may be resting—but is he dead or alive?