THIS WEEK’S FEATURED BOOKS, “GOLDHEAD,” BY JAEME HAVILAND, “ELECTRIC LOVE,” BY PHILIP PALIOS AND “STAR CATCHING,” BY DAWN LAJEUNESSE CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
When it comes to choosing which books to feature on Snowflakes in a Blizzard, I find myself walking the proverbial tightrope.
On the one hand (or foot), the goal is to provide exposure to authors who might be just starting out, or are struggling to be noticed. There is no snobbishness here — I’m always open to self-published books, and this week’s “Metaphysical Voyages,” by Jenny Haynes, is a good example. Think of it as making an end-run around the usual gatekeepers, providing our blog followers with work they might never see otherwise.
But at the same time, it’s very important that this service gains credibility. In that sense, I also love it when more “connected” authors find us and agree to have one of their books featured. Mindela Ruby and James Nolan may not be household names (although James is on Wikipedia), but they have accumulated considerable respect from their peers.
Tim O’Brien wrote “The Things They Carried,” a book often recommended for reading by English teachers from middle school through college and generally regarded as a classic treatment of the Vietnam War. And this is what O’Brien says of Mindela Rubhy’s “Mosh It Up”:
“What a glorious, glorious novel this is — funny, sad, angry, poignant, bawdy, tough, excruciatingly sad, and then bowl-you-over funny again. Mosh It Up is a literary marvel. It’s complex and rich and humane. It’s original. It’s a linguistic kaleidoscope. It’s not just moving, it’s searing. It’s an A-list stunner from start to finish.”
Meanwhile, James Nolan’s collection of poems, “Drunk on Salt,” attracted the attention of fellow New Orleans writer Andrei Codrescu, well-known not only for his poetry and essays but his occasional spots on National Public Radio. Here’s what Codrescu said of “Drunk on Salt”:
“These are poems of such compassionate energy and social power that they would make both Whitman and Neruda proud. James Nolan is the prodigy of both, at home in their company. A New Orleanian with a well-stamped passport, he knows the world’s suffering and is a brilliant cartographer of our age. After the last century’s horrors and orgies, his voice heralds with clarity the twenty-first century. ‘Night School: A Lesson in the Columbus Continuous’ is a masterpiece that needs to be in every textbook. It has the beat of a loving heart, the bite of truth’s irony, and prophesizes America’s future. Nolan is one of this country’s treasures.”
Jenny Haynes isn’t there yet in terms of visibility, but she brings us a unique take on life that makes her collection of memoir and essays and what I might describe as “New Age folk tales” well worth reading.
Finally, this week’s outside writing feature is a blog entry provided by Patricia Dean Robertson , whose “Looking for Lydia, Looking for God” was featured on Snowflakes in August of 2015. It’s called “A Man, a Mountain, a Puppy, a Wolf and a Few Raccoons,” and you can read it here:
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, NOV. 22-28.
“MOSH IT UP,” BY MINDELA RUBY
Punk rock riot girl Boop has the indomitable soul of a dreamer and the train wreck life of an unruly compulsive. When her dying neighbor requires her help, Boop vows to clean up her act and goes chasing a comeback in Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Her mess-ups, kind heart and willingness to change make Boop an endearing rogue, but most unforgettable is her antic, hilarious, no taboo voice. MOSH IT UP is a must read exposé of love’s waywardness…and its potential to redeem.
“DRUNK ON SALT,” BY JAMES NOLAN
Writes James: “Most of these poems are what I call ‘tribal’ or public poems, rather than personal, and several—about immigration, AIDS, inequality, terrorism, and the homeless — pack an in-your-face political punch, either incantatory or satiric. I’ve been missing the public face of poetry in contemporary American letters, a tradition that goes back to Walt Whitman, and so I chose to include poems that speak both to us and about us. When politicians and pundits lie and manipulate so routinely, who can we look to for the truth but poets?
The more personal poems are formed out of my own rootless imagination, offering a map of “the long ride home” to my native New Orleans from lives in San Francisco, Spain, Morocco, India, and elsewhere. Of course, the ultimate ‘ride home’ is toward dying, and as I learned from my Spanish mentor poets, nothing comes alive without acknowledging the power of death’s duende to seduce, enchant, and inspire.
“METAPHYSICAL VOYAGES,” BY JENNY HAYNES
“Metaphysical Voyages: A Selection of Stories for the Spiritually Inclined” is a collection of seven stories from Jenny Haynes. Each story expresses an aspect of the author’s own spiritual journey and all express her innate good humor and spirited imagination.
If you think of this life as a waking dream, these stories prompt you to look at what needs to be released and what needs to be embraced in order to make that life the happier dream.
Every human being has a story they came here to tell. Your life is the greatest expression of your own human and spiritual potential. Your life is your story. These stories speak to that deeper truth of our spiritual natures. They speak of the power of imagination and the wonderful lives that we can create if we can just see beyond the fear and suffering that suck the joy out of our hearts.