OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “CLOSING THE STORE,” BY MAREN ANDERSON, “THE AFTER DEATH AFTERLIFE OF RONALD FOSTER,” BY ROBERT D. TURVIL AND “BULLET BILL DUDLEY,” BY STEVE STINSON, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHORS’ NAMES ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
We’re going to get a little gritty with you this week.
“Metal Dreams,” by Mark Rice, is the no-holds-barred tale of a dysfunctional Scottish metal band. “Candyland,” by Vicki Salloum, focuses on the meth trade in the Treme section of New Orleans. And “Rhythm and Greens,” by poet Evan Sachs, comes from a prison in Upstate New York.
As I’ve mentioned before, my primary goal with Snowflakes in a Blizzard is to present you with work that is a) readable and b) different. My mantra is that every author is capable of writing a book that no one else in the world can write, because we are all unique individuals. That’s the kind of books I look for.
Within those parameters, I’m open to just about anything. Over the last 2 1/2 years, Snowflakes has featured everything from praise for the beauty in the Bible to an argument that fairies exist to a memoir from a gay man persecuted as a boy. I don’t care if a book leans right or left, is religious or anti-religious, rough-edged or sweet.
True, I would draw the line at anything too sociopathic, and I recoil from violence for its own sake. On the other hand, books like “Metal Dreams,” Candyland” and “Rhythm and Greens” give us a window into worlds with which we may not be familiar, and I think that’s healthy.
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JAN. 17-23.
“CANDYLAND,” BY VICKI SALLOUM.
I must admit to a special feeling for New Orleans, having lived there briefly as a child and re-visited it twice for Mardi Gras and once post-Katrina. Maybe that’s one reason why Vicki Salloum has become one of my favorite authors. A transplant to the Big Easy, she knows how ironic that nickname can be for the residents of the city’s underclass –for whom nothing is easy — and that’s where she finds her riveting stories.
Lázara Maria Soto, 17, lives in the Tremé neighborhood. Her parents cook crystal meth in their bootleg lab, known on the street as Candyland. Her brothers sell it to kids in the high school parking lot. She would love for her parents to live an honest life. She would love for her brothers to stop making fiends out of her friends. But out of fear and complacency, she does nothing to stop them—’til one day she overhears her brothers plotting to kill a fifteen-year-old if he fails to repay his drug debt before midnight at Candyland.
Unable to bear the burden of the boy’s murder on her conscience, she embarks on a crusade to save him, first alerting the boy’s father then confronting her brothers, and, finally, seeking help from a New Orleans cop. When all efforts fail, she steals a handgun and surprises her brothers during their rendezvous with the boy at Candyland—unleashing consequences she never expected or could ever have imagined.
Vicki was also featured on Snowflakes in a Blizzard last July for “Faulkner & Friends.”
“RHYTHM AND GREENS,” BY EVAN SACHS
This remarkable collection of poetry came to me from Evan’s mom, Randi Sachs, who was featured on Snowflakes last year for her novel “Indivisible.” I think one of the review comments, from University of Virginia professor Charlotte Matthews, says it all:
“With candor and courage Evan Sachs shares his story of incarceration with us through poetry. His story is made universal by way of honest introspective writing. These poems sing the terrifying song that is the trauma of mental illness and its ensuring results. Rhythm and Greens is a selfless contribution to the world of poetry. It deserves accolade.” Professor Charlotte Matthews, University of Virginia, Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program.
Thanks to Randi for passing this hidden gem along to us.
“METALLIC DREAMS,” BY MARK RICE
Long-haired Scottish metal vocalist Spark MacDubh drops dead on a snow-covered street of his native Bronzehall, only to be jolted back to life by what he describes as “lightning from Heaven”. After Spark’s resurrection his sanity is stretched thin. During waking hours he receives instructions from mysterious deities. At night he is haunted by a Devil who wields ultimate power over the music industry, promising musical success on one condition: acquisition of musicians’ souls. Unwilling to sacrifice his soul or those of his bandmates, MacDubh comes up with an alternate route to stardom: put the Devil out of business. The idea is far from practical. For starters, it requires a trip to Hell, and only the right music can open the gateway to that dimension. Catch-22? More like Catch-666.
This comes from Dan Smith, whose novel “Clog” was a Snowflakes feature in July of 2015. What he doesn’t say here was that he was a fond mentor and “surrogate grandfather” for Sarabeth, who suffered all her short life from the debilitating effects of Lyme disease.
The Sarabeth Hammond Memorial Scholarship fund, is being established by the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference at Hollins University. The conference is Jan. 27-28.
Sarabeth died in a late December automobile accident on Bent Mountain when her car went off the mountain. She was found nearly three days later by Roanoke County and Virginia state police officers.
The scholarship has been given for the past eight years to a communications major in the Horizon program at Hollins, the program for non-traditional students who are returning to school. Sarabeth was to have been a member of a panel discussion on blogging in the Jan. 27-28 conference at Hollins, the youngest teacher in the conference’s history. She was a superb blogger.
Those wishing to contribute may send checks to Hollins University and with the notation “Sarabeth Hammond Scholarship.” Send the checks to 2508 Edinburgh Drive, Roanoke VA, 24012.
Donations can also be made online. To donate, visit: https://www.hollins.edu/alumnae/giving/make-a-gift/