Weather Report, January 30

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THIS WEEK’S CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “THE BEAUTY SHOP,” BY SUZY HENDERSON, “HALLOW BE THY NAME,” BY AMY McLEAN AND “COURAGE, ENDURANCE, SACRIFICE,” BY CHARLOTTE HARRIS REES, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

Apparently, the reading public is in full escapist mode.

You can see this if you spend much time on social media, where the vast majority of books being promoted seem to revolve around fantasy of some kind.

Stereotypical romance novels top the list (the kind with bare-chested hunks on the cover), followed by horror, sci-fi, time travel and books about serial killers.

Image result for Photo of someone reading + freeWhich is fine. As Abraham Lincoln supposedly said about a book by a poet friend: “For people who like that sort of thing, that’s just about the sort of thing they’d like.”

Moreover, let me hasten to add that some excellent books have emerged from the broad topics I mentioned above. I happen to be mildly addicted to Michael Connelly’s police procedural novels, for instance. I’ve enjoyed many of the true crime books of Diane Fanning, who has been featured on Snowflakes. And there are times when a good horror or sci-fi epic seems perfect for a cold winter night.

So this is not a screed of any kind, just an opportunity to state again the primary goals of Snowflakes in a Blizzard — to acquaint you with books you might not hear about anywhere else and provide those authors with a little free promotion for their unique work. To me, “alternative” doesn’t mean oppositional. It means alternative.

Abraham Lincoln’s quote could probably be read as a gentle dig at his friend’s poetry, but I also see it as something positive for today’s writers. I believe that every book that is reasonably well written can find its own audience. Yes, there are millions of books listed on Amazon, but there are also many more millions of readers.

As the current buzz phrase goes, it’s not a zero sum game. I don’t believe authors are really competing with each other — we’re competing with ourselves. Just because Michael Connelly sells a bunch of books doesn’t mean that it’s going to adversely affect me.

And maybe the current glut of escapist novels is an invitation for writers and readers alike to create and/or experience something different. That’s why I try to include poetry, memoir, non-fiction and short story collections in our mix. A family that eats out at McDonald’s or Subway three weeks out of the month might want to visit a steakhouse or a sushi emporium on the fourth.

Thus, all three of this week’s books are, each in their own way, quite different.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JAN 30-FEB 5

“A GREATER MONSTER,” BY DAVID DAVID KATZMAN.

(Note: The name is not a typo).

A psychedelic fairytale for the modern age, A Greater Monster begins in our reality but takes you on a darkly poetic trip into a radically twisted alternate reality that reflects civilization like a funhouse mirror. The central character, a nihilistic ad executive, finds himself thrown into this other world with amnesia and physically transformed to the point where is utterly lost. He struggles to survive as he encounters sphinxes, gods, living skeletons, witches, and quite possibly the strangest circus ever imagined.

A Greater Monster also features graphic design, 65 pages of illustrations and secret links to web experiences featuring original music and animation that connects to scenes in the story.

Now, that’s different.

“TWIN OAKS,” BY MELISSA PALMER.

Twin Oaks is a self-contained community where it seems that skies are always blue, the grass is always green, flowers bloom prolifically, the houses exude charm and grace and the people are decent and always cordial. Yet appearances can be deceiving, for beneath exteriors lay the darker elements of personality: madness, envy, infidelity and spiritual vacuity.

Jackson Pollack is a frustrated artist living in the shadow of his own name. Cribbed and confined in Twin Oaks, he wonders how he became a house husband raising three children with a wife who won’t share his bed.

Jackson’s wife April, mother to Alton, Molly, and Piggy, is determined to make everything around her perfect and to expand Twin Oaks, even if doing so destroys her marriage.

Wilma Womack carries on conversations with her genius dog Gustav and is married to a man she met on the Internet who is not at all what he seems.

Mrs. Ringhaus, an abandoned wife and mother of two, runs each morning through the loop of her memories as she tries desperately to reclaim her self-esteem.

And Mrs. MacMillan, the matriarch of the community, descends into madness when her prize rose garden suddenly will not bloom.

Melissa Palmer’s deft prose casts a shadow over suburban society and exposes the darker aspects of personality that hide behind the superficial light of façade.

“WAKE ME UP,” BY JUSTIN BOG

Writes Justin: “Wake Me Up began as a meditation on psychological stress and depression in men in their middle ages. Research helped me flesh out the father in the story, what he was trying to fight against in his own nature. His son and wife play heavily in his thoughts and he fails to realize he’s losing control. At the same time, his son is struggling with his own identity as a fifteen-year-old in a small college town in conservative Montana. He becomes the victim of a bullying attack by four of his classmates. From his coma, this teenager begins to tell the tale of secrets held for generations by his family. He floats above the action, privy to everyone’s thoughts and actions around him. He’s trying to heal, and hopes to confront injustice upon doing so, if he wakes up at all.”

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writersbridgebridgebuilder

Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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