OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “HAPPINESS LTD.,” BY MICHAEL McGHEE, “INCIDENT IN PATAGONIA” BY ISABEL GARCIA CINTAS AND “THE SPIRITUAL AWAKENING PROCESS,” BY CHRISTINE HOEFLING, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING ON THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR “AUTHORS” PAGE.
As is typical of the short memory span in today’s society, there seems to be a sense with many people that the current Syrian refugee crisis is something new.
John Guzlowski begs to differ. Born in a German displaced person’s camp in 1948, he can still remember the chaos that ensued at the end of World War II.
“Millions and millions of people were displaced,” he recalled. “It took my family six years to get to the United States.”
His parents were Polish, swept up by the Nazis and sent to Germany in boxcars to become slave laborers.
“When you’re trying to conquer the world,” Guzlowski says dryly, “you don’t have time to milk the cows or work in the factories. They needed slave labor to do those things.”
His parents, meanwhile, met by chance when his father was being taken on a “death march” from the Buchenwald concentration camp. That group of prisoners was saved, however, when their guards fled to escape the advancing Allies, leaving the Buchenwald survivors at the gates of a woman’s camp whose occupants had been similarly abandoned. That’s where Guzlowski’ parents met.
This week, we are proud to feature Guzlowski’s fourth book, “Echoes of Tattered Tongues: Memory Unfolded,” a collection of poems based on his parents’ harrowing experience.
“They were not Jewish, but Polish Catholic,” Guzlowski said, “but the slave labor camps took in everybody.”
Guzlowski will be reading from “Echoes of Tattered Tongues” on Thursday at City Space in Charlottesville, VA (2 p.m.), part of the annual Virginia Festival of the Book.
Our second book this week, Pat Stanford’s “Fixing Boo Boo,” is also issue-related, a look at a family dealing with a brain damaged member. And Katya Mills, author of “Maze,” is one of my all-time favorite Snowflakes, a writer with a remarkably original sense of plot and language.
The blog writers4hire has published an interview with Pat Stanford.
UPCOMING ON “SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD,” MARCH 21-27.
“ECHOES OF TATTERED TONGUES: MEMORY UNFOLDED,” BY JOHN GUZLOWSKI.
In this major tour de force, John Guzlowski traces the arc of one of the millions of immigrant families of America, in this case, survivors of the maelstrom of World War II. His narrative structure mirrors the fractured dislocation experienced by war refugees. Through a haunting collage of jagged fragments―poems, prose and prose poems, frozen moments of time, sometimes dreamlike and surreal, other times realistic and graphic―Guzlowski weaves a powerful story with impacts at levels both obvious and subtle. The result is a deeper, more visceral understanding than could have been achieved through descriptive narrative alone. This is the story of Guzlowski’s family: his mother and father, survivors of the war, taken as slave laborers by the Germans; his sister and himself, born soon after the war in Displaced Persons camps in Germany; the family’s first days in America, and later their neighbors in America, some dysfunctional and lost, some mean, some caring and kind; and the relationships between and among them all. As Guzlowski unfolds the story backwards through time, he seduces us into taking the journey with him. Along the way, the transformative power of the creative process becomes apparent. Guzlowski’s writing helps him uncouple from the trauma of the past, and at the same time provides a pathway for acceptance and reconciliation with his parents.
“FIXING BOO BOO,” BY PAT STANFORD.
Do you know a person with a brain injury? Pat did. Her sister, Barb, needed help and Pat wanted to help.
All Barb really wanted was to be treated like everyone else, but it was difficult since she was born with cerebral palsy. All the family wanted was for her to be safe and well cared for, especially after a life-changing accident that left her brain-injured. Stubborn and determined, Barb carved out a life for herself, overcoming many obstacles. After her husband died, she needed assistance to cope with daily meals and chores.
Her sister and brother-in-law encouraged her to sell her house and come live with them. The family thought they were providing a home for a family member, but they had no idea what dealing with brain injury meant. They found out! A story of one family and the struggles they faced to live with the diagnosis of brain injury.
“MAZE,” BY KATYA MILLS.
In modern day America, there are those — indiscernible from you and me — who thirst after (human) fear. Ame, in her twenties and the heroine of this tale, has fallen in with them. As a youth she had the same light in her eyes and androgynous form, which marks them. She was abducted and taken to Oakland, California, where she comes to terms with her own dark heritage. Her love interest, a resilient young punk named Maze, skateboards into her life and together they roam the streets, seeking and extracting fear from Ordinaries. Conflicted by her own violent nature, Ame has become nevertheless intoxicated by her new life and associations. Meanwhile, lurking around the boarding house where Ame and Maze stay, a Malafide is busy trapping and hollowing out Ordinaries and leaving them shells. Ame discovers her little sister Kell, in the grips of a terrible addiction. Just as Ame seems to have found her rhythm in the chaos of this new world and city, Kell disappears. Then, searching for her sister, Ame unravels a secret buried on the tapes of a security camera, which threatens to uproot her once again.
An earlier novel by Katya, “Girl Without Borders,” was featured on Snowflakes in November of 2015.