(Photo from New York Daily News).
OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “OUTBACK: BOTHERS AND SINISTERS,” BY MARK W. ADAMS, “THE GIRL WHO COULD READ HEARTS,” BY SHERRY MASONAVE AND “DESCRIPTIONS OF HEAVEN,” BY RANDAL ELDON GREENE, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW HIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR’S PAGE.
Because I’m the sole proprietor of this little operation, I get to choose the books that it features. Naturally, this means that my own preferences and prejudices inevitably come into play.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), it’s not as if Snowflakes in a Blizzard has been besieged by hordes of writers demanding to be included. I have reached out to most of those highlighted thus far, having encountered their work on social media or a publishing house site. Word of mouth has prompted others to contact me.
So far, then, I haven’t found myself in the position of being a “gatekeeper.” I’d be quite happy if it never came to that.
But what if it did? How would I decide which books make the cut, if there was ever a cut to be made?
First of all, it wouldn’t have anything to do with whether I “liked” a book. Some of those we’ve included have held little or no interest for me personally, although I felt they might find an appreciative audience elsewhere.
Rather, I would probably fall back on a core belief of mine — that every writer is capable of producing a book that no one else on the planet could write. That’s because we are all unique. No one else has shared exactly the same family and early environment, been exposed to the same schooling and cultural influences, or had the same life experiences. We all look at the world a little differently.
I pass no judgement on books that have obviously been written to fit a formula, or to land within the comfort zone of certain publishers and readers. It’s like a politician who knows he can get elected by telling people exactly what they want to hear, or a local band that does quite well covering songs by better known bands. Those are simply career decisions.
But that’s not what attracts me to a book. I read to learn something I didn’t know before, or to get a sense of connection with the author.
One of my college professors would give his students an “A” on a paper if he could find anything there — even a sentence or a phrase — that he had never read before, no matter how poorly the rest of the piece might have been written. He didn’t give out many A’s.
Some of the 279 books featured thus far as Snowflakes have been wonderfully written, others seemed more like works in progress. Yet they all stood out in my mind as unique and honest.
Maybe I’m being unrealistic, but I think what we read should move us forward, provide us with new information, show familiar situations through a new and very personal lens. Instead, so much of the “creative” endeavors these days — books, music, TV, movies — seem to keep revolving on an endless repeating loop.
Although it’s safer to hide within the blizzard, I prefer the individual snowflakes. I think you’ll find that these week’s featured books, Mitchell James’ “The Cut Worm” and Lou Vitti’s “Drink While You Can,” fit that description.
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, APRIL 4-10.
“THE CUT WORM,” BY MITCHELL JAMES.
In days, the world will be obliterated by Apophis, a meteor the size of Texas. What do you say to those you love? Or imagine a world where some lose their shadows, and when they do, they become catatonic or kill themselves. How would you react when you noticed, one afternoon, that your daughter, only a child, has lost her shadow?
“The Cut Worm,” a chapbook of literary fiction, is rife with families held together by damage. These people are not vampires. They do not fight dragons or live in the future. Instead, they are your neighbors, your friends, your family. Maybe you.
This collection reminds us that nothing cuts like a family, and it begs the question: Can the cut worm always forgive the plow?
“DRINK WHILE YOU CAN,’ BY LOU VITTI.
In a brutal tug of war to control the flow of liquor, Pittsburgh attorney Lou DiAngelo faces problems from those that uphold the law and his clients that prefer to dance around it. When one of his clients is murdered, he must reach out for help from his old neighborhood friends, all this while tying cases, counseling judges and navigating a romance with his love, Lola. This is high anxiety with streetwise wit and real mob guys mentioned in large part by real names in real scenarios.
FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY
This month, we will visit “Mercedes Wore Black,” by Andrea Brunais, “Homecoming,” by Kate Hasbrouck, “Relative Strangers,” by Margaret Hermes, “Mommy, do You Want a Sandwich?” by Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, “The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee,” by Talya Boerner and “People and Peppers,” by Kelvin Christopher James.
This came from Lenore Gay, whose novel “Shelter of Leaves” was featured on Snowflakes in a Blizzard last September:
“I’ve been notified that Forward Indies has chosen my book Shelter of Leaves as a finalist for Book of the Year. (Science Fiction Category) .The American Library Assn. will vote at their Annual Meeting in June. I’m thrilled to be nominated.