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OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “MOVIEOLA,” BY JOHN DOMINI, “MY LIFE WITH THE STARS,” BY TONY FLOOD AND “WHEN I WAS ALIVE,” BY C. CIMMONE CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR “AUTHOR’S” PAGE.
At one point during my newspaper career, I got the opportunity to take a spring break trip through the Midwest and Northeast with the American Culture class at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. That’s how I met Dean Kahler, and that’s why I found myself recently intrigued by Sabrina Fedel’s novel, “Leaving Kent State.”
The class had gathered in a parking lot on the Kent State University campus when Kahler rolled up in his wheelchair. He wore a Kent State T-shirt and a welcoming smile, and for the next hour he pointed out some of the spots that figured into the infamous fatal shooting of four KSU students by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.
Kahler has been walking across campus on his way to class that day when a stray bullet slammed into his back and paralyzed him from the waist down. Ironically, he was a devout member of the Church of the Brethren, a denomination that has non-violence at the core of its teaching. Nor was he a participant in the demonstration that touched off the tragedy.
Following Kahler in his chair, we all walked up a small rise and looked down on an unremarkable campus parking lot. As with the motel walkway where the Rev. Martin Luther King met his end, it was a setting so mundane that made what happened there even more surreal.
Kahler returned to Kent State after his recovery, became a teacher and served in local politics. He may have been bitter once, but that was evidently gone.
Later, the class ate with Kahler in a Kent restaurant. At one point, he looked up from his plate, smiled again, and said: “I always tell people that I only had one bad day at Kent State.”
In her novel, Sabrina Fedel also builds from the everyday to the unforgettable. For there were thousands of histories of what happened at Kent State, each contained within the memory of someone who was there, or knew someone who was there, or simply looked at the blaring headline atop their morning paper and murmered: “Oh, my God!”
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, APRIL 18-24.
“LEAVING KENT STATE,” BY SABRINA FEDEL.
Seventeen-year-old Rachel Morelli has been waiting for the day that her next door neighbor and crush, Evan, comes home from Vietnam, sure that he will help her convince her dad to let her go to Pratt University instead of Kent State where her dad is a professor. But when Evan returns home injured, losing all of his own dreams, Rachel must set out alone to convince her dad she should go to Pratt to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Meanwhile, Kent slips ever further off of its axis, in step with the growing discord across the nation. Caught between her love for Evan and her desire to escape Kent, Rachel must navigate a changing world to pursue her art, unaware that she and her small hometown are on a collision course with disaster.
“WHALE FALL,” BY CECIL BOTHWELL
I don’t know if Cecil Bothwell ever met Dean Kahler, but I think they would have been kindred spirits.
Like Kahler, Bothwell was prodded by his beliefs into becoming involved in local government, winning election to the Asheville, NC, City Council in 2009. He’s still a member of that body, having changed his political affiliation from Democrat to Independent and back to Democrat. He’s also a writer (as evidenced by the book we’re featuring) and an environmentally conscious home-builder.
Although “Whale Fall” does not travel in anything close to a straight line, it serves up a thought-provoking salad bar of Bothwell’s opinions and musings. Whales are just a starting point, as Bothwell writes:
“Beginning with Neanderthal confrontations with a beached whale, this book carries the reader across centuries and continents to listen to the ocean-spanning songs of modern cetaceans. Theory of mind, indigenous rights, LSF, Viking settlements, mummies, cancer, homesteading, chaos theory and terrorism all appear and recedce beneath the wheels, beyond the wake, of a vehicle carrying us forward to uncharted waters.”
“THE HOBO’S REVENGE,” BY BILL DELOREY
Bill has now earned the distinction of being the first author to be featured on Snowflakes in a Blizzard three times (following “Shuffle an Impulse” and “Operation Crossbow”). As a writer, he is as entertaining as he is prolific.
Bill writes: “Hobos and high finance have little in common until the day an investment scammer deceives Gina and Mickey McGee, steals their retirement savings, and forces foreclosure on the family farm. Evicted along with her grandparents, Ellie McGee drops out of college and ends up homeless, living in a hobo encampment among a group of vagabonds.
“Ellie hooks up with Tick Simmons, and together they plan revenge on the scammers that stole the farm and also killed Tick’s twin brother, a resident of the hobo camp. Tick and Ellie team up with the odd-ball drifters, recruit a senator and a rogue intelligence agent and an ex-Special Forces veteran, then reverse the game and scam the scammers, engaging in a diabolical and ingenious plot to retaliate in an all-or-nothing high stakes gamble.”