Weather Report, May 1

3 Tan Short Coated Puppy on Gray Dirt during Daytime

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “PICTURE BRIDE,” BY C. FONG HSIUNG, “GRAVITY,” BY ELIZABETH ROSNER AND “FLIP FLOPS AFTER 50,” BY CINDY EASTMAN, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

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I’ve come to believe that books are underrated as harbingers of social change.

Protest signs, bumper stickers and even TV ads are fleeting. A good book, like a good movie, can present an issue not just as a soundbite, but as an intriguing story that worms its way into memory. From Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” to John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” to the muckrakers of today, books have been instrumental in changing attitudes and even prompting government legislation.

One area that has undergone a rapid and remarkable reversal over the past decade is the relationship between Americans and their pets. Once accepted as a given, the execution chambers for unwanted dogs and cats have given way in many places to “no kill” shelters, and “rescue dogs” are now celebrated.

Still, much remains to be done in that area, and Jacki Skole’s remarkable book “Dogland” is another step in the direction of progress.

Meanwhile, more subtly but still effectively, JoeAnne Hart has worked a message about ocean pollution into her novel “Float.”

Both of this week’s Snowflakes featured books were published by Oregon’s Ashland Creek Press, which specializes in environmental issues.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, MAY 2-8

“DOGLAND,” BY JACKI SKOLE

Soon after Jacki Skole brought home an eight-week-old puppy from a New Jersey rescue organization, she wondered how such a young animal could have so many idiosyncrasies—so she set out to find an answer. Dogland, an extraordinary mix of memoir and investigative journalism, follows Skole’s journey to trace the origins of her newest family member.

Along the way, Skole interviewed dozens who work in the world of animal rescue—from shelter managers to animal rights activists—taking readers from dilapidated county-run shelters in the South to strip malls in the Northeast where rescue groups seek homes for homeless pets, and from rural and urban “vet deserts” to the very heart of the South’s complex relationship with companion dogs.

Amid the serious issues facing shelter dogs in America, Skole found tireless animal advocates and humble visionaries who believe their ideas and their passion can save canine lives throughout the South—and the entire United States. This award-winning book offers a thoughtful and inspiring look into America’s dog crisis and how we can come together to resolve it.

“FLOAT,” BY JoeANN HART

FLOAT is a wry tale of financial desperation, conceptual art, insanity, infertility, seagulls, marital crisis, jellyfish, organized crime, and the plight of a plastic-filled ocean.

When Duncan Leland looks down at the garbage-strewn beach beneath his office window, he sees the words God Help Us scrawled in the sand. While it seems a fitting message—not only is Duncan’s business underwater, but his marriage is drowning as well—he goes down to the beach to erase it. Once there, he helps a seagull being strangled by a plastic six-pack holder—the only creature in worse shape than he is at the moment.

Duncan rescues the seagull, not realizing that he’s being filmed by a group of conceptual artists and that the footage will soon go viral, turning both him and the gull into minor celebrities. And when an unsavory yet very convincing local talks him into a not-quite-legitimate loan arrangement, Duncan can’t help but agree in a last ditch attempt to save the jobs of his employees.

For a while, it seems as if things are finally looking up for Duncan—yet between his phone-sex-entrepreneur ex-girlfriend’s very public flirtations and the ever-mysterious terms of his new loan, Duncan realizes that there’s no such thing as strings-free salvation—and that it’s only a matter of time before the tide rises ominously around him again.

FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.

This month, we will revisit “Threads,” by Mary Wright, “Not Another Super Hero,” by Tara Thompson, “Emergency Anthems,” by Alex Green, “Swimming With Maya,” by Eleanor Vincent, “Way Opens,” by Patricia Wild and “In Her Mother’s Shoes,” by Dawn Lajeunesse.

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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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