OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “THE MAXIMUM SECURITY BOOK CLUB,” BY MIKITA BROTTMAN AND “SKATING FOR GRACE,” BY ANNE PERRAULT, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE MONTHLY “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.” OR, YOU CAN CLICK ON THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
First of all, happy Father’s Day. One of this week’s three featured books, Tim J. Myers’ “Glad to Be Dad” arrives on this site just in time for the holiday. You might consider getting it for Dad instead of another tie.
Lots of things that happen on this blog are gratifying, and finding a topical book to match with a major holiday or event is one of them. Doing my small part to help a talented but struggling self-published writer is another. And then there is getting the chance to feature writers who probably should be famous but aren’t — at least not in the mass media sense.
It’s true that Jacob M. Appel and Susan Hubbard have made it onto Wikipedia, which certainly denotes a higher-than-average author profile. Look them up. But really, how many still-living famous writers can you name? John Grisham? J.K. Rowling? Stephen King? Don DeLillo?
Of course, if you are fortunate enough to become a famous author, obscurity can be a side benefit. You probably won’t be mobbed by crowds of autograph seekers at the mall or annoyed in restaurants, because most likely only your family, your friends and your agent know what you look like.
Actors become famous by landing key roles in big movies. Singers become famous via MTV and YouTube. Athletes become famous by dominating their sport. Politicians become famous by winning elections, or by saying outrageous things when they don’t.
With writers, the only sure way to grab the world’s wandering attention is by winning a Pulitzer, or perhaps a National Book Award. Even at that, though, how many National Book Award winners can you name?
Beyond that, writing offers no objective criteria for who is “the best.” Many well-known authors are both loved and dismissed, depending upon who you ask. Others with huge Amazon sales are celebrated only within their niches.
And yet, in my humble opinion, I would put Jacob Appel’s wicked sense of humor up against anyone else on the printed page. Virtually everything he has written has won a prize of some kind.
Moreover, he happens to be a psychiatrist, bioethicist and attorney, pursuits that strongly inform his writing. His “The Mask of Sanity” is Poe-worthy, one of the creepiest depictions of a serial-killer-next-door I’ve ever read.
Meanwhile, Susan Hubbard got me past my general aversion to vampire novels. It’s always the same old fang, I maintain — except that in the case of Susan’s “Ethical Vampire” series, it isn’t. Come to think of it, maybe I could also consider her Snowflakes offering, “The Sanguinist’s Daughter,” a Father’s Day book of sorts.
Nor do I want to leave Tim Myers out of the conversation. According to his Snowflakes author profile, his children’s books “have won recognition from the New York Times, NPR, and the Smithsonian; he has 16 out and more on the way. He’s published over 130 poems, won a first prize in a poetry contest judged by John Updike, has three books of adult poetry out and a nonfiction book on fatherhood, and won a major prize in science fiction. He won the West Coast Songwriters Saratoga Chapter Song of the Year and the 2012 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for Fiction.”
UPCOMING ON “SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD” FOR JUNE 12-19.
“THE MAN WHO WOULDN’T STAND UP,” BY JACOB M. APPEL.
No, Jacob Appel didn’t write this about Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback who achieved his own kind of fame by refusing to rise for the National Anthem last football season. Appel put his main character, Arnold Brinkman, in that (seated) position at a New York Yankees’ game several years before Kaepernick called national attention to himself.
Moreover, “The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up” puts a different spin on Brinkman’s situation, lampooning the often over-the-top nature of American patriotism.
According to Jacob, Kaepernick hasn’t contacted him yet.
“THE SANGUINIST’S DAUGHTER,” BY SUSAN HUBBARD.
What if everything you knew about yourself and your family was a lie?
What if, when the lies began to crack, beneath them lay a truth so dark and deep, yet so compelling, that it pulled you inside?
What price would you pay to live forever? These are the questions confronting Ariela Montero — half-vampire, half-human. The Sanguinist’s.Daughter — the first book in The Ethical Vampire Series — introduces Ari and her world, where ghosts and vampires commune with humans; where Edgar Allan Poe and Jack Kerouac are role models; where every time a puzzle seems solved, its last piece changes the entire picture.
When the last piece is murder, Ari goes on the road in search of her mother, who disappeared at the time of her birth. The hunt nearly costs Ari her life, and, in finding her mother, she loses her father. But gradually she uncovers the secrets that have kept the family apart, and she begins to come to terms with her own unique nature and her chances for survival.
“GLAD TO BE DAD,” BY TIM J. MYERS.
This very likable memoir focuses on how a couple deals with a “surprise” baby who arrives after their other two children had left the nest.
Tim writes: “I was a stay-at-home dad and lived this life, so I learned all this the hard way. My hope is that I can make it a little easier for you.”
- We featured Karen Dionne’s “Boiling Point,” a thriller novel about a volcanic eruption, back on June 30, 2015. Her newest work of fiction, “The Marsh King’s Daughter,” will be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on June 13, and Karen reports that it has been selected as one of the “Summer’s Most Anticipated Reads” by iBooks and Publishers Weekly. It has also been reviewed in Cosmopolitan.
When a notorious child abductor known as the Marsh King escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger. No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer. And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the Michigan wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.
2. For those of you in Northern California, I’ll share this from Eleanore Vincent (“Swimming With Maya,” Snowflakes 1/21/16): “Please help spread the word about my new writing class, “Plot and Theme: Foundations of Memoir.” Sessions will be held on Wednesdays starting June 21 to July 26, from 6:30 to 9 PM at the San Francisco Writers Grotto.
“The Grotto offers a variety of highly regarded writing classes, and I’m very proud to have mine added to the summer line up. Suitable for writers at all levels, the class combines in-class writing exercises, workshopping, and close reading of memoir excerpts.
“Over six weekly sessions, we will delve into the effective construction of memoir – whether personal essay or book-length manuscript. This class will give students the opportunity to share their work in a supportive environment and to read and comment on each other’s work.”
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Excellent suggestions. I’m adding them to my woefully long reading list now. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers wherever they are.