OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “MALL FLOWER,” BY TINA BARRY, “ATTENTION PLEASE NOW,” BY MATTHEW PITT AND “AWAY AT WAR,” BY NICK K. ADAMS, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR “AUTHORS PAGE.
Somewhere in my closet hangs a T-shirt that reads: “Be Nice to Me, Or I’ll Put You in My Novel.”
It happens. Although truth may often be stranger than fiction, there are times when it becomes fiction. The membrane separating the two is thin and porous.
Take, for example, the back story behind Sheldon Lee Compton’s novel “Brown Bottle,” which joins Rodger LeGrand’s “Millions of Ravenous Creatures” as Snowflakes in a Blizzard features this week.
Writes Sheldon: “When I was young, say around six or seven, my step-uncle Pete, the youngest brother of my alcoholic stepfather Doug, more or less stood in as my father for a few years. He played with me, gave me advice about fighting and how to throw a baseball, how to bait a hook, and various other important things. He also gave me and my mom support during the long hours we would sit up waiting for Doug to come home from another wild tear. Most importantly, he somehow made us laugh. He distracted us from the daily darkness in the best of ways.
“One day all those years later, I got to thinking about Pete and about how young he was then (probably still in his teens, to my calculations) and how much he took on by doing all that. I wanted to somehow honor that sacrifice and write him as a hero. But I wanted the character to be a bit more flawed. So naturally I tossed in a few of Doug’s traits for him to overcome and then gave him a messed up kid to look after and I had the framework of my book. I feel pretty good about what I was able to do in that sense.”
So Pete became Wade “Brown Bottle” Taylor, the book’s main character. And once again, truth and fiction have been melded together in a way that incorporates both.
Meanwhile, Rodger LeGrand’s poetry career has blossomed under a rather unusual mentor. He explains:
“I read more than I write, and I prefer it that way. I think that reading poetry is a method for writing better poems. When I’m not reading poetry I’m studying Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu. Grandmaster Moy Yat was a painter and calligrapher. His approach to Kung Fu instruction and study matches how I study poetry. Grandmaster Moy Yat’s teaching style was handed down to his top disciple, my Sifu, Pete Pajil. As a result, I study two arts, poetry and Ving Tsun, that inform each other as I explore the complexities of both.”
This week also includes the monthly “First Tuesday Replay.”
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, AUGUST 1-7.
“BROWN BOTTLE,” BY SHELDON LEE COMPTON.
Wade “Brown Bottle” Taylor is an alcoholic uncle trying to protect his nephew Nick from the hardness of their region, Eastern Kentucky, and the world in general. To end Nick’s involvement with drugs and drug dealers in the area, Brown must first save himself, overcoming a lifetime spent convinced he is unworthy. Brown Bottle’s journey is one of selflessness and love, redemption and sacrifice, if only for a time.
“MILLIONS OF RAVENOUS CREATURES, BY RODGER LeGRAND.
These poems explore loss, longing, and love. They look at the grittiness of daily living—including topics like homelessness, drug abuse, and foster care—illustrating with the rhythms of language how even in the midst of sorrow we can find a way to embrace hope.
FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY
Revisiting Jennifer Griffith’s “Big in Japan,” Tricia Bauer’s “Father Flashes,” Danielle Dahl’s “Sirocco,” Nick K. Adams’ “To My Dear Wife and Children,” Jan Netolicky’s “We Dare Not Whisper” and Andi Cumbo-Floyd’s “Steele Secrets.”