OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “BROWN BOTTLE,” BY SHELDON LEE COMPTON AND “A MILLION RAVENOUS CREATURES,” BY RODGER LeGRAND, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THIS MONTH’S FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY. OR, YOU CAN CLICK THE AUTHOR’S NAMES ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
Chances are, most people who glorify war have never fought in one. For to be a combat soldier is to be forced to accept a situation alien to most human experience.
Imagine waking up each morning to the realization that a large group of people want nothing more than to kill you — and that it is your job to seek them out, not avoid them. Imagine losing close friends not from an occasional illness or accident, but almost daily. Imagine killing someone else and being praised for it.
Then imagine walking away from this terrifying parallel universe and resuming life as usual.
Allen Learst, whose book of short stories will be featured on Snowflakes in a Blizzard this week, has experienced those things and that life. What I found interesting, though, is that the template he filled out for “Dancing at the Gold Monkey” makes no mention of his time as a combat infantryman in Vietnam.
Perhaps that’s because this book is really not about Vietnam, but about another war that followed for so many veterans. In that conflict, the enemy is internal, and the defensive weapons are not always close at hand.
You had to be there to really understand. But reading “Dancing at the Gold Monkey” is a step in that direction.
Meanwhile, the main character in Stacy Barton’s “Lily Harp” is also facing a personal struggle — a pregnancy she never asked for. In answer to the template question “Why would someone want to read this?” Stacy writes:
“If you’ve every wondered about real Florida life; if you are a part of a family who struggles and embraces the good, bad and ugly of its generations; if you love to step into someone’s emotional world; if you want to watch a young woman emerge from a struggle, independent and connected; if you like authentic people and real feelings; and if you like a little quirky, a little tragic, your senses perked…try this one….plus there are stand alone short stories in the end!”
And finally, as a change of pace, there is Deborah Teller Scott’s “Breakdown,” a book that falls within the general “cozy mystery” category.
This is the second novel by Deborah that we’ve featured. And while the offerings from Allen Learst and Stacy Barton are roller coaster rides, this one is more like a Ferris wheel, the plot evolving in slow but steady revolutions that allow time for readers to get to know the characters and begin to care about them.
UPCOMING ON “SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD,” AUGUST 7-13.
“DANCING AT THE GOLD MONKEY,” BY ALLEN LEARST.
Five veterans who suffer drastically from the invisible effects of PTSD also suffer from their lack of understanding about what happened to them. These men are victims of a society whose lack of concern for what they did for their country has deep and profound effects on their psyches.
“LILY HARP,” BY STACY BARTON
The year is 1976. The scene composed of clapboard marinas, bays, mangroves, stilt houses, sea grapes, and barrier islands reachable only by boat at the edge of the Florida Gulf. This has been Lily Harp’s world since before her mother’s suicide seven years ago. In Grandpa’s truck, rescued from art school, Lily’s journey begins. “I felt my belly swell my skirt and I thought about what was inside; the nurse at school said it had fingernails.” In the shadow of her mother, seventeen-year-old Lily’s choice unfolds. “I didn’t think I could give it away, but I didn’t know if I could keep it either.” This book reads like theater, with the poetic language of literature, and a cast of unforgettable characters. (video trailer at www.stacy barton.com). The short stories that follow, offer tragic and tender views of other confused minds and hearts. Many thanks to the journals in which they first appeared: Gargoyle, Best of Potomac Review, Real South, Relief Journal, Ruminate and others.
“BREAKDOWN,” BY DEBORAH TELLER SCOTT.
When he’s sent to consult on a case half a globe away from New Scotland Yard, Detective Inspector Michael Dachemont is eager to reconnect with Kate Winslow, the author of popular children’s books he’d met months before on a highly publicized investigation in the south of England. His original assignment in the Pacific Northwest turns out to be not nearly as challenging as the puzzles that await him when he travels to Oregon to spend what’s left of his busman’s holiday with Kate’s family.
In an environment as alien to Dachemont as any he’d ever experienced, there’s enough mystery to keep a squadron of detectives busy; but only one small-town country sheriff is on the job, and his objectivity is questionable. The trouble begins with a bit of graffiti, which turns out to be the deceptively innocent tip of a very deep and dark iceberg. Will Michael and Kate have time to see where their budding relationship leads? Or will the denouement come too late for them?