OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “LAIKA,” BY KATE KORT AND “GIVING PAWS,” BY MARTHA THOMPSON, CAN BE FOUND, ALONG WITH THE “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY,” BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST. OR, YOU CAN CLICK THE AUTHORS’ NAMES ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
I don’t normally take issue with dictionary definitions, but I think the Cambridge English edition has it all wrong with “fiction.”
That word is defined therein as: “The type of book or story that is written about imaginary characters and events and does not describe real people or deal with facts.”
That definition is, in itself, fictitious. Just consider Helen Benedict’s novel “Wolf Season,” one of the offerings this week for Snowflakes in a Blizzard (snowflakesarise.wordpress.com).
The book deals with the effects of war — not only on the combatants, but also on the families, refugees and other civilians who are touched and damaged by it. Although it would be nice if war was a only product of the fictional imagination, it is actually an inescapable and harsh reality. Therefore, Helen set out to discover what was true, so that she could faintly disguise it as fiction. She writes:
“I had many adventures researching Wolf Season. Most were moving, some sad, others uplifting — I am always amazed by the resilience of women and children. The Iraqi mother whose teenaged son had been killed in Baghdad, yet who laughed when her 9-year-old, Mustapha, upon hearing I am a British writer, asked me if I’d written Harry Potter. The woman soldier who lives in the woods with her wolves, and who peppered her speech with extraordinarily colorful sayings that inspired me to create Rin Drummond. The young Iraqi woman who had lived through torture and near death, but was so eager to advise me about Naema Jassim. I also had a wonderful time at Wolf Mountain, where I was virtually alone with several wolves for many hours, watching them play and sleep and eat.”
(Note: Wolf photo from Pouted Online Lifestyle Magazine).
I am also proud to say that this week’s Snowflakes edition includes a book by Faulkner. No, not William — one of our few rules is that featured authors must be alive. This Faulkner is Steven, and the bio on his template reads like that of a character from a novel:
“Steven Faulkner grew up in the Sudan and Ethiopia in Africa, and later in Arkansas and Kansas. After dropping out of college, he married, had children, and worked a variety of jobs: driving dump trucks and concrete mixers, carpet cleaning, roofing, newspaper and doughnut delivery, and spent fourteen years as a carpenter.
“He returned to school and acquired the necessary degrees from the University of Kansas and now teaches Creative Writing and American Literature at Longwood University in southern Virginia.”
Steven’s “Bitterroot” represents a different sort of alchemy from “Wolf Season,” a mixture not of fact and fiction, but of present and past. The book chronicles a trip he and his son took along the old Oregon Trail, alternating their experiences and observations with accounts of what happened there more than two centuries earlier. The connection is almost seamless.
And finally, continuing this week’s theme of mix and match, Tyler Flynn Dorholt has woven prose, poetry and photographs into his debut work, “American Flowers.” He writes: “I think that people can read one or two poems, and look at one or two photographs in the book, and wherever their mind goes experience more fully their own memory. I think it’s an odd debut book, in both its size and approach toward the poem, but I feel as though these poems and images allow another avenue into a reader’s memory bank, or a chance to think differently about something new or fresh to them, and thus the reader can trust themselves to open pages, even randomly, and sit with themselves inside of them. Plus the photographs are somewhat of a bonus.”
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, OCT. 10-16.
“WOLF SEASON,” BY HELEN BENEDICT.
After a hurricane devastates a small town in upstate New York, the lives of three women and their young children are irrevocably changed. Rin, an Iraq War veteran, tries to protect her little daughter and the three wolves under her care. Naema, a widowed doctor who fled Iraq with her wounded son, faces life-threatening injuries. Beth, who is raising a troubled son, waits out her marine husband’s deployment in Afghanistan, equally afraid of him coming home and of him never returning at all.
As they struggle to maintain their humanity and love, and to find hope, their war-torn lives collide in a way that will affect their entire community.
“BITTERROOT,” BY STEVEN FAULKNER
A modern father and son travel the Oregon Trail with that remarkable 19th-century traveler Pierre Jean De Smet who leads them to the Rocky Mountains where they join Lewis and Clark during their difficult crossing of the continental divide—several weeks that almost killed them. Along that trail they meet the Nez Perce tribe who helped save the lives of Lewis and Clark and their “corps of discovery”. On the return trip, father and son join the Nez Perce in their long flight from General O. O. Howard and the U. S. army.
This is a travel book like Blue Highways or John Graves’ Goodbye to a River, with vivid accounts of historical events along the way: the Chinese Massacre in Rock Springs, Lewis and Clark’s miserable climb through the Bitterroots, the Nez Perce battle at Big Hole, the Battle of the Little Bighorn from the perspective of a Sioux boy who lived through it.
“AMERICAN FLOWERS,” BY TYLER FLYNN DORHOLT.
American Flowers is a book of prose poems, with black and white photographs. Split up into six parts, the book also includes photographs of the original handwritten poems, which separate each section, and is 250 pages long.