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OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “CLARA AT THE EDGE,” BY MARYL JO FOX AND “SKATING ON THE VERTICAL,” BY JAN ENGLISH LEARY, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.” OR, YOU CAN CLICK THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
I don’t consider myself a political person, at least not in the red and blue sense. In a country sharply divided between liberals and conservatives, I happen to believe that both sides have some of the answers to the issues we face, but neither has them all.
What I also believe in very strongly, perhaps as a result of my decades writing for newspapers, is freedom of speech. That’s why I love books.
For when you think about it, so many of us seem to gave lost the ability to listen to the other side. Constructive face-to-face dialogue is increasingly rare, TV networks are often as polarized as the people who gravitate toward them. Even readers of blog posts and on-line newspaper articles can hardly wait to fire back their e-mail response to points of view that make their neck hairs bristle.
When you read a book, however, you have to take in what the author is saying with no real ability to counter punch. You can stop reading, of course, but exposure to an opposite viewpoint can sometimes be hypnotic, as in “I can’t believe this jerk is for real. What’s he going to say next?”
You may find yourself thinking about that book later. It may even, on rare occasions, change your mind.
I’ve highlighted very few overtly political books on Snowflakes in a Blizzard, but this week I’m including Tom Ersin’s “Barack and the Anti-PC,” one man’s version of how events and attitudes affected and molded our last two presidents.
I suspect this book will be somewhat on the “blue” side, but I’m also perfectly willing to to toss a “red” morsel to our blog followers any time. The only requirement is that there has to be something literary in such an offering, something that makes it more interesting and readable than just a political rant. Still, this is, and always will be, a free speech zone.
Our other two books this week are not political, but equally thought-provoking. Jane Olmsted’s volume of poetry, “Seeking the Other Side,” was inspired by the death of her son. Caitlin Hamilton Summie’s collection of short stories, “To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts,” gives a unique and compelling treatment to a number of common themes.
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JAN. 9-15.
“SEEKING THE OTHER SIDE,” BY JANE OLMSTED.
Writes Jane: “After Casey died, I was flooded with powerful images and words and feelings. I longed for my son, and the continual pull from the world outside often made me feel crazy. The only way to reckon with the incredible weight of loss was to go into it. That’s how I thought of it: I must go inside where I can be with him. Music helped—Brahms’ Requiem in particular, but any sacred or melancholy music helped me go “to that lonely place.” I sat in my “serenity room” (wishful thinking) and wrote and revised and crafted, imagining that each poem was a letter sent to that impossible place, a plea, a cry—all those ways we call out when silence is the only answer. And then perhaps we begin to hear, to see, within the silence we thought was complete. The collection emerged, and by pulling in other poems, I could see that though my seeking Casey is probably the most powerful part of the collection, it is in a context of lifelong reaching for understanding and affinity.
“TO LAY TO REST OUR GHOSTS,” BY CAITLIN HAMILTON SUMMIE.
In these ten elegantly written short stories, Caitlin Hamilton Summie takes readers from WWII Kansas City to a poor, drug-ridden neighborhood in New York, from western Massachusetts to woodsy Wisconsin, and from the quiet of rural Minnesota to its pulsing Twin Cities, each time navigating the geographical boundaries that shape our lives as well as the geography of tender hearts, loss, and family bonds. Deeply moving and memorable, To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts examines the importance of family, the defining nature of place, the need for home, and the hope of reconciliation.
“BARACK VS. THE ANTI-PC,” BY TOM ERSIN.
Barack vs. the Anti-PC is a humorously serious, chronological commentary of articles and essays interspersed with quotes and headlines. The quotations and factual content are thoroughly researched and documented. Most of these articles were published originally in the author’s magazine during Obama’s first term and second campaign. The book lays out the gradual loss of Republican leaders’ control over their own party. By not denouncing the bigotry and misinformation, they unwittingly told their people anything goes. Donald Trump heard that message loud and clear. To its shock, the GOP establishment has now reaped what it has sown. Barack vs. the Anti-PC documents that sowing.