Led Zeppelin. (Photo by Chris Deja).
OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “MISS PORTLAND,” BY DAVID EBENBACH, “RESTLESS SOULS,” BY DAN SHEEHAN AND “CLUTCHING LAMBS,” BY JANET PASSEHL CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.
Randall Auxier’s musical credentials are clearly in order. He grew up less than a mile from Graceland, where he once met Elvis. He played bass guitar in a rock n’ roll band. He collected albums and CD’s obsessively.
And yet, there’s something else. Randall Auxier is also a philosopher, and not just in the colloquial sense. He teaches that subject at Southern Illinois University, and specializes in extracting philosophical wisdom from the lyrics of the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin and many others.
In addition, he’s running for a seat in Congress under the Green Party banner. That’s another story.
Randall’s “Metaphysical Graffiti,” one of the books we’re featuring this week on Snowflakes in a Blizzard (snowflakesarise.wordpress.com), links philosophy with rock, transmuting the title of a Led Zeppelin album, “Physical Graffiti,” with, well, metaphysics. Should this seem dry, however (philosophy and all), consider that Randall has always been an admirer of Hunter S. Thompson, and it shows.
This week’s second featured author, Laurie Jean Cannady, is also a college professor — at Lock Haven (PA) University. She, too, has explored music in her writing, including a magazine piece on the elements and roots of rap, but her memoir, “Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul,” is most likely to evoke the blues.
In one interview, she recalled: “When you think about inner cities, you don’t think Portsmouth (Virginia), but that inner city experience permeates so many communities around the country. In the 80s, when people went to places like Lincoln Park, my projects, they didn’t see any potential in us. They saw us as dirt and I know that to be true by the way they treated us. The same can be said of places like Ferguson and Baltimore when you consider the treatment of their citizens. I’m evidence that there were professors there. There were writers there. I know there were lawyers, singers, teachers, artists, soldiers there. We were never trash, even though so many tried to throw us away.”
Sadly, hers is not a new story, but she has wrapped her lyrical writing voice around it and made it unique.
Finally, we have Les Zig’s novel, “Just Another Week in Suburbia.”
Suburbia in Australia.
For although we Americans think of Australia in terms of kangaroos and aborigines, it has suburbs, just like we do.
Writes Les: “When Casper Gray finds a condom in his wife’s handbag, he suspects that she may be cheating on him. So begins a week where Casper obsesses about the possibility, while his life unravels spectacularly. The main themes of JAWiS are trust (how well can you ever know somebody?) and masculinity (Casper being forced into a situation where he has to take control of his life.)”
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, APRIL 24-30.
“METAPHYSICAL GRAFFITI,” BY RANDALL AUXIER.
These are 18 chapters, plus a prologue and afterword, that follow a philosophical and autobiographical thread through the rock era. Each chapter can be read alone, so skipping around according to interest works well. Each treats a different philosopher/philosophy whose ideas are helpful in talking about what makes the band or the individual rock star so interesting, but together these form a narrative thread that is both autobiographical (the reader will know me pretty well by the end) and also historical –the rock era itself is the background, beginning in the Prologue with Elvis Presley and ending with an imagined dialogue between the rock critic Chuck Klosterman and one of his own characters from his autobiographical novel Downtown Owl.
“CRAVE: SOJOURN OF A HUNGRY SOUL,” BY LAURIE JEAN CANNADY.
Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul is a coming-of-age memoir that chronicles a young girl’s journey through abuse and impoverishment. The effusive narration descends into the depths of personal and sexual degradation, perpetual hunger for food, safety and survival. While moving through gritty exposés of poverty, abuse, and starvation, Crave renders a continuing search for sustenance that simply will not die.
Laurie Jean Cannady is most recognizable through her voice. Lyrical and august, yet strangely intimate, her lucid memory for the texture of daily existence weaves the reader into the fabric of the story. We discover that the most slender threads bind the strongest.
It is no surprise this memoir is a narrative about a victim who becomes a survivor. Cannady is assertive, motivational, and unafraid to reach her target audience: women, African Americans, high-school students, college students, survivors of physical and sexual abuse, veterans, people raised by single parents, and folks who are living in or have lived through impoverishment.
“JUST ANOTHER WEEK IN SUBURBIA,” BY LES ZIG.
“I love flawed characters – especially characters who are trying to find their place in the world, and who are trying to make sense of things,” writes Les. “Casper’s world unravels because of a single small discovery. Life is made up of those small moments. Do I turn left or do I turn right? Most of the time, we’re on autopilot. But, sometimes, some small thing leads to something that jars us from that mindset and into an existence of hyperawareness.”