(Photo by Thought Catalog)
OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “YEAR OF THE POETS,” BY JON BALLARD, “YETI,” BY RICHARD EDDE AND “SICILIAN LOVES,” BY BENEDICT J. DiSALVO, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.
So often, in so many areas of life, the people who appear to be in charge are actually behind the curve.
Even as most American politicians continue to operate under the old liberal vs. conservative dynamic, there is increasing evidence that many of their constituents have moved beyond that. They’re sick of being flogged by one-dimensional attack ads, weary of cookie-cutter candidates who check off all the “right” (or left) boxes. Recent voting patterns have begun to show a tendency to vote for the person rather than the label.
Visit almost any art gallery now, and you’ll see paintings that marry landscapes with collage, combine abstract meanderings with rigid patterns, and show much less concern for what the critics might think or say. Similarly, popular music has become a vibrant soup in which the old classifications no longer apply.
Which brings us to books and writing, where so many publishers and editors still operate under the self-imposed tyranny of “genre.” If a book doesn’t seem to fit into one of the standard categories — no matter how readable it may be — it faces a skeptical array of gatekeepers.
But that, too, is beginning to erode, and I offer up this week’s Snowflakes in a Blizzard selections as examples.
This is how Tara Deal explains the thinking behind “That Night Alive,” which she describes as a “novel/memoir”:
“I decided to write this book because I had been telling people that I wanted to pick a death date (say, the day I turn 80) and stick to it. I love the idea of a deadline and getting things done, and this sounded like a great idea, assuming nothing happened to me before then. But then if something did happen, that could be interesting, too. And I (probably immediately) decided to write about these two colliding ideas: happily planning for death on a certain day but then being confronted with death on a day you didn’t choose. And once I had this format in place, I wanted to make sure the two stories (about one woman) were very different, so I decided to combine fiction and memoir.
“The style I used for the fiction is very clipped, short sentences, monosyllabic words. The style I used for the memoir pieces is more flowery, sensual, emotional. One story goes backward in time. One story goes forward. Until they intersect, and the distinct styles start to break down, and everything comes together in the end and makes sense (or so I imagine).”
Meanwhile, Don Tassone planned his collection of short-short stories, “Small Bites,” around today’s multi-tasking readers.
“We’re all busy these days,” he explains, “but we all love a good story. I created Small Bites with busy people in mind.”
As an aside, I often borrow library books through Amazon for my Kindle. I consider myself a fast reader, and I love to read. Yet more often than not, I fail to finish a book in the allotted 14 days and have to request it again. Too many things get in the way of reading for pleasure.
This is a fact of life, and Don has decided to go with it.
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JUNE 5-11.
“THAT NIGHT ALIVE,” BY TARA DEAL.
Writes Tara: “That Night Alive is half futuristic fiction and half meditative memoir. The book begins on the narrator’s last day alive and moves backward in time to tell her story. She traces her path as a successful crypto-reporter, navigating a life of secrecy and solitude and world travel. A counter-narrative intersects, told by the same woman, who starts at the beginning and describes her struggles to create a work of beauty. That Night Alive is a story that investigates art and failure, persistence and success.
“SMALL BITES,” BY DON TASSONE.
This is a collection of 40 short stories. Many can be read in about a minute. The longer ones might take half an hour. Stories are divided into three sections — appetizers, entrees and desserts — to fit all tastes and appetites.
Stories touch on a range of themes, including love, loss, generosity, renewal and the power of imagination. The subgenres are diverse — from romance and drama to science fiction and spirituality.
“In this book,” says Don, “I hope there’s something for everybody.”
FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY
This month, we will revisit “Theft: And Other Tales of Loss and the Working Class,” by John Abbott; “This Way Up,” by Patti Clark; “The Motel of the Stars,” by Karen McElmurray; “A Different Jesus,” by Jan Linn, “The End of Miracles,” by Monica Starkman and “True Stories at the Smoky View,” by Jill McCroskey Coupe.