(Photo through Grow Practice Grow)
OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “FINGERPRINTS OF PREVIOUS OWNERS,” BY REBECCA ENTEL AND “ONE LIFE,” BY DAVID LIDA, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.” OR, JUST CLICK THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.
Buying books (or writing them, for that matter) is a lot like ordering food in a restaurant.
Our first instinct is to err on the side of caution — what can I order that will taste good to me and not make me sick? Next, we scan the menu for familiar dishes, and chances are we’ll order one.
I often wondered if the cook (or chef, if it’s an upscale place) back in the kitchen ever shakes his or her head and mutters, “Aw, man. Not another prime rib. Why doesn’t anybody ever eat the octopus with turnips and cauliflower?”
Books are like that, too. We all have our favorite authors, and we know they probably won’t let us down. Beyond that, we tend to lock ourselves into a certain genre or subject matter.
The thing is, the world is full of dramatic stories and fascinating people that never get written about, because they’re the octopus with cauliflower. Personally, though, I’d much rather learn about an interesting stranger than wade through yet another biography of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln or the Beatles. Or, if it’s fiction, it’s nice to be able to say: “What a cool idea. Why didn’t I think of that?”
For example, the summary for one of this week’s Snowflakes in a Blizzard books, “Peter’s Moonlight Photography and Other Stories,” explains: “The title story of Dina Rabadi’s debut fiction collection follows an aging moonlight photographer’s quest for success and his models’ (all ordinary women) quest for a sense of beauty.”
How could you not want to read this? What makes it compelling, I think, is the way the dreams of the photographer and his subjects overlap. The camera, is this case, serves as a bridge between them, and that has intriguing possibilities.
Meanwhile, have you ever heard of Barbara Newhall Follett? Let Lynn Schmeidler, author of “History of Gone,” tell you about her:
“History of Gone is a collection of poems inspired by the life and unsolved disappearance of Barbara Newhall Follett, a once-famous child prodigy writer of the early 20th century. By the age of 14, BNF had published two books to glowing reviews and H.L. Mencken was congratulating her parents for raising her. She was expected to be the Next Great American Writer. Instead, her father left; she and her mother set sail on an open-ended sea voyage; The Great Depression hit, and she found work as a secretary; she met a fellow free spirit, travelled to Europe with him for a few months and returned to marry him. Then, one December night in 1939, after arguing with her husband, Barbara left the house with a notebook and $30. She was never seen nor heard from again. She was 25.”
Disappearing people have become a literary staple, of course (“Gone Girl,” etc.), because they offer so many narrative possibilities. But this is a real case, and Lynn manages to carve out her own niche by approaching the story through poetry.
The third book featured this week is Don Tassone’s “Get Back,” also a collection of stories. Says Don:
“In a busy world, we can lose touch with who we really are and where we belong. This is a collection of 12 stories about people who, through time and circumstances, have become separated from their true selves — and, in one way or another, get back.”
And yes, the title was inspired by the Beatles’ song of the same name.
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, OCTOBER 9-15.
“PETER’S MOONLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY AND OTHER STORIES,” BY DINA RABADI.
Says Dina: “My work tends to explore larger life questions that I am in the process of figuring out. I would love to have my readers join me in figuring these things out together! Between work and bills and social visits and dentist appointments, we have such limited time to reflect on these larger questions—questions about loneliness, grief, obsession and reconciliation. I hope my stories give my readers a chance to do that.
“HISTORY OF GONE,” BY LYNN SCHMEIDLER.
According to Lynn, “I first heard about Barbara Newhall Follett from an article written in a literary magazine. I was immediately taken with her story— the early promise, the mysterious disappearance, and I soon found I couldn’t get her out of my mind. How could this woman who’d once been so famous be so utterly forgotten? Soon I became obsessed not only with her life, but with the themes it illuminated: creativity, femininity, autonomy, erasure. I wrote the poems over a couple of years, both hearing Barbara’s voice in my ear and seeing my own world through her eyes, so throughout that time, she was both my muse and my mirror.”
“GET BACK,” BY DON TASSONE.
Writes one reviewer: “Don Tassone’s stories, like so much of what we love to read, are about the boy next door, growing up and finding a way in the world — a way that often involves finding a way back to one’s first loves and dreams. Take a break from the over-serious world we live in and spend time remembering the way it was, the way it sometimes can be again. Though loss and sadness are here, this is ultimately a joyful, hopeful book.”