Monthly Replay, March 7

This feature has a two-fold purpose: 1. To allow those recently added to our followers list to discover books they might have missed and 2. To make sure previously featured authors and their work aren’t forgotten. If you’d like to learn more about any of the books revisited here, simply click on the “Authors” page, then on that author’s name.


Wanderers does not have an overarching back story. Instead, it has fifteen of them. The sources vary, with some stories having their origins in direct observations, experiences, or events that I have read about, while others are entirely made up. To cite one example, “Ashes” germinated from an article I read about two research psychologists who had such a bitter rivalry that one of them requested in his will that he be cremated and have his ashes thrown in the face of the other. I asked myself, “What sort of person would do a thing like that?” A picture of such a person began to take shape in my mind, and then I began to hear her voice and to populate her world.


 After Houses is a book of poems meditating on homelessness. It loosely follows a narrative of a young woman’s journey through homelessness in the United States. But the poems are not straight ‘confessional’ style. Rather they are meditations on symbolic space, ultimately a confrontation with the limits of bourgeois codes of home and family. Here’s the publisher’s description of the book: AFTER HOUSES is an extended meditation on homelessness. In unflinching, raw poetry, poet Claire Millikin explores states of homelessness, and a longing for, even a devotion to, houses—houses as spaces where one could be safe and at ease. The poems move through an American landscape, between the South and the North, between childhood and adulthood, reaching toward a home that’s never reached, but always at one’s fingertips. Throughout this collection, Millikin draws from personal and family history, from classical mythology and architectural theory, to shape a poetry of empathy, in which some of the places where people get lost in America are faced and given place. AFTER HOUSES echo the voices of girls who have not quite survived, but who persist, intact in the way that Rimbaud insists on intactness, in words.


Set in 1959 on the shores of New York’s Lake Ontario, fourteen-year-old Charlene Beth Whitestone has been deserted by her parents, leaving her in the custody of her grandfather, C.B. Although he loves Charlie, he is a charming con artist, moonshiner, and religious fraud who inducts her into his various enterprises yet also encourages her dreams of becoming a writer. When C.B. suddenly dies, Charlie is left alone and must use her wits and resourcefulness to take charge of her life, all the while wrestling with the morality of continuing her grandfather’s schemes. When a handsome cowboy-stranger, Blake, arrives, he insinuates himself into C.B.’s religion business and into Charlie’s heart. Despite her resistance, Blake mounts a lucrative PR campaign, touting Charlie as an “oracle” and arranging for her to perform miracles.


 The stories give drama and perspective on the idea of success and how we view it in people’s lives. In the words of Publishers Weekly, the “14 lively tales…uncover gentle irony in the commonly held notion of a successful life.” StorySouth called the collection “Superbly-crafted tales…that explore the most vital crises of existence, when human emotions–desire and isolation, suspicion and jealousy–boil over… blooms in complexity every time the reader revisits it.”


From the Chicago Tribune: “(Demas) has the obvious bona fides to probe writers’ lives in her fiction, and the less superficially observable qualities of knowledge and first hand experience to be able to juggle a number of writers’ personalities in a narrative simultaneously….The exurbanite culture and cultured chums Demas evokes have a charmed staying power. A story isn’t over until it’s over, and the confederates of the Leopardi Circle have a shared knack for sparking the thought that they might be worthy of a second installment.”


This book goes beyond lesbian fiction, as it is a universal story about love and acceptance – either from one’s self or society – whose central characters happen to be two women who want to share their lives together and be a family. From a historical perspective the book spans from 1960 to 1983 and you are taken back to relevant periods where the underdog is longing to be heard through civil right issues. Along with that, the book is a ride through southern and northern cultures, religious pondering, cancer, humor, food and wine. Amongst the underlying social meaning behind the story. Finding Bluefield, is about Nicky finding herself through her losses and love of her family. 

Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s