Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul

THIS WEEK’S TWO OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “METAPHYSICAL GRAFFITI,” BY RANDALL AUXIER AND “JUST ANOTHER WEEK IN SUBURBIA,” BY LES ZIG, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

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THE BOOK: Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul

PUBLISHED IN: 2015

THE AUTHOR:  Laurie Jean Cannady

THE EDITOR
: Bill Schneider (managing editor).

THE PUBLISHER: Etruscan Press. Housed at Wilkes University and partnering with Youngstown State University, Etruscan is a non-profit literary press working to produce and promote books that nurture the dialogue among genres, cultures ands voices.

We publish books of poems, novels, short stories, creative non-fiction, criticism, translation and anthologies.,  Three of our poetry collections have been National Book Award finalists, one of our titles was chosen as the Poetry Society of America’s First Book Award, and three poems have been chosen for Best American Poetry.

Image result for Laurie Jean Cannady + photosSUMMARY: 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.

THE BACK STORY:  “I’d been plagued with memories of childhood traumas much of my adult life.  I decided to get those experiences out of my head and onto the page.  Then, past traumas took on a new function. I believed those stories could help people struggling in the way I once had. ”

WHY THIS TITLE?: Crave because the theme of hunger shaped the memoir. Sojourn of a Hungry soul because my experiences were temporary. Luckily, I didn’t have to stay in them for an extended amount.  My hunger usually prompted movement and forced me to change.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I’ve been told the lyric way in which trauma is relayed makes Crave a unique memoir.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul is a soul-searing memoir that marks the arrival of an unforgettable new voice. Brave, honest, and beautiful, this is a story about facing the truth, and daring to love your way through to the other side. — Tayari Jones, An American Marriage.

Cannady has delivered a poignant coming-of-age tale that reveals the … pain and struggle often shuffled … from one family generation to the next. In sometimes humorous, often wrenching detail, this book chronicles a young girl’s determined search for self. A fascinating read. — Nathan McCall, Makes Me Wanna Holler

What an extraordinary memoir! Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul is Laurie Jean Cannady’s intense yet inspiring story of overcoming the terrors and traumas that befall a young black woman on her hard-won path to selfhood and self-love … The light at the end of this fierce and uncompromising book is nourishment to the spirit. — Rigoberto González, Unpeopled Eden

AUTHOR PROFILE: http://www.lauriejeancannady.net

AUTHOR COMMENTS:I think the summary of the book above makes this clear.  I’d tie Crave in with issues like poverty, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse.  Overcoming adversity. ”

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

https://www.amazon.com/Crave-Sojourn-Laurie-Jean-Cannady/dp/0989753298/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506438920&sr=8-1&keywords=crave+sojourn+of+a+hungry+soul

WHERE TO BUY IT: Wherever books are sold.

PRICE: 19.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: https://www.facebook.com/lauriejeancannady/ 

 

 

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Metaphysical Graffiti

Metaphysical Graffiti: Deep Cuts in the Philosophy of Rock by [Auxier, Randall]

Image of THE BOOK: Metaphysical Graffiti

PUBLISHED IN: 2017

THE AUTHOR:  Randall E. Auxier

THE EDITOR
: My editor is David Ramsay Steele

THE PUBLISHER
: Open Court (Chicago)

SUMMARY: 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. They discuss The End of the Rock Era. I divide the book into an A and a B side. The A side is British rock music, beginning with three essays on The Rolling Stones. To me, they are the essence of rock music (as distinct from rock n’ roll music, where Chuck Berry and Little Richard would be the essence). This transitions into two chapters on David Bowie, followed by explorations of Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Pink Floyd. Philosophically there is a lot of existentialism and European thought in this half.

The B side is American rock, but peculiarly as influenced by the folk and singer/songwriter tradition. It is more rootsy than glamorous. It begins with an examination of The Grateful Dead and proceeds through three Bruce Springsteen chapters (the essence of American rock music) to chapters on Neil Young and Paul Simon. Then there is a section called bonus tracks, which is more intensely autobiographical, built around my own stories in chronological order, more or less: growing up with Bruce Springsteen, Rush, Jimmy Buffett, and Jackson Browne.
The autobiographical stories are funny and anecdotal, things people relate to and which make them remember their own wild youth. Some of the tales are quirky, but never idiosyncratic or too self-reflexive. I never make myself the hero of my own stories –that sort of thing drives me nuts. I admit that I do like Hunter S. Thompson, but I’m not trying to BE him. Still, some stylistic borrowings will be evident to people who also like Thompson. Other than Thompson, I avow no other literary influences in this kind of writing.

THE BACK STORY: Eventually I started ignoring what my fellow philosophers thought and began writing essays for the (new at that time) series in Popular Culture and Philosophy that Open Court had started. It has now grown to include half a dozen publishers and series, and gradually has gained acceptance in the academy –not as “real work,” of course, but at least as a kind of ambassadorship to the public. I don’t care. I write about this stuff because I think about it and I care about it. After I had published a dozen or so essays on rock (and about twenty more on other topics), I realized that I had the material that could become a book, if I added the essays that would weave it together and rewrite the others to fit the narrative. So I proposed it and Open Court took it. It ended up substantial (almost 400 pp.), and the new essays (six of them, plus the prologue and afterword) were intensive self-assignments. It is like drawing to an inside straight in poker. I had a dozen immovable cards and needed to draw enough new cards to complete a run. I think it worked.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Well, we tossed a number of ideas around, but the Led Zeppelin album titles always stood out to me as provocative philosophically — Houses of the Holy, Presence, In Through the Out Door. One of my philosophical specialties is metaphysics (in my case that means the fundamental nature of time, space, and existence), and there is a lot of metaphysics in my essays, so turning Physical Graffiti into Metaphysical Graffiti was an obvious move. I learned after choosing the title that the Dead Milmen had an album by that title. I’ve never heard it (or them), but I doubt there’s much metaphysics on that album 🙂 or at least not as I understand the term

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?
I think the book is a really fun ride for the right reader. What people enjoy most about it is having their own ideas validated. What I mean is that lots of people have these philosophical thoughts when they hear a song, or consider an album concept, or watch a music video, and the reason they have these thoughts is because (1) they are human and humans are philosophical, and (2) the artists who make this music have philosophical thoughts too, and they put them into the art. It’s true of good film and television and theater other kinds of entertainment as well. But I see myself as a sort of tour guide, showing you many of the thoughts you’ve already had and, since I do this for a living, hooking those disparate thoughts together and hanging them on various great philosophers’ works, which is where the feeling of validation comes from –some important person in the past, renowned as a philosopher, had the same thought you had while listening to The Rolling Stones.

That feeling of validation –that there really is depth and meaning in this stuff, it really is thoughtful, and it is reall art– that is the main pay-off. But there is also nostalgia in this book for people of aa certain age. Those are the ones who will experience “identification” with the stories and times. That can be a pretty strong feeling. Yes, I’ll take you back, but I hope it isn’t maudlin, although I think the Prologue is a delicate wirewalk with the maudlin.

One very close friend of mine, also a writer, told me to dump the Prologue, “it’s the opposite of rock,” he said. I took that very seriously. People cry when they read the Prologue. Do you really want to read a book that makes you cry in the first twelve pages? In my case, yes. I really thought hard about it. I decided that the book is personal enough for me, as an effort to communicate with people, that to open them up emotionally right off the bat is probably the condition for appreciating what follows.

If they can handle the Prologue and keep reading, the good news is that nothing else will get that heavy in the book, but the secret password for getting the book, and the why of the book, is that you have to be emotionally open to the meanings in the music. Only then will the point of the thing reward the effort of getting through the thing. The music narrated its times, and those times were people’s very real lives. Older readers will be excavating and recovering the reasons for the things we’ve done. Younger ones will understand the rock era as if from the inside.


REVIEW COMMENTS
: Megan Volpert at Pop Matters published a very nice review that she gave the title “Professor Randall Auxier Is My Bass Player –and Philosopher.” https://www.popmatters.com/metaphysical-graffiti-by-randall-e-auxier-is-my-base-player-and-philosopher-2495386003.html  The only other reviews I’m aware of are on Amazon, and they say some nice things. On the back of the book is a quote by Andrew Calhoun, a well known poet, songwriter and scholar of traditional music. He said “The winding threads between the two [rock music and philosophy] feel organically generated . . . and the tension between what had seemed disparate fields sets up a third vibration which feels something like the presence of history.” I hope very much that he is right because that is exactly what I was shooting for. I wanted to make it live again, as a history of the present and a presence of history as palpable, accessible, active and meaningful now –even for people who didn’t live through it.”

AUTHOR PROFIL
E: Well, there is a hilarious biography of me written by my brother-in-law at the back of the book. I am tempted to paste it in here, since things I write about myself feel artificial. We (meaning me and my brother-in-law, and Luke Dick –former student and hugely successful songwriter who wrote the foreward– all had fun by writing silly biographies of each other.

So, what’s to know? Well, I grew up in Memphis, went to graduate school in Atlanta, and did my early prossoring in Oklahoma. All of these places left scars and affordances. I’m mainly a teacher, with the title of Professor of Philosophy and Communication Studies at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, doing that since 2000. I am owned by four cats and one spouse, and we all live in a huge Victorian monstrosity that we have turned into a library/research institute/art museum. (go to www.americanphilosophy.net). I am an activist, mainly environment and the teachers union, which has led on an inexorable path toward politics. I am currently running for US Congress in the 12th District of Illinois. See www.randyforcongress.org.

I never envisioned a future in politics, but activism leads either to death or politics, which is death by another name. I have been a dj for the local community radio station for almost 17 years. I cook. That is how I stay sane. I like wine and I like Europe. I am lucky enough to get the use of both pretty often. I am writing this from Warsaw, which is my home away from home, where I teach at the University of Warsaw regularly as a visiting professor and researcher. I write a blog (http://radicallyempirical.com/author/randall-auxier/) with a coop of other writers and a publisher; I write boring academic philosophy; I write fiction, but only a small portion has been published, at least compared to what I aspire to publish; I write for the local papers periodically, especially snarky book reviews, but some serious journalism too.

I am a Methodist, which means I don’t have strong feelings about religion. But I have taught adult Sunday school form 30 years and I have directed the handbell choir for 18 years. I play in bar bands, usually bass, but sometimes guitar or drums. I have recorded and released (publicly, unfortunately) a couple of albums of my original songs. This was before I became aware that I do not really posess any talent for poetry. It is a hard lesson to learn and embarrassing to accept. You should all burn your poetry before someone finds it. Between 1 AM and 4 AM on weeknights, I sleep. People say “well, he sure doesn’t let any grass grow under his feet,” not that I ever understood that expression, since it can’t really grow if you’re standing on it.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:
I will say that I am planning a second volume of essays on rock (already have some of it written) and that I will have similar volumes on film, on television, and on popular literature. All of these are written in part because I have a number of essays in various Open Court volumes, as well as some with other publishers, that can be conscripted into service in these other projects. I am also hard at work on the Great American Novel that we all so foolishly believe we possess.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: The full Prologue (that sad thing) is available on the Look Inside function on the Amazon page (as is Luke Dick’s Foreword, and a few pages of the first chapter on the Stones. That should be enough. It is interesting to me that the publishers/editors said nothing about the Prologue, given how . . . oh, I don’t know  . . . how not upbeat it is.

LOCAL OUTLETS: It’s at Barnes & Noble everywhere I’ve checked. Probably won’t be there long unless people buy it 🙂 We have no local stores anymore.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc. Certainly Amazon and barnes & Noble on-line, as well as all the other on-line bookstores I know of.

PRICE: supposed to be $18.95, but all the on-line retailers are going under that. Right at the moment, Amazon says it has one left and will sell it for $9.95 –which is the lowest I’ve seen. I don’t know how many the press printed, but Amazon keeps claiming to run out and saying there are more on the way. I think this is probably bullshit.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR. I am easy to find on on Facebook (unusual last name) and my general e-mail is personalist61@gmail.com I am always happy to hear from people who have read my stuff and I try to reciprocate and read theirs.

Just Another Week in Suburbia

 Just Another Week in Suburbia by [Zig, Les]THE BOOK: Just Another Week in Suburbia.

PUBLISHED IN: 2017.

THE AUTHOR: Les Zig.

THE EDITOR: Lucy Bell was fantastic in picking up things I overlooked, or which weren’t working, while also calling me up on any bad habits that I had. I learned things throughout that edit that I could apply later to my writing.

Image result for Les Zig + author + photosTHE PUBLISHER: Pantera Press.   https://www.panterapress.com.au They’re an independent publisher focused on investing in the next generation of writers. They also use a percentage of revenue to invest in literary charities and not-for-profits.

SUMMARY:  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.)

THE BACK STORY. I’d completed other books prior to beginning work on JAWiS., but nothing had been published. I felt that with these books, I’d overwritten and also been inhibited, worrying what people would think of what I was writing. So I decided that this book would be the one where I just let go and spilled everything onto the page. The first draft took about four months to write throughout 2012, while I was rehabilitating a broken leg. In 2013, it was selected for the Hachette Manuscript Development Program. It was then rejected by the bulk of other publishers, some of whom gave me feedback that they really liked it but thought they mightn’t be able to market it. Pantera didn’t feel that way. It’s flattering and humbling when you find somebody who believes in your writing — and the stories you want to tell.

WHY THIS TITLE? The title is meant to be an irony about life in suburbia. When the idea first came to me, I thought it would interesting to explore over the course of a week, with that time frame providing the structure for what would happen.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 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. 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.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Zig’s unsettling work peels back the white, middle class veneer so many of us recognise from suburban life in Australia, compelling us to reflect on the hidden lives of those around us.” — Andrew Poole, 2SER/Tuesday Book Club.

“Zig has written this fabulous deliciously naughty book called Just Another Week in Suburbia … with such humour and grace and with such grace with such powers of beauty and observation that I really enjoyed it. He does it so well.” — Rob MNinshull, ABC Radio Brisbane.

“A stunningly polished psychological debut ruminating on issues of doubt, dissatisfaction, and temptation in even the most seemingly secure relationships. Just Another week in Suburbia tells the intricate story of love’s instability, the volatile nature of trust, and asks whether we can ever truly know another person. Zig masterfully delves into the fears and

fixations within us all, showing how one small event can unhingee the human psyche.” — Net Galley Roundup.

“… engaging … honest and relatable. It was difficult to put down because the story was so compelling. I just had to know what happened next. At one point my heart was pounding, and I couldn’t read fast enough … captivating.” — Jordan Reads Too Much

AUTHOR PROFILE: I have a second book coming out later this year, entitled August Falling. I’ve had short stories and articles published in various print and digital journals, and three screenplays optioned. My belief in writing has always been that story is paramount. I want people to read something I’ve written and enjoy the journey they’ve taken.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I find nowadays that I’ve been writing about characters whose liveshave come apart, and that they’re in a mentally vulnerable state. I think this stems from my own experience with anxiety and depression over the decades, so I see these characters as trying to take a similar journey, finding within themselves the inner strength not only to survive, but to take ownership of their lives and build something for themselves.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER (See the author’s Amazon page).

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository.

PRICE: About $29.99 for the paperback, about $10.00 for the ebook, although prices will vary depending on the retailer.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Les Zig.
Email:

info@leszig.co

Weather Report, April 23

Image result for Led Zeppelin + photos +_ free

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.

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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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Portland

Miss Portland: A Novel (The Orison Fiction Prize) by [Ebenbach, David]THIS WEEK’S TWO OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “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.


THE BOOK: Miss Portland

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR:  David Ebenbach

THE EDITOR
: Luke Hankins, a literary champion!

THE PUBLISHER
: Orison Books: “the kind of work we seek to publish has a transcendent aesthetic effect on the reader, and reading it can itself be a spiritual experience.”

David Harris EbenbachSUMMARY: I think the summary written by my editor is the best one: After years of medicated struggle, 34-year-old Zoe quits her office job and moves into a trailer with her boyfriend in rural Maine against her family’s wishes and her doctor’s advice. After all, she has big plans with Gordy, a goateed vegetarian with thoughtful eyes and a job at a yoga studio and, as it turns out, an unfortunate desire to always be in control. But when a late-night argument turns violent, Zoe runs away in search of a mystical beach house she recalls from childhood, only to discover that in order to find it, she must reckon with her past. In electric prose that burns with wit and intelligence, Miss Portland explores what it means to give up everything in order to recover who you are.

THE BACK STORY
: I’ve had important people in my life who have struggled with bipolar disorder (like my character Zoe), and their experiences—along with my own experiences with depression—made me want to tell this story. And in fact at first it was supposed to be a story—as in, a short story. I thought I was writing something that would run maybe ten pages. But Zoe’s life was bigger than that, and I fell for her, and soon the pages started piling up; I wanted to stay with her to find out where she was really going. Readers tell me they’re glad I stuck with it.

WHY THIS TITLE? For me, the title has several meanings. Zoe is throwing everything into moving to this new town in Maine, and in that sense she’s trying to become “Miss Portland.” At the same time, her decision to move was not well thought out, so there’s a real chance that, in trying to hit a bullseye with this moving, she’ll actually “miss.” But at its most literal, the “Miss Portland” is a real diner, and an important early scene takes place there. Maybe you’ll find additional meanings beyond the ones that have occurred to me.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
People have enjoyed this book for its journey, for its humor, and for its nuanced exploration of an experience of mental illness. People of all kinds tell me they enjoy and identify with the main character, who is a bit off-balance but absolutely determined. Miss Portland is also a great choice for book groups, as this book group host will tell you.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“An important and touching depiction of the complexities of selfhood and being with mental illness….[its] success also rests on Ebenbach’s ability to see Zoe in all her dimensions, not simply as a collection of symptoms, an object of fascination, or a problem to be solved…..Ebenbach delivers an absorbing, suspenseful story of emotional depth and complexity.”

—Margaret Luongo, Fiction Southeast

“A moving paean to becoming the place where you belong….a complex, intimate, and deeply humane portrait of a person whose experience of the world is both alternate and poignantly familiar….Zoe’s quest for a happy ending may take her to Portland, Maine, but, ultimately, it leads her back to herself.”

—Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword Reviews

 “Anybody who has ever tried (again) to make a fresh start, to begin again (again), to give it all another shot someplace else (again), will adore Miss Portland and its hero, Zoe Tussler, a woman who can’t make up her mind about very much, and yet is very much a survivor. Miss Portland is a book that makes not figuring out not only alright, but actually kind of inspiring….This is a very memorable and humane book, the kind of book we need more of.”

—Peter Orner, the judge who awarded Miss Portland the Orison Fiction Prize.

AUTHOR PROFIL
E: Like it says on my website, I’ve been preoccupied with the human condition since 1972. I’m interested in what makes us struggle and what makes us happy. I’m interested in the opportunities and awkwardness that comes from people interacting with other people. I’m particularly interested in how the small things—a quick but provocative conversation, a glimpse of a passing person through a window, suddenly noticing that a tree on your block is in bloom—accumulate and, all together, shape and define so much of who we are.

I’m the author of six books of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, including (on the one hand) a spiritually-minded guide to creativity called The Artist’s Torah and (on the other) a kind of sassy book of short stories called The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy and other stories.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 I think that fiction’s most important job is to increase empathy in the world. My hope is that, if you’ve never gone through anything like what Zoe’s going through, you’ll be moved by, and come to better understand, her experiences. If you have gone through something at all similar, I hope this book will make you feel seen.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Here’s the first paragraph of Miss Portland:

Zoe knew what other people didn’t: she knew that life was perfectible. She knew that, when you were born, life was just handed to you like a pile of mismatched shoes and books and unwashed laundry, and most people thought that you had to carry that stuff around everywhere you went forever. But if you were lucky, at some point you realized you could set all the junk down and walk away from it. You could walk away and find something else that you actually wanted to hold on to. No—something that carried you. Something perfect that carried you. And she knew these things because of Maine.

To view the rest of that chapter, go to David’s Amazon  page.

LOCAL OUTLETS:

Politics & Prose carries the book in Washington, DC, and I think Book Cellar sells it in Chicago, and Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine, for starters—but any local bookstore would be willing to order it if they don’t already have it.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

Powells: http://www.powells.com/book/-9780996439718

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Miss-Portland-Novel-David-Ebenbach/dp/0996439714/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miss-portland-david-ebenbach/1125582013?ean=9780996439718

Orison Books: https://orisonbooks.com/product/miss-portland-a-novel-by-david-ebenbach/

PRICE: The ebook runs from $8.69 (Kindle) to $9.49 (Nook), and the price for the paperback ranges from $16.63 (Amazon) to $18 (Orison or Powells)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Find me on Facebook here, or on Twitter at @debenbach—or reach out to me through my website!

 

Restless Souls

Restless Souls by [Sheehan, Dan]THE BOOK: “Restless Souls.”

PUBLISHED IN: April 10, 2018.

THE AUTHOR:  Dan Sheehan.

THE EDITOR: Sophie Buchan & Jennifer Kerslake (UK), and Robert Lasner (US).

THE PUBLISHER: Ig Publishing, a small, New York-based press devoted to publishing original literary fiction and political and cultural nonfiction.

SUMMARY: Set in the early-mid 1990’s, Restless Souls tells the story of the friendship between three wayward Irish lads in their late twenties. Tom, Karl and Baz grew up together in down-on-its-luck Dublin. Friends since childhood, their lives diverged when Tom left home to be a war correspondent. Now, after three years embedded in the Siege of Sarajevo, he returns a haunted shell of the lad who went away.

Karl and Baz have no idea what they’re doing but they are determined to see him through the darkness, even if it means traveling halfway around the world. Hearing about an unlikely cure at an experimental clinic, they embark on a road trip across California. But as they try to save Tom from his memories, they must confront their own – of what happened to their childhood friend Gabriel. And in doing so, they must ask how their boisterous teenage souls became weighed down, and why life got so damn complicated and sad.

Tenderness and fear … Dan Sheehan.THE BACK STORY: I began this novel in the summer of 2013, in a little wooden library overlooking Lake Tahoe. Research took me to the central California coast, where I marveled at elephant seal rookeries, mysterious cliffside retreats, and roving bands of surfers. It brought me back to Sarajevo, a city I had fallen in love with when I visited back in 2007. And it led me home to Ireland, to old memories of growing up in Dublin.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Restless Souls is the name of the experimental PTSD clinic that the characters are desperately trying to reach in the novel, but I also wanted a title that would evoke the mental and emotional state of the characters at this point in their lives.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The novel is a sort of hybrid–a blending of tragedy, comedy, and road trip quest narrative. It’s a story about male friendship and how that can fracture and change as men grow up and apart. It’s an depiction of the ripple effects of suicide on those left behind. It’s also a love story and a war story, partially set inside the city of Sarajevo, whose inhabitants were subjected to the longest siege in the history of modern warfare back in the early-to-mid 1990s. I believe it’s a novel that will resonate with readers who enjoy tragicomedy, tales of wartime resilience, and stories of friendship, memory, and loss.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“A great rattlebag of a novel, RESTLESS SOULS turns genre inside out. At turns comedic, at turns literary, at turns thriller, at turns philosophical, it never stops being a page-turner.” — Colum McCann (National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin).

“Tender and rambunctious and animated by a dauntless faith in human connection, RESTLESS SOULS is a book that that boldly ranges across the borders of nations, decades, and literary genres. Sheehan is a brave new voice in fiction, fusing comedy and heart to explore a friendship transformed by trauma, but vitally, achingly resilient nevertheless.” — Alexandra Kleeman (author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine)

“RESTLESS SOULS is a wonderful debut by a talented, intelligent writer who knows how to make you think and make you feel and make you laugh. I devoured it.” —  David Ebershoff (author of The Danish Girl)

“[A] stunning and moving debut novel … Sheehan’s blend of breathless action, unsentimental depictions of love, and spot-on period touches will appeal to readers who like their hopeful narratives tinged with powerful uncertainties.”

-(Publishers Weekly Starred Review).

AUTHOR PROFILE: Dan Sheehan is an Irish fiction writer, journalist, and editor. He is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. His writing has appeared in The Irish Times, GQ, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, TriQuarterly, Words Without Borders, Electric Literature, and Literary Hub, among others. He lives in New York, where he is the Book Marks editor at Literary Hub and a contributing editor at Guernica Magazine, and was a recipient of the 2016 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellowship. He lives with his wife in Harlem, New York.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: This is a story that’s been very close to my heart for some time now, and it’s a wonderful (if a little daunting!) feeling to be able to send it out into the world. I hope it strikes a chord with readers–that they come to know and care for these characters as I do. The researching and writing of this book has been an incredible journey, one that has brought me to places and people I’ll never forget. I’m incredibly grateful to all those who shared their stories with me, including survivors of the Siege of Sarajevo, researchers in the fields of neuroscience and PTSD treatment, and those who have suffered though depression and the loss of a loved one through suicide. Their strength, determination, and perseverance has been a true inspiration.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: The opening chapter of Restless Soulshttps://www.guernicamag.com/restless-souls/

LOCAL OUTLETS (Manhattan): Book Culture, McNally Jackson, Housing Works.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Restless-Souls-Dan-Sheehan/dp/1632460661/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=.

PRICE: $16.95 (retail paperback), $10.99 (Kindle).

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Website: dan-sheehan.net.

Twitter: @danpjsheehan

Clutching Lambs

Image result for Janet Passehl + poet + photosTHE BOOK: Clutching Lambs

PUBLISHED IN: 2015

THE AUTHOR:  Janet Passehl

THE EDITOR
: Megan Carey

THE PUBLISHER
: Negative Capability Press, Mobile, Alabama

SUMMARY:  Clutching Lambs brings together poems that are driven by language itself, wrought against a hidden background of peril and loss. The poems are haunted by the vulnerable— women, children, the occasional man or wild animal. This is an emotional book. Architecture and the natural world frame the psychological content. There estrangement from religious faith, the sense that one will not be protected, a lesson I learned repeatedly and at too young an age. My background as a visual artist impacts this book via my use of imagery as well as my occasional use of ekphrasis as a starting point.

The poems in Clutching Lambs are not intended to be parsed for story, but to be entered and experienced as extended lingual, visual, and aural moments that are simultaneously inhabited by the numinous and the concrete.

Clutching Lambs is divided into three sections whose titles are emblematic of its themes, tones, and language. These titles are, “Liquescence”; “body: any bounded aggregate of matter”; and “(C)love(n)”. Together, they pretty much say it all, about the fluidity, boundaries, and the schismatic nature of the human experience.

THE BACK STORY: The poems in Clutching Lambs were written over a period of about four or five years (except for one title, Bleat and Sigh Night, a line I wrote about twenty-five years ago and never forgot). I didn’t set out to write a book but at a certain point decided to put everything together to see what I had. I was surprised at the consistency of the themes that emerged when I began to sort what had seemed like disparate poems. Once I realized that I had what amounted to a statement, I felt a great sense of urgency to see the book published.

WHY THIS TITLE?:  I arrived at the title through brainstorming, reading old drafts of poems, and so on. The title does a lot of work in terms of the language and themes in the book. The two words are completely at odds with one another in their connotations, but both have sonic and visual tactility. Together they create plasticity and ambiguity. Clutching connotes unwelcome, even ugly, grasping, but also clinging in desperation. Lambs are the innocents, and in religious terms may be either the protected flock, or the sacrificed. Shortly after I settled on the title, which was long before I had a publisher, I went to Naples, the city of my ancestry, for the first time. It was an emotional trip for me in part because my mother had recently died. Neapolitan artisans are famous for making terracotta figurines, and there I found a figurine of a shepherd clutching the bleeding lamb, which ended up on the cover of the book. The figure is ambiguous—did the shepherd slaughter the lamb, or is he rescuing it? The figurine became a talisman during the time I was looking for a publisher.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The ideal audience would consist of creative thinkers who are willing and able to digest poetry in unexpected ways. Last year I was invited to give a reading in front of a display of some of my drawings. My drawings are completely non-representational and just consist of lines, single or grouped. A psychiatrist in the audience told me later that while I was reading, she watched the drawings turn into landscapes, and when I stopped reading, they went back to being just linear. A recent reader of Clutching Lambs told me she felt as if she were physically chewing on language. In form, language, and imagery, the book is full of surprise. There are two long prose poems in the last section that are a response to Gertrude Steins’ Tender Buttons. They’re wild and dark and funny.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

 

“These poems with an artist’s sensibility leave all our senses – taste, smell, sight an sound and the nameless one that registers presence – more alive and open.” — Philip Gross

“Janet Passehl is . . . a scrupulous constructor of poems so unsettling, tender, inventive, and mysterious that savvy readers are sure to embrace Clutching Lambs.” — Jeanne Marie Beaumont.

“The mood of Janet Passehl’s marvelous collection is wintry, a chiaroscuro of sudden bright flashes and shadowy figures . . . “ — Ann Lauterbach

AUTHOR PROFILE:  “I’ve been a visual artist for about thirty years, exhibiting in the U.S., Europe and Australia. I joke that I wasn’t making enough money so I decided to become a poet. Early in my art practice I combined writing and assemblage, but at a certain point decided to see how much I could convey with materials alone, and I eliminated words. Then, about twelve years ago during a flight to San Francisco to visit my sister, I felt suddenly compelled to write poetry. I had been writing sporadically throughout my life, but had never before felt such urgency. Fortuitously, I had brought along a notebook, so I started right there on the plane, and continued during all hours of the night, thanks to jet-lag, and while riding the bus around the city— stealing snippets of conversations, signage etc. Within a year or so I was enrolled in Stonecoast Writers Program at the University of Southern Maine, from which I graduated in 2010.

“I still maintain an active art practice, including a show coming up in May at 57W57Arts in New York City. Examples of my poems can be see in several issues of Caliban On-line, including Issues 7, 13, 17, and 30.

“I live in a small riverside town near the coast. The view from my window is of estuarial wetlands, and they seep into my poems. My husband Chris, also an artist, and I inhabit a renovated 1950s modern home with our current greyhound Lee Lee Belle, and the ghosts of greyhounds past.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Excerpt from “Bleat and Sigh Night”

Dear Gertrude, I want to, I badly want to. Does the bone protruding from my ear shock you? Character can change when a bone is thrown. An occasion is stirring so don’t be surprised if there is nothing to eat. Cake is not nourishment but solace and solace is silence and statutes shake the mountain douse the tender. Darkness ignites training retraining shivering and more flammable drinking. Expiration stops a spark and on the whole binds us. River ringing the mountain is C.

There is little more to sing but much to chop. Do not be sheepish. Eat the chop chiefly but do not chop the lamb. She is more than a little. Whisper, whisper against hearing.

(Copyright Janet Passehl, courtesy of Negative Capability Press.)

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon

PRICE: $15.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: janetpassehl@gmail.com