Song of Songs

This week’s other featured books, “The Insatiables,” by Brittany Terwilliger and “Echoes in the Mist,” by Karen Batshaw, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba by [Graham , Marc]THE BOOK: Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba

PUBLISHED IN: April 2019

THE AUTHOR: Marc Graham

THE EDITOR: Kristina Blank Makansi

THE PUBLISHER: Blank Slate Press, an imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group

SUMMARY: Lift the veil of legend for the untold story of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and Bathsheba, wife and mother of Israel’s first kings.

Marc GrahamWhen Makeda, the slave-born daughter of the chieftain of Saba, comes of age, she wins her freedom and inherits her father’s titles along with a crumbling earthwork dam that threatens her people’s survival. When she learns of a great stone temple being built in a land far to the north, Makeda leads a caravan to the capital of Yisrael to learn how to build a permanent dam and secure her people’s prosperity.

On her arrival, Makeda discovers that her half-sister Bilkis (also known as Bathsheba) who was thought to have died in a long-ago flash flood, not only survived, but has become Queen of Yisrael. Not content with her own wealth, Bilkis intends to claim the riches of Saba for herself by forcing Makeda to marry her son. But Bilkis’s designs are threatened by the growing attraction between Makeda and Yetzer abi-Huram, master builder of Urusalim’s famed temple. Will Bilkis’s plan succeed or will Makeda and Yetzer outsmart her and find happiness far from her plots and intrigue?

THE BACK STORY: Like many people, I’ve known the Queen of Sheba legend since I was a child. When I joined Freemasonry in my 20s, however, I discovered a legend I’d never heard before. The building of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem is the foundational myth of Freemasonry, where Solomon and his temple-builder, Hiram Abiff, are committed partners in the work. This one legend, however, tells of a love triangle between Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and Hiram Abiff. While my story takes somewhat of a different track, discovering this myth planted the seed for what became Song of Songs.

WHY THIS TITLE: The biblical story of the Queen of Sheba consists of a mere thirteen verses in the book of 1 Kings. It is widely speculated, however, that the rather erotic poetry of the Song of Solomon (sometimes called Canticles or Song of Songs) has its roots in the love story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Again, my story takes a very different track than the traditional stories, but these songs in part laid the foundation for it.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: This is not a simple retelling of the Sunday school story. The novel is a distillation of Hebrew, Arabic, Ethiopian, and Masonic myths, coupled with the latest in archaeological and epigraphic findings. While the legends that have come down to us have a distinct political or religious agenda, I’ve tried to look back through the lens of those agendas to get at what might be the story behind the legends. Lovers of Wilbur Smith’s or Christian Jacq’s stories of ancient Egypt will be right at home in the pages of Song of Songs.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

  • “A rousing plunge into the power politics of the ancient world, peopled with legendary characters.” — Margaret George, NYT Bestselling Author
  • “With lyrical prose and a keen sense of time and place, Marc Graham sweeps us into this dramatic and unknown tale of rivalry, passion, and the quest for freedom behind the Biblical myth. SONG OF SONGS resonates with historical truth, but never sacrifices the hearts of the fabled women who actually lived it.” – C.W. Gortner, author of THE ROMANOV EMPRESS
  • “A stirring novel of love, lust and vengeance, restoring the lost feminine voice to one of the great Biblical tales.  You will never think of the Queen of Sheba the same way again.”  — Kamran Pasha, author of Mother of the Believers and Shadow of the Swords.
  • “Graham delivers a gripping tale of treachery, betrayal, and hope, perfectly blended with characters to adore and despise. A winning story worthy of high praise.” — Wendy Terrien, international bestselling author
  • “Marc Graham regales us with a masterful retelling of a story we believe we already know. His prose breathes life into ancient characters and serves as a bridge across the gulf of history so we may experience their all too relatable motivations.” — Michael F. Haspil, author of Graveyard Shift

AUTHOR PROFILE: Marc Graham is an actor, singer, bard, engineer, Freemason, and whisky aficionado (Macallan 18, one ice cube). When not on stage, in a pub, or bound to his computer, he can be found traipsing about Colorado’s Front Range with his wife and their Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0ir7biqxlp7mc5l/AACDGUoPXfjmVbCvrK0mnKp7a?dl=0

LOCAL OUTLETS: Tattered Cover, Book Bar, Barnes & Noble

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, IndieBound

PRICE: $17.95 paperback, 12.95 ebook

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: author@marc-graham.com, https://www.marc-graham.com

The Insatiables

The InsatiablesTHE BOOK: The Insatiables

PUBLISHED IN: 2018

THE AUTHOR:  Brittany Terwilliger

THE EDITOR
: Jenny Miller, Cassandra Farrin

THE PUBLISHER
: Amberjack Publishing

SUMMARY: Since she was a child, Halley has been desperate to escape her simple Midwestern town and reinvent herself. In Dayton, Ohio, the only way to do that is by landing a top-tier position at Findlay Global Manufacturing, Inc.

Brittany TerwilligerSpending her days as a lowly assistant in a shared cubicle, Halley is ecstatic when a new job opening presents an extraordinary opportunity: a chance to relocate to Europe to launch a new product. For Halley Faust, this job is the epitome of the American dream, and she will do anything to get it.  She soon begins to understand that ruthless guile is the only path to success, and the harder she chases after her dangerously decadent American dream, the more her dreams seem to elude her. Ultimately, Halley must decide how much she is willing to sacrifice in pursuit of a life that may very well be a fantasy.

The Insatiables details a young woman’s climb up the corporate ladder and the irrevocable choices she must make to survive.

THE BACK STORY
: I started writing The Insatiables while I was living and working in Europe. I would send emails to my family and friends back home, mostly about the absurd situations I’d find myself in as a foreigner traveling on business, struggling with local languages and bumbling through, and my mom and a couple of my friends used to read these emails out loud to everyone in their offices because they all thought they were so funny. After a while, several people suggested I write a book. So, I thought, why not?

All the writers who are reading this now are no doubt thinking “ha, idiot,” because, as I quickly learned, writing a book is really hard! I spent three months putting all of my stories on paper, and what I ended up with was a series of poorly written essays about my life, which were only interesting to people who knew me. It was total crap, full of clichés and dumb jokes. It had no through-line. It was boring at parts, in a very you-had-to-be-there sort of way. The characters were based on real people, so they were not very interesting or dramatic. I gave it to a few friends to read, and it was so bad that no one even knew how to tell me what was wrong with it.

So, what did I do? I picked up a few books on craft and started attending workshops. Since I had done the work to get this far, I felt like I needed to see it through.

Five years, 4 craft books, 2 workshops (one of which was Tin House, which helped me enormously), 2 professional editors, and at least 10 full rewrites later, the book was accepted by a small press and finally published. The final book doesn’t at all resemble what I started with—it is completely fictional, and therefore much more interesting—which is a good thing.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The story is about a bunch of people who are never satisfied… “insatiables,” if you will. There’s more explanation of the title towards the end of the book, but it’s a plot point that I don’t want to spoil for anyone who might decide to read it.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
It’s fun, and it has something to say. It seems to resonate especially well with people who have worked for large companies. There’s friendship, betrayal, travel, corporate satire, and a goldfish named Phil Collins. How can you go wrong? 

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“A humorous and thought-provoking tale about searching for the ever elusive brass ring.” — -Kirkus Reviews

“This well-written story examines our desire for success and recognition, and what it means to win and lose.” — Washington Independent Review of Books

“One of the best inside looks at the madness of contemporary corporate capitalism you’re likely to find.” — New Pop Lit Extra

AUTHOR PROFIL
E: Brittany Terwilliger grew up in the Midwest and graduated from Indiana University. She is the Managing Editor at Pithead Chapel, and her novel, The Insatiables, was published by Amberjack Publishing in 2018. She lives in New York.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: At its heart this book is about the failure of the American dream, how our dreams can be used to manipulate us into consuming, and how our relentless desire for more—in the workplace, in families, in love—is necessary but also destructive.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: See Amazon page.

LOCAL OUTLETShttps://www.indiebound.org/book/9781944995591

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Insatiables-Brittany-Terwilliger/dp/1944995595/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520177340&sr=8-1&keywords=the+insatiables+by+Brittany+terwilliger

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-insatiables-brittany-terwilliger/1128061692#/

Books A Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Insatiables/Brittany-Terwilliger/9781944995591

Target: https://www.target.com/p/insatiables-by-brittany-terwilliger-paperback/-/A-53992333

Wal Mart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Insatiables/974648262

PRICE: $14.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Find my email address and all of my social media handles on my website,

www.BrittanyTerwilliger.com

Echoes in the Mist

Echoes in the Mist by [Batshaw, Karen]

Karen Batshaw

THE BOOK: Echoes in the Mist

PUBLISHED: 2016

THE AUTHOR: Karen Batshaw

THE PUBLISHER: Create Space

SUMMARY: On a fateful night, an infinite echo from another time whispers to two strangers. American Julia arrives in Greece, eager to join the excavation of the Acropolis. Although female archaeologists are practically unheard of in 1878, her father had encouraged her passion for it. But his death on the voyage may have changed everything for Julia. Wealthy merchant Stephano Stenopolous waits on shore determined to intercept a courier before his information falls into enemy hands. Julia’s life is at risk as she becomes entangled in a web of espionage and deceit and finds herself drawn ever closer to the handsome Greek stranger. Echoes in the Mist transport the reader to the enchanted splendor of Greece – where dangerous intrigue, superstition and passion come together in an exciting, fast paced sensual romantic thriller.

THE BACK STORY: I visited Greece many years ago and was drawn to the story of the plunder of the Elgin Marbles in the 19th century. I was also drawn to the warmth of the Greek people.  It took me several years to write this novel. I especially enjoyed creating the hero who is a sexy fabulous man.

WHY THIS TITLE? Echoes comes from the reincarnation part of the story. The Mist is the nebulous part of the story, where villains and heroes are not what they seem.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My story is filled with passion, plot twists and turns, fabulous characters, including a touch of the paranormal. It also gives the reader a vivid description of Greece and the Greek islands.

REVIEWS:

“Echoes in the Mist” is a beautifully-written sweeping saga set in the fascinating world of 19th century Greece. The story is focused on an educated American woman captivated by archeology, who despite all cultural odds, is determined to succeed in her goal. Her story is set against the romantic back-drop of the Parthenon and the beauty of Greece. Her adventures lead her into the path of handsome, worldly businessman Stephano, who hides his secret life as a Greek patriot. The dangers and political intrigue of the period lead Julia and Stephano on a journey that is filled with mysteries, revelations, and touched with extraordinary echoes of the past. A wonderful exciting, romantic tale that will keep you fascinated and turning the pages to the very end.

Julia is an American woman ahead of her time, in a country that binds her to its past. Stephano is a man of proud tradition helping lead that country into an independent future. When these two meet their bold courage and spirit ignites a firestorm of intrigue, duplicity, danger, romance and passion. Their story is set in 19th century Greece when the country’s treasures are being plundered by foreign opportunists and the culture and very way of life is being threatened by Turkish oppression. Woven into this tale of betrayal, struggle, and intrigue is a story of predestined love and unconditional devotion between Julia and Stephano. From the streets of Athens and the hills of the Acropolis, to the beauty of the Greek isles and mountains, the author takes you on a historical and sensual tour of the people, the geography and everyday culture of the Greek people. This book is exciting, riveting, sexy and informative.

In 1878 Julia Henderson travels to Greece to do archeology at the Acropolis with her father. On the voyage he dies and she finds herself alone in Greece but wanting to excavate. Right from the beginning of this story mystery and intrigue erupt. Julia meets and is attracted to a Greek, Stephano Stephanopolus who is also attracted to her but has secrets of his own. A fast moving, intriguing mystery begins as Julia and Stephano become involved and secrets of the archeological world unfold. The prose in this work is easy to read with a fast moving style and concise descriptions. Many passages evoke such description that one might think they were in Greece. Although this is a historical romance, it sheds light on the history of Greek archeology as well as chronicling the experience of a strong woman who wants both to be an archeologist and slowly gives in to romantic aspirations. If history, adventure, travel and mystery are your cup of tea< I could not recommend this book more highly.

Book your flight to Greece as soon as you finish it!

AUTHOR PROFILE: I have a masters degree in Social Work and a Bachelors Degree in Anthropology. My interest in anthropology gives me both an interest and an understanding of other cultures. My training in social work helps me to delve into the psyche of the characters.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The plunder of Greece by the European colonial powers is still an unresolved issue today. The Elgin Marbles or as the Greeks call them the Acropolis Marbles remain on display at the Albert and Victoria Museum in London. The English continue to refuse to give them back to their rightful owners. I have a website: kbatshaw.wixsite.com/home

This was my third book. I have two previous books which were western romances., Love’s Journey and Kate’s Journey, both available on Amazon. I then wrote Echoes in the Mist :

I wanted to write a sequel to Echoes in the Mist because I fell in love with the hero and wanted to keep writing about him. As I looked into historical possibilities, it led me to a trip to Tarpon Springs, Florida which has the largest percentage of Greek Americans. It was my trip to Tarpon Springs which led me to begin research on the Greek history of World War II and two more books devoted to this topic. Hidden in Plain Sight and Light and Shadows are historical fiction about 20th century Greece.

 https://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Mist-Karen-Batshaw/dp/1519661355/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

WHERE TO GET IT: All my books are available on Amazon.com.

PRICE: Paperback $13.50, kindle 2.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: kbatshaw@aol.com,. Twitter is Greeksplendor. Web site: https://kbatshaw.wix.site.com/home

Weather Report, July 22

Image

(Queen of Sheba, 1907 painting)

Our currently featured books,  “The Glamshack,” by Paul Cohen, “A Room in Dodge City,” by David Leo Rice, and “Words Spill Out,” by Ann Christine Tabaka, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JULY 22-29

“SONG OF SONGS,” BY MARC GRAHAM.

Writes Marc: “This is not a simple retelling of the Sunday school story. The novel is a distillation of Hebrew, Arabic, Ethiopian, and Masonic myths, coupled with the latest in archaeological and epigraphic findings. While the legends that have come down to us have a distinct political or religious agenda, I’ve tried to look back through the lens of those agendas to get at what might be the story behind the legends. Lovers of Wilbur Smith’s or Christian Jacq’s stories of ancient Egypt will be right at home in the pages of Song of Songs.”

“THE INSATIABLES,” BY BRITTANY TERWILLIGER.

Since she was a child, Halley has been desperate to escape her simple Midwestern town and reinvent herself. In Dayton, Ohio, the only way to do that is by landing a top-tier position at Findlay Global Manufacturing, Inc.

Spending her days as a lowly assistant in a shared cubicle, Halley is ecstatic when a new job opening presents an extraordinary opportunity: a chance to relocate to Europe to launch a new product. For Halley Faust, this job is the epitome of the American dream, and she will do anything to get it.  She soon begins to understand that ruthless guile is the only path to success, and the harder she chases after her dangerously decadent American dream, the more her dreams seem to elude her. Ultimately, Halley must decide how much she is willing to sacrifice in pursuit of a life that may very well be a fantasy.

The Insatiables details a young woman’s climb up the corporate ladder and the irrevocable choices she must make to survive.

“ECHOES IN THE MIST,” BY KAREN BATSHAW

On a fateful night, an infinite echo from another time whispers to two strangers. American Julia arrives in Greece, eager to join the excavation of the Acropolis. Although female archaeologists are practically unheard of in 1978, her father had encouraged her passion for it. But his death on the voyage may have changed everything for Julia. Wealthy merchant Stephano Stenopolous waits on shore determined to intercept a courier before his information falls into enemy hands. Julia’s life is at risk as she becomes entangled in a web of espionage and deceit and finds herself drawn ever closer to the handsome Greek stranger. Echoes in the Mist transports the reader to the enchanted splendor of Greece – where intrigue, superstition and passion come together.

 

 

 

The Glamshack

This week’s other featured books, “A Room in Dodge City,” by David Leo Rice and “Words Spill Out,” by Ann Christine Tabaka, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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The Glamshack by [Cohen, Paul]THE BOOK: The Glamshack

PUBLISHED IN: 2017

THE AUTHOR: Paul Cohen

THE EDITOR: Leland Cheuk

THE PUBLISHER: 7.13 Books

SUMMARY: Reluctant fashion journalist Henry Folsom is in love with Her, an incandescent beauty whose smile is an event. The only problem is Her fiancé. And She’s going to see him for twelve days, while Henry smolders in The Glamshack, his borrowed Silicon Valley pool house and site of their affair. Mesmerized by the American Indian Wars and grasping for the divine, Henry must decide what it means to make his Last Stand. Nominated for a Pushcart Press Editor’s Book Award, The Glamshack is a lyrical and darkly humorous novel about love, divinity and what it means to be a man.

Paul CohenTHE BACK STORY: Writing The Glamshack’s first draft was akin to my experience as a kid riding retired racehorses bareback on my friend’s farm through dark gnarled forest and blurred cornfields, full speed and out of control, face pressed to musty mane, cursing the malicious beast while praising its beauty with howls and snorts. When the draft was done, I believed I felt its slick, quivering power. So began the iterations, which I liken to a series of translations. Horse to Greek, Greek to Latin, Latin to Olde English, etc.

The Glamshack’s publishing history is appropriately twisted. James Salter sent it to an agent who called me a couple months later to say she’d just finished the book and was “breathless, at which point I figured I stood on the cusp fame and fortune. Alas, this didn’t happen. I received glowing rejections from editors and in some cases apologies that they’d tried to acquire the novel but had been shot down by higher ups. One big house editor nominated the novel for a Pushcart Press Editor’s Book Award, a kind of consolation prize for the book you most wanted to buy that year but couldn’t. Then Leland Cheuk, whose 7.13 Books aims to publish the best—and in some cases the best overlooked—literary debuts, asked me to be his first debut. He’s a gifted editor and a man of great integrity, and I was honored to accept.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The Glamshack is the swanky borrowed pool house from which the entire story flows, and to which it returns over and over. The Glamshack is also the sordid abode of one hack journalist, name of Henry, who dares view his woeful love story through the tragic glimmer of an American hero, name of Crazy Horse.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The Glamshack is a lyrical novel with the momentum of a thriller and the emotional range of classical tragedy. That, at least, is the goal. And judging from the feedback, the book may have come close. In his Pushcart nomination letter, Little Brown Executive Editor Josh Kendall called The Glamshack “that rare, uncategorizable novel that . . . serves as a reminder of how very familiar and commonly un-daring contemporary fiction is in general.” And the lit mag Cease Cows says the novel “ . . . reads like a genre all its own: a story of love and obsession, a snapshot of the Bay Area as the 1990’s came to an end, a meditation on history and violence and the Plains Indians Wars of the 19th Century. Throw in a beautiful woman, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, and electric prose that lingers in one’s memory like a favorite song—once you pick up The Glamshack, you won’t put it down.”

REVIEW COMMENTS: “[The Glamshack] fits together like a beautiful puzzle without losing any sense of urgent personal anguish.”— Barnes &Noble Reads 10 Debut Novels for Your Autumn (2017) Reading List.

“In his debut novel, Cohen manages the impressive feat of memorably documenting obsession without surrendering to it.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[With] Joycean vivacity . . . Cohen takes readers on the deepest of dives into the psyche and imagination of a man who is so full of passion that it threatens to swallow him whole.”—Boulder Daily Camera

“Sinewy yet atmospheric, propulsive and probing…The Glamshack represents an audacious attempt to reilluminate (fundamental) mysteries.”—Entropy Magazine

“There is a powerful, innate tension in his writing which comes not only from his voice but from his particular way of looking at things, an unusual way, and in art—in fiction—the only real worlds are likely to be the unusual.”—James Salter, author of A Sport and a Pastime and recipient of the PEN/Faulkner award and Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature.

“There is so much to admire in Paul Cohen’s beauty of a first book. It is smart, sexy, wonder-filled, haunting and oh so marvelously, so humanly strange. Here even meat (venison) can be graceful. Here the heart grows hot, the soul burns dark and Desire blows a thousand horns.”—Laird Hunt, author of The Evening Road (named by the Financial Times a Best Book of 2017) and In the House in the Dark of the Woods

“Funny, intense and brilliant, this is a book about love but also about the self’s ability to withstand love. Every sentence is poetic, magnetized, in love with life. The language in this book cuts so close to the heart of experience that it feels very much like life itself—sacred, invincible, beautiful, full of meaning.”—Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories

AUTHOR PROFILE: Chased by a faceless craving, I fled college, alighting in Utah, where I worked as a ski-lodge handyman and honored the mighty snows by launching off the hotel’s roof, and as a landscaper in Wyoming, where I scaled peaks rope free and slept in a grove of aspens. Back in school I realized the dangerous craving that had pursued me across a continent was none other than the need to write. So began my writing life. I attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop on a teaching scholarship, published non-fiction in The Millions, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The Village Voice, Details and others and fiction in Tin House, Five Chapters, Hypertext and Eleven Eleven. In the awards dept., I’ve won the Prairie Lights Fiction Contest (judged by Ethan Canin), was a finalist in a Black Warrior Review Fiction Contest, received an Honorable Mention in the Glimmer Train Spring 2017 Fiction Open and was named a finalist for the 2016 Big Moose Prize for my novel-in-progress, The Sleeping Indian. I’ve taught writing at UC Berkeley Extension, University of Iowa and University of San Francisco.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Henry’s love for Her is a passionate enslavement. She alone, so he initially believes, holds the enchantment code. Absent Her spark he is a man without a soul. Which brings him to his real fear: that enchantment is not real and the world is a value-less place composed not of “god particles” (to lift a term from physics) but of “madness particles” (to borrow a term from Henry). The problem is, Henry is congenitally unfit to live in spark-less universe. Which makes his struggle, in the sense of the spirit, a battle for survival, and leads him to the Sioux and their war.

In terms of the novel’s form, I tried to create The Glamshack as a full-body narrative experience for the reader—physical, emotional and intellectual. Like music. As for the content, I was shooting for classical tragedy, that venerable scenario wherein the hero’s physical loss is the world’s metaphysical gain.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

THE FIRST DINNER

“Whew,” She says. “You’ve got steep narrow stairs, Henry Folsom. Is that a test?”

“I like to think of my stairs as a passageway.”

“To what?”

“To a sea.”

“Mmm.”

She steps past him. That panther jaw. Sinewed sandaled feet. Resounding down the hall with such confident grace that the observer uninitiated in the subterranean ways of this incandescent being would think this was Her home when, in fact, this evening, this Dinner, marks her inaugural encounter with the Lighthouse.

Henry, offhandedly, palms shut the door, watching her stride toward his dwelling’s center.

#

For this evening, he’s purchased phosphorescent-pink hunks of tuna each shrink-wrapped in plastic. Basmati rice. Living lettuce. Candles.

She would never guess he’s not magic.

She suggests eating the tuna raw.

The fish shines like an excised organ. They stand over it, watching.

“It’s beautiful,” She says.

He says, “I heard they mate for life, tuna.”

“We could be eating somebody’s husband.”

“Wife.”

“If anybody’s gonna get netted,” She says, “it’s the husband.”

“Actually,” says Henry, “it might have been sea bass that mates for life.”

He slices off a hunk. It parts willingly from the main. Henry pours soy sauce into a bowl and sprinkles in coarse ground pepper. He’s never done this before, but as he twists the cap back on the pepper he can feel the sure hand of God on his.

Hands Her the hunk.

“Yours.”

She takes fish between forefinger and thumb. She is looking at him while She does this. Four, five . . . The ceremony of Accepting the Fish from Henry is complete. She turns Her attention to the bowl. Henry has placed short, squat scented candles on the sturdy white table behind them. Many candles. Lit for one half hour before She arrived. Brown and red candles, they have lovelied the scratched white wood with their wax. They provide the only light in the Lighthouse. Through the arched doorway – there are no doors in the apartment, only arches – the dining room/bedroom/living room/study waits like the long night to come.

Here in the kitchen, dusk lingers. In this gray glimmer the soy sauce acquires an inky depth and vibrating shadows hone Her already brutal jaw. She wears an elegant peasant’s shirt, low cut with flecks of color and a silky sheen billowing. Beneath it, Henry senses the belly, the snakelike tautness. Her breasts suggest another animal. The lit-pink meat is pushed into the bowl, under the inky surface until only Her gripping fingers remain, flecked with sauce, capable. Pause, remove. Dipping the Fish becomes Loving the Fish. She does not close Her eyes. This is a woman who does not close Her eyes while She is Loving the Fish. The effect is exhilarating and tense. For long after She swallows She says nothing, expresses nothing. Henry knows better than to ask a question; tastes vulgar and ethereal swim through Her senses, and he is convinced, at this stage

in the ceremony, that only She has the grace and courage to experience them all.

She takes the knife from Henry and cuts him a hunk. She repeats the process only this time, She feeds our man. He mimics Loving the Fish. He believes he experiences all those tastes because it is Her he is with, Her he has learned from.

“Mmm,” he says, and immediately regrets having cheapened the ceremony with such a common response.

“People don’t know how to eat,” She says.

“No,” says Henry, “they don’t.”

“They miss the ritual.”

“They do.”

“They miss so much.”

“I know.”

“I love that you know how to eat.”

She says this and looks him in the eye.

He says, “I know how to eat.”

They carry the table, candles and all, into the living room/bedroom/diningroom/study. Henry grills one of the tuna steaks and they share it. Wine. They don’t touch the salad.

“We’ve made a place,” She says.

#

Candles down to ancient volcanic cones, firelight on lettuce, plates licked by wax. They sit at opposite ends of the table, Henry and Her, and between them lies Italy. The kitchen and the bathroom: other countries. The Balkans, Azerbaijan. Windows: inland seas.

On the couch, he puts his hand on Her leg. They kiss.

“Sounds cheesy,” says Henry, “but maybe we should pull out the bed.”

“It doesn’t sound cheesy,” She says. She sits with back straight, no-nonsense hands clasped churchily in her lap. “It’s practical.”

On the deck, they sit on a short bench, wrapped in a blanket, naked. He is still wrangling with the image of Her walking from his bed to the bathroom. This thing came from my bed. This drowsy predator. Sated, for now. Henry’s redwood rises beside them, shields them from a bone-chip moon. Four stories below lie lovingly tended gardens flushed with color, dark now, invisible. You have to take it on faith and we do, he does, that they are magic, these gardens. The back-building neighbor’s year-round Christmas lights titter like cherubs at the scene on the deck; how they rejoice at mortal joy. Henry wants to say something about how these lights resemble mini-angels but he’s worried she’ll think he’s weird so instead he says the first stupid thing that comes to mind.

“I always wanted to be an Indian,” he says. “In elementary school, junior high too. I’d get off the bus one stop early and run through the woods to my house. One day a week, the day I was allowed to wear sneakers to school, gym day. I would pretend I was an Indian and it made me run faster. One day, I ran by a couple fucking. He looked at me and it scared the hell out of me and I ran fast as any Indian ever ran. I was probably 13 or 14. Always was a late bloomer. You know I had baby teeth in college?”

“Why?”

“Why did I have baby teeth in college?”

She giggles.

“Why was I scared? Because they were, uh, fucking.”

“Why did you want to be an Indian?”

Henry snorts an un-cherubic laugh. “I don’t know. Actually I do. But it’s hard to explain. And embarrassing.”

“More embarrassing than fucking?” She says.

“I . . .” He looks at his blanketed crotch. Is fucking embarrassing? Perhaps it is. Perhaps he never noticed. He should notice things like this, he thinks. Then he says something grand-sounding, something along the lines of: one day, the Indians were breathing freedom and mystery the way they’d done for centuries – the way we breathe air – and the next, that freedom and that mystery were being sucked from their magic atmosphere by a horde of white bugs invading from the east and soon the Indians were, as are all of us now in this tragic almost-post-millennial world, confronted with a choice between martyrdom to mystery – to magic – or the soul-shriveling process of evolution, of de-magification, though truth be told Henry does harbor the hope that a tribe, a band, even just one brave, secretly managed to light upon a third way; to discover deliverance.

She is looking and smiling at him with her head cocked a quarter turn. “When I was fourteen,” She says, “my dad came on to me for the first time.”

“Oh,” says Henry. “Really.”

“He’s homeless now,” She says, “and a paranoid schizophrenic. He sleeps in his car sometimes in my mother’s driveway. They’ve been divorced since I was five. He loved pancakes. He still loves pancakes. I used to beg my mom to make pancakes and pretend to eat mine, and later I’d slip out the door and serve him through the window.”

“Of his car,” Henry says.

“Of his car,” She says. “With syrup and, once in a while, strawberries. I did it for years, until I moved away to college.”

“Your mother never caught on?”

“I don’t know. She might have turned a blind eye. He was an amazing man. Is, amazing. His sight, his courage, they compel a kind of worship.” And then She too says something grand-sounding (is it the influence of the cherubs?), something along the lines of Her father saw to the black-lava center of the world and he did not flinch at what he saw and the demons down there when they saw him seeing them and not only not flinching but singing, singing the theme song to curly-red Annie, the demons got furious and flew and landed on him and never left and because they landed on Her father – Her hero, Her lover, Her flesh – they landed on Her. They never left Her, either.

She turns toward Henry. In Her lioness eyes, a seething invitation: Heal this. The blanket slips off Her shoulder, Her sleek smooth striated shoulder, and Henry suddenly loses the conversation’s mad flow; he remembers only bits of what She just said. In order to say something, to fuel the mad ecstatic flow, he says, “What kind of car?”

“What?”

“What kind of car? Did he sleep in? In the driveway?”

“Jeep Cherokee.”

“I always wanted one of those.”

“You’ve got a nice truck.”

“It’s got no power.”

“In high school I went out with 40-year-old men. I almost became a high class prostitute. I didn’t have any friends in college, and I had times if somebody spoke to me I’d just burst out crying. I don’t know who I am. Or maybe I do.” She inhales loudly. “Maybe I know exactly.”

“Did you ever want to be an Indian?”

“I’m a quarter Cherokee.”

Henry looks up from the shoulder. “And you let me go on like that? God how embarrassing.”

“It’s O.K. A lot of people want to be Indians.”

“That supposed to make me feel better?”

“I don’t know, does it?”

Henry glances at the neighbor’s lighted cherubs. He is charmed near tears. He pulls Her in for a kiss, and this kiss, never before such a kiss, never have lips shifted from solid to sauce, never this puddling, in the brain, in the bones, and though he must know (somewhere) that puddling is a condition often ending in misery, he seems not to care,   for his lips are pressing a question into Hers: “Baby, what do you want?”

LOCAL OUTLETS: Boulder Bookstore (Boulder), Tattered Cover (Denver)

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Walmart (yes Walmart!)

PRICE: $15.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: through my website, paulcohenfiction.com; Facebook handle: paulwcohen. Twitter: coe1212. And while I have you, hats off to Snowflakes—your literary labors, Darrell, are greatly appreciated!

A Room in Dodge City

Image result for David Leo Rice + author + photo

THE BOOK: A Room in Dodge City.

PUBLISHED IN: 2017 (Winner of the 2016 Electric Book Award for a then-unpublished manuscript)

THE AUTHOR: David Leo Rice

THE EDITOR: Leah Angstman

THE PUBLISHER
: Alternating Current Press (http://www.press.alternatingcurrentarts.com/)

SUMMARY: This is a novel composed of short, linked vignettes detailing a nameless drifter’s descent into madness in a bizarre, darkly comic Dodge City of the mind. It takes place in a skewed version of contemporary America, one in which monsters come out of the woodwork and main characters die and are reborn many times, but it’s heavily informed both by the legacy of Westerns shot in Dodge City, and by Eastern European fantastical literature, like Bruno Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles and the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer.

A Room in Dodge City by [Rice, David Leo]This book is the first of a trilogy, focusing on the drifter’s loss of what little identity he began with, and subsequent inability to leave Dodge City. Vol. 2, which comes out next year, focuses on his attempts to find work within the cultish and possibly supernatural Dodge City Film Industry.

THE BACK STORY: I started writing this book in 2011 as a series of short chapters when I needed a reprieve from ANGEL HOUSE (which ended up as my second published novel). That other book was immensely taxing and discouraging at times, so I began the Dodge City project as a way to do something lighter and more fun. I posted each vignette on a WordPress, and thus serialized the story over several years. When the first narrative arc was concluded, I put it all into a single document and re-edited it quite substantially into a standalone novel. My goal was to write in a way that I felt was natural and surprising — I figured that if I could surprise or scare myself, or make myself laugh, then others would enjoy it, as well.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The Dodge City part is pretty straightforward. As for the Room part, I liked how it conjured the image of this drifter holed up alone in a hotel room in an unfamiliar town, and also how it had a meta-element, insofar as the book, like most books, was written within a room. I like working with characters who don’t have a house to live in, but only a single room within the otherwise unfamiliar and often menacing environment of a strange town. That uneasy balance of private and public sparks my imagination.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Many readers have told me that they’d never before read a book simultaneously so strange and so familiar. Dodge City takes place in a recognizably American town, but it infuses a lot from nightmares, folklore, horror movies, and even the looping, ambient structure of video-games into its descriptions of everyday life. I think especially now, when American culture is at a kind of crisis point, the book will resonate with anyone who feels that something in the weave of reality isn’t quite right — and who has both a sense of horror and a sense of humor about this feeling.


REVIEW COMMENTS:

1. A very rewarding read! I opened it and found myself speeding through an avalanche of flashes of the pop-industry-infected delusion that’s the new American frontier. You come to the end with the feeling that some strange justice has been done to dizzying, enigmatic phantoms you had but half-realized to be dealing with every single day. Wholly recommended!

2.There’s much to compare ‘A Room in Dodge City’ to — and indeed, the collection of surreal vignettes are rich with literary allusion and pop culture mashup with bullheads quoting Beckett and the discordant appearance of veteran character actress Linda Hunt — but all comparisons kind of fall short.

Yes, it’s a little like David Cronenberg meets Buffalo Bill Cody. Or, Lewis Carroll as rewritten by Cormac McCarthy. And, in one section, which dives into the folkloric pre-history of the titular Dodge City, I got a whiff of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s shtetl stories (if they were run through a meat grinder and splattered on a canvas of bleached bone). But really, this is a work too singular and weird for any totally satisfying comparison. As we follow an unnamed narrator through a series of episodic hellscapes filled with nightmarish oddballs, a totally beguiling, unsettling image of a place called “Dodge City” emerges that is unlike anywhere you’ve ever been too, but also chillingly familiar.

For all the exquisitely rendered horror, it’s also a surprisingly funny trip. I laughed out loud every time I read the puny name Big Pharmakos— a Greek standup comedian. Dodge City provides this uproariously bleak and incongruous roadside attraction:

“A Dairy Queen whose parking lot marquee reads: ‘Another Day Too Sad For Words: $1.99”

For all its resounding and evocative thrills and chills, this novel is worth way more than the above mentioned DQ offering.

3. David Leo Rice’s A Room in Dodge City has the strange beauty of a Lynch film. Reading it is an experience, which I found inspiring in the best way. The quick prose, the bizarre imagery, the wit and pacing make this book a surreal treasure.

Highly recommended!!!

4.David Leo Rice works a dark magic here in Dodge, his talismans being perceptions of such detail and force that they seem to materialize from a background as dark as the pit. Unnerving and beautiful, hell itself could never be as captivating as the shabby hotel herein, where the whimpering on the other side of a door beckons, and you cannot help but lean into it, your ear to the board, and finally, to lift the latch and turn the knob.

NOTE: HERE IS A RECENT PODCAST IN WHICH DAVID IS DOING A READING FROM “A ROOM IN DODGE CITY.”

Audio from Nov 15 with Grady Hendrix & David Leo Rice

 

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m a writer and animator from Northampton, MA, currently living in NYC. I studied medieval mysticism and modernist literature as an undergrad at Harvard, lived in Berlin for a year, and later did an MFA in fiction at The New School. I’m always interested in situating my work along the two axes of strangeness and sadness, by which I mean I aim to make work that’s surreal, bizarre, and nightmarish, but that also has a definite emotional pull and sincerity, perhaps even a note of sentimentality. If I’m doing my job well, the reader should be weirded out and profoundly moved in equal measure.

Some of my favorite authors are Marquez, Faulkner, Murakami, Clarice Lispector, Kafka, Kobo Abe, Bruno Schulz, Brian Evenson, Steve Erickson, Mariana Enriquez, Thomas Pynchon, William S. Burroughs, and Flannery O’Connor.

These two interviews will tell you a lot about me:

https://believermag.com/logger/an-interview-with-david-leo-rice/

http://weirdfictionreview.com/2017/08/performance-grottos-nameless-drifters-interviewing-david-leo-rice-surrealism/

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I hope to elucidate the strangeness of being an individual in the early 21st century, and also to tie whatever is unique about that strangeness to more trans-historical and universal human themes. I believe that every era is unique, and yet within that uniqueness the same patterns and cycles play out, so art and literature are perhaps the best ways we have to explore what those patterns are, and how they manifest in our current lives.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Here’s a link to a Dodge City excerpt:

http://weirdfictionreview.com/2017/08/room-dodge-city-vol-2-excerpt-harmless-slaughterer/

WHERE TO BUY IT:

https://www.amazon.com/Room-Dodge-City-David-Rice/dp/1946580007/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503625863&sr=8-1&keywords=a+room+in+dodge+city

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-room-in-dodge-city-david-leo-rice/112546873

PRICE: $13.99 print / $4.99 e-book

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: My website is: www.raviddice.com, my email is raviddice@gmail.com, and I’m on Twitter: @Ravid Dice 

And here’s my Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16296226.David_Leo_Rice

 

Words Spill Out

THE BOOK: Words Spill Out

PUBLISHED IN: English / USA

THE AUTHOR: Ann Christine Tabaka

THE EDITOR: Raja Williams

THE PUBLISHER: CTU Publishing Group

SUMMARY: Poetry with B&W photographs

THE BACK STORY: Ann Christine Tabaka has been writing poetry for over 50 years.  She started publishing her work in 2017.  This is the latest progression of her work.

WHY THIS TITLE: Because words just keep spilling out of me.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It is poetry that takes you on a journey of the heart and mind.

Ann Christine TabakaREVIEW COMMENTS:

“In this, her eighth book, ‘Words Spill Out,’ Ann Christine Tabaka has created a montage with her poetic works; expansive in its varied, yet beautiful content. The poet takes us on her journey of captured memories, experiences, and emotions. She creates captivating imagery with her words. She has also included lovely photographic imagery; a beautiful addition to her words. .Ms. Tabaka is a skilled writer, traditional in style, utilizing her beautiful flow of words and cadence. A treasure, this book will be picked up time and again by the reader. The subject matter encompasses so many subjects, painting her own pictures in poetry and prose. A perfect collection for all poetry lovers! – Brenda-Lee Ranta, author of Heart Sounds.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry, has been internationally published, and won poetry awards from numerous publications. She is the author of 9 poetry books.  Christine lives in Delaware, USA.  She loves gardening and cooking.  Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her most recent credits are: Ethos Literary Journal, North of Oxford, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Synchronized Chaos, Pangolin Review, Foliate Oak Review, Better Than Starbucks!, The Write Launch, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, Fourth & Sycamore.

*(a complete list of publications is available upon request)

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Words just keep spilling out.After all this time there seems to be no shortage of words to fill my mind, and the pages of my poetry journals.

Welcome to my eighth book of poetry.  This book holds something for everyone … deep, serious, silly and fun, even a rhyme or two.

SAMPLE: You can “look inside” from my Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1945791667/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

LOCAL OUTLETS: Hockessin Book Shelf: https://hockessinbookshelf.com/

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: CTU Publishing Group: https://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/ann-christine-tabaka-.html
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1945791667/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

PRICE: $12.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: email: tabakaac@aol.com