Weather Report, October 8

Related image(Photo through Grow Practice Grow)

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “FINGERPRINTS OF PREVIOUS OWNERS,” BY REBECCA ENTEL AND “ONE LIFE,” BY DAVID LIDA, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.” OR, JUST CLICK THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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Buying books (or writing them, for that matter) is a lot like ordering food in a restaurant.

Our first instinct is to err on the side of caution — what can I order that will taste good to me and not make me sick? Next, we scan the menu for familiar dishes, and chances are we’ll order one.

I often wondered if the cook (or chef, if it’s an upscale place) back in the kitchen ever shakes his or her head and mutters, “Aw, man. Not another prime rib. Why doesn’t anybody ever eat the octopus with turnips and cauliflower?”

Books are like that, too. We all have our favorite authors, and we know they probably won’t let us down. Beyond that, we tend to lock ourselves into a certain genre or subject matter.

The thing is, the world is full of dramatic stories and fascinating people that never get written about, because they’re the octopus with cauliflower. Personally, though, I’d much rather learn about an interesting stranger than wade through yet another biography of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln or the Beatles. Or, if it’s fiction, it’s nice to be able to say: “What a cool idea. Why didn’t I think of that?”

For example, the summary for one of this week’s Snowflakes in a Blizzard books,  “Peter’s Moonlight Photography and Other Stories,” explains: “The title story of Dina Rabadi’s debut fiction collection follows an aging moonlight photographer’s quest for success and his models’ (all ordinary women) quest for a sense of beauty.”

How could you not want to read this? What makes it compelling, I think, is the way the  dreams of the photographer and his subjects overlap. The camera, is this case, serves as a bridge between them, and that has intriguing possibilities.

Meanwhile, have you ever heard of Barbara Newhall Follett? Let Lynn Schmeidler, author of “History of Gone,” tell you about her:

“History of Gone is a collection of poems inspired by the life and unsolved disappearance of Barbara Newhall Follett, a once-famous child prodigy writer of the early 20th century. By the age of 14, BNF had published two books to glowing reviews and H.L. Mencken was congratulating her parents for raising her. She was expected to be the Next Great American Writer. Instead, her father left; she and her mother set sail on an open-ended sea voyage; The Great Depression hit, and she found work as a secretary; she met a fellow free spirit, travelled to Europe with him for a few months and returned to marry him. Then, one December night in 1939, after arguing with her husband, Barbara left the house with a notebook and $30. She was never seen nor heard from again. She was 25.”

Disappearing people have become a literary staple, of course (“Gone Girl,” etc.), because they offer so many narrative possibilities. But this is a real case, and Lynn manages to carve out her own niche by approaching the story through poetry.

The third book featured this week is Don Tassone’s “Get Back,” also a collection of stories. Says Don:

“In a busy world, we can lose touch with who we really are and where we belong. This is a collection of 12 stories about people who, through time and circumstances, have become separated from their true selves — and, in one way or another, get back.”

And yes, the title was inspired by the Beatles’ song of the same name.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, OCTOBER 9-15.

“PETER’S MOONLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY AND OTHER STORIES,” BY DINA RABADI.

Says Dina: “My work tends to explore larger life questions that I am in the process of figuring out. I would love to have my readers join me in figuring these things out together! Between work and bills and social visits and dentist appointments, we have such limited time to reflect on these larger questions—questions about loneliness, grief, obsession and reconciliation. I hope my stories give my readers a chance to do that.

“HISTORY OF GONE,” BY LYNN SCHMEIDLER.

According to Lynn, “I first heard about Barbara Newhall Follett from an article written in a literary magazine. I was immediately taken with her story— the early promise, the mysterious disappearance, and I soon found I couldn’t get her out of my mind. How could this woman who’d once been so famous be so utterly forgotten? Soon I became obsessed not only with her life, but with the themes it illuminated: creativity, femininity, autonomy, erasure.  I wrote the poems over a couple of years, both hearing Barbara’s voice in my ear and seeing my own world through her eyes, so throughout that time, she was both my muse and my mirror.”

“GET BACK,” BY DON TASSONE.

Writes one reviewer: “Don Tassone’s stories, like so much of what we love to read, are about the boy next door, growing up and finding a way in the world — a way that often involves finding a way back to one’s first loves and dreams. Take a break from the over-serious world we live in and spend time remembering the way it was, the way it sometimes can be again. Though loss and sadness are here, this is ultimately a joyful, hopeful book.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fingerprints of Previous Owners

Fingerprints of Previous Owners by [Entel, Rebecca]THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOK, “ONE LIFE,” BY DAVID LIDA, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY. OR, CLICK THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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THE BOOK: Fingerprints of Previous Owners

PUBLISHED IN: 2017

THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Entel

THE EDITOR: Olivia Taylor Smith

THE PUBLISHER: The Unnamed Press

SUMMARY: At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins.

Image result for Rebecca Entel + author + photosRapt by the crumbling walls of the once slave-owner’s estate, she explores the unspoken history of the plantation— a site where her ancestors once worked the land, but which the resort now uses as a lookout point for tourists. When Myrna discovers a book detailing the experiences of slaves, who still share a last name with the majority of the islanders, her investigation becomes deeply personal, extending to her neighbors and friends, and explaining her mother’s self-imposed silence and father’s disappearance. A new generation begins to speak about the past just as racial tensions erupt between the resort and the local island community when an African-American tourist at the resort is brutally attacked. Suffused with the sun-drenched beauty of the Caribbean, Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a powerful novel of hope and recovery in the wake of devastating trauma. In her soulful and timely debut, Entel explores what it means to colonize and be colonized, to trespass and be trespassed upon, to be wounded and to heal.

THE BACK STORY:  I began writing this book while teaching on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas. I was intrigued by the layers of history, the cultural contrasts between the island community and the international resort, and the beach where garbage washed up from all over the world(!). Most significantly, I was struck by the historical ruins that weren’t being preserved and only seemed of interest to outsider researchers like me. I began imagining a fictional island in which the ruins of slavery were not just unpreserved for historians but actually off-limits for people in the community. Inspired by my own experiences machete-ing my way to ruins on San Salvador, I began this story about a young woman determined to uncover aspects of her history no matter what she had to risk. I’ve been traveling to the island since 2010 both to do research and to teach Caribbean literature.

WHY THIS TITLE: In the text, “fingerprints of previous owners” refers to the condition of objects in a consignment shop. Thematically, though, the title means much more, referring to the many ways the past leaves its marks on the characters and their world.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  Fingerprints of Previous Owners will appeal to readers interested in reading about young women, work, individual and communal trauma, history, cultural clashes, questions of race, the Caribbean, and stories with a strong sense of place. Fans of literary fiction will appreciate the rich language and the focus on the main character’s psychological journey.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“This is the first novel by Entel, and it is a magnificent one. Her prose is lyrical, luminous, and each detail has been planted as precisely as a foundation stone… both Myrna and Entel seek to unearth a long-buried history; both of them seek to give voice to those who have been silenced. Here’s hoping that Entel follows her first novel with many more. A reckoning with the legacies of colonialism and slavery and their reverberations in the present day.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Rebecca Entel writes with spellbinding intelligence and a deep knowledge of the human heart. Her writing is true and exquisite, serious and fun.” — Lorrie Moore

“FINGERPRINTS OF PREVIOUS OWNERS simmers with implicit and explicit violence, with social and economic injustices, the dichotomy of a hotel so crassly extravagant that it throws away good food daily while locals brew tea from wild leaves or eat whatever the poor soil can grow. Beautifully written, it is bleak, stark; as uncompromising as the island’s soil and as wrenching as the haulback shrubs that guard its secrets. Audacious, heartfelt and realistic, I found myself immersed in the perverted paradise of this island world, rooting for the characters I came to care so much about. ” —Maxine Case, author of ALL WE HAVE LEFT UNSAID

“Entel’s delicately crafted debut explores the relationships between the resort, an economic center that distorts the island’s history for its own purposes, and the local people and the ways the past infuses the present, no matter how hard one tries to forget. Entel gives Myrna a distinctive voice and creates a rich history for the island and its residents. ” —Booklist

“Entel’s novel is brilliant. Through a series of strategic narrative choices, she both inhabits and interrogates the island she created, demonstrating how fiction can expand a reader’s empathy and, even, a writer’s authority.” —Elizabeth Mosier, Cleaver Magazine

“FINGERPRINTS OF PREVIOUS OWNERS is a spellbinding novel that explores colonization and trauma.” —Rachel Léon, Chicago Review of Books

“This richly imagined work from a Cornell College professor of African American and Caribbean literature features a maid at a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation. By night, she digs around, discovering artifacts that unearth the island’s past while speaking loudly to its increasingly tense present. ‘Beautifully descriptive.'” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

AUTHOR PROFILE: Rebecca Entel’s short stories and essays have been published in such journals as Catapult, Guernica, Joyland Magazine, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Cleaver Magazine, and The Madison Review. She is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Cornell College, where she teaches multicultural American literature, Caribbean literature, creative writing, and the literature of social justice. She also teaches fiction workshops for Catapult and the Iowa Writers House. Fingerprints of Previous Owners is her first novel.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I love talking about my book with readers! I visit book groups in person and via video-call. I also have a book group guide on my website: http://rebeccaentel.com/book-clubs/

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Excerpt published in Arcturus: https://arcturus.chireviewofbooks.com/fingerprints-of-previous-owners-a93932804eb5

LOCAL OUTLETS: My local bookstore: https://www.prairielights.com/

Your local bookstore: https://www.indiebound.org/indie-bookstore-finder

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Anywhere books are sold! Available in paperback, e-book, or audiobook format. http://www.unnamedpress.com/books/book?title=Fingerprints+of+Previous+Owners http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Fingerprints-Previous-Owners/Rebecca-Entel/9781944700232?id=6950407101413 https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fingerprints-of-previous-owners-rebecca-entel/1124787161?ean=9781944700232

PRICE: $16.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

rebeccaentel.com rebeccaentel@gmail.com

Twitter: @rebeccaentel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccaentel

Instagram: @rebeccaentel

One Life

Related imageTHE BOOK: One Life

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR: David Lida

THE EDITOR: Chris Heiser

THE PUBLISHER: Unnamed Press

One Life by [Lida, David]SUMMARY: Richard helps save the lives of the guilty. An American living in Mexico City, he’s hired by defense teams on capital cases, and investigates the tragic and traumatic personal histories of clients potentially facing the death penalty. His speciality: undocumented Mexican defendants standing trial in the United States. It’s a good fit for an ex-novelist, with no family and a failed marriage behind him, not too keen on attachments. In Richard’s business, success isn’t exoneration or proof of innocence, but life in prison.

Esperanza Morales is a young woman from the destitute village of Puroaire. Leaving a life of poverty and abuse, she finds work as a maid in the home of an upper-crust Mexican family. She works hard and builds a life for herself. But the stability won’t last long, after she loses her job and she’s convinced by a boyfriend to try their luck on the other side of the border. Her harrowing adventure and life as an undocumented worker in the U.S. could be the story of millions of migrants in America. Except that Esperanza’s ultimate fate is to find herself in a Louisiana jail cell, facing trial for the murder of her eleven-month-old baby.

When Richard takes on Esperanza’s case, the boundaries of his closely circumscribed life explode. The young woman’s story resurrects his novelistic instincts, and undermines his stoic approach to his job as he pursues clear answers in a case that offers anything but. Suddenly, Richard is aspiring for more, far more, than he ever believed he would. Set in the American South and in rural Mexico, One Life is an unflinching, page-turning novel that examines the difference between pragmatism and cynicism, the indelible links between sex, death and love, and the meaning of justice.

THE BACK STORY: I’ve been a writer since childhood. But since 2007, I’ve made my living as a mitigation investigator, researching the lives of undocumented Mexicans facing the death penalty in the U.S. This involves traveling through the back roads of some of the most impoverished communities in Mexico and the U.S., listening to the stories of the accused, as well as their families, friends, classmates, colleagues, teachers and doctors.

From the very first day on the job, I knew that I was going to places, and being told incredible material, about people whose lives my friends in the U.S. — and even in Mexico City, my home since 1990 — knew nothing about. I was amazed and inspired by the struggles of the undocumented, and how little even the Americans in the communities in which they live know about them. I knew I had to put something down on paper.

For about two years I took notes, trying to figure out what the story was and how to tell it. After I had an outline, it took me the better part of five years to finish. That’s the longest it’s ever taken me to complete a book.

WHY THIS TITLE?: One of my favorite movies is The Third Man. What I like about the title is that you’re never sure who the third man is — at certain moments “the third man” seems to refer to one character, later another. A reader might ask herself at different points in One Life, to whose one life are we referring? Esperanza’s? Richard’s? The baby’s?

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The relationship between Mexico and the U.S. has never been more troubled than it is today. Indeed, the president was elected on a platform that largely consisted of demonizing Mexico and the Mexicans. Yet at the same time there are about 12 million Mexicans in the U.S., and for decades, Americans have consumed more salsa than ketchup. I have been to communities in the U.S. where, if the undocumented were to disappear from one day to the next, there’d be no one left to make a bed in a hotel, cook a meal in a restaurant, do maintenance work in an office building, prune a tree, kill a pig in a slaughterhouse or do any kind of construction work.

I think the book would be compelling to anyone who has ever wondered about the relationship between Mexico and the U.S., and who has ever wondered about the lives of the undocumented.

It’s also a reflection about the death penalty, about life and death, sex and love, and what they mean to different people. I guess that covers a lot of potential readers.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

I was very flattered when Ploughshares called One Life “exactly the dark-humored piece of literature everyone should be indulging in right now.” The Los Angeles Review of Books called it “relevant” and Lit Hub said it “adds vital narratives to debates on immigration and the criminal justice system.” But I was most flattered after an event for the book in Zacatecas, Mexico, when an older man came up to me and said, “You understand us.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: I was born and raised in Greenwich Village in New York City, but was never convinced that my home town was the center of the earth. After high school, I took a year off before going to college — and I’m still on it. Luckily, at different junctures in my life, people offered me work, and were more interested in whether or not I could do the job than in my educational credentials.

Ever since adolescence I dreamed about what life was like in other places. I first visited Mexico when I was 23 years old, and moved there in 1990. I figured that if it didn’t work out, I would go back home in six months. I’m still here.

I’m the author of hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles. I’ve also written four books, each of which has something to do with Mexico. My first, the short story collection Travel Advisory, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Program. My second, a street-level panorama of contemporary Mexico City called First Stop in the New World, received rave reviews from the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, and was chosen one of the best books of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle. Las llaves de la ciudad was written in Spanish, my second language, which I learned as an adult, and chosen by Críticas magazine as one of the best books of the year.

These days, I’m finally back in school, studying psychoanalysis, and giving guided tours of Mexico City. If anyone would like to know a little more, I’d encourage them to visit my website, http://www.davidlida.com.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Please take a look here: https://www.amazon.com/One-Life-David-Lida/dp/1939419956/ref=sr_1_3s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537901274&sr=1-3&keywords=David+Lida.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound. It’s also available as an ebook.

PRICE: $16.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Please contact me through my web page, http://www.davidlida.com

First Tuesday Replay, Oct. 2

THIS FEATURE HAS A TWO-FOLD PURPOSE: 1. TO ALLOW THOSE RECENTLY ADDED TO OUR FOLLOWER’S LIST TO LEARN ABOUT BOOKS THEY MIGHT HAVE MISSED AND 2. TO MAKE SURE PREVIOUSLY FEATURED AUTHORS AND THEIR WORK AREN’T FORGOTTEN. IF YOU’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ANY ONE OF THE BOOKS REVISITED HERE, SIMPLY CLICK ON THE “AUTHOR” PAGE, THEN ON THAT AUTHOR’S NAME.

Image result for Scott Archer Jones + author + photos

“A RISING TIDE OF PEOPLE SWEPT AWAY,” BY SCOTT ARCHER JONES.

A small boy flees a toxic family – all the way across the alley to Rip’s Bar and to a vivid troupe of broken people in the Albuquerque Bosque. They hide him from his car-thief drunkard father, his cocaine-freak mother, and his ganged-up abusive brother.

The boy trades family for a hodgepodge of drinkers and losers. But it’s bad timing. A new bridge proposed across the Rio Grande will wreck the neighborhood. The barflies share responsibility for the child while their Bosque crumbles. They collect misery like small change and rally to keep their ghetto alive.

“LOVE AND THEFT,” BY MICHAEL SPRANKLE.

After a series of encounters with the law, a young man yearns for a better life and escapes his past as he heads to New York City where his pursuit of happiness and success sends him on a series of well-intentioned misadventures that lead him into the dark side of the criminal underworld and revenge. A marriage of real events and fiction, Love and Theft pulls from the author’s personal experience to create a man whose life path is no more his own fault than the color of his hair.

“RELEASED FROM THE SHADOWS,” BY DONNA CANTOR

Robert Zarro has spent the last three years of his life locked up in a Massachusetts prison, convicted of selling drugs on his college campus. When he is offered the job of warehouse manager in Sunnyside, Queens he leaps at the chance for an opportunity to reinvent himself. His past, however, has a chokehold on him, and he must learn how to free himself from the prison of his own design. Maggie Ocampo, one of Zarro’s undocumented workers, is anxious to leave her heartache back in her native Nicaragua, enticed by the promise of a fresh beginning in a new country. But Maggie’s new life comes at a price. She owes money to a sadistic gang who hesitate at nothing to use any means necessary to collect it. Haunted by their troubled pasts, Robert and Maggie guard their secrets closely. Until they don’t… Released From the Shadows is a tale of love, humor, and redemption, set in a gritty urban landscape.

“GETTING RIGHT,” BY GARY D. WILSON

Suppose your more than mildly irritating leech of a sister calls you, as she usually does wanting money, only this time she says instead that she has cancer and in the course of the conversation challenges you to write the story of her life. You say, sure, you’ll do that but you’ll tell it the way you see it. The tale that emerges involves not only the dying sister, Connie, but brother Len as well. And it’s also about “me,” the sibling invited to narrate their shared story and whose interplay of memory and imagination raises the question of whether “the truth” of Connie’s life – or of anyone’s for that matter – can ever be known.

The story grew from when I visited my sister in the hospital and saw the PICC line in her arm. The skin was puckered around the insertion point of the line. It was like a little mouth sucking, and I couldn’t get the image out of my mind, even after I’d come home. It was keeping me from getting anything else done, so I thought maybe if I wrote it out of my system I could get on with my life. I wrote what came to be the first section of Getting Right, and I found I couldn’t stop. The story kept coming and coming and I became more captivated by the momentum of the piece and its primary diving force, the narrative voice.

“JOSH WHOEVER,” BY MICHAEL GUILLEBEAU.

Josh was an army veteran, but a maneuver-turned-massacre cover-up threw him into a hero’s harsh spotlight. After walking away from it all, Josh, who’s been pulling scams for a living, takes refuge in the bottle and tries to stay invisible. But his latest con puts him in the sights of a Russian mob family convinced that he is a private detective—and the only one who can find missing reality star Kiev Romanov. As Josh digs at this mystery, he is joined by unemployed newspaper editor Marci, who’s hoping to use this scoop to relaunch her writing career, and Kiev’s killer brother, Yuri, who believes he is Batman. In pursuit of the heiress, Josh uses his con man skills and tangles with Confederate zealots and a paramilitary group. He knows if he does not save the girl, he can kiss his last drink goodbye—along with his life.

“WATCHFUL REALM,” BY LYNN SPITERI

Lyssa belongs to a generally peaceful population of otherworldly and gifted beings who occupy a world above our own. Invisible to us, they witness and record the lives of the humans below. Lyssa is a Watcher, assigned to document all incarnations of Jasper’s existence, and at the end of each life, she visits and assists her charge through their reincarnation. With each rebirth, Jasper forgets Lyssa.

Desperate to save the man she loves, Lyssa pierces the protective Veil between the worlds but an ancient evil of the world above unfurls a vengeful plan of destruction. Jasper and Lyssa struggle to untangle the web of his previous incarnations and realise the extent of their love, which has a very real manifested power in forcing the darkness back.

 

Weather Report, October 1

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “LAYLA,” BY CELINE KEATING, “THE SHOW HOUSE,” BY DAN LOPEZ AND “ANYTHING THAT BURNS YOU,” BY TERESE SVOBODA, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR”S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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Sometimes we take books on trips, and sometimes they take us.

This week’s featured offerings on Snowflakes in a Blizzard (snowflakesarise.wordpress.com) belong in the latter category. Moreover, David Lida (“One Life”) and Rebecca Entel (“Fingerprints of Previous Owners”) are transporting us to places we probably would never have gone on our own.

With Lida (photo on right), that place is Mexico — not the Mexico of beach resorts and Mayan ruins, but a country where many live on the margins of survival. That, in turn, makes opportunities for a better life across the border to the north even more enticing.

The U.S. relies heavily on Mexican workers, while at the same time demonizing those who are “undocumented.” Thus, relations between the two countries have become tangled and complicated.

David Lida, an American who has lived in Mexico since 1990, writes with a keen understanding of both worlds. His novel tells the story of a Mexican woman accused of murdering her child and the American attorney who takes her case.

Says David: “I’ve been a writer since childhood. But since 2007, I’ve made my living as a mitigation investigator, researching the lives of undocumented Mexicans facing the death penalty in the U.S. This involves traveling through the back roads of some of the most impoverished communities in Mexico and the U.S., listening to the stories of the accused, as well as their families, friends, classmates, colleagues, teachers and doctors.

“From the very first day on the job, I knew that I was going to places, and being told incredible material, about people whose lives my friends in the U.S. — and even in Mexico City, my home since 1990 — knew nothing about. I was amazed and inspired by the struggles of the undocumented, and how little even the Americans in the communities in which they live know about them. I knew I had to put something down on paper.

“For about two years I took notes, trying to figure out what the story was and how to tell it. After I had an outline, it took me the better part of five years to finish. That’s the longest it’s ever taken me to complete a book.”

Meanwhile, Rebecca Entel also brought first-hand knowledge to “Fingerprints of Previous Owners,” her debut novel. Her main character is a maid at a Caribbean resort who searches for evidence of her ancestors on the resort’s off-limits property, a place tourists never see.

Rebecca writes: ” I began writing this book while teaching on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas. I was intrigued by the layers of history, the cultural contrasts between the island community and the international resort, and the beach where garbage washed up from all over the world(!). Most significantly, I was struck by the historical ruins that weren’t being preserved and only seemed of interest to outsider researchers like me. I began imagining a fictional island in which the ruins of slavery were not just unpreserved for historians but actually off-limits for people in the community.

“Inspired by my own experiences machete-ing my way to ruins on San Salvador, I began this story about a young woman determined to uncover aspects of her history no matter what she had to risk. I’ve been traveling to the island since 2010 both to do research and to teach Caribbean literature.”

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, OCT. 2-8.

“ONE LIFE,” BY DAVID LIDA.

Richard helps save the lives of the guilty. An American living in Mexico City, he’s hired by defense teams on capital cases, and investigates the tragic and traumatic personal histories of clients potentially facing the death penalty. His speciality: undocumented Mexican defendants standing trial in the United States. It’s a good fit for an ex-novelist, with no family and a failed marriage behind him, not too keen on attachments. In Richard’s business, success isn’t exoneration or proof of innocence, but life in prison.

Esperanza Morales is a young woman from the destitute village of Puroaire. Leaving a life of poverty and abuse, she finds work as a maid in the home of an upper-crust Mexican family. She works hard and builds a life for herself. But the stability won’t last long, after she loses her job and she’s convinced by a boyfriend to try their luck on the other side of the border. Her harrowing adventure and life as an undocumented worker in the U.S. could be the story of millions of migrants in America. Except that Esperanza’s ultimate fate is to find herself in a Louisiana jail cell, facing trial for the murder of her eleven-month-old baby.

When Richard takes on Esperanza’s case, the boundaries of his closely circumscribed life explode. The young woman’s story resurrects his novelistic instincts, and undermines his stoic approach to his job as he pursues clear answers in a case that offers anything but. Suddenly, Richard is aspiring for more, far more, than he ever believed he would. Set in the American South and in rural Mexico, One Life is an unflinching, page-turning novel that examines the difference between pragmatism and cynicism, the indelible links between sex, death and love, and the meaning of justice.

“FINGERPRINTS OF PREVIOUS OWNERS,” BY REBECCA ENTEL.

At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins.

Rapt by the crumbling walls of the once slave-owner’s estate, she explores the unspoken history of the plantation— a site where her ancestors once worked the land, but which the resort now uses as a lookout point for tourists. When Myrna discovers a book detailing the experiences of slaves, who still share a last name with the majority of the islanders, her investigation becomes deeply personal, extending to her neighbors and friends, and explaining her mother’s self-imposed silence and father’s disappearance. A new generation begins to speak about the past just as racial tensions erupt between the resort and the local island community when an African-American tourist at the resort is brutally attacked. Suffused with the sun-drenched beauty of the Caribbean, Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a powerful novel of hope and recovery in the wake of devastating trauma. In her soulful and timely debut, Entel explores what it means to colonize and be colonized, to trespass and be trespassed upon, to be wounded and to heal.

FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY

This month we will revisit “Love & Theft,” by Michael Sprankle, “A Rising Tide of People Swept Away,” by Scott Archer Jones, “Released From the Shadows,” by Donna Cantor, “Josh Whoever,” by Michael Guillebeau, “Getting Right,” by Gary D. Wilson and “Watchful Realm,” by Lynn Spiteri.

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SNOWFLAKES NEWS

Rodger LeGrand, who has had two poetry collections highlighted on this site, recently did  an interview on the Boston TV program “Poet to Poet.” Here’s the link: : https://youtu.be/XPah4dkvxJs.

 

 

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Layla

Layla by [Keating, Céline]THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “THE SHOW HOUSE,” BY DAN LOPEZ AND “ANYTHING THAT BURNS YOU,” BY TERESE SVOBODA, 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 BOOK: Layla.

PUBLISHED IN: 2011

THE AUTHOR: Céline Keating.

THE EDITOR: Susan Bright.

THE PUBLISHER: Plain View Press. Plain View Press is a 40-year-old issue-based literary publishing house, in Austin, Texas, of contemporary literature — poetry, fiction, memoir, and nonfiction.

SUMMARY: Layla is the story of a young woman who embarks on a life-changing cross-country trip to face a family secret rooted in America’s most turbulent decade. Layla James, a recent graduate and budding photographer, has never known anything about her father except that he named her for the iconic song by Eric Clapton. Her mother—steeped in a political activism that Layla rejects—kept their past shrouded in secrecy. When she dies of cancer, just as Layla is graduating from college, she leaves behind an enigmatic letter, the first in a series that will lead Layla through a cross-country network of ’60s radicals and closer to the bombshell at the heart of her parents’ past. As Layla makes her way to various stops in the Northeast, San Francisco, and to a commune in the California desert, she discovers more about friendship, love, forgiveness, and the personal repercussions of political activism than she could ever have imagined. Something of a political mystery novel, Layla is at heart an intimate look at growing up, falling in love, and learning who to trust and what to value.

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THE BACK STORY:  I became active in the anti-war movement at end of the 60s/early 70s, and it was a very intense time for me. As for so many, it was the defining period of my life. There was great societal upheaval. Everything was challenged: race relations, sexual relations, the legitimacy of the government. The period saw the assassinations of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy, police firing on students at Kent State, student strikes and sit-ins, protest marches, and the spread of a counterculture that espoused sexual freedom, anti-authority attitudes, and drug experimentation, accompanied by an explosion of rock music, as exemplified by the Woodstock Folk Festival.

I’d long wanted to write a novel set in that very powerful and transformative time, but I feared I wouldn’t be capable of capturing it in an authentic way. And fiction with political themes can be especially tricky. I didn’t have a specific lens to tell a story through, either. Then I read a profile in The New Yorker magazine about Katherine Ann Powers, an antiwar radical who became a fugitive. I was fascinated by the secret life she led, as well as the deep psychological toll it took on her, and suddenly the story of Layla came to me—the voice of the character, and the opening words of the book.

Writing Layla gave me a chance to look back on the ’60s with some perspective.

I worked on it for about four years, and then, through the back and forth with agents and editors, did several revisions that took another few years.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title is the name of the book’s narrator, who is named for the iconic Eric Clapton song that is emblematic of the period. Layla has grown up without ever knowing her father, so it especially meaningful to her that it was he who named her.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The repercussions of that period are still very relevant, especially in today’s political climate. And in recent years, in response to globalization, environmental degradation, the Iraq war, and the election of Donald Trump, there’s been an increase in activism among the young and a resurgence of interest in the earlier activist movements, and lessons that can be learned. I have found few works of fiction that captured what the texture and chaos of the 60s felt like to me, and there are also few I know of that explore political violence and its consequences in such personal terms. So the audience or niche for Layla would be young activists of today, as well as those interested in US history, those interested in politics and activism, those interested in the music, culture and politics of the ’60s/’70s, and of course the baby boomers who came of age in that period. More broadly the book is also very much a family story – about parent-child relationships, the kinds of decisions parents make to spare their children pain, and about unintended consequences. It also has something of a mystery/thriller aspect within the frame of a cross-country journey, so it might also appeal to readers of mysteries and those who enjoy travel writing.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

1. Industry:

Midwest Book Review: 5 stars “Layla is a poignant read about making sense of it all and the weight of reality.”

Huffington Post Featured Title: “On Our Radar: Best Books Just Out Or Coming Soon We Thought You Should Know About: Layla, a debut novel by Céline Keating”

Poets & Writers Magazine “More Great Summer Fiction Debuts” selection

2. Amazon reader reviews:

Kate R

5.0 out of 5 starsGreat characters and beautiful writing

March 23, 2016

Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

I fell in love with Layla on page 1. Her voice is very strong and she really does sound like a young adult. I felt like I knew her mom, Audrey, even though I never met her alive and didn’t even know her name until halfway through the book. Celine Keating has a talent for providing the right vivid detail at the right time – I can see Audrey sitting with her knees tucked up under her chin, twisting a strand of hair as she furrows her brow over a paper she’s grading or an article she is working on. (Oddly, I don’t have a good sense of what Layla looks like, perhaps because the point of view is so intimately hers, that I never see her from anyone else’s perspective.) There are some breathtakingly beautiful passages. I particularly liked this one “He blanched, as if I had punched him. I felt a ping, the kind of ping I felt when a frame fit one of my photographs so perfectly it was as if they were long lost lovers I was reuniting. What I felt now was the words hitting the exact center of the pain inside me. A perfect match.” There was a short stretch in the middle where the story dragged a bit and I considered skimming, but flipping just a few pages ahead let me know that I was coming to another twist. The ending seemed perfect, if expected. Keating clearly knows what she is talking about, this is not rebel fiction from an outsider’s lens. She shows both deep respect for the politics of the characters, and an awareness of where their ideals come up short. Only one quibble: Abbie Hoffman had been aboveground and out of prison for years when he killed himself. It doesn’t seem like the book’s characterization of that incident is correct. But that is not important to the story. This is a great introduction for those who are not familiar with the radical politics of the 60s and their progeny (which include, loosely, Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter), but it will also be satisfying to those who lived them. Read less

5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book ByRenee T.on July 9, 2014 Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

I loved this book. It starts with the engaging premise, what if everything you knew about your parents was a lie? In order to discover the truth, Layla begins a road trip crafted by her deceased mother. The book is at once a mystery/thriller and a thoughtful and heartfelt examination of familial relationships; what the characters would do to protect the ones they love. Set against a background of the idealism and hope of the sixties through today, the author provides a face and the consequences of where our principles can take us. Well-crafted, intelligent and beautifully written, I look forward to more work from this writer.

Insightful, Moving — and a Good Plot ByMary Ann VanOsdolon April 25, 2012 Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

Layla as a can’t-put-it-down plot, like a good mystery. You want to know what happens next. But what moved me most was the relationship between Layla and her mother — perhaps because in some ways it mirrored my own. It hit home. Layla’s slow understanding –she resisted every new revelation — and her painful maturing was as fascinating as the plot. I passed it along to a friend.

3. Endorsements:

“A wrenching look at the human costs of activism and the resiliency of love.” –HELEN SCHULMAN, author of A Day at the Beach.

“Céline Keating’s deftly plotted novel takes readers on a gripping journey along the underground railroad of post-’60s radicalism. . . . Every adult has to reinterpret the story of her childhood. Keating beautifully demonstrates the courage it takes for each of us to face that bittersweet truth.” –LARRY DARK, Director of The Story Prize

AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in a working class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and lost my father at a very young age. Reading became a refuge for me. I also started writing fiction very young, but in my world, wanting to be a writer was something seen as impractical, if not grandiose, so I essentially kept it secret (I only “confessed” to my future husband the day I moved in with him!). In college I was swept up in the antiwar movement and became a political science major. These two threads – the writing and the activism – have stayed with me ever since, and inform each other.

After graduation I went to California to work with the United Farmworkers Union on a lettuce boycott, then came back to Queens as a Vista volunteer – we did tenant organizing and helped set up a food co-op and daycare center. But my love of writing and reading was ever present, so I decided to look for work in publishing. I got my first position as an editorial assistant working on textbooks. I loved putting together and editing books, and made publishing my career. Finally, though, I took the plunge, went back to school for an MA in Creative Writing, and began sending out short fiction and slowly getting stories published in literary magazines. I wrote several novels, searched for and was lucky to find literary agents to represent my work, and finally, in 2011, my first novel, Layla, was published. Play for Me, which was a finalist in several contests, came out in 2015 from She Writes Press.

For the past several decades I’ve served on the board of Concerned Citizens of Montauk a community/environmental organization. I’m also currently on the board of the New York chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. In 2016 I co-edited On Montauk, a Literary Celebration, an anthology of poetry, fiction, and essay about this small town at the tip of Long Island, which is under threat of overdevelopment and also sea level rise and erosion. It was really fun to gather the material, work with the authors, and produce this lovely book, whose profits go to local educational programs.

Currently I’m hard at work on a novel that is set in Montauk.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: My hope is that the themes of Layla will resonate not only with the idealists of the ’60s and ’70s, as well as anyone interested in reading about the lives of activists and radicals. But I especially hope that it will resonate with younger people, those who are searching for or discovering their own forms of activisms.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:  The first chapter is available as an excerpt on my website here: http://www.celinekeating.com/layla/excerpt-from-layla.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Powells, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. It is also in ebook and audiobook formats, available online.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I think it’s very important to open the door to writer/reader interaction. You could post your e-mail address, Facebook page, or Twitter handle, or all of the above.

I’m happy to be contacted in any of these ways:

Website http://www.celinekeating.com

Twitter @celinekeating Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCelineKeating/

The Show House

Image result for Dan Lopez + author + photosTHE BOOK: The Show House

PUBLISHED IN: 2016.

THE AUTHOR:  Dan Lopez

THE PUBLISHER
: Unnamed Press.

SUMMARYIn the sprawl of suburban Florida, one family attempts to reunite as another spins out of control: The sinister link connecting them both is hiding in the show house.Quirky Orlando retirees Thaddeus and Cheryl, and adoptive parents Steven and Peter, come together for a family weekend in Orlando, where Cheryl anxiously hopes to repair the dysfunctional and toxic relationship between her husband and their son.

When news of a serial killer that targets gay men at nightclubs rocks their community, over-worked pharmacist Laila grows concerned for her handsome and arrogant younger half-brother, Alex, who has been missing for several months. Meanwhile, the calculating murderer’s own life begins to spiral out of control as he unwittingly falls for a would-be victim.

Overwhelmed by meeting his granddaughter Gertie for the first time, Thaddeus kidnaps her in order to take her to Disney World setting off a wild goose chase where these intertwined families finally collide.

THE BACK STORY
: It took me ten years to write The Show House and get it published. It grew out of an earlier failed novel that I began shortly after graduating from the University of Central Florida.

WHY THIS TITLE?: All the credit for the title goes to my publisher. Authors tend to have very little say over titles and at least in my case, that’s a good thing! I had a series of pretentious attempts over the years.  

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I like to write plot-driven literary fiction. My ideal reader is somebody who enjoys popular fiction and literary heft. The Show House plays with the serial killer novel as a way to examine the choice we all face over whether to live the life that’s planned for us or make our own path in life.

REVIEW COMMENTS

“THE SHOW HOUSE is a knife’s edge of a book. Lopez balances humor, terror, the political, and the personal in a fascinating read where the ground is always shifting.” —Erika Swyler , author of THE BOOK OF SPECULATION”

A witch’s brew of family dysfunction, perversity, and murder.” —Publishers Weekly,

”THE SHOW HOUSE is at once a nuanced psychological thriller and a thoughtful exploration of familial love and dysfunction set in sun-stroked, hurricane-threatened Orlando. Danger lurks around every corner. This is a compelling debut by a talented new writer. ” —Edan Lepucki, author of CALIFORNIA”

THE SHOW HOUSE, a novel by Dan Lopez, is a mystery that brings together murder, passion, family, and ideas of what it means to be gay in the face of normative pressures. Less of a typical whodunit, Lopez’s debut novel will be, for many, a refreshing exploration of why-did-they-do-it. Which, being read as a question left unanswered, is a powerful nod to the gulf that exists between action and intent in the face of tragedy… a thought provoking meditation on the anxieties and pain that lurk within contemporary gay life.” —Theodore Kerr, Lambda Literary.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’ve lived a pretty eclectic life, having done everything from working in offices and bookselling to sailing traditional sailing vessels. My writing reflects my different adventures. My first book, a collection of short stories titled Part the Hawser, Limn the Sea, drew inspiration from my time on boats. The Show House has my childhood in Florida baked into its DNA. The new book I’m working on now is completely different from both of them. I like to experiment with different genres and forms, but there’s a consistent voice throughout my work. I’m always looking for ways of being in the world for the outsiders who chafe against society’s expectations.  

SAMPLE CHAPTERhttps://www.amazon.com/Show-House-Dan-Lopez-ebook/dp/B01MS50RS0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535746034&sr=1-1&keywords=the+show+house

WHERE TO BUY IT: Available wherever books are sold. The big guys — Amazon and Barnes & Noble — carry it, but you can also support your local bookstore and order it from them. My personal favorite is Book Soup in West Hollywood. You can get a signed copy from them, since I work there.

PRICE:  $16.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR

Website: danlopezauthor.com 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danlopezauthor

Email: danlopezauthor@gmail.com