The Solace of Monsters

Laurie BlaunerThis week’s other featured book, “A Welcome Shore,” by Suzanne U. Rhodes, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or, click on the author’s name on our Authors page.

THE BOOK: The Solace of Monsters

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR:  Laurie Blauner

THE EDITOR
: Lisa Graziano

THE PUBLISHER
: Leapfrog Press. The book won the 2015 Leapfrog Fiction Contest.

SUMMARY: Told by Mara, a young woman whose creation was based on the Frankenstein legend by a grieving scientist and father. This is a story about memory, dreams, obsession, the limitations of the body, and learning how to continue. The book is divided into her time with her father, the forest, the city, and lastly Mara F. returning home. During her travels, after living in seclusion with her father, she meets people and animals, and is exposed to different ways people survive in the world. The themes include identity, moral issues, and what constitutes solace.

The Solace of Monsters by [Blauner, Laurie]THE BACK STORY: I was a poet for many years before writing literary fiction. I never thought I would write fiction. I wrote a series of poems based on the Frankenstein legend that appeared in my poetry book Facing the Facts published in 2002 by Orchises Press. So the story and its themes have interested me for a long time. I just made the story more my own in The Solace of Monsters with a young, female, modern Frankenstein, including references to the original book and the movie. It took approximately a year to write and probably had been simmering inside me for quite a while.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Even monsters need solace.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?

 If you are interested in variations of the Frankenstein legend, cloning or other medical procedures.

Because the story is told from the perspective of a young female monster and involves a father/daughter relationship and other identity issues.

Because the prose is lyrical and includes the character’s dreams, writing, and memories (since she is composed of body parts).

Because the book was a finalist for a 2017 Washington State Book Award and was listed in Book Riot’s A Great Big Guide to Wonderful Books of 2016 from Indie Presses.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Blauner never shies away from the grotesque, or the beautiful…Courageous and innovative and mesmerizing, Frankenstein for a new age.” — Helen Phillips, author of The Beautiful Bureaucrat and Some Possible Solutions

“Mara’s wonder at her journey and the people she meets springs off the page and welcomes the reader into her world.” — Kirkus

Solace is its own weird and wonderful creation, the story of the fifth version of a daughter who, despite being haunted by lives she never led…simply wants to be herself.” — Mark Brazaitis, author of The Incurables

AUTHOR PROFILE
: I was born in New York City, lived in Boston, Massachusetts, Missoula, Montana, and now Seattle, Washington for almost thirty years. I have enjoyed writing most of my life, even stapling together a small book of poetry when I was about eight years old to give to my mother. I received an M.F.A. in creative writing, mostly poetry, from the University of Montana, where I studied with Richard Hugo and Madeline DeFrees. I worked full-time at various jobs, mostly social services, until I was older and then began writing fiction when I had more time. I recently began writing essays.

I am the author of three previous novels, Infinite Kindness, Somebody, and The Bohemians, all from Black Heron Press, as well as seven books of poetry.  A novella called Instructions for Living was published in 2011 from Main Street Rag.  My most recent book of poetry, It Looks Worse than I Am, was published in 2014 as the first Open Reading Period selection from What Books Press. A poetry chapbook was published in 2013 from dancing girl press.  I have received a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship as well as Seattle Arts Commission, King County Arts Commission, 4Culture, and Artist Trust grants and awards.  I was a resident at Centrum in Washington State and was in the Jack Straw Writers Program in 2007.  My work has appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, The Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Field, Caketrain, Denver Quarterly, The Colorado Review, The Collagist, The Best Small Fictions 2016 and many other magazines.  My recent essays have appeared in PANK, december, Sycamore Review, Superstition Review, Connotation Press, and Your Impossible Voice, among other places.  I live in Seattle, Washington with my husband and cat and attempt ballet classes.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 I wanted to show all the joy and sadness of a created life.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Solace-Monsters-Laurie-Blauner/dp/193524888X/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Elliott Bay Book Company, Third Place Books, Phinney Books

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Independent bookstores.

PRICE: Listed at $15.95 but varies

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: www.laurieblauner.com

Weather Report, May 13

Image result for Equestrian photos + free

(Photo From the Wilson sisters).

Our currently featured books, “The Solace of Monsters,” by Laurie Blauner and “A Welcome Shore,” by Suzanne U. Rhodes, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the first Tuesday Replay.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, MAY 14-20.

“BORROWED HORSES,” BY SIAN GRIFFITHS.

When her mother’s MS takes a turn for the worse, aspiring Olympian Joannie Edson moves back to Idaho with her aging horse to be closer to home and family. She has given up everything (career, romance) to pursue her goal of riding for the US Equestrian Team, but now, with no horse to ride and no money to buy or support a young prospect, she finds herself faced with a choice: should she take a chance on a relationship with the attractive stranger pursuing her, or invest her time in training her coach’s abused and violent mare? As she explores each option, Joannie finds that a fully lived life is much like the jumping courses she’s always ridden, every path bearing obstacles that she will have to clear to find her way forward.

“THE SHEEP WALKER’S DAUGHTER,” BY SYDNEY AVEY

Everyone loves a secret, except those who have been kept in the dark. Many people who were children during WWII discover as adults that the parents who raised them were not their biological parents. And down through generations, stories abound about family secrets. Young mothers pose as their baby’s sister; The phone rings and and a previously unknown sibling introduces himself. People identify with these stories.

Basque history also interests people. The Basques assimilated well all over the world, but their culture remains a mystery.

Dee’s prickliness, Father Mike’s wisdom, Valerie’s independent spirit—the characters are passionate and plucky. [Spoiler alert] love wins.

“WILLINGLY,” BY MARC FRAZIER.

Writes one reviewer: “Frazier illumines the darkest corners of memory, bearing apt witness to remembered experience with uncommon clarity and sureness, each poem a gem cut and polished to a fierce brightness. In poem after poem, he insists on uncovering the radiance buried beneath the questions, with words that live, breathe, and “lean like leaves toward light.”

 

The Solace of Monsters


Laurie BlaunerThis week’s other featured book, “A Welcome Shore,” by Suzanne U. Rhodes, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or, click on the author’s name on our Authors page.

THE BOOK: The Solace of Monsters

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR:  Laurie Blauner

THE EDITOR
: Lisa Graziano

THE PUBLISHER
: Leapfrog Press. The book won the 2015 Leapfrog Fiction Contest.

SUMMARY: Told by Mara, a young woman whose creation was based on the Frankenstein legend by a grieving scientist and father. This is a story about memory, dreams, obsession, the limitations of the body, and learning how to continue. The book is divided into her time with her father, the forest, the city, and lastly Mara F. returning home. During her travels, after living in seclusion with her father, she meets people and animals, and is exposed to different ways people survive in the world. The themes include identity, moral issues, and what constitutes solace.

The Solace of Monsters by [Blauner, Laurie]THE BACK STORY: I was a poet for many years before writing literary fiction. I never thought I would write fiction. I wrote a series of poems based on the Frankenstein legend that appeared in my poetry book Facing the Facts published in 2002 by Orchises Press. So the story and its themes have interested me for a long time. I just made the story more my own in The Solace of Monsters with a young, female, modern Frankenstein, including references to the original book and the movie. It took approximately a year to write and probably had been simmering inside me for quite a while.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Even monsters need solace.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?

 If you are interested in variations of the Frankenstein legend, cloning or other medical procedures.

Because the story is told from the perspective of a young female monster and involves a father/daughter relationship and other identity issues.

Because the prose is lyrical and includes the character’s dreams, writing, and memories (since she is composed of body parts).

Because the book was a finalist for a 2017 Washington State Book Award and was listed in Book Riot’s A Great Big Guide to Wonderful Books of 2016 from Indie Presses.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Blauner never shies away from the grotesque, or the beautiful…Courageous and innovative and mesmerizing, Frankenstein for a new age.” — Helen Phillips, author of The Beautiful Bureaucrat and Some Possible Solutions

“Mara’s wonder at her journey and the people she meets springs off the page and welcomes the reader into her world.” — Kirkus

Solace is its own weird and wonderful creation, the story of the fifth version of a daughter who, despite being haunted by lives she never led…simply wants to be herself.” — Mark Brazaitis, author of The Incurables

AUTHOR PROFILE
: I was born in New York City, lived in Boston, Massachusetts, Missoula, Montana, and now Seattle, Washington for almost thirty years. I have enjoyed writing most of my life, even stapling together a small book of poetry when I was about eight years old to give to my mother. I received an M.F.A. in creative writing, mostly poetry, from the University of Montana, where I studied with Richard Hugo and Madeline DeFrees. I worked full-time at various jobs, mostly social services, until I was older and then began writing fiction when I had more time. I recently began writing essays.

I am the author of three previous novels, Infinite Kindness, Somebody, and The Bohemians, all from Black Heron Press, as well as seven books of poetry.  A novella called Instructions for Living was published in 2011 from Main Street Rag.  My most recent book of poetry, It Looks Worse than I Am, was published in 2014 as the first Open Reading Period selection from What Books Press. A poetry chapbook was published in 2013 from dancing girl press.  I have received a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship as well as Seattle Arts Commission, King County Arts Commission, 4Culture, and Artist Trust grants and awards.  I was a resident at Centrum in Washington State and was in the Jack Straw Writers Program in 2007.  My work has appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, The Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Field, Caketrain, Denver Quarterly, The Colorado Review, The Collagist, The Best Small Fictions 2016 and many other magazines.  My recent essays have appeared in PANK, december, Sycamore Review, Superstition Review, Connotation Press, and Your Impossible Voice, among other places.  I live in Seattle, Washington with my husband and cat and attempt ballet classes.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 I wanted to show all the joy and sadness of a created life.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Solace-Monsters-Laurie-Blauner/dp/193524888X/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Elliott Bay Book Company, Third Place Books, Phinney Books

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Independent bookstores.

PRICE: Listed at $15.95 but varies

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: www.laurieblauner.com

A Welcome Shore

A Welcome ShoreTHE BOOK: A Welcome Shore

PUBLISHED IN: 2010

THE AUTHOR: Suzanne Underwood Rhodes.

THE PUBLISHER: Canon Press, located in Moscow, Idaho and founded in 1988. “At Canon Press, we create and provide products that sketch a vision of a whole life—a whole culture: A life full of beauty, tradition, education, community, laughter, and celebration—unashamed of Christ, and sharply at odds with the values of modernity; a mature culture with the church at the center—living out the good life one family at a time.”

SUMMARY: A Welcome Shore is a collection of lyrical prose reflections and prose poems written as a companion piece to the earlier Sketches of Home, also published by Canon Press. Subjects range from the most ordinary events, like being chilled by the skin of a collapsed tent or cooking chermoula, to those more sensational, like a suicide or neo-Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell or seeing a whale in Costa Rica.

Image result for Suzanne Underwood Rhodes + photosTHE BACK STORY: The book evolved from journaling and journeying over a period of several years. It reflects my new life by the shore in southeastern Virginia, as Sketches of Home was written during the many years I lived in the mountains of east Tennessee. In the mountains I learned strength. By the sea I found freedom. I left Tennessee after a destructive marriage followed by divorce. I found love and happiness in a new relationship with the man I married, Wayne Rhodes. For me, lyrical prose is the ideal outlet for blending the literary discipline I love to honor and observe with the heart’s deep rivulets formed by pain and joy.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Because the shore was welcoming, liberating—not only its compelling physical aspect of ocean tides, sea life, and weather, but its figurative meaning as well. The shore’s expanse and plasticity as shaped by an ocean which seemed infinite to my eye—these mirrored, in a sense, my growing ability to let down my guard, my survival instincts, and breathe freely, because my love proved himself gentle, trustworthy, protective. But on an even deeper level, I was learning about God in a new way. A “frowning Providence” was becoming a loving and accepting smile.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My book is unique because it avoids cliché, sentimentality, and evangelical jargon, preferring fresh, poetic language as a way of discovering spiritual meaning. I like to think it’s a brave book, confronting enigmatic and painful experience, and a delightful book, too, celebrating natural beauty, the joy of romance and the pleasures of God. I believe it appeals to both secular and Christian audiences, but primarily people who enjoy literary nonfiction with spiritual insight.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

1. From Steve West in Out Walking: One of the kindest books I read this past Summer was A Welcome Shore, by Suzanne Underwood Rhodes. I say “kind” because to read the short narratives of this book is like having a friend take you by the arm for a walk and a long conversation, one that covers the little tragedies and comedies of life, one punctuated by the rejuvenating sound and air of the ocean. It is, in short, a good and insightful walk in words, guided by a gifted wordsmith.

She begins in the fragile aftermath of divorce, of deep brokenness, and yet as her meditations on faith and life unfold, it is evident that the author’s feet are on the solid ground of grace. She draws vivid metaphors, like this one comparing her former weather-ravaged house to her dying marriage:

My house was the mirror of a dying marriage. Ivy twisted through cracks in the cinderblock, and cave crickets like frog-sized horrors sprang out of the basement’s dark. During storms, rain gushed in at ground level, and there was always a kind of seepage at the heart of the house that put me on edge, a damp uncertainty as I tended soup or made the bed or went upstairs to soothe a child’s fretting.

A house, a town, the natural world around her — this is someone who knows the importance of place, the deep rootedness of life and the importance of our relationship to the immediate world around us. She says that “Geography, the spaces on this ‘pale blue dot,’ cannot be understood apart from each of us in relation to the place where we have been set down, for the world was made the home of man and woman.” This particularity, this attention to place, extends not just to the natural world of birds, starfish, butterfly shells, and sea glass but also to the names and faces she encounters, people like Grandmother Lillian, Claire Evelyn, O.D and Ruth, and Delmas Jones, as if we have come upon them on our walk and, after making our greeting, are given given me the “backstory” on each of them.

In deep faith, she is a kindred spirit of Luci Shaw (who wrote the Forward for the book); in her keen observation, she recalls the seaside observations of Mary Oliver. And yet the voice is uniquely her own, like her memories of houses in which she once lived, high school, visits with old friends, or moments with her husband. There is a wonderful ordinariness about her stories. If we haven’t traveled her exact path, we can at least draw our parallels and nod knowingly at her tentative conclusions.

When it comes to faith, she has a provocative way of defamiliarizing the familiar. For example, she says “prayer is pheasant-like,” a phrase that sends me wondering to the encyclopedia to find out more about these birds. Or “prayer is an embryo: unspoken, understood.” It is not Sunday morning language. It’s like being given a piece of treasured sea glass to hold, to enjoy, to wonder from where it came.

And that’s how it goes. A walk through the shoreline, tributaries, channels, and tide pools of her life. . . and ours, as we see in her experiences our own.

Near the end, there is this prayer: “Lord, keep me from the poverty of habitual sight.” Yes, Lord help us all. But while you wait on the Lord, start here, with this kind book, this walk with someone who tends to see things new. Read A Welcome Shore. It’s 117 pages of pure pleasure, a needed walk in Word and World.

2. Dana Gioia, California Poet Laureate

“I am generally of two minds about prose poems since they so often lack the virtues I most prize in both media. But Suzanne Underwood Rhodes’ new collection combines the evocation and intensity of poetry with the psychological acuity and narrative force of prose. These interlocked personal meditations create a book worth pondering.”

3. Luci Shaw, Christian poet

“It is an ongoing wonder when a writer is able to infuse her prose with such poetic quality and tenderness that each piece becomes a poem in itself. Suzanne Rhodes has this magical facility of seeing to the heart of things . . . To retain the precision of the moment, one has to be there to experience it. Suzanne is a friend who takes my hand and says “Look!” or “Listen!” or just “Stay here with me while the meaning of this beauty unfolds.” It’s in that particularity and specificity of Rhodes’ seeing and speaking that a comparison with Mary Oliver’s writing becomes consistent in my mind. Both have eyes wide open for beauty and the significance of earthy things like shorelines and sedges, shells and what Suzanne calls “the slow simmer of time.” Her subjects include things like the miracle of the human hand, the tang of a marinade, how improvisational prayer is, a horse-shoe crab, or the weight of wetness on a morning tent. And much, much more-each sample a small slice of a life lived well, in which we are invited to join, powerfully moved, weeping or rejoicing with the writer.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Like everyone, I live on different planes. First comes the private meeting in my library with Jesus Christ, to fix my gaze on eternity, to praise, to beg, to question, to soak in his Words. Daily, it’s copywriting and editing to earn a living. I like to work on my deck so I can watch the birds at the near-by feeder and feel I’m part of their community because I sing back to them, study their behaviors and songs—and it’s where I observe the trees coming alive in the babyhood of green, the locusts chanting in summer, the gold and copper tones of fall leaves. I love hiking with my husband, a landscape photographer, watching movies with him, cooking from scratch (how pungent the herbs and garlic, the richness of sauce and tang of lemon), laughing at the ridiculous. And then there’s the creative dimension. Entering there, everything is left behind as I plunge into the well of memory and sensation, listen for the words and images to come, hear the music that feels right–the companionable or severe sounds. I’ve been writing poems since I was six and still have those childhood poems in a book. Another plane of living is books that have shaped my thought, my writing, my feeling, books like King Lear, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Great Gatsby, Wind in the Willows, and of course the Bible (New King James especially)—too many favorites to name! Finally, there’s my grandson, Marcus, the reason I moved from Virginia Beach to Northwest Arkansas. I’m his playmate, friend, partner in art projects and silliness, and hopefully a wise guide when I need to be.

I have a new book, my second full collection of poems, coming out in 2020 by Paraclete Press. It’s called Flying Yellow. The title, derived from a poem by that name, illuminates the timeless riddle which is the book’s theme: how to keep faith when we are constantly “slipping on scree.”

The voices that speak throughout vary widely in response to this question. Some are in despair. A few celebrate the view from the top. Most struggle mightily for a foothold and find redemption in the good strife.

Other poetry books are the chapbooks Hungry Foxes (Aldrich Press) and Weather of the House (Sow’s Ear Press) and What a Light Thing, This Stone (Sow’s Ear Press). I have recent poems in Image, Christian Century, Poetry East, Town Creek Poetry, and Spiritus.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I wish for A Welcome Shore to be an invitation for readers to look beyond surfaces, perhaps recognize themselves and their own experience through its pages, and be enlarged and inspired by the sounds, images, and words they find on this shore.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Sample the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Shore-Suzanne-Underwood-Rhodes/dp/1591280745.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Canon Press.

PRICE: $12

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I welcome correspondence from readers. My email address is SuzanneLRhodes@gmail.com. I’m on Facebook as Suzanne Underwood Rhodes.

First Tuesday Replay, May 7

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


Dream Eater (Portland Hafu Book 1) by [Lincoln, K. Bird]“DREAM EATER,” BY K. BIRD LINCOLN.

Koi Pierce dreams other peoples’ dreams.

Her whole life, she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact—a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee—transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.

But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it’s not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Alzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.


“UNDER JULIA,” BY LAUREN SCHARHAG.

From 2006-2010, Miami law prohibited sex offendes from living within 2,500 feet of a school or daycare.  Halfway houses and homeless shelters would not accept them. Which left them with only one place to go: under Julia.

In this devastating novel, Lauren Scharhag explores questions of guilt and redemption, of dignity and exile. Whether they were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as having sex with an underage girlfriend, or true predators nursing unspeakable desires, society considers them the worst of the worst, less than human. In their struggle to survive, they form a community, working together with surprising wit and tenacity. With the help of caseworkers, doctors, clergy and family, they can overcome the worst of themselves.

Together, they discover that hope is still possible, and while they can’t undo the damage they’ve done in the past, they can move forward– into absolution.
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DROPPING ANTS INTO POEMS,’ BY DAVID NAVARRO
Dropping Ants into Poems was conceived and written during National Poetry Month, April 2016. It was a challenge to myself to write a new chapbook, 28 poems, in 30 days. The poems were still the product of my 46 years of writing poetry, but were written from the solitude of a mountain get-away, and my foothills office as I isolated myself for a month to do nothing but dream up and work on this project.
The end result was 27 poems with the 28th poem actually becoming a compilation of 18 Zen poems. It also features an article on contemporary poetry and a secret recipe for Navarro’s Greek Seasoning.
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“A HEAD IN THE GAME,” BY JACK STRANDBURG.
Chicago Homicide Inspector Aaron Randall faces his toughest case while dealing with doubts about his career and the potential of a romantic relationship. Jared Prescott, a Heisman Trophy winner and Vice President of a large and respected pharmaceutical company, is found murdered at a seedy motel. The investigation uncovers multiple suspects with multiple motives. When the body of his close friend and informant is found stabbed to death in a deserted alley, followed by the murders of two women, Randall suspects a conspiracy. Randall is hamstrung during the investigation by pressure from the commissioner down the chain of command because the president of the pharmaceutical company, anxious for resolution to Jared Prescott’s murder, is a close friend with a Senator whose sights are set on the Oval Office.
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“HIPPIE MAFIA,” BY JESSICA EVANS

Hippie Mafia is a multi-voice narrative that examines gender roles within the constructs of urban identity. The antagonist of the work, Mason, is the antithesis of the female archetype, both in her decision making skills and in the progression of her character through her stand-alone agency. The female protagonist, Amy, is one who responds to the situations she finds herself in as one might expect of a standard female character. It is the hope of the work that these two conflicting female identities will help the reader to begin to understand and examine ways in which female characters do not need a male counterpoint to advance their own stores.

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Image result for Timmy Reed + author + photos
“MIRACULOUS FAUNA,” BY TIMMY REED.

Writes one reviewer: “No one writes like Timmy Reed; he has a haunting, unique voice that sticks hard and fast in your head. Miraculous Fauna is freaky in the very best way. You’ll glide straight through to the tender and enchanting end.” -Jessica Anya Blau, author of The WonderBread Summer and Drinking Closer to Home“Miraculous Fauna is nothing less than a miracle of a novel: beautifully strange and richly moving. Timmy Reed continues to create worlds that I long to get lost in, and this novel is no exception. Start reading, and soon you’ll want to get lost in Miraculous Fauna too.” – Laura van den Berg, author of Isle of Youth and Find Me“Timmy Reed’s sense of detail and description astounds me and makes me jealous, that he threads so much of that through this Miraculous Fauna is nothing short of, well, miraculous. Baby Rachel is a beautiful monster and the novel is full of great compassion. Miraculous Fauna is one of the most fantastic and one of the most fucked up novels I’ve read in years.” – Michael Kimball, author of Big Ray, Us and Dear Everybody.

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Weather Report, May 6

See the source image

(USA Today.com)

Our currently featured books, “Lost Without the River,” by Barbara Scoblick, “The Gold Tooth in the Crooked Smile of God,” by Douglas Cole and “Proverbs of My Seasons,” by Pat Stanford, 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, MAY 7-13.

“THE SOLACE OF MONSTERS,” BY LAURIE BLAUNER.

Told by Mara, a young woman whose creation was based on the Frankenstein legend by a grieving scientist and father. This is a story about memory, dreams, obsession, the limitations of the body, and learning how to continue. The book is divided into her time with her father, the forest, the city, and lastly Mara F. returning home. During her travels, after living in seclusion with her father, she meets people and animals, and is exposed to different ways people survive in the world. The themes include identity, moral issues, and what constitutes solace.

“A WELCOME SHORE,” BY SUZANNE U. RHODES.

Writes one reviewer: “It is an ongoing wonder when a writer is able to infuse her prose with such poetic quality and tenderness that each piece becomes a poem in itself. Suzanne Rhodes has this magical facility of seeing to the heart of things . . . To retain the precision of the moment, one has to be there to experience it. Suzanne is a friend who takes my hand and says “Look!” or “Listen!” or just “Stay here with me while the meaning of this beauty unfolds.” It’s in that particularity and specificity of Rhodes’ seeing and speaking that a comparison with Mary Oliver’s writing becomes consistent in my mind. Both have eyes wide open for beauty and the significance of earthy things like shorelines and sedges, shells and what Suzanne calls “the slow simmer of time.” Her subjects include things like the miracle of the human hand, the tang of a marinade, how improvisational prayer is, a horse-shoe crab, or the weight of wetness on a morning tent. And much, much more-each sample a small slice of a life lived well, in which we are invited to join, powerfully moved, weeping or rejoicing with the writer.”

FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY

This month, we will revisit “Dream Eater,” by K. Bird Lincoln, “Dropping Ants Into Poems,” by David Navarro, “Under Julia,” by Lauren Scharhag, “Miraculous Fauna,” by Timmy Reed, “A Head in the Game,” by Jack Strandburg, and “Hippie Mafia,” by Jessica Evans.

 

Lost Without the River

This week’s other featured books, “The Gold Tooth in the Crooked Smile of God,” by Douglas Cole and “Proverbs of My Seasons,” by Pat Stanford, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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Lost Without the River: A Memoir by [Scoblic, Barbara Hoffbeck]THE BOOK: Lost Without the River; A Memoir

PUBLISHED IN: April 2019

THE AUTHOR: Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic

THE EDITOR: Annie Tucker – https://annietuckerpublishing.com/

THE PUBLISHER: She Writes Press

SUMMARY: Lost Without the River is an elegantly wrought memoir of resilience, courage, and reinvention. A portrait of nature at its most beautiful and demanding, it is the story of a girl whose family struggled against Depression-era hardship and personal tragedy to carve out a small farm in rural South Dakota. The youngest of seven, Barbara wrestles against the expectations of her family, the strictures of the church, and the limits of a time dominated by men. Eager for adventure, she leaves the farm—first for the Peace Corps and ultimately for the alien geography of Manhattan’s Upper East Side—but she never truly escapes. Lost Without the River demonstrates the emotional power that even the smallest place can exert, and the gravitational pull that calls a person back home.

Barbara Hoffbeck ScoblicTHE BACK STORY: I was inspired to write the book when I realized my nieces and nephews had no concept of what their grandparents, my father and mother, had endured during the years of the Great Depression and the concurrent decade-long drought. I wrote the book so that they and others of their generation would appreciate the struggles of earlier generations who had opened the way for them.

As I talked to friends about my effort to gather my family stories, they’d recount one or two of their family’s stories. And with that, an additional reason became apparent to me: encouraging all to capture the stories of previous generations while it’s still possible.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Choosing the title was a months’-long endeavor. I made lists of possible contenders. I pored through book reviews, magazines, and online blogs seeking inspiration. I enlisted my sons and my friends to give their opinions and to add or delete titles from my list. Purposely I avoided using the words girlhood, Dakota, or farm in the title of my book because I wanted readers, no matter their age or geographical location, to recognize something of themselves in the narrative—perhaps a yearning to return to a singular place now changed beyond recognition. When I awoke one morning, “Lost Without the River” was on my lips. My subconscious had given me the answer! My father uses that phrase in the book; he recognized the primal importance that the river held for all of us.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Read the book to learn about a little-known place located in “the middle of nowhere.” To not only enjoy the beauty of its seasons, but to learn how the author and her siblings forged through deprivation and tragedy, to reach adulthood, unburdened by resentment.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“If you ever come to these gently rolling hills in northeastern South Dakota,” writes Scoblic early in her book, “with the farmlands nestled near two clear lakes, decorated with the twisting of the Whetstone River, late May would be the time to make the trip.” In this land—beautiful and hard in different ways—the author began life as Barbara Hoffbeck, the seventh child of Roman Catholic farmers who had struggled through the Depression. Growing up in the 1940s, Scoblic experienced a childhood that was in some ways picturesque: picking the strawberries that grew on the family’s property and catching snapping turtles with one of her many brothers. But there were tragedies, too, as when the author’s oldest sister, who had no control “over her muscles” and lived in a crib, died when Scoblic was 7 years old. In addition, two of the author’s siblings were sent to live with her grandparents. Scoblic wanted more for herself than the difficult road of her parents, and she eventually went to college, served in the Peace Corps, and settled permanently in New York City. Yet the lives of her parents, siblings, and extended family were never far from her mind, and this volume of reminiscences charts not just the stories of her youth, but also the ways those things have shaped and weighed on her throughout her adulthood. The author’s prose is lyrical and highly observant, offering surprising, incidental details, as in this passage about sitting in church: “Through those narrow openings, scents of grass and wild clover filtered in, along with a few flies and box elder bugs. Those bugs gathered in great clusters on the sides of buildings every August. When viewed up close, they displayed an art deco design of slate gray and orange.” Featuring family photographs, the memoir is infused with a subtle melancholy, which is perhaps to be expected in a book about a place and people now gone. But in the folds of the digressions and anecdotes readers will find an unmistakable joy on the part of Scoblic: the joy of returning to a place, having left it. The joy of carrying it within her wherever she goes.

A shaggy but powerful work about a South Dakota family.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Barbara Scoblic’s Lost Without the River is a virtual literary symphony fusing memoir, history, and geography. Her descriptions of South Dakota’s farms, rivers, and glacial lakes are as vivid as her portraits of three generations of her family and their relationships. She may have achieved a modern classic.” — Sidney Offit, author of Memoir of the Bookie’s Son

“There are some writers who can sing the song of even a small and remote place and through some magic transform it into a siren call. Barbara Scoblic is one of those writers!” — Lewis Frumkes, Director of The Writing Center at Hunter College

“Enter Barbara Scoblic’s world where opera reigns in the kitchen on Saturday afternoons, where the winter is long and loss is real. Her writing beautifully teases up the questions of life, love, and how much of a hold our past really has on us.” –Marion Roach Smith, author of The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life

“Her large farming family was always in flux, hardworking and bone weary, yet there is a quiet intimacy conveyed in the lean prose of Barbara Scoblic’s memoir, where simple gestures, like ironing blouses before a sister leaves for college, carry unspoken love and yearning.” –Elizabeth Garber, author of Implosion: A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter

AUTHOR PROFILE: Barbara Scoblic is a hybrid. Still part country gal after living in New York City for more than fifty years, she was raised on a small farm in South Dakota. From earliest childhood she was alert to the beauties and vagaries of the natural world. She’d head for the woods or the fields, searching for the first flowers of spring, and the most vibrant autumn leaves.

Concurrent with that appreciation of the natural world around her, she grappled with a growing impatience to see what was beyond the farm.

Her drive to break free took her first to Thailand where, as a Peace Corps volunteer she was the sole westerner in a small town. Then on an exhilarating trip with a fellow volunteer, she traveled throughout Asia, the Middle East, and then on to Greece.

Throughout her travels, she always carried her portable typewriter. At night she wrote letters, articles, and poems. Back in the states she described her experiences in a series for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Lost Without the River is Ms. Scoblic’s first memoir. It will be available in bookstores and on Amazon.com in April 2019.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’ll be promoting my book this summer and fall in New York City, the Chicago suburbs, and in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Dates and locations will be available online, both on my website: barbarascoblic.com, and my Facebook Fan Page: facebook.com/barbarascoblicauthor

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://bloom-site.com/2019/02/12/the-importance-of-place/

© Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com, indiebound.com, barnesandnoble.com, and barbarascoblic.com. It is also available for order wherever books are sold.

PRICE: $16.95.

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