Weather Report, November 6

Image result for American map photos + free

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “TAKING WHAT I LIKE,” BY LINDA BAMBER, “UNRULY,” BY ELYSIA LUCINDA SMITH AND “DEADFELLAS,” BY JON D’AMORE, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

Since I’ve begun seeking collections of poetry to feature on Snowflakes in a Blizzard, I think I’ve picked up on a trend.

Or maybe not. Because I haven’t been paying close enough attention to poetry for so long, perhaps what I think of as trendy has actually become accepted practice.

I’ve always liked poetry, and have great respect for poets. But it always seemed that poetry was sitting off in a corner, calmly pondering the world and occasionally making a subtle or snide comment on the state of things. No, it’s not all about nature and true love, but it’s hard to imagine someone in a coffee shop saying excitedly: “Wow, did you see that poem about ….?”

From what I’ve come across lately, though, that might start happening. I’ve viewed poetry paired with fiction, with flash fiction, with memoir, with political statements, hybrids every which way. Poetry, it seems, is barging into The Conversation.

This past week, we featured Elysia Lucinda Smith’s “Unruly,” which most definitely was not a subtle take on love and sex. But it worked, and it crackled.

And now, this week, we have Diane Raptosh’s “American Amnesiac.” Here’s this, from the review site Rain Taxi:

“American Amnesiac is Diane Raptosh’s fourth book of poetry, and very possibly her best. She attempts something quite unusual with this magnum opus—one long poem spoken in the persona of an older [white] man suffering from amnesia. The book constitutes his stream of consciousness as he attempts to piece together who he is and what he’s experienced in his American life. His situation is laid bare on the first page of the book: “I . . . / woke in Civic Center Park three states away, four hundred bucks / stuffed in my right sleeve. My life has always been a flock of mishaps // waiting to take flight.’

“A poignant and interesting saga follows, page after page, as the amnesiac travels through America in and out of his mind, commenting on the meaninglessness of his journey and the story of his life that only comes to him in bits and snatches of memory. It is a skillfully written journey through the American cultural landscape, as our ‘John Doe’ becomes ‘a man missing a nation and a wife, strung up between a past / I may not want and a present in which I cannot make myself at ease.’”

“American Amnesiac” makes a point beyond just pretty or clever words. When you look at the chaotic American social and political landscape today, it’s easy to imagine that many of us are amnesiacs, trying in vain to remember what America was supposed to represent, and how we got to where we are.

Paired with this is Patricia Horvath’s riveting memoir, “All the Difference.”

“Diagnosed with scoliosis as an adolescent, Patricia Horvath wore a brace for three years and, when that failed to work, her spine was fused and she was immobilized in a chin-to-knee cast for nearly half a year. She had to relearn how to walk; more significantly, she had to learn to fashion an identity as a person who was no longer seen–and treated–as disabled. All the Difference considers the relationship between disability and self-identity–what happens to one’s sense of self when a physical disability ceases to be visible. Along the way the book takes in family relationships, class dynamics, 1970s pop and drug culture, mythology and fairy tales of transformation, romantic love, and the myriad ways in which women’s bodies are commodified.”

Wow.

It’s also time for the First Tuesday Replay.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, NOVEMBER 7-13.

“AMERICAN AMNESIAC,” BY DIANE RAPTOSH.

Writes Diane: “I wrote the book after a number of decades of studying America. I started seeing so many disturbing patterns, having to do with growing income inequality, diminishing options for developing selfhood, environmental degradation, and white fear (One key line in the work is “Pale males will not have been the wronged minority / despite what they will no doubt come to say.” And here we are in 2017: the era of white nationalism. The book took about three years to write, but I had been researching the themes — studying how power works in the U.S. — for basically my whole life.”

“ALL THE DIFFERENCE,” BY PATRICIA HORVATH.

From Patricia’s template: “All the Difference resulted from my reaction to a diagnosis of osteoporosis while I was still in my 30s. I felt that my body had once again “betrayed” me, and the diagnosis re-opened many submerged feelings I had about my spinal fusion and bracing from my adolescent years. The impetus for my writing is two-pronged: vexation and inquiry. That is, something is bothering me, and I need to understand why. The “something” in this case was my body, and the need to understand my complex relationship to it is the source of this book.”

FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY

This month, we will revisit Persis Granger’s “Adirondack Gold,” James DeVita’s “The Silenced,” Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew’s “Swinging on the Garden Gate,” Susan Coryell’s “A Red, Red Rose,” Melinda Inman’s “Fallen” and Mark Pannebecker’s “A Fraternity of Fractures.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taking What I Like

THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “UNRULY,” BY ELYSIA LUCINDA SMITH AND “DEADFELLAS,” BY JON D’AMORE (A HALLOWEEN TREAT) CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHORS’ NAMES ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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THE BOOK: Taking What I Like: Stories.

PUBLISHED IN: 2013.

THE AUTHOR: Linda Bamber.

THE EDITOR: Susan Barba.

THE PUBLISHER:  Black Sparrow Books/David R. Godine. Godine is a small publisher with a big reputation.

SUMMARY:  Six of the stories are “Shakespeare re-boots.” In one, for instance, a murderer plays Hamlet in a prison theater production of the play while waiting to meet with the parole board that will decide his fate. In another Desdemona is the chair of an English Department looking to make an affirmative action hire because Othello is the only minority member of the department. Another story riffs on Charlotte Bronte and yet another on the American artist Thomas Eakins. In every case the art of the past is both cherished for its own sake and used to explore the here and now.

A blogger writes: “Delightfully, being unfamiliar with the source material isn’t a hindrance to enjoying Bamber’s stories as she includes enough background to understand where she’s going. (For example, ‘Playing Henry’ is about a bunch of Shakespeare’s history plays, which I’ve never read/seen, but I certainly understood the struggle Bamber’s heroine had with working with her part, the tension with her father, the yearning to be really good at something.)”

Linda BamberTHE BACK STORY: The book began while I was on vacation one year on an island. I woke up thinking about the island in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and some mechanism in my mind began writing a warm, newsy letter from one of its characters to another. Of course the character were women: Miranda and Claribel, the daughters of the two most powerful men in the play. There’s a lightly feminist impulse behind many of the stories in my collection: let’s see what happens when we center these plays on their women rather than always the men.

WHY THIS TITLE?: “Take what you like and leave the rest” is a folk saying. I used it to indicate the liberties I was taking with Shakespeare, just as he took liberties with the stories he borrowed and re-told. (The saying seems to have been appropriated in our time for spiritual purposes. The Dalai Lama, the Pope and 12-Step Recovery Programs all make it part of their message; but in fact I had nothing so elevated in mind).

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The niche audience would of course be people who like (or teach or act in or attend performances of) Shakespeare. But each story also has its own contemporary plot and characters, so in a way Shakespeare (or Eakins or Bronte) is no more important than the context of any fiction. What’s unique about my book is its blend, as another blogger said, of “admiration and attitude.” My stories both mock these icons of high art and also love, adore, pitch, teach and generally have a great time thinking about them.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Delightful, moving, and often laugh-out-loud re-imaginings of the plays. Bamber does amazing things with the ‘Shakespeare format;’ she seems to get the whole world in.” — NPR.

“I’ve never read anything quite like these stories. They’re playful and inventive and funny, and they shake things up! They have the same effect as when you see a great production of a Shakespeare play. It makes the work come alive.” — Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’

“Like the best and most memorable teachers Bamber brings the past to bear on the present in ways that inform and exhilarate.” — Harvard Review

“Deeply insightful comments on some of Shakespeare’s major plays.” —  Sylvan Barnet, editor of The Signet Shakespeare series.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Go to lindabamberwriter.com.

AUTHOR PROFILE: “I started out in life as a scholar/critic, not a writer; and thank God I did, because my scholarly/critical work earned me a permanent job teaching English to brilliant, amazing students at a university where the grounds are immaculately kept. But about 10 years into my career something went seriously wrong. I was trying to write a second book, but it felt like turning the key in a car that could only cough and die. I went to conferences, I gave papers, but I wasn’t having any fun. Sometimes I couldn’t understand the questions at the end of a talk and had to fake the answers. My listeners were in one world and I was in another.

“Then my father died, and in my grief, I wrote a poem – a lifetime first for me, as I never so much as took a creative writing course in college. I spent another 10 years writing stories and poems in private while still pretending in public to be a scholar. Finally I realized that if I didn’t like reading scholarship in my field, I certainly wasn’t going to be able to force myself to write it, and that was that. Tenure is never having to say you’re sorry, so my colleagues and deans adjusted to my silent withdrawal from their world, and life went on as before.

“Since then I’ve published stories, poems and essays in periodicals such as The Harvard Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, Raritan, and Tikkun. My poetry collection, Metropolitan Tang (http://www.godine.com/book/metropolitan-tang/), is from David R. Godine as is Taking What I Like: Stories (http://www.godine.com/book/taking-like-stories/ ). Widely reprinted and anthologized, my critical book on Shakespeare, Comic Women, Tragic Men: Gender and Genre in Shakespeare, was published by Stanford University Press (https://www.amazon.com/Comic-Women-Tragic-Men-Shakespeare ). My current project is a novel in letters about the cross-country expedition of Lewis and Clark.”

My personal website is at lindabamberwriter.com.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Shakespeare himself was both part of popular culture and embedded in a magnificent literary tradition. I object to the sense of solemnity people have about Shakespeare, and also to its flip side, which is unmitigated satire. I don’t see why we should have to chose between our love for the plays and the desire to laugh away the past. Shakespeare himself made fun of his venerable sources; but in his hands the earlier work morphed into something beyond mockery. Why shouldn’t we, too, try to have it both ways?”

I love this comment from a blogger because it captures my goal of having it all:  Funny, emotional, knowing, meta, and geeky, these stories read quickly but invite meditation and musing, whether one is a casual reader of some of the greats of the Western canon or a devoted fan.”

LOCAL OUTLETS:  Porter Square Books, Harvard Bookstore, Harvard Coop.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:  David Godine website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

PRICE: The price varies with the outlet.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: My email address is linda.bamber@tufts.edu . I answer my mail

Unruly

Image result for Elysia Smith + author + photosTHE BOOK: UNRULY 

PUBLISHED IN: 2017


THE AUTHOR:
  Elysia Lucinda Smith

THE EDITOR
: This book came about with the help of my mentors, Jill McDonough and Lloyd Schwartz. I’m also grateful to Geoffrey Gatza for laying out the text and designing the book.

THE PUBLISHER
: BlazeVOX [books] publishes innovative fictions and wide ranging fields of contemporary poetry. Our books push at the frontiers of what is possible for poetry, fiction and select non-fiction and literary criticism. Our fundamental mission is to disseminate poetry, through print and digital media, both within academic spheres and to society at large. We seek to publish the innovative works of the greatest minds writing poetry today, from the most respected senior poets to extraordinarily promising young writers.

SUMMARY: This book ticks. It’s a slick walk around a mall in 2010. You’re 16. You’re at prom. You’re learning words like blow job. You’re executing. You’re cute. You’re tired. You’re living. Then you’re 19 & your slick walk happens late night, tired still. The moon is made of Mad Dog 20/20 & menthols & sometimes you remember the corn fields at your back, your mother, the black plastic shrapnel your feelings become when you just can’t deal.  Mostly you sit under a sheet with a bottle of wine between your knees writing these poems. At least, that’s what you do when you’re 24 & ready to get it all out. These poems are confessional but this isn’t a diary. It’s me handing you the purse I just threw up in.

THE BACK STORY
: This book wrote me.

WHY THIS TITLE?: This book got its title because the author has eyes that can’t sit still.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?
This book is pink but it’s not just for girls. It’s rude. If you’re a voyeur, you’ll like it. If you want to rail against something and come to blows, you’ll like it. If you like sex, you’ll like it. If you are confused a lot, you’ll like it. This book is different than other books because it’s presenting its asshole to you right now, openly. This book is an asshole. 

REVIEW COMMENTS
:

 

“Starting with its terrific title, UNRULY gives us fierce and funny images, invites the reader in for matter-of-fact lines like “maybe you’ve been taking it/up the ass this whole time,” “and/then we high-fived or made out;/I don’t remember,” making you part of a conversation you are thrilled to overhear, about “how being a woman/means sometimes being pressed//into corners or blindness/or laughter.” There’s a lot of laughter. And we need it. These poems remind us to “want as much/as possible,” “because I am again and again aroused/to be alive.”  —Jill McDonough

“Elysia Smith sits her younger self beneath a ghost light and pulls the most arcane questions out from her chest. She looks back on the origins of her own sexual identity, surfacing the candid ugliness that flickers in all instances of coming of age and sex itself. Gritty detail and exquisite retelling crash together to disrupt the orderliness of simplified femininity that comes from a small-town upbringing.” — Laura Knicklebine of Maudlin House.

“Unruly is not only one of the liveliest and most inviting titles I know for a collection of poems, it’s also one of the most accurate. Elysia Smith’s poems are utterly uninhibited, whatever their subject—Joan of Arc, Calamity Jane, and especially sex. But you’d be dead wrong to miss the underlying artistry. These unruly poems are completely finished down to their consistently unforgettable—hilarious, beautiful, scary—last lines. To quote Smith herself, this book is “the real, hairy thing”!  —Lloyd Schwartz


AUTHOR PROFIL
E: I live in Indiana. I write for a content marketing company by day and bike around the city at night. I find great joy in being inappropriate at all the right moments, like chasing you through a grocery store with a baguette or telling a dirty joke to your grandmother. My MFA is from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, but no, I don’t think you should get an MFA. Every night, I fill a tub with blood and bathe in my student loan debt. 

AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 Despite this irreverence, my book does address sexuality in a way that I hope you will find charged and interesting. It’s timely because I talk openly about sexual assault throughout. But, I also take time to illustrate the nuance of how young women have little control over how we come of age. Sexuality isn’t something we’re instructed in or encouraged to have [the way it rolls in waves off smelly little boys in PE, and penises are drawn on every bus window]. When women come of age, it’s often because someone, either a boy our age or an older man has noticed us. We feel the eyes and the noticing, we ask ourselves what it is about us. Sexuality isn’t something women are allowed to take and try on. In this book, I try on everything.

SAMPLE POEM:


Unstrung

I.

I was culling the hood

of Chad’s stout penis. I let him

rub me all over and perched

like a slutty cat on the arm

of any sofa that would hold.

He’s the first boy

I opened willing for. I remember

the few hairs growing. Sloppy,

sloppy but good enough

because he found the clit

I’d found myself

a year earlier

but this was the half life

of teenage desire, the point in which

I didn’t go down but let boys

finger me, but never sex, not sex

or blowjobs because they

are for Jesus, the pure

body of Christ flexing

in white taffeta

before a fountain of wine.

II.

My sober self bent

over Paulie’s damask draped bed.

I saw in third person: green goddess,

triangle of sweat, a blowjob.

I geeked out to My Friend,

Stephanie because I made him

look me in my eyes.

Paulie pumped and pumped

and it hurt because something

inside me is slightly crooked

but I loved it and

took it and five dollars

for cab fare back to my hotel—which

I also told Stephanie, and

then we high-fived or made-out;

I don’t remember.

III.

Dimitri bought me a guitar

for your birthday, he said; when

I said, I can’t accept this—it was

four hundred dollars at least—

he threatened to smash it.

The night before, I’d picked

out the red dress and I

let him tell me, no,

the purple one, even though

we didn’t know each other.

I drank a gin and tonic on top

of half a bottle of wine and

blacked out in our back yard

and maybe I asked him to fuck me

but when I woke up in his bed

and everything hurt I decided

not to cross the hall to my own

but to pull him inside me

which is funny now

that I think about it and was funny

last weekend, when I gave my brother

“The Whore Guitar,” still unstrung.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon or from me personally! Elysia.Lucinda@gmail.com or from BlazeVOX [books].

 

PRICE: $16.00 or your immortal soul (as long as I can exchange it for currency because I’m trying to buy a house).

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Contact me on my personal website! Also, read my blog if you’re curious or even if you’re bored at a hair salon or little league game or whatevs: https://www.elysialucinda.com/

Deadfellas

Deadfellas by [D'Amore, Jon]THE BOOK: DEADFELLAS

PUBLISHED IN: 2017

THE AUTHOR: Jon D’Amore

THE EDITOR: If I told you, I’d have to kill you and everyone who read this, or those you’re asking about.

THE PUBLISHER: DEADFELLAS is the second book I’ve self-published under the banner of JMD. The first (THE BOSS ALWAYS SITS IN THE BACK – A Memoir) was 5+ years ago, which sold consistently for 4 years, plus was responsible for allowing me to be the subject of over 200 readings, radio & TV appearances and interviews. The second book is selling at the same pace, and with Halloween upon us, sales are expected to climb. I must be doing something right.

Image result for Jon D'Amore + photosSUMMARY: “New Jersey mob boss, Giuseppe ‘Joey’ Ponti, assigns his trusted lieutenant, Carmine ‘Chickie’ Santorella, to find out why the family’s casino is losing money. Chickie and three mob soldiers, Bobby Battaglino, Richie Paldino and Sammy Trombino, travel to a small Nevada town, kidnap the casino manager and take him to a secluded cabin that has been used for mob executions for decades.

Unfortunately for them, by torturing the half-Indian/half-Italian manager, they invoke an ancient Shoshone curse which awakens the buried dead to hunt them down. Whacked gangsters, stoolies, lawyers and hookers crawl out of their graves with only one thing on their decomposing minds…kill the four mobsters.

It’s mobsters versus monsters when Chickie and his crew, along with Dallas, China and Jenny (three hookers who wind up in the wrong place at the wrong time), fight for their lives against scores of reanimated Mafioso.”

THE BACK STORY: The book DEADFELLAS started out as a 90-page screenplay by me and Steve Barr while I was living in Los Angeles. We came up with it as a joke between the two of us…until we realized we were onto something. But for best explanation of what happened, Steve wrote the book’s Foreword. Here are some excerpts from it:

“The screenplay for Deadfellas started out as a laugh. What were Jon’s favorite movies? Morality tales of high stakes and broken trust among Men of Respect. You know…Mob movies. What were my favorite movies? Morality tales of the best and worst of humanity, confronting the monsters we can all become. You know…Zombie movies.

And so we came up with a Mob/Zombie story, a morality tale of connected men forced to fight monsters outside the house…while being betrayed by mobsters inside the house. It let us play with the tropes of both genres in a fun way, and we got to resurrect some of our favorite whacked characters from the Mob movies of the last 50 years.

Developing the story was easy. Writing the screenplay was fun. Selling the screenplay was neither of those things.

The zombie genre, we were told, is dead. The genre’s DVD bonanza of the 90s is over. There hasn’t been a successful zombie project in decades…as long as you don’t count the Dawn of the Dead remake, and Zombieland, and World War Z, and the Resident Evil franchise, and Warm Bodies, and Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, and Ash Vs Evil Dead, and iZombie, and the Santa Clarita Diet.

Oh, and The Walking Dead, which is one of the most successful shows in the world, was so successful that they made a spinoff called Fear The Walking Dead. I mean, c’mon, they resurrected the idea of spinoffs!

Hollywood is known for a lot of things, but internal consistency isn’t one of them, especially since this apparently-dead genre just keeps getting up and walking around.

We really like DEADFELLAS, so Jon decided he’d stop waiting for a movie to happen, and instead he’d tell this tale in a different fashion.”

I think that should give you a decent overview of why I took a 90 page screenplay and turned it into a story that covers two generations, with the love, honor and hatred among these Men of Respect … leading up to one horrible night and day in 1999.

WHY THIS TITLE?: It’s about the Mafia and the reanimated corpses of those they killed over decades. What else can you call a book like that other than DEADFELLAS?

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?: Because of my last book, which was a memoir of my life growing up in a Mafia-connected family, and something we did during the mid-1970s that changed laws in America, people wondered what I could top that story with. When I told them it was a still a mob story, but there was a bizarre twist at the end of the story. No one was sure how those of an “older demographic” would take to mob-zombies.

When the results came in, everyone was so wrapped up in “the story,” they felt the zombies showing up was the only logical thing to have happen…and it’s becomes so humorous that people of every demographic has been enjoying the mixture of rela-life mob stories with the unique twist and introduction of a genre never combined before.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Jon D’Amore’s family was “connected.” Jon drew on those memories and some amazing true-life adventures in his first novel, THE BOSS ALWAYS SITS IN THE BACK. His second book, DEADFELLAS, actually started as a screenplay, for what seems like a no-brainer to me: A mash-up of two incredibly popular genres, the classic mobster movie and zombies. You see it all coming, but nonetheless D’Amore’s account of spiffily overdressed Mafioso clawing their way out of their secret graves to wreak vengeance reads like prime Stephen King (by way of Mario Puzo), Goodfellas meets Night Of The Living Dead, Tony Soprano goes to the Pet Semetary, The Godfather vs The Walking Dead. If you love mob stories, the details in the first half of the book will engross you, and if you’re into horror, the finale will scare the shit out of you. Win/win. And man, I really hope somebody eventually makes the movie.” — Lisa Tracy – Author of Objects of Our Affection and Muddy Waters: The Legacy of Katrina and Rita. Former journalist and editor for The Philadelphia Enquirer, The Record of Hackensack, and The Passaic Herald News

“So you wondered where all of those dead mobsters were hanging out? Forget the Corleone family and their lakeside cottage. Skip New Jersey’s meadowlands and head for Nevada. In his ingenious new book DEADFELLAS, Jon D’Amore mingles mob lore with a wacky zombie jamboree to come up with the best read since THE BOSS ALWAYS SITS IN THE BACK. And speaking of the boss, you may find him out there too – along with damsels in distress, one genuine hero – and a denouement that will leave you laughing and shaking your head as D’Amore’s sly humor and his firsthand knowledge of “the family” provides the perfect – shall we say – payoff. Get an extra copy. You’re going to want to share this one.” == Steven W. Booth – Co-author of The Hungry ombie series

“If Mafia fiction is like an Italian meal, then Jon D’Amore is a master chef serving up a banquet of wise guys, mob bosses, hit men and casino scams. But this isn’t your grandmother’s spaghetti. D’Amore has seasoned the sauce with ancient Indian curses and a liberal helping of the undead. Every mouthful of this delicious mob/zombie fusion will satisfy your craving for extra helpings. — Robert Rhine – Deaditor-In-Chief of Girls and Corpses Magazine

“Besides Jon D’Amore being a stand-up guy, a goombah you can respect, from page one of Deadfellas you know he’s creating from his life’s experiences. I always knew he was a great writer, but this is a real piece of work. I suggest buying a copy, or you’ll be getting the ‘Moe Green special.’ And don’t forget to take the cannoli.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Born and raised in Hudson Country, New Jersey during the historic eras of the 1950s, 60s & 70s, and only a few miles from midtown Manhattan, Jon D’Amore was consumed by entertainment, education, and a culture few will ever again experience.

Starting guitar lessons at an early age, Jon went on to perform on the road and as a studio musician. During that time, he wrote a music column for a northern Jersey newspaper, dabbled in songwriting and as a novelist.

By the mid-1980s, he stepped into the corporate world using the skills of a stage performer and writer to achieve levels his superiors said he could never reach…but did. Thirteen years later, Jon realized he didn’t want to grow up to be like the people he was working for…so after telling the Senior Vice President exactly where to put the company-owned laptop and expense account, Jon went to Los Angeles to spend 18 months writing his memoir, THE BOSS ALWAYS SITS IN THE BACK.

It didn’t take long before he learned, ‘L.A. is to screenplays as Manhattan is to book publishing.. So instead of returning to the east coast with hopes of getting his book published, Jon learned to write and edit screenplays, and stayed in the land of sun, surf and high gas prices… though always hoping to someday see THE BOSS published.

That day came in May, 2012, followed by a run of good fortune that lasted more than four years with coast-to-coast book readings and signings, print and radio interviews, and TV appearances.

Wanting to give THE BOSS fans a follow-up of the same genre, Jon felt DEADFELLAS, a screenplay he co-wrote with Steve Barr, would make an entertaining book with a satirical turn to THE BOSS by bringing together everyone’s fascination with the Mafia…and the popular world of zombies.

When asked why he chose his next book to be DEADFELLAS, Jon responded, “I’ve never been happy living in the box others deemed to be the norm. So why would I start now?”

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Major publishing houses overlook many great writers and outstanding talent. Support your independent bookstores and self-published writers.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deadfellas-jon-damore/1126505943?ean=9780985300050 and Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_10?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=deadfellas+jon+d%27amore&sprefix=deadfellas%2Caps%2C202&crid=ZJ5G1O5EQCZ5

LOCAL OUTLETS: At intelligently owned independent bookstores everywhere.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. Signed copies are available at http://www.DEADFELLAS.com.

PRICE: $15.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Jon@DEADFELLAS.com. Facebook pages are under: Jon D’Amore, DEADFELLAS, and THE BOSS ALWAYS SITS IN THE BACK. Websites for the books are http://www.THEBOSSALWAYSSITSINTHEBACK.com and http://www.DEADFELLAS.com

 

Weather Report, October 30

 

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “EVERYONE WAS THERE,” BY ANTHONY VARALLO, “THE GIFT,” BY BARBARA BROWNING AND “BRIDGE OF THE PAPER TIGER,” BY JOHN CHAPLICK, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR’S PAGE.


Since I am the founder, owner and sole employee of Snowflakes in a Blizzard (snowflakesarise.wordpress.com), I get to make the rules. But then again, rules were made to be broken.

For example, I promised myself that this blog would never feature any vampire or zombie books, because almost everybody was writing vampire and zombie books.  But when I ran across “The Sanguinist’s Daughter,” by Susan Hubbard, I found a vampire I could live with.

Then Jon D’Amore came along, the friend of a writer friend with a colorful background and … what else? … a zombie book. And I was conflicted.

The thing is, I’ve always had a fascination for books about gangsters. Call it a guilty pleasure. So what could I do with an undead novel titled “Deadfellas,” written by someone who actually had blood ties to the Mob?

Well, highlight it on the eve of Halloween, of course.

Moreover, credit must go to Jon for his persistence. I’m not the only one who considered zombie fiction to be a dead zone. Writes Steve Barr, co-author of what started out as a screenplay:

“The zombie genre, we were told, is dead. The genre’s DVD bonanza of the 90s is over. There hasn’t been a successful zombie project in decades … as long as you don’t count the Dawn of the Dead remake, and Zombieland, and World War Z, and the Resident Evil franchise, and Warm Bodies, and Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, and Ash Vs Evil Dead, and iZombie, and the Santa Clarita Diet.

“Oh, and The Walking Dead, which is one of the most successful shows in the world, was so successful that they made a spinoff called Fear The Walking Dead. I mean, c’mon, they resurrected the idea of spinoffs!

“Hollywood is known for a lot of things, but internal consistency isn’t one of them, especially since this apparently-dead genre just keeps getting up and walking around.

“We really like DEADFELLAS, so Jon decided he’d stop waiting for a movie to happen, and instead he’d tell this tale in a different fashion.”

Happy Halloween!

Our other two offerings this week — a book of short stories and a collection of poems — are, as is usually the case on this site, unique.

Like Jon, Linda Bamber worked off a theme in producing “Taking What I Like” — Shakespeare.  According to the “summary” section of her template:

“Six of the stories are ‘Shakespeare re-boots.’ In one, for instance, a murderer plays Hamlet in a prison theater production of the play while waiting to meet with the parole board that will decide his fate. In another Desdemona is the chair of an English Department looking to make an affirmative action hire because Othello is the only minority member of the department. Another story riffs on Charlotte Bronte and yet another on the American artist Thomas Eakins. In every case the art of the past is both cherished for its own sake and used to explore the here and now.”

There are no zombies or gangsters in Elysia Lucinda Smith’s “Unruly,” but many of her poems come out with fangs bared.

“Despite its irreverence, my book does address sexuality in a way that I hope you will find charged and interesting. It’s timely because I talk openly about sexual assault throughout. But, I also take time to illustrate the nuance of how young women have little control over how we come of age. Sexuality isn’t something we’re instructed in or encouraged to have [the way it rolls in waves off smelly little boys in PE, and penises are drawn on every bus window]. When women come of age, it’s often because someone, either a boy our age or an older man has noticed us. We feel the eyes and the noticing, we ask ourselves what it is about us. Sexuality isn’t something women are allowed to take and try on. In this book, I try on everything.”

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, OCT. 31-NOV. 6

“DEADFELLAS,” BY JON D’AMORE.

New Jersey mob boss Giuseppe ‘Joey’ Ponti assigns his trusted lieutenant, Carmine ‘Chickie’ Santorella, to find out why the family’s casino is losing money. Chickie and three mob soldiers, Bobby Battaglino, Richie Paldino and Sammy Trombino, travel to a small Nevada town, kidnap the casino manager and take him to a secluded cabin that has been used for mob executions for decades.

Unfortunately for them, by torturing the half-Indian/half-Italian manager, they invoke an ancient Shoshone curse which awakens the buried dead to hunt them down. Whacked gangsters, stoolies, lawyers and hookers crawl out of their graves with only one thing on their decomposing minds … kill the four mobsters.

It’s mobsters versus monsters when Chickie and his crew, along with Dallas, China and Jenny (three hookers who wind up in the wrong place at the wrong time), fight for their lives against scores of reanimated Mafioso.

“TAKING WHAT I LIKE,” BY LINDA BAMBER.

“The book began while I was on vacation one year on an island. I woke up thinking about the island in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and some mechanism in my mind began writing a warm, newsy letter from one of its characters to another. Of course the character were women: Miranda and Claribel, the daughters of the two most powerful men in the play. There’s a lightly feminist impulse behind many of the stories in my collection: let’s see what happens when we center these plays on their women rather than always the men.”

“UNRULY,” BY ELYSIA LUCINDA SMITH.

Writes reviewer Jill McDonough: “Starting with its terrific title, UNRULY gives us fierce and funny images, invites the reader in … making you part of a conversation you are thrilled to overhear, about how ‘being a woman/means sometimes being pressed//into corners or blindness/or laughter.’ There’s a lot of laughter. And we need it. These poems remind us to ‘want as much/as possible, ‘because I am again and again aroused/to be alive.’”

 

 

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Everyone Was There

OUR OTHER CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “THE GIFT,” BY BARBARA BROWNING AND “BRIDGE OF THE PAPER TIGER,” BY JOHN CHAPLICK, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR’S PAGE.


THE BOOK: Everyone Was There

PUBLISHED IN: 2017

THE AUTHOR: Anthony Varallo.

THE EDITOR: Dana Curtis.

THE PUBLISHER: Elixir Press.

SUMMARY: Everyone Was There is a short story collection that features stories of one to three pages in length. The stories deal with everything from parent and child relationships, marriage, growing up, and more, all with the belief that the past is alive in the present, and that there is something beautiful about ordinary experience that escapes us. Some of the stories are lighthearted, some serious, and some are just plain strange (there’s a story about a can opener, another about a talking baby). There’s one story I don’t actually understand myself, although I remember understanding it when I wrote it. But I’m not saying which one.

Anthony VaralloTHE BACK STORY: It took me 20 years to write Everyone Was There. The first story—my first publication, actually—appeared back in 1997, and the most recent stories were published in 2017. Between those years, I published three other story collections, and drafted two novels, all while writing the short-short stories that would become, through a slow and sporadic accumulation, Everyone Was There. Sometimes, during the years when I was writing those other books, I would play a “game” where I would go to a café and try to write an entire story by the time I finished drinking one coffee. I’m not a fast writer, and could never really win my game, but sometimes I’d write half a story, or three quarters of a story, and come back the next day and finish it, then start another, and so on. Many of the stories in Everyone Was There grew out of that game, an exercise, really, in discipline. Those stories are special to me now.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I titled one of the stories “Everyone Was There” and liked it well enough to lend that name to the collection. The story is about a party where, literally but absurdly, everyone you know is in attendance. That seemed to fit the feel of the book: a collection of disparate stories all hanging out together, in harmony and contradiction, but together nonetheless. The cover image is meant to suggest a party in full swing—or at least fully illuminated.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I hope my book would appeal to anyone who enjoys short stories or fiction in general. Everyone Was There might also be of particular interest to fans, admirers, practitioners and teachers of short-short stories.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Anthony Varallo’s Everyone Was There is one of the most beautiful experiments I’ve ever read. The gods of absurdity—Barthelme and Millhauser—hover over these pages, yet Varallo’s voice—its gravity, its intelligence, its deep, brilliant, kind sense of humor, its crazy sympathy—flows so generously and originally through these pages. For me, this is a book to study, and to cherish.” —Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories

“In his collection Everyone Was There, Anthony Varallo turns his wonderfully inventive eye toward a world we both recognize and that shimmers at the edge of our consciousness. These terrific and original short stories explore the strangeness and tenderness that co-exist in everyday life, and they are full of mystery, humor and compassion.” —Karen E. Bender, author of Refund: Stories

“In so many of these stories, Anthony Varallo does something both rare and wonderful: he manages to be both funny and profound. Here you’ll meet the life of the party who’s secretly miserable and reconnect with the popular kids you knew in high school who now find themselves stalled out in melancholy middle age, their children and the world seemingly uninterested in them. Varallo is a master at characterization—his misfits and lonely divorced fathers, his vivid adolescents and tongue-in-cheek John Updike cameo—there is so much here that I admired and enjoyed. A terrific new collection.” —Christine Sneed, author of The Virginity of Famous Men: Stories.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am the author of four short story collections: This Day in History, winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award; Out Loud, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize; Think of Me and I’ll Know (Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly Books); and Everyone Was There, winner of the Elixir Press 2016 Fiction Award. Currently I am an associate professor of English at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC, where I teach in our MFA Program in Creative Writing and serve as Fiction Editor of Crazyhorse. I live in James Island, SC, with my wife, the writer Malinda McCollum, and our two children.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Everyone Was There won the Elixir Press 2016 Fiction Award. I am thankful to Dana Curtis, editor, for helping bring the book into the world. SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Anthony-Varallo/e/B001JSBJIO

LOCAL OUTLETS: Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston SC

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Small Press Distribution.

PRICE: $19.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: varalloa@cofc.edu

The Gift

The Gift (Emily Books) by [Browning, Barbara]

Barbara BrowningTHE BOOK: The Gift (or, Techniques of the Body)

PUBLISHED IN: 2017

THE AUTHOR: Barbara Browning

THE EDITOR: Emily Gould and Ruth Curry (Emily Books Imprint)

THE PUBLISHER: Coffee House Press

SUMMARY: In the midst of the Occupy movement, Barbara Andersen begins spamming people indiscriminately with ukulele covers of sentimental songs. A series of inappropriate intimacies ensues, including an erotically charged correspondence and then collaboration with an extraordinarily gifted and troubled musician living in Germany. The Gift is a sometimes funny, sometimes catastrophically sad story of performance art, music, dance, and our attempts and failures to make contact.

THE BACK STORY: As the narrator tells you, most everything in this novel really happened, except for the things the narrator tells you didn’t really happen.

WHY THIS TITLE: Because we need to have a little hope in crazy, utopian projects right now, like the redemptive power of sharing our gifts, even if we may know we’re kidding ourselves.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Because they also want to believe in fiction.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“…a smart, funny, heartbreaking and often sexy delight of a novel that presses hard against the boundaries of where literary and artistic performances begin and end.” — The New York Times

“Browning is working at the edges of her craft, and it’s utterly thrilling to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Barbara Browning’s winning and expansive novel describes one woman’s intimacies with lovers, strangers, culture and ideas, family and friends during serveral months in NY between 2012 and 2013. Browning brilliantly synthesizes her work as a scholar and artist into a single identity, becoming at once a master monologist, Storyteller, and historian of her amorphous tribe.” —Chris Kraus

“Barbara Browning’s gift is delicacy’s embrace of edge, daring’s embrace of openness, dance’s embrace of song, in open tuning: a blues for intimacy’s constant rupture and repair, held out in simple and miraculous gesture. I mean to say that her sentences are carefully held out hands signing the theory and practice of generosity, speaking with such plain obscurity that what has been covered — the lonesome miracle of what it is to be together — is now visible.” —Fred Moten

“…an exceptionally graceful page presence: loony and profound, vulnerable and ingenuous, Barbara acts to unify the book’s central concerns, giving its intellectual flights of fancy a palpable human pulse.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

AUTHOR PROFILE: Barbara Browning teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. She is the author of two prior novels, The Correspondence Artist and I’m Trying to Reach You. She’s also a dancer, poet, and amateur ukuleleist.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: A number of short essays and interviews about this book are circulating on the Internet, for example here, and here.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://lithub.com/the-gift/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Local for the author: Word Bookstore (Brooklyn), Greenlight Bookstore (Brooklyn), Unnameable Books (Brooklyn), The Strand (NYC), Barnes and Noble (NYC), etc.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: All the usual online outlets, as well as emilybooks.com and coffeehousepress.org.

PRICE: $15.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: barbarabrowning@gmail.co