Gravity Hill

This week’s other featured books, “Gentle Slaughter,” by Philip Belcher and “Mistakes by the Lake,” by Brian Petkash, 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: Gravity Hill

PUBLISHED IN: Sept. 2022

THE AUTHOR: Susanne Davis

THE EDITOR: Kim Davis (no relation)

THE PUBLISHER: Madville Publishing

SUMMARY: Gravity Hill is a story about Jordan Hawkins, her family, and a small rural town in Connecticut wrecked by the tragic death of three boys on Gravity Hill. But what first appears to be a tragedy of drunk driving leads back to a mysterious accident that has plagued a small town for years, sending Jordan on a journey to clear her brother’s name. What she discovers—a hidden toxic waste site—sends the whole town on its own bumpy road to self-awareness and healing.

THE BACK STORY: The main character Jordan appeared to me first in a short story. She was angry and grieving and after I finished the story, she kept tapping me on the shoulder, letting me know she had more to say. It took me 12 years to see the fullness of the story. I’m glad we stuck with each other.

WHY THIS TITLE: The story has a heart and a road map for grieving, as well as a character committed to discovering the truth.

And the drama starts and ends on Gravity Hill, which is a real place, in Sterling, CT.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: If interested in strong female characters, small town mysteries, environmental subplot, farmlife.

REVIEWS

Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/susanne-davis/gravity-hill/

Instagram book bloggers:

Reading Late Into the Night/Sherry: “What an emotional ride. It seems my last few reads have been beautifully written and deeper than my normal reads. Jordan is struggling with not only her brother’s untimely death but also the expectations of her family and being the surviving child. She is such a complex and well written character. I felt for her having to deal with all that at too young an age. I was also reeled in by the mystery that develops in this poor rural town. And can I mention my fascination with this place that defies gravity? A great read by a debut author. I finished it in a day. Never wanting to put it down.

ABOUT THE BOOK: “GRAVITY HILL is a story about Jotrdan Hawkins, her family, and a small rural town in Connecticut wrecked by the tragic deaths of three boys on Gravity Hill. But what first appears to be a tragedy of drunk driving leads back to a mysterious accident that has plagued a small town for years, sending Jordan on a journey to clear her brotherr’s name. What she discovers — a hidden toxjc waste site — sends the whole townm on its own bumpy road to self discovery and healing.”

Tammyreads62: 𝐖𝐡𝐨𝐚, 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐈 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝! 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐠 𝐠𝐢𝐫𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫. 𝐉𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫’𝐬 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭. 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐟𝐚𝐬𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜 𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐬, 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐟 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐨 𝐦𝐮𝐜𝐡 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞! 𝐒𝐨 𝐬𝐨 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝!

AUTHOR PROFILE: https://susannedavis.com/about/

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I grew up on a dairy farm in Connecticut, still owned and operated by my family. Farmers are notorious storytellers, and so it seemed natural when one day I started to spin a story to my friends at school that my family would be moving soon. My friends threw a big party for me, with cake and many sweet presents that only adolescent girls can give, including a miniature sailboat in a glass bottle. It was a beautiful party, the only problem was that I wasn’t moving. Not at all. Maybe I’d heard my parents talk about the possibility of moving, because indeed we did move a year later to the farm which serves loosely as the backdrop for Gravity Hill. But the problem was that I had to go back to school in September and face the friends who had given me a heartfelt, teary farewell. What was I to do? I made up a story. At that time, before moving to the dairy farm, my family owned a chicken farm. I hated the chickens and those dark smelly pens so it wasn’t hard the first day of school that September, when my friends saw me get off the bus, to create ANOTHER elaborate story… (also not true)… the chickens had gotten a terrible disease and couldn’t be moved. Luckily no one asked what disease, because I hadn’t thought that far ahead. But that was the moment I decided to write fiction, so that in the words of one famous writer, I might write all my dramatic stories but live a boring life.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/gravity-hill-susanne-davis?utm_medium=email&utm_source=transactional&utm_campaign=mandrill#preview

LOCAL OUTLETS: Barnes&Noble, Walmart, Bookshop.org, numerous other independent bookstores, Madville Publishing

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon

PRICE: $9.95 (Kindle) – 20.95 Paper

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://www.susannedavis.com

Gentle Slaughter

THE BOOK: Gentle Slaughter  

PUBLISHED IN: 9/5/22

THE AUTHOR: Philip Belcher

THE PUBLISHER: MadHat Press

SUMMARY: Philip Belcher’s first full-length collection of poems reveals a poet probing memory and art—their jumble of fact and imagination—to explore the challenges of living with full awareness of decline, of acknowledging failure to meet one’s own expectations, and of accepting the inevitability of limitation. Influenced by a long line of southern poets, including R.T. Smith, Claudia Emerson, Rodney Jones, and Steve Scafidi—poets whose poems stretch far beyond what might be labeled regional—Belcher’s poems also echo Dickinson’s theological reflections, Philip Levine’s discovery of the profound in the quotidian, Hayden Carruth’s absorption in place, and Philip Larkin’s overarching pessimism. These poems, usually meditative, do not neglect humor or beauty but do not employ them in a way that distracts from the reality of lives ultimately governed by grief.     

WHY THIS TITLE: Many of these poems are elegiac and share an understanding that grief is inescapable. The final poem is entitled “Gentle Slaughter,” and as I arranged the poems in the collection it seemed to me that this title was both appropriate and arresting.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ ITGentle Slaughter shows one poet’s approach to our common situation: the understanding that, as college kids once said ironically, “Life is hard and then you die.” The poems show the influence of generations of poets and, one might surmise, the existentialist philosophers of the 20th century. 

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Philip Belcher’s poems are understated, compassionate, and intimate, but never sentimental or predictable; grave but not dour, witty but seldom riotous. While the subjects of his work include gardening, hound dogs, rowdy youthful escapades and a wily knowledge of the natural world, they also have room for “The Antiques Road Show,” Durer, Shiva, the photographs of Diane Arbus and Shelby Lee Adams, all raising ethical questions, demanding rumination and candor. His sentences are carefully pruned, polished and rife with withheld suggestiveness, the most memorable ones about the poet’s father as he enters dementia. They cut to the bone, but Belcher accepts “the mandatory cull of wounded fruit” and the mystery of black birds raining from the sky, as he engages the unseen and whispered. Though Belcher’s terrain is the often-raucous mid-south, his diction is not antic, his comedy never far from tragedy. His perspective is shaped by training in seminary and law school, as well as vigorous curiosity. His touch is light. His aim is true. Gentle Slaughter is a remarkable, inspiring and beautiful book.” — R. T. Smith, author of Outlaw Style

“In cogent sentences Philip Belcher sets forth the sweet and punishing truths about family and neighbor – those who mourn, or mourned, the ones who may be poor in spirit, the impure and the pure residing in the rural counties of Southern Slaughter.

Poems that are so artfully made and truly told are required reading. — Carol Frost

“Nothing dies as slowly as a scene,” Richard Hugo once said, and that line came to me often as I read these excellent, often elegiac, poems. Whether writing of youth or old age, of photographs or place, Philip Belcher creates images that endure: windblown, burning leaves become “little kites of fire”, words “bulging creels of speech”. Yet the artistry is always in service of conveying the depths of the human heart. Gentle Slaughter is a beautiful and memorable collection. — Ron Rash

AUTHOR PROFILE: Philip Belcher is the Vice President of Programs for The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina in Asheville and the author of The Flies and Their Lovely Names, selected by Kwame Dawes as the winner of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative chapbook prize and published by Stepping Stones Press. A graduate of Furman University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Duke University School of Law (JD), he also earned an MFA in Poetry from Converse College and is the recipient of both the Porter Fleming Prize in Poetry and Shenandoah’s Carter Prize for the Essay. Belcher’s poems and critical prose have appeared in numerous journals, including The Southeast ReviewShenandoahSouthern Humanities Review, Passages NorthFugueThe Southern Quarterly, and Asheville Poetry Review. He also served as an Advisory and Contributing Editor for Shenandoah.

SAMPLE POEMjuxtaprosemagazine.org/dead-of-winter-by-philip-belcher/

LOCAL OUTLETShttps://www.malaprops.com/search/site/Gentle%20Slaughter

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IThttps://www.amazon.com/Gentle-Slaughter-Philip-Belcher/dp/1952335477/ref=sr_1_1?crid=TUX114JVWMEK&keywords=gentle+slaughter&qid=1664745631&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIwLjAwIiwicXNhIjoiMC4wMCIsInFzcCI6IjAuMDAifQ%3D%3D&sprefix=%2Caps%2C168&sr=8-1

https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=Gentle+Slaughter

PRICE: $21.95

CONTACT THE AUTHORphilipbelcher.net

Mistakes by the Lake

THE BOOK: Mistakes by the Lake

PUBLISHED IN: 2020

THE AUTHOR: Brian Petkash

THE EDITOR: Kim Davis

THE PUBLISHER: Madville Publishing

SUMMARY: Set in Cleveland, Ohio, from its earliest beginnings as a forested frontier to the urban blight of modern times, Mistakes by the Lake is a collection of ten thematically-linked stories spanning the many faces of the city’s history:

  • a motorman navigates his 1920’s back-and-forth trolley until he snaps;
  • a stockyards knocker encounters the Virgin Mary during the 1954 World Series;
  • a wannabe wrestles his unruly mind along the flammable 1960’s Cuyahoga River;
  • in a reinvention of Henry IV, a young man must either stick with his bumbling criminal crew or uncover legit ways to support his mother and transgender Gramps.

WHY THIS TITLE: Cleveland is known, pejoratively, as the Mistake on the Lake. It may seem like the lives of the characters in this story collection are mistakes, that the city somehow overlooked them, but they’re anything but mistakes.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: While it’s a Cleveland-centric book, steeped in the city’s rich history, Cleveland is such a great analog for the American experience in any city. It’s a book that is “part adventure narrative, part love letter to Cleveland, [that] uses history to illuminate and elevate trailblazers, troublemakers, and tinkerers” (Tasha Cotter).

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“With a tender and transportive love note to a city—with shades of Richard Powers’s feel for people and land, spiked by flashes of the odd experimentalism of underground poet d.a. levy—Brian Petkash has written a muscular, inventive, and engrossing novel in stories, each one set in a different Cleveland decade. From 1796 to 2013, we travel from wilderness to street car, from the day a steer escapes the stockyards to the awful day a star little leaguer disappears. Each chapter about this city in Ohio throbs with love, intensity, devotion, and creativity. Epic, ambitious, gorgeous, and deeply felt, all of the stories in Mistakes by the Lake add up to a book at least as old, important, and beautiful as the grand old city of Cleveland itself.” —Nathan Deuel, author of Friday Was the Bomb and frequent Los Angeles Times book critic

“Evidently, Brian Petkash was somebody’s big secret until now. I don’t know how they kept him from us. No one writes this good the first time out, do they? Well, secret no more, folks: this genie’s out of the bottle. Brian Petkash’s Mistakes by the Lake is a stunning literary achievement. The prose is luminous and compassionate, the themes are complex and resonant, the characters are riveting and heroic. You won’t soon forget them, and you won’t want to. They’ll haunt your dreams. This is not a book that you can put down until it’s through with you. Yes, it’s that good, and you’re going to thank me for telling you about Mistakes by the Lake. Go buy it now.” —John Dufresne, author of I Don’t Like Where This Is Going

“In this remarkable debut, Brian Petkash immerses his reader with textured prose that is as beautifully nuanced as it is brutally honest. The settings of these stories are authentically Cleveland, but the terrain is the full range of human emotion. From a trolley driver searching the tracks for purpose to a war veteran wounded by the loss of his wife, Petkash binds together a disparate cast of characters with threads of hope and humanity.  Mistakes by the Lake is a collection that resonates long after the read, and Petkash is an author to be watched.” —R. Dean Johnson, author of Californium

AUTHOR PROFILE: Brian grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, a focal point of much of his writing (and much of his sports heartache). A former high school literature and creative writing teacher, he lives in Tampa and works as a marketing professional in both the game and comic book industries. Brian holds an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Tampa. His work has appeared in El PortalBridge Eight Literary MagazineSouthword, and Midwestern Gothic.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

https://brianpetkash.com/bts-dispossessed/

LOCAL OUTLETS:

Tombolo Books: https://tombolobooks.com/item/pAuy5T1l28c0oLQIeSeWMw

Loganberry Books: https://store.loganberrybooks.com/mistakes-lake

Mac’s Backs: https://www.macsbacks.com/book/9781948692328

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

Madville Publishing: https://madvillepublishing.com/product/mistakes-by-the-lake/

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/mistakes-by-the-lake/9781948692328

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mistakes-by-the-lake-brian-petkash/1136418801

PRICE: $19.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Instagram: @petkashreads

Weather Report, October 3

Cleveland, OH (Deposit Photos)

This week’s other featured books, “UnDEfeated Woman,” by Desagne Kuenihira and “The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River,” by Rustin Larson, 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, OCTOBER 4-10

“MISTAKES BY THE LAKE,” BY BRIAN PETKASH.

According to one reviewer: “With a tender and transportive love note to a city—with shades of Richard Powers’s feel for people and land, spiked by flashes of the odd experimentalism of underground poet d.a. levy—Brian Petkash has written a muscular, inventive, and engrossing novel in stories, each one set in a different Cleveland decade. From 1796 to 2013, we travel from wilderness to street car, from the day a steer escapes the stockyards to the awful day a star little leaguer disappears. Each chapter about this city in Ohio throbs with love, intensity, devotion, and creativity. Epic, ambitious, gorgeous, and deeply felt, all of the stories in Mistakes by the Lake add up to a book at least as old, important, and beautiful as the grand old city of Cleveland itself.”

“GENTLE SLAUGHTER,” BY PHILIP BELCHER.

 Philip Belcher’s first full-length collection of poems reveals a poet probing memory and art—their jumble of fact and imagination—to explore the challenges of living with full awareness of decline, of acknowledging failure to meet one’s own expectations, and of accepting the inevitability of limitation. Influenced by a long line of southern poets, including R.T. Smith, Claudia Emerson, Rodney Jones, and Steve Scafidi—poets whose poems stretch far beyond what might be labeled regional—Belcher’s poems also echo Dickinson’s theological reflections, Philip Levine’s discovery of the profound in the quotidian, Hayden Carruth’s absorption in place, and Philip Larkin’s overarching pessimism. These poems, usually meditative, do not neglect humor or beauty but do not employ them in a way that distracts from the reality of lives ultimately governed by grief.     

“GRAVITY HILL,” BY SUSANNE DAVIS

Gravity Hill is a story about Jordan Hawkins, her family, and a small rural town in Connecticut wrecked by the tragic death of three boys on Gravity Hill. But what first appears to be a tragedy of drunk driving leads back to a mysterious accident that has plagued a small town for years, sending Jordan on a journey to clear her brother’s name. What she discovers—a hidden toxic waste site—sends the whole town on its own bumpy road to self-awareness and healing.

UnDEfeated Woman

This week’s other featured book, “The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River,” by Rustin Larson, 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: unDEfeated Woman

PUBLISHED IN: 9/27/22

THE AUTHOR: Desange Kuenihira

THE PUBLISHER: BrainTrust Ink

SUMMARY:  As a young girl, Desange Kuenihira was told repeatedly that she was meaningless. An arranged marriage and motherhood before twenty—guaranteeing a life in poverty—were all she should expect. But Desange knew she had more inside her and that education was the key to unlocking her potential.

In unDEfeated Woman, Desange Kuenihira takes us on the challenging journey of her childhood. She recalls fleeing with her siblings from the civil war raging in Congo and the daily struggle of life in a refugee camp in Uganda, where she suffered many forms of abuse. She relates her journey to America, the culture clash of living with American foster families, and her quest for education and the ability to control her own life. Now a college graduate and determined to pay kindness forward, Desange has launched UnDEfeated, a nonprofit that empowers women and girls in Uganda.

Desange’s inspirational story shows us all how we can overcome any odds through education, determined perseverance, and the kindness of caring people.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Remember that anything worthwhile requires time and effort. As long as you’re alive, you have more strength than you know. No matter what you face, you can overcome anything.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?: It’s inspirational! This memoir begins with a story of a refugee girl, who was called “meaningless” from childhood. She lost herself along the way growing up but found unDEfeated woman in herself as an adult. This book will help you find yourself!

AUTHOR PROFILE: DESANGE KUENIHIRA is the CEO and founder of unDEfeated, a non-profit organization that provides education for underprivileged youth and women with extreme financial hardship in Uganda. The foundation supports single mothers and youth in developing entrepreneurial skills so that they can start successful businesses to support their families.

Originally from Democratic Republic of Congo, Desange lived in Uganda for twelve years as a refugee before moving to the U.S. and becoming a U.S. citizen. She holds a Bachelor of Science in criminology and a Bachelor of Science in health, society, and policy, with a minor in entrepreneurship and pre-business from the University of Utah.

Desange was named Miss Democratic Republic of Congo in the 2019 Miss Africa Utah pageant and Miss Juneteenth in 2018, and continues to represent her home country in speeches and community activities.

SAMPLE/EXCERPT: Look Inside on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1956072063/ 

WHERE TO BUY IT

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1956072063/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/undefeated-woman-desange-kuenihira/1142275427

PRICE: Paperback: $16.95

eBook: $8.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR

Desange is available for interviews, features, Q&As and select byline opportunities.

For more information, visit:

Website: Speakundefeated.org

Instagram: @kuenihira | @speakundefeated

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/desange-kuenihira-undefeated

The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River

THE BOOK:  The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River (poems) 
 
PUBLISHED IN: 2019 

 THE AUTHOR:  Rustin Larson 
 
THE EDITOR: Swedes Burghoff 
 
THE PUBLISHER: New Chicago (distributed by lulu.com) 
 
SUMMARY: In “The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River,” Rustin Larson now winds his words several notches closer to a phantom sense of the certainties we once thought we could assume — the way life promised a few solid things, perhaps “the purpose of life,” which now seems sold door to door as “an abrupt change,” if anything.  Words in their ordinary sense have been released from those customary connections, and often seem spoken from a place of floating far below meaning’s surface, as if a sedimentia abounding in the reasoning of tea leaves or some other structure of correspondence beyond our normal grasp were sending messages to the surface of the page. — Audrey Bohanan  

THE BACK STORY: This book is the sequel of “The Philosopher Savant” published by Glass Lyre Press (2015), Ami Kaye, Editor. 
 
WHY THIS TITLE?: This book is the sequel of “The Philosopher Savant” published by Glass Lyre Press (2015), Ami Kaye, Editor. 
 
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? In the first poem of the book the narrator skips church and wanders the country side, discovering new truths, learning he is able too think for himself, come to his own conclusions about himself and the world, and not be bound by non-secular dogma. this is where the Philosopher Savant is born. –Stephen Page 

The Philosopher Savant, the new poetry collection by Rustin Larson, is a fine, deeply-felt and keenly observed book. All through this past year, I’ve picked it up and read in it again and again. Every time it inspires me, from cover to the last page. Rustin’s poetry is full of surprises. The lines take unexpected turns, drawing you into sensory imagery, regular life in small town America. Memories from the past weave in and out in colorful, often hilarious or poignant anecdotes. Funny and random facts provide leaping off points for thoughtful musing about life and death, loss and intimacy or belonging. There also are repeated moments of quiet exaltation that make the ordinary extraordinary. I can’t recommend this book enough! It’s lovely.  –Nynke Passi 

 REVIEW COMMENTS: By Lynette G. Esposito (North of Oxford) 

The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River published by New Chicago, reveals Rustin Larson’s sense of place, time and sense of humor in almost eighty pages of artistically controlled poems. 

 In, By Greyhound with Grandmother on page nine, the reader is immediately invited onto the bus with a safe companion.  Larson skillfully sets the scene with the title before he reveals the details in the text of the seven- stanza poem. 

 Quarters slid into the vending machine. 

It’s good to have a town in mind in California 

   when you speak of death. 

 The scene is set, the location is clear and the action of eating from a vending machine shows the reader the circumstance.  But death?  

Subliminal messages: deviled ham 

     On white bread. 

           My grandmother handed me half. 

  The poem triggers the narrator’s memories of sound, taste and color. He mentions his grandmother again so the reader knows the narrator is with a safe traveling companion. 

 The ending, however is a surprise since there is a tone of calm and nourishment.  After remembering the taste of a drink that spoke of sunset and tasted like kisses, the last line brings an image of colossal meaning of his feeling for his grandmother and her role in his life. 

My grandmother hugged me 

The way a mountain hugs stone. 

 The poem is written in three- line stanzas except for the last line that stands alone.  The visual of the two traveling companions is built into a remembrance and an accolade for the safe feeling being with Grandmother.  This artistically transports these images into the universal feelings and observations one has of a protector. 

On page twenty-one, the narrator is in second grade and speaks of First Love.  This is a time of innocence and surprise. The three-stanza poem shows a young boy discovering desire and longing. 

In second grade, I stuck my paste-stiffened mittens on Donna Owen’s shoulders, then choked on my saliva. 

 The poem ends with: 

…… .The whole

  tree quivered as it swallowed it down.  The goddess walked flowing 

in silk.  She would take her chances.  The cool air shattered and sang. 

 The images are descriptive and lovely as this young second grader discovers the fleeting deep emotion of young love. 

On page eighty, the poem, Neruda, demonstrates a wry twist life has. All is good in the five stanzas until the last line. 

Neruda had the goddess scarf 

dangle what was over all 

in heaven again pounced 

in a roar around the microscope 

       about what the devil said. 

  

The evangelist, red, 

     complaining, is lit 

         with Neruda’s returning, 

  

white and blue, by the way, 

     with happy people. 

I’m contemplating; 

   it occurs, it asks me 

          and then it rains. 

  

This poem has a serious and religious tone. The reader is drawn into the importance of what is happening here.  And as in life, no matter how serious, no matter how religious, nature takes over and puts one in his/her place.  In this case, it rains.  It is a fresh presentation on pomposity. 

 This tome has a wide variety of scenes, places, situations and images that seem to speak out loud of commentary on daily life both as it is lived and remembered.  I liked the conversational tone of the poems and the skilled clarity of the narrator’s observations.  This is a good read. 

You can find the book here:  https://www.amazon.com/PHILOSOPHER-SAVANT-CROSSES-RIVER/dp/0359990975  

 Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University. 

AUTHOR PROFILE: It’s hard not to think of myself as an Iowa writer because I was born in Des Moines and have lived all but four years of my life in Iowa. I’ve lived in Des Moines, Indianola, Fairfield, Brighton, and have slept on couches in Iowa City, Sioux City, Clinton, Osage, and Maquoketa. I have done a stint as a poet in the schools and have taught in the communities of Red Oak, Orange City, Tama, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Ankeny, Clinton, and Creston. If I’m forgetting anybody, I apologize. 

I have also been the college editor for The Iowa Poetry Association’s anthology Lyrical Iowa for what seems like 20 years now and have been a critic in their workshop multiple years and have known so many fine people. I teach creative writing at Maharishi International University in their new M.F.A. program. I also teach composition at Kirkwood Community College. I have published my poetry in Lyrical Iowa, The Iowa Review, The North American Review, The Briar Cliff Review (good Iowa journals all), and I have been poetry editor for The Iowa Source

My first real full-length book, Crazy Star, was published by Loess Hill Books in 2005 by its founder, Iowa’s farmer poet, Michael Carey. That book was launched in Shenandoah, Iowa, at a big soiree that included the presence of Iowa Governor Vilsack and his wife Christie, and I read Crazy Star alongside Iowa Poet Laureate Robert Dana, who read from his The Morning of the Red Admirals

So you can see there is a big Iowa theme built up in my life. Many of my poems feature some aspect of Iowa, as do my short stories. Even the poems I published in The New Yorker were about Iowa. 

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Life, as we live it, or at least as I perceive it, is made up of layers. We live the present, but while we do, we also relive the past, and we live in the obsession with what has not even happened yet. One of my approaches in the storytelling was to fragment and to jumble chronology. In so doing, gaps of silence, or breathing spaces if you will, were created between narrative blocks. These silent breaths created an underlying sense of simplicity and being, a unifying place out of time.  
 
SAMPLE

https://www.google.com/books/edition/THE_PHILOSOPHER_SAVANT_CROSSES_THE_RIVER/R5G8DwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=The+Philosopher+Savant+Crosses+the+River&printsec=frontcover 
 
LOCAL OUTLETS: Prairie Lights Bookstore, Iowa City. Beaverdale Books, Des Moines. 
 
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, indiebound.org 
 
PRICE: $16.00 

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: rustinlarson@gmail.com 

Weather Report, Sept. 26

Nakivale Refugee Camp, Uganda

Our currently featured books, “Sky of Infinite Blue,” by Kyomi O’Connor and “The Long Way Home,” by Tom Fate, van 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, SEPT. 27-OCT. 3

“UNDEFEATED WOMAN,” BY DESANGE KUENIHIRA

As a young girl, Desange Kuenihira was told repeatedly that she was meaningless. An arranged marriage and motherhood before twenty—guaranteeing a life in poverty—were all she should expect. But Desange knew she had more inside her and that education was the key to unlocking her potential.

In unDEfeated Woman, Desange Kuenihira takes us on the challenging journey of her childhood. She recalls fleeing with her siblings from the civil war raging in Congo and the daily struggle of life in a refugee camp in Uganda, where she suffered many forms of abuse. She relates her journey to America, the culture clash of living with American foster families, and her quest for education and the ability to control her own life. Now a college graduate and determined to pay kindness forward, Desange has launched UnDEfeated, a nonprofit that empowers women and girls in Uganda.

Desange’s inspirational story shows us all how we can overcome any odds through education, determined perseverance, and the kindness of caring people.

“THJE PHILOPSHER SAVANT CROSSES THE RIVER,” BY RUSTIN LARSON

From one reviewer: The Philosopher Savant, the new poetry collection by Rustin Larson, is a fine, deeply-felt and keenly observed book. All through this past year, I’ve picked it up and read in it again and again. Every time it inspires me, from cover to the last page. Rustin’s poetry is full of surprises. The lines take unexpected turns, drawing you into sensory imagery, regular life in small town America. Memories from the past weave in and out in colorful, often hilarious or poignant anecdotes. Funny and random facts provide leaping off points for thoughtful musing about life and death, loss and intimacy or belonging. There also are repeated moments of quiet exaltation that make the ordinary extraordinary. I can’t recommend this book enough! It’s lovely.”

A Sky of Infinite Blue

This week’s other featured book, “The Long Way Home,” by Tom Montgomery Fate, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with Jo Salas’ “Dancing With Diana,” Or, just click the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: A Sky of Infinite Blue.

PUBLISHED IN: 2022

THE AUTHOR: Kyomi O’Connor.

THE EDITOR: Brooke Warner, (and Krissa Lagos)

THE PUBLISHER: She Writes Press, Hybrid publisher -10th anniversary in 2022

SUMMARY: A Sky of Infinite Blue describes the author Kyomi O’Connor’s spiritual journey. Kyomi believes it’s a shared journey for everyone.

Right from the start, Kyomi’s life was full of emotional difficulties; an adulterous father, an over-reliant mother, and a dismissive extended family. To escape her dark life in Japan, Kyomi left Japan for the states to start her new life, where she fell in love with her future husband: Patrick, a warm, charismatic cancer researcher who helped her to finally heal her past traumas through his unconditional love and support.

Together, they changed careers and moved to San Diego, where they dedicated themselves to the Buddhism practice that had changed their lives and aided them in their spiritual growth and desire to help others.

Then Patrick was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic melanoma in his brain, and after a fierce, three-year battle against cancer, he passed away. Kyomi was lost in grief. But when she started writing after his passing, she realized that doing so surfaced many old, unhealed wounds and ultimately became her daily spiritual practice, uncovering truth from the darkness.

In this part immigrant memoir, part spiritual meditation, Kyomi shares how, even with her husband gone, she found the love and light that had been within her all along.

THE BACK STORY: While I was caregiving Patrick, I had to act like a warrior to protect him. For this, I kept all the needs, doubts, regrets and shame of myself risen along with various events deep inside of me. After his passing, I suffered from not only from losses from his death, but also newly rising unsolved questions, some of which were rooted in my childhood.

Nine months after his death, I clearly saw myself in dualism of pretension and lies. To find what were real, I had to self-examine and express how I was doing, why I was doing, and how that happened to see me and my life in the light of truth.

At times of writing, I was in excruciating pains and agonies to face the realities of my life, and the people who I love dearly in my life. My spiritual Buddhist principles of offering, disciplines, perseverance, practice, meditation, and wisdom helped me stay on course whenever writing became a challenge. I was undergoing all the grieving, learning how to write a memoir, and actually facing difficulties from the past.

Overall, from the very beginning of writing (April 2017) to the completion of the writing (December 2020), it took three and a half years for me to write this memoir.

WHY THIS TITLE?: A Sky of Infinite Blue was one of several candidates the editors brought on the table. As soon as I saw it, I chose this title in less than a second. This title fits and blends into the world of my book so beautifully.

I was born in Japan and immigrated to the United States. Just like anyone else, my journey consists of various places and times in my life. However, my spiritual journey is not just open to the future, but always circled back to find the origin of who I am, my being, integral beyond times and places.

The title of my memoir expresses the infinite journey of not only me, but all of us, many cluster of cherry blossoms, us, in the world, living in the infinitely free and blue sky.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My audience is anyone, particularly, women, who are aware of our life challenges, who want to find a way, and/or who think they are helpless at times.

Specifically, those who underwent childhood emotional abuse, illness and/or death of loved one, caregiving, and those who have multi-cultural backgrounds, spiritual seeker, seeker of a Buddhism, inspiration, truth and love

In my book, I opened myself in the light of truth, which came from extremely vulnerable places, pains, anguishes, and agonies. I took them so seriously and kept them close to my heart, so I described them with my utmost honesty. Few readers may turn my book away because they may feel too difficult to see a raw and honest Self – mine and theirs. But I believe an answer for all of us is in my book; how we see ourselves through how I was and what I experienced. A suffering and pain hold the very seed and an answer for a path of enlightenment.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“There is a beautiful sense of introspection throughout this work that makes it feel like a spiritual reflection on the author’s journey and the growth she undertook along the way. It is a deeply meditative memoir made possible by author Kyomi O’Connor’s willingness to be emotionally vulnerable and her graceful wisdom in reflecting on the events of her life with the benefit of hindsight. Her prose effortlessly encourages readers to invest emotionally in the author’s life, and there are many lessons imparted throughout the journey that readers can – and should – take away and implement in their own lives. Overall, A Sky of Infinite Blue is a book written with no small degree of bravery, but the risk taken has paid out handsomely as it has resulted in a moving and insightful memoir. I cannot imagine someone reading it from cover to cover without feeling moved and enlightened by the experience.” –Readers’ Favorite, Five stars

“Quiet, meditative, and graceful, the memoir A Sky of Infinite Blue intertwines a spiritual journey with the personal pursuit of freedom…. A Sky of Infinite Blue stands as a testament to the power of self-examination and spiritual practice.”

– Foreword Reviews, Five stars

“An engaging and poignant immigrant account with sharp, sincere, and tenderly insightful writing.” –Kirkus Reviews

AUTHOR PROFILE: Kyomi O’Connor, a childhood emotional abuse survivor, moved to the States from Japan in February 1990 to work as a post-doctoral researcher at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. Soon, she fell in love with her husband-to-be, Patrick. His unconditional love helped her heal the old wounds. Their journey together led them to change their careers, move to San Diego, and practice Buddhism. They grew spiritually together and became leaders in their Buddhist community and inseparable partners through the many hardships they faced together. Patrick fell ill in the summer of 2013 with the diagnosis of stage IV metastatic melanoma in the brain and passed away three years later on July 4, 2016. After his death, writing helped Kyomi rediscover light in her life. These days, she spends her time writing (she’s an active writer online at Medium), practicing yoga and Qi Gong, cooking, traveling, and taking photographs. Kyomi lives in San Diego with her two cats, Tommy and Omi.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Kyomi sincerely wishes readers, who visit her most vulnerable places in the book, to feel they are not alone, and encouraged to bring out their courage a little and heal Self altogether. Kyomi believes we all are in love and light behind and inside all the sufferings. Please take time for ourselves to heal and love.

Kyomi continues to write a book, and poems and essays on MEDIUM (which readers can find on the Blog pages on her Webpage: https://kyomioconnor.com/ )

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

Amazon Page

Amazon URL: https://www.amazon.com/Sky-Infinite-Blue-Japanese-Immigrants-ebook/dp/B09NNDM5VQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=35MADCPI78RDG&keywords=a+sky+of+infinite+blue+kyomi+oconnor&qid=1658855714&sprefix=a+sky+of+infinite+blue%2Caps%2C110&sr=8-1

CHAPTER EXCERPT:

Chapter 23 –Septic Shock

WHERE TO BUY IT:

Amazon Page

Barnes & Noble Page

Local: Warwick’s Page

Local: DIESEL Page

PRICE:

Paperback: $17.95

E-Book: $8.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Webpage:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/kyomioconnor.writer

Facebook, Author Page:

https://www.facebook.com/KyomiOConnorAuthor

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/memoir_writer2/?hl=en

Twitter:

MEDIUM:

The Long Way Home

THE BOOK: The Long Way Home: Detours and Discoveries

PUBLISHED IN: 2022.

THE AUTHOR: Tom Montgomery Fate

THE PUBLISHER: Ice Cube Press

SUMMARY: A travel memoir that ventures from his smalltown upbringing to vastly different cultures around the globe, Tom Montgomery Fate comes to define “home” not as a physical location, but as a way of belonging. “Migrating birds have an internal compass that allows them to home their way back to their nesting place each spring,” he writes. “For birds, home is both verb and noun—both journey and destination.” The same is true for Fate. Whether he is bobbing in a canoe in the freezing rain with his son on a Canadian lake, praying with Lakota elders in a sweat lodge in South Dakota, or teaching English in a remote Filipino village, these are not stories of arrival. They are detours of discovery, a spiritual wayfinding through the wilderness of time and memory.

WHY THIS TITLE: This travel memoir explores the elusive idea of “home” not as a physical place, but as a kind of belonging, a place where one’s being and vast longings are reconciled.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Tom Montgomery Fate is the son of a small-town minister and a professor of creative writing. Both roles serve him well in this beautifully written travel memoir.” -Booklist

“The Long Way Home” is a series of eloquent essays about Fate’s search “for a spiritual home … for a kind of belonging that I can carry with me.” -Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Tom Montgomery Fate offers us a testament of devotion—to family, social justice, the unsung midwestern landscape, and the wisdom housed in books. His own book adds to that wisdom, harvesting insights from a lifetime of inner and outer travels. Each essay is a vivid episode in his quest, a venturing out to places that test his character and mold his conscience, followed by a return home, his vision renewed. Traveling with him as readers, we may learn to see our own homeplaces afresh.”—Scott Russell Sanders, author of The Way of the Imagination

In thoughtful and graceful prose, Tom Montgomery Fate offers us a valuable perspective on what it means to journey, not as a tourist, but as a traveler, someone unsure of where he is going. The book is a worthy exploration of poet William Stafford’s question: “Is there a way to be gone and still belong? Travel that takes you home?”—Kathleen Norris, author of Acedia and Me and Dakota

Tom Montgomery Fate’s masterful literary journeys—his aptly named “detours of intention”—remind me of why the essay is such a powerful and engaging form. The Long Way Home is a deeply felt and beautifully written exploration of the search to find home, both in the landscape and in ourselves.-–Michael P. Branch, author of On the Trail of the Jackalope

AUTHOR PROFILE: Tom Montgomery Fate is a professor emeritus at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL, where he taught creative writing and literature courses for more than 30 years. He is the author of five other nonfiction books. The most recent is Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild (Beacon Press). A regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune, his essays have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, Orion, The Iowa Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, and many others. Dozens of his essays have also aired on NPR and Chicago Public Radio.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

https://www.terrain.org/2022/nonfiction/over-time/ https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-mother-aging-hands-love-20220422-qarxefjhqncszacniyumpcfote-story.html

LOCAL OUTLETS: The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn (IL) WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: https://icecubepress.com/2022/02/18/the-long-way-home-2/ Amazon, bookstores, etc.

PRICE: 19.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: tomfate8@gmail.com Website: https://tomfate.com/the-long-way-home-detours-and-discoveries/

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Dancing With Diana

Dancing with Diana by [Jo Salas]

THE BOOK: Dancing with Diana

PUBLISHED IN: 2015

THE AUTHOR: Jo Salas

THE PUBLISHER: Codhill Press, a small independent press in upstate NY specializing in literary fiction and poetry.

SUMMARY: Visiting a school for disabled boys, 15-year-old Diana singles out wheelchair-bound Alex to dance with—a five-minute encounter that colors the rest of his life, though quickly forgotten by her. Alex, a survivor of brutal school bullying, thinks constantly of the tall girl with blue eyes. One day he sees her on television, the new fiancée of Prince Charles. Alex follows her life with secret pride, which turns to concern as her private anguish comes to light. Their paths cross once more when Diana visits Alex’s small town.

Jo Salas

Alex’s story interweaves with the account of Diana’s final day before her fatal accident. In the unsatisfying company of her billionaire boyfriend she careens from one luxurious, alien Paris location to another. Paparazzi pursue and torment her. All day she tries to reach a friend in the government who might have news for her—news that could bring a new direction to her life.

THE BACK STORY: Dancing with Diana was prompted by a true story: at 15, Diana and her boarding school class visited a home for disabled people. While the other girls hung back in shyness and distaste, Diana danced joyfully with a man in a wheelchair–her gift for empathy already evident at that young age. Reading about this moment, I wondered what it was like for the man she danced with.

My other main character, Alex, is invented but became quite real to me. I traveled to England to help fill in his background, visiting the town where he “lived” (where I myself had lived for a year long ago). And I had a very moving visit to a cerebral palsy clinic in London where I met a courageous young man who could have been Alex.

The theme of bullying in the story is informed by my work in schools using theatre to build empathy and respect. What happened to Alex is sadly all too common. Less predictable is the bullying that Diana was subjected to.

WHY THIS TITLE: It seemed like the only possible name for this story! Their brief dance together as young teens continued in Alex’s heart for the rest of her life.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The extraordinary love that Diana inspired in her brief adult life has been rekindled by her portrayal in The Crown. Dancing with Diana shares The Crown’s sympathetic perspective, letting the reader overhear her thoughts, feelings, memories, and hopes (as I imagine them, of course). Readers who are fascinated or curious about Diana might be intrigued by this fresh view of her.

It’s unusual to get to know a main character who is disabled, especially someone as feisty and funny as Alex. Readers have been drawn to his story of disability, suffering, resilience, and devotion.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Dancing with Diana is a beautifully-wrought story that takes us deep into two hard-to-imagine worlds. Alex, a bright young man with cerebral palsy, has his destiny intertwined, in double-helix fashion, with Princess Diana. The latter we meet in her last few hours, and Alex we accompany from childhood through manhood. His ungainly yet triumphant progress towards self-acceptance and independence has an extraordinary echo in Diana’s own brave, doomed search for an authentic life. This is a very fine book that side-steps cliches about celebrity to create a new awareness of Diana, and also gives us a startling sense of life lived strongly and meaningfully with cerebral palsy.” — Dan Yashinsky, author of Tales for An Unknown City and The Storyteller at Fault.

“I loved this book, couldn’t put it down — in fact, I read it on a flight home from Europe. What a heartfelt world Jo Salas evokes with such a light touch, such care, and so many beautiful sentences. It was a pleasure to read each page, so I took my time. It is a humanizing story. And in case anyone is keeping count…I cried four times. My seat mate got a little uncomfortable. I sure didn’t. I recommend it enthusiastically.” (Amazon review).

“I admired so much about the book – for starters the original conceit of pairing the story of a middle class disabled boy, Alex, with the charitable Princess Diana, The story is winning and sweet without being sentimental. The reader knows the ending will be tragic for Diana yet the incidents of her life before the accident are riveting and freshly imagined. Similarly, whether Alex will ever meet Diana again is doubtful. Yet, Salas renders it plausible, particularly given Diana’s generosity, and keeps Alex’s hopes – and mine, as a reader – alive. Alex’s meeting and coming together with kids of like restrictions is eye opening. Interestingly, I never felt pity for him. This is a story that will stick with me.” (Amazon review).

And one more from Amazon:

“Just finished reading Diana with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Beautifully woven, richly textured story with a very powerful message about bullying and a brilliant articulation of the real love people felt for Diana. Lovely writing of admirable clarity and control.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in New Zealand, lived on the island of Borneo and then in England in my early 20s, and since then have lived in upstate NY. I’ve written all my life, for a long time mostly nonfiction about Playback Theatre, where ordinary people’s stories are enacted on the spot. Some years ago I began to write fiction as well and have published a number of short stories in literary journals and anthologies, winning a few awards and a nomination for the Pushcart Prize. Dancing with Diana was my first novel. I’ve completed another, Anticipation, based on the life of Thomas Mann’s translator Helen Lowe-Porter.

My books about Playback Theatre include Improvising Real Life: Personal Story in Playback Theatre, published in nine translations and a 20th anniversary edition.

In addition to writing and Playback, I’m busy with my family and the struggle for social justice.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Writing fiction is about creating compelling works of art. As a reader as well as a writer I’m drawn to fiction that also in some way embodies the predicaments that face our wonderful, terrible human race. As well as simply being (I hope) an engaging story, Dancing with Diana depicts young people and adults making moral choices about how we treat each other.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

http://josalas.com/index.php/sample-page/from-dancing-with-diana/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Dancing with Diana is available from the publisher, Codhill Press, and my local bookstore, Inquiring Minds.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon (print and e-book).

PRICE: $15

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: josalas5566@gmail.comhttp://www.josalas.com