Life and Other Shortcomings

This week’s other featured books, “The Three of Them,” by Zeke Jarvis and “Welfare,” by Steve Anwyll, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Author’s page. Note: The “First Tuesday Replay” has been moved to next week.

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THE BOOK: Life and Other Shortcomings

PUBLISHED IN: August 4, 2020

THE AUTHOR: Corie Adjmi

THE EDITOR: Brooke Warner

THE PUBLISHER: She Writes Press, Berkeley, CA

SUMMARY: Life and Other Shortcomings is a collection of linked short stories that takes the reader from New Orleans to New York City to Madrid, and from 1970 to the present day.The women in these twelve stories make a number of different choices: some work, others don’t; some stay married, some get divorced; others never marry at all.Through each character’s intimate journey, specific truths are revealed about what it means to be a woman―in a relationship with another person, in a particular culture and era―and how these conditions ultimately affect her relationship with herself. The stories as a whole depict patriarchy, showing what still might be, but certainly what was, for some women in this country before the #MeToo movement. Life and Other Shortcomingsis required reading for anyone interested in an honest, incisive, and compelling portrayal of the female experience.

Corie AdjmiTHE BACK STORY: The stories were individually published in literary journals. My characters seemed to know one another and so linking the stories felt natural, even essential.

WHY THIS TITLE: It came to me when I was drinking coffee one morning. I wanted to hit on life and all its flaws. The word “shortcomings” appealed to me.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Both a cautionary tale and a captivating window into women’s lives, Life and Other Shortcomings is a vivid portrayal of women and girls struggling to find their way amid cultural constraints. The collection is timely in its depiction of women continuing to make significant gains toward gender equality. These interconnected stories are honest and relatable, often packing a punch.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“A compelling collection that captures the mystery and menace beneath love and family life.”–  Kirkus Review

“Corie Adjmi’s Life and Other Shortcomings is a slice of lifs both a cautionary tale and a captivating window into women’s lives. An honest, incisive, and compelling portrayal of the female experience.” — Beyond the Bookends

For more reviews, see corieadjmi.com

AUTHOR PROFILE: Corie Adjmi grew up in New Orleans. She started writing in her late thirties, and her award-winning fiction and personal essays have since appeared in over two dozen publications, including North American Review, Indiana Review, South Dakota Review, and, more recently, Huff Post and Man Repeller. In 2019, Life and Other Shortcomings was a finalist for the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for short fiction from BkMk Press. When she is not writing, Corie does volunteer work, cooks, draws, bikes, and hikes. She and her husband have five children and a number of grandchildren, with more on the way. She lives and works in New York City.Visit her website at http://www.corieadjmi.com.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: My own personal struggles and those of women close to me, drove me to the page. Writing personally and specifically often captures something universal. Women are taught their anger is something to be ashamed of. I had to find some way to express my discontent with the status quo. Pushing back against gaslighting and male dominance, writing was my way of saying, I won’t shut up or stay small.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://ghll.truman.edu/ghll23/GHLL%20XXIII%20fiction/Adjmi%20Sunny%20Side%20Up.html

LOCAL OUTLETS: Shakespeare & Co. – 939 Lexington Ave. New York, NY, 10065

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Indie Bound, ibooks

PRICE: Print: $16.95, Digital $9.49

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Corie@corieadjmi.com

The Three of Them

THE BOOK: The Three of Them

PUBLISHED IN: 2020

THE AUTHOR: Zeke Jarvis

THE EDITOR
: Arlo and Christine Young

THE PUBLISHER
: Rogue Phoenix Press

SUMMARY: Harper, Krista, and James share two things in common. They all have disabilities, and they all have paranormal abilities. Both of those things leave the three separated from their peers but closer to each other. When a malevolent force within their high school begins to threaten them and the other students, they have to discover the nature and source of this force’s power and keep their classmates safe all while handling their studies and keeping their parents from getting suspicious. In the end, the three of them will discover whether their courage, friendship, and intelligence will be enough to save the day or if saving the school from the force and the bullies in the school is even possible.

THE BACK STORY
: My daughter has hemiplegic cerebral palsy, and she likes to read. Unfortunately, when we looked for representation of CP in young adult books, there’s very little, and not all of it is good. Being an author, I decided that I could help to change that. Hopefully, this book helps to increase quality representation and normalize disabled characters in YA lit.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I wanted to give a sense of unity and support but also to give a sense of how these three characters could be “under the microscope”, could be scrutinized by the larger group of high school students. Hopefully, the title strikes the right balance between those two.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
If you want to support a move to be more inclusive of characters with disabilities, or if you want a book that balances entertainment with an exploration of some of the day-to-day struggles of people with disabilities, then check it out.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“But in addition to the page-turning paranormal plot line, one of the most endearing qualities of this novel is its attention to the embodiment of its protagonists, both in terms of their powers and limitations. Jarvis is keen to depict his characters’ frustrations and adaptations.” – Teresa Milbrodt, author of Work Opportunities and The Patron Saint of Unattractive People

AUTHOR PROFIL
E: Zeke Jarvis is a Professor of English at Eureka College. He lives in Normal, IL with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cooking (and eating, of course). He’s had three previous collections of short prose published, and his play, Meeting, was produced in spring of 2019. The play challenged viewers’ assumptions and values by running the same script twice, once with a heterosexual couple and the second time with a gay couple, leading viewers to examine their own reactions.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Again, my hope is that this book will give a voice and face to people with disabilities, particularly in young adult fiction, where there is often a heavy focus on issues of identity and self-awareness.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

“I can’t just turn invisible and walk through walls,” Krista said. “I have to get into somewhere first and I have to turn invisible off-camera in case someone sees the tape.”

“Okay,” Harper said.

“In addition to those logistical issues, there’s no guarantee that either the teachers or principal would know any more than we do.” He took a bite of his pizza and looked away.

“Okay,” Harper said again. She crossed her arms.

James pushed the food in his mouth to one cheek and said, “In fact, Harper, given your talents, you likely are more aware of the problem.”

Krista raised her eyebrows and pointed at James, nodding. Harper just sighed. “Fine,” she said. “I guess all we can do is sit back and wait for the murders to start.”

“Oh God,” Krista said. She looked away, watching one of the popular tables. There was Jenna, but instead of talking to her friends about either boys or make-up, Jenna was just quietly eating her lunch and watching Krista. Krista smiled and waved. Before Jenna had a chance to wave back, Krista turned towards Harper. “Don’t look over now, but is Jenna up to something?”

Harper looked down at her sandwich. She was quiet for a moment, then said, “This is weird.”

She was quiet again, so Krista said, “What is it?”

“Her thoughts are like, I don’t know. They feel different than how most people think.”

James cleared his throat. “In all fairness, you might say that about me.”

“No,” Harper said, “This is different. It’s like trying to listen to a different language.”

“I knew it,” Krista said. “She’s a damn demon.”

“Don’t be an ass,” Harper said.

Krista shrugged and put a Dorito in her mouth. “You’re the one who thought something weird or creepy was going on.”

Harper looked over at Jenna, briefly, then back at the table. There was a blankness to Jenna’s face that creeped Harper out. The usual snobbery and low level of hatred wasn’t there. It was like the feeling you get when you’re alone with a portrait and the eyes seem to follow you wherever you go.

“Do you think she’s the cause or the effect?” James asked.

“What?” Harper asked.

“Of the so-called creepiness,” he said. “Is she causing it or is she the product of it?”

Harper hadn’t even considered the question, but leave it to James to think of it. “I can’t say yet. I’ve never felt something like this before.”

Krista said, “Who would’ve thought someday we’d actually be interested in what was going through Jenna’s mind?”

“If it’s still hers,” James said.

Krista dumped the rest of the Doritos from the bag into her right hand. “Well, it’s not like she was going to use it.”

Harper crumpled up an empty baggie. “Don’t try to laugh it off too much. We don’t know what this could be the start of.”

James said, “Maybe you should try some of the others at Jenna’s table to see if they’re also abnormal.” He then finished his pizza.

“Abnormal?” Harper asked.

Harper sighed and focused. Krista wiped her hands on a napkin, and James drank his water. After a minute or two, Harper said, “The rest are normal. Jenny is worried that her mom will find her pot stash, Tina is sad she’s not thinner, and Ethan is thinking about how to hide the fact that he’s gay?”

“Ethan’s gay?” James said.

“God, James,” Krista said. “Well, at least we know that it’s just Jenna.”

Harper took a bite of her sandwich. She wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about it being just Jenna. “Even if that’s true, what do we do?”

James separated his trash from his recyclables. “Continued observation is the next step. We need to know what she can do.”

Krista said, “Crap, that’s a scary thought. Who knows how much power she might have?”

“And how do we find out?” Harper asked. “Obviously we can’t ask her.”

James put his recyclables back in his lunch bag. “It would be a mistake to confront her directly at this point.”

Krista looked over at Jenna again. She was still looking and with the same expression on her face. “Let’s figure it out beforeshe eats my face or something.”

James said, “Your muscle would be more satisfying to eat than your skin.”

“Might depend on how she’s cooked, James,” Harper said.

“Knock it off,” Krista said. “She’s not staring at either of you.”

“All right,” Harper said. “We’ll all brainstorm tonight and compare ideas tomorrow.”


WHERE ELSE TO BUY IThttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B086Z47QQ1,

The Three of Them – Kindle edition by Jarvis, Zeke. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading The Three of Them.

Barnes and Noble  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-three-of-them-zeke-jarvis/1136839496?ean=2940163065042

Harper, Krista, and James share two things in common. They all have disabilities, and they all have paranormal abilities. Both of those things leave the three separated from their peers but closer to each other. When a malevolent force within their high school begins to threaten them and the…

PRICE: 99 cents electronic copy, 9.99 print

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: ecjarvis@hotmail.com, @zekjar, https://www.facebook.com/zeke.jarvis.5

Welfare

THE BOOK: Welfare

PUBLISHED IN: 2018

THE AUTHOR:  Steve Anwyll

THE EDITOR: Giancarlo DiTrapano

THE PUBLISHER: Tyrant Books is a publisher based in Rome, Italy and New York, New York specializing in progressive literature. 

SUMMARY: Welfare is a novel about feeling trapped economically and geographically. It’s the story of a teenager at the cusp of his life with no direction and very little faith in things like the prospect of a life spent toiling in the locall factories tied down to a wife and a mortgage and a pick up truck like all the other men he’s ever known. Welfare is a story of hope. 

THE BACK STORY: The base reason for writing Welfare was because I knew I had a good story. An experience that was contrary to what the general reading audience had expericed. 

Also, I’d be doing myself and the book a disservice, if I didn’t mention I was largely motivated by spite. I was sick of hearing people utter classest phrases about the importance of a university degree (I’m an uneducated pig) and how it was imperitative to accomplish anything in this life. 

So by writing a book (an act largely undertaken by those in positions of wealth and education), for me, was the ultimate fuck you. The grand kick in the ass to an establishment I’m withdrawn from by my anti-social tendencies and my overall place in the pecking order.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I chose the title Welfare because everyone knows what it is but not what it’s like. 

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Welfare tells a story that is unknown to the majority of what makes up the reading public. A demographic I’ve come to believe is 90% upper class, university educated types who typically have no appreciation of what it means to face an empty stomach. Or the crushing desparity of seeing the rest of your life play out in poverty, loneliness and longing for some comfort. 

But in addition to this, Welfare is written in an easy to follow, lyrical style. An addictive rhythm unseen in other works. And is full of more heart and soul than most novels these days. 

It’s written in the voice of someone with nothing left to lose. Fans of Céline and punk rock and the beat generation might find themselves somewhere between it’s covers. 

AUTHOR PROFILE: Although growing up in a small fishing village on the shores of Lake Erie Steve Anwyll has called Montréal, Québec his home since 2012. It’s here, due to a rare combination of a big city with cheap rent that he has managed to cobble together a life of sorts. Making ends meet the only way he knows how, as a screen printer, Steve is currently spending his time working on his next novel. 

SAMPLE CHAPTERhttp://magazine.nytyrant.com/excerpt-from-welfare/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Demand your local shop carry this and other Tyrant titles. You will not be dissapointed.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:https://store.nytyrant.com/products/welfare-by-steve-anwyll

PRICE: 15.00 USD

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Steve Anwyll welcomes you to come harrass him on Twitter @oneloveasshole.

Weather Report, August 3

Summer Slide Is Bad for Students | Knowledge Bank | US News

(Photo from U.S. News & World Report).

Our currently featured books, “From the Lake House,” by Kristen Rademacher, “Krakow,” by Sean Akerman and “Phobophobia,” by Karl Elder, 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, AUGUST 4-10.

“THE THREE OF THEM,” BY ZEKE JARVIS.

Harper, Krista, and James share two things in common. They all have disabilities, and they all have paranormal abilities. Both of those things leave the three separated from their peers but closer to each other. When a malevolent force within their high school begins to threaten them and the other students, they have to discover the nature and source of this force’s power and keep their classmates safe all while handling their studies and keeping their parents from getting suspicious. In the end, the three of them will discover whether their courage, friendship, and intelligence will be enough to save the day or if saving the school from the force and the bullies in the school is even possible.

Writes Zeke: My daughter has hemiplegic cerebral palsy, and she likes to read. Unfortunately, when we looked for representation of CP in young adult books, there’s very little, and not all of it is good. Being an author, I decided that I could help to change that. Hopefully, this book helps to increase quality representation and normalize disabled characters in YA lit.”

“LIFE AND OTHER SHORTCOMINGS,” BY CORIE ADJMI.

Life and Other Shortcomings is a collection of linked short stories that takes the reader from New Orleans to New York City to Madrid, and from 1970 to the present day.The women in these twelve stories make a number of different choices: some work, others don’t; some stay married, some get divorced; others never marry at all.Through each character’s intimate journey, specific truths are revealed about what it means to be a woman―in a relationship with another person, in a particular culture and era―and how these conditions ultimately affect her relationship with herself. The stories as a whole depict patriarchy, showing what still might be, but certainly what was, for some women in this country before the #MeToo movement. Life and Other Shortcomingsis required reading for anyone interested in an honest, incisive, and compelling portrayal of the female experience.

“WELFARE,” BY STEVE ANWYLL.

Welfare is a novel about feeling trapped economically and geographically. It’s the story of a teenager at the cusp of his life with no direction and very little faith in things like the prospect of a life spent toiling in the locall factories tied down to a wife and a mortgage and a pick up truck like all the other men he’s ever known. Welfare is a story of hope. 

From Steve: “The base reason for writing Welfare was because I knew I had a good story, an experience that was contrary to what the general reading audience had experienced. 

FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY

This month, we will revisit “Grand Slams,” by Timothy Gager, “Community Cats,” by Anne Beall, “Once It Stops,” by Florence Fogelin, “The Gift,” by Barbara Browning, “Everyone Was There,” by Anthony Varallo and “The Bridge of the Paper Tiger,” by John Chaplick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Lake House

From the Lake House: A Mother's Odyssey of Loss and Love by [Kristen Rademacher]This week’s other featured books, “Krakow,” by Sean Akerman and “Phobophobia,” by Karl Elder, 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: From the Lake House: A Woman’s Odyssey of Loss and Love.

PUBLISHED IN: July 2020

THE AUTHOR: Kristen Rademacher

THE PUBLISHER: She Writes Press

SUMMARY: Dizzy with grief after a shattering breakup, Kristen did what any sensible thirty-nine-year-old woman would do: she fled, abandoning her well-ordered life in metropolitan Boston and impulsively relocating to a college town in North Carolina to start anew with a freshly divorced southerner. Dismissing the neon signs that flashed Rebound Relationship, Kristen was charmed by the host of contrasts with her new beau. He loved hunting and country music, she loved yoga and NPR; he worried about nothing, she worried about everything. The luster of her new romance and small-town lifestyle soon—and predictably—faded, but by then a pregnancy test stick had lit up. As Kristen’s belly grew, so did her concern about the bond with her partner—and so did a fierce love for her unborn child. Ready or not, she was about to become a mother. And then, tragedy struck. Poignant and insightful, From the Lake House explores the echoes of rash decisions and ill-fated relationships, the barren and disorienting days an aching mother faces without her baby, and the mysterious healing that can take root while rebuilding a life gutted from loss.

THE BACK STORY: The seeds for From the Lake House can be found in the first journal I’d kept after losing a baby. A friend had gifted me with the journal so I’d have a place to let my feelings flow. I wrote regularly, almost obsessively, and looking back, I’m certain that my journal functioned as a sort of lifeboat in those turbulent early days of grief. Over time, I grew to enjoy writing so much that I joined a writing group. Turns out that the leader of this group had written a memoir about her long-ago experience of losing a baby, and turns out I’d read this very memoir after losing my baby. I had no clue we’d lived in the same town. Eventually, five women and I became steady and dedicated members of this writing group and we stayed together for years. In the company of these talented writers—who also became my dear friends—I began to write my memoir in earnest, mining my first journal for details. Many drafts and over a decade later, I completed the book.

WHY THIS TITLE: The opening scene of the memoir shows me packing up and moving out of a small home on the edge of a lake. It becomes clear to the reader that this lake house had served as a sanctuary to me after life as I’d known it had disappeared. At age 40 I’d lost a baby, and after losing the relationship as well, I crash-landed at The Lake House to start life anew.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  From the Lake House explores a range of themes: the complicated grief of stillbirth, issues of identity as a woman gives up her dream of motherhood, and the idea of leaving an old life behind and starting a new one. Most importantly, From the Lake House is for anyone—whether having suffered infant loss or not—who wants to read a story of resilience and hope.

REVIEW COMMENTS: 

“Over the course of this book, in well-structured, descriptive prose, Rademacher effectively leads readers through a gradually withering romantic relationship that culminates in a tragedy . . . Some of the most painful sections of the book are her loving letters to the little girl whom she held for but an hour, and whom she named Carly. It soon becomes clear that these missives helped to lead her back from a precipice of despair, so that she could finally face her future. A poignant and painful remembrance with comforting messages for the grieving.” ―Kirkus Reviews “Kristen Rademacher’s achingly honest memoir about her losses of place, partner, and much-anticipated baby daughter Carly resonates with courage and an abiding gratitude for the preciousness of life. A truly tender reflection about loss that illuminates the devastating experience of baby loss.” ―Janel Atlas, writer and editor of They Were Still Born: Personal Stories about Stillbirth “From the Lake House is an intimate, inspiring story of surviving in a world where blessings and tragedy walk hand in hand. Written with tender honesty and luscious language, it is a joy to read, even amidst the pangs of heartache and loss. As a bereaved mother, I found myself nodding in agreement with so many of Rademacher’s experiences of life after the death of a child . . . This book is for memoir-lovers and anyone who finds themselves in a turbulent relationship or who has said goodbye to a dearly loved child . . . Rademacher champions solitude for its healing capacities and the wholeness birthed from dogged, hard-earned resiliency. Perceptive and endearing, it is a moving saga of motherhood.” ―Alexis Marie Chute, award-winning author of Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss “In this beautifully written and poignant memoir, we learn that though people and dreams die, relationships don’t. If we’re attuned, the dead can transform our lives, offering enduring love and guidance―and hope.”  — Carol Henderson, author of Losing Malcolm: A Mother’s Journey Through Loss and Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Kristen Rademacher lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen’s career in education spans over thirty years. She is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kristen channels her creativity through writing, cooking and knitting. She also loves a long mountain hike, an afternoon lost in a juicy book or podcast, and the company of beloved family and friends. Kristen began writing regularly in 2004 as a way to cope with the loss of her baby. Her debut memoir is titled: From The Lake House: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love. Visit her at kristenrademacher.com.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Publishing a book is a dream come true!

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). See my Amazon page

LOCAL OUTLETS: Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Indiebound.org, Bookshop.org

PRICE: $16.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: visit Kristen at kristenrademacher.com or on Facebook @kristenrademacherauthor

Krakow

Krakow by [Sean Akerman]THE BOOK: Krakow.

PUBLISHED IN: 2018

THE AUTHOR:  Sean Akerman.

THE PUBLISHER: Harvard Square Editions.

SUMMARY: A man moves into a Brooklyn apartment and finds the journals left behind by the previous tenants. As he reads the journals, he discovers two people wrestling with why and how their love disappeared. Krakow is set in the present day, amid the streets of Brooklyn. Divided into two parts–his and hers–the accounts detail the final three months of a relationship: its longings, misunderstandings, fears, and hopes.

THE BACK STORY: When I moved to Brooklyn from Maine in 2006, I found in my first apartment two journals left behind by the previous tenants. Then–and for a long time afterward–I was ensorcelled by the stories of those strangers, who wrote about the minutiae and dramas of their days, as well as the end of their relationship. Their lives form the bedrock of this novella, though I lost the journals years ago, so the novella owes a greater debt to imagination and fiction than it does to any effort at historical re-telling.

An image posted by the author.

 

WHY THIS TITLE?: I’m drawn to sparse titles: often single words that evoke some question or mystery. Much of this story takes place in the walls of a Brooklyn apartment, as well as inside the walls of the characters’ minds. But they each speak of a trip they took to Krakow together in which they were, at least momentarily, the best versions of themselves. So as a place, Krakow and its connotations loom large. I’ve also spent time in Krakow. It is by far the most compelling city I’ve visited, and I felt the need to write about that.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? For me, this book evokes a sense of anonymity that I miss greatly about New York. It’s been about five years since I displaced myself from the city, and what I remember most is the organismal feel of being around other lives, other histories, the regular loss of self. Someone might want to read this novella to be immersed in that. It is also a story about youngish love, one that may feel familiar to many people, its proximities and distances. There is a car wreck quality to these pages, too, insofar we read of the final three months of a relationship, one that can be hard to look away from even as it is hard to look toward. It gives some truth to the adage that people are always most interesting when they’re falling apart.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “With Krakow, Akerman presents characters to be explored through their writings and interrelation, all of whom become fully realized and complex, flesh-and-blood people. As such, readers will alternately care about them, empathize with them, dislike them, and get frustrated by them. We join in their victories and defeats, their regrets and yearnings, and their complicated lives. It remains a testament to Akerman, with the notion that what is written lingers in the mind of the reader long after the book has ended.” -Newfound Review

Krakow is an intensely literary text that rewards the reader’s close attention to the nuances of thought and feeling experienced by the struggling couple, described with hermetic, elusive prose. Akerman is particularly skilled in delineating the distinctive voices of his protagonists, as well as their conflicting perspectives and needs. The woman’s journal entries are especially impressive: her self-understanding and powers of self-expression contrast vividly with her partner’s chopped-up, disconnected evasions and retreats. Krakow is also a New York story: the various quarters of the city, its streets and bars, the girdling ocean, are an enfolding presence, pierced only by a moment’s betrayal in another city and, above all, by a mysteriously significant visit to Auschwitz, the connotations of which are powerfully suggestive. Devotees of the contemporary American literary movement will respond with enthusiasm to this exemplary novella.” – Readers’ Favorite

Even if love ends, the marks it leaves are indelible.” – Forward Reviews

This short novel captures beautifully the twilight of a relationship: the doubts we have about our partners, about ourselves, and our pain at having to leave something so familiar yet wrong.” – Manhattan Book Review.


AUTHOR PROFILE: I was born in the lakes region of central Maine in 1983 and moved to New York in 2006 to pursue a PhD in psychology. I held faculty appointments at Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College, and Bennington College, and now I work as a therapist amid the varieties of trauma in the North Woods. The moonlighting part of my working life has been as a poet, novelist, and writer of non-fiction. In addition to Krakow, I’ve published a novel, Outposts; a poetry collection, The Magnitudes; and a study of exile, Words and Wounds. Currently, I’m seeking publication and representation for two collections of poetry and a novella about a con-man in regret at the end of his life.


AUTHOR COMMENTS: At the risk of sounding obtuse, the form of Krakow was an extension of its content. In other words, the novella form “fit” the story I was trying to tell. Novellas on the whole are vastly underrated and not utilized enough. Their brevity forces upon a writer a need to lift the story off the ground with intention and force. For reasons beyond my comprehension, many dramas are well-suited to this form, which perhaps says something about life itself.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:Amazon has previewed the first few pages here.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: It’s available on Amazon, as well as the website of Harvard Square Editions.

PRICE: $22.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: akerman.sean@gmail.com; seanakerman83 on Instagram |seanakerman.weebly.com

Phobophobia

Karl Elder – Poet | Fiction WriterTHE BOOK: Phobophobia.

PUBLISHED IN: 2019 (a re-released edition of the 1987 out-of-print Prickly Pear Press version),

THE AUTHOR: Karl Elder.

THE PUBLISHER: Cyberwit.

THE BACK STORY: In my twenties I wanted to write what used to be called a longpoem just to see if I was capable of doing so with limited life experience. Nothing hit me for years. Finally, illumination. Literally. I saw a child in dark closet cover the beam of a lit flashlight with his mouth. Holy Hades! His cheeks flamed like distant tail lights. Claustrophobia came to mind, and later, alone, I let my mind wander in pure wonder, which triggered moments of humor, never having appreciated some of the fears expressed by friends and family—only my own childhood fear, not suddenly finding myself in, say, tight quarters, but frozen, unable to climb down a ladder off of a roof or some other height I’d scaled. All my worst dreams are about sweaty hands hugging cliffs, tree limbs, or metals, like the uppermost cables on expansion bridges. The terrifying, teasing absurdity of it all. The hole in the stomach, that roller coaster drop.

So—leaping now to the point—I made a pilgrimage those years ago through all of my spiral notebooks, found phrases, images, sounds, paradoxes, scraps of hilarity. Recopied them all on small strips of paper. Chose, one at a time, particular phobias listed in Steadman’s Medical Encyclopedia that intrigued me, and rifled through piles of those notebook gems until one or two or three or four of them felt right.

The process was analogous to working on a term paper as a student: observation, reading, notes, assembly, writing, discarding, eventually producing chains of associations, only now using sometimes sounds, sometimes logic, sometimes the subconscious, etc., as instruments of order. It took ten years. So liberating the chore was that I’d shy away from it for stretches at a time, not wanting the experience to end. When the journal Poet and Critic grabbed four of those poems, I knew I had a viable manuscript. Dave Oliphant graciously lent his Prickly Pear Press imprint to the first edition of the book in conjunction with my literary magazine, Seems.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Having exhausted my notebooks, I gathered all the pieces—56 of them (actually 57, but I threw one out because, simply, I wasn’t satisfied with it)—and I concluded that Phobophobia was the most suggestive of a handful of titles that had surfaced. At the time, I had found no documented case of an affliction, phobophobia. I suppose one might think, though, that such a title was as natural as it might have been inventive, given how many times I’d penned the word root.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The collection is apparently (dare I say?) as wild and exciting to read as it was to write. I chose to list blurbs in appreciation of Phobophobia on the back of my following book in 1994, A Man in Pieces (how could I have imagined that three of the five authors of the blurbs would subsequently become Pulitzer Prize recipients?):

A truly remarkable collection full of strong altogether original pieces. –Lucien Stryk

I am greatly enjoying Phobophobia. What a good idea. What good poems. –Mark Strand

Very original! Crazy and wonderful. –Charles Simic

. . . A brilliant idea well and faithfully pursued. –William Matthews

. . . wonderfully various and surprising . . . –Stephen Dunn

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Wisconsin poet Karl Elder’s full-length collection Phobophobia personifies our fears, presenting them in alphabetical order from acrophobia (height) to zoophobia (animals), with a handy glossary in the back. In between A and Z lurk the usual suspects: darkness, death, and ghosts—along with obscure ones like fear of machines, writing, time, symbols, and jealousy. In this collection, the touch of surrealism inherent in Elder’s style is enhanced by the skewed perceptions of the various sufferers narrating these poems. The book’s psycho-poetic explorations range from cathartic to enjoyably ridiculous.” —Michael Kriesel in Stoneboat

AUTHOR PROFILE: Karl Elder is Lakeland University’s Fessler Professor of Creative Writing and Poet in Residence. Among his honors are the Christopher Latham Sholes Award from the Council of Wisconsin Writers; a Pushcart Prize; the Chad Walsh, Lorine Niedecker, and Lucien Stryk Awards; and two appearances in The Best American Poetry. His most recent books of poems are Gilgamesh at the Bellagio from The National Poetry Review Award Book Series and a chapbook, The Houdini Monologues. Forthcoming in 2020 are Reverie’s Ilk: Collected Prose Poems and Alpha Images: Poems Selected and New. Elder’s novel, Earth as It Is in Heaven, appeared in 2016 from Pebblebrook Press.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Thrilled one day by an out-of-the-blue invitation from Cyberwit to consider sending the publisher a manuscript, I had just previously bemoaned that Phobophobia was out of print, since some readers considered the collection to be among my most engaging and innovative work. I’m very pleased to have it back in circulation. Humor, after all, is perhaps the best medicine for what haunts us.

SAMPLE:

(Acrophobia)

Life is just time to fill between my act.

— Karl Wallenda

But what we want to know down here

is what’s death.

Something like perpetual vertigo?

The body’s waters’

lust for their own level?

Or is it not that simple?

Like a life spent

trying to get your grip in a thimble.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Cyberwit.net Amazon.com.

PRICE: $15.00

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

elderk@lakeland.edu

Weather Report, July 27

Medium wawel 3683040 1920

Krakow, Poland (Deposit photos).

Our currently featured books, “Family, Genus, Species,” by Kevin Allardice, “The Zipper Club,” by Thomas Mannella and “Kimber,” by J.K. Hingey, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JULY 28-AUGUST 3

“KRAKOW,” BY SEAN AKERMAN

Writes Sean: “I’m drawn to sparse titles: often single words that evoke some question or mystery. Much of this story takes place in the walls of a Brooklyn apartment, as well as inside the walls of the characters’ minds. But they each speak of a trip they took to Krakow together in which they were, at least momentarily, the best versions of themselves. So as a place, Krakow and its connotations loom large. I’ve also spent time in Krakow. It is by far the most compelling city I’ve visited, and I felt the need to write about that.”

“FROM THE LAKE HOUSE,” BY KRISTEN RADEMACHER.

Dizzy with grief after a shattering breakup, Kristen did what any sensible thirty-nine-year-old woman would do: she fled, abandoning her well-ordered life in metropolitan Boston and impulsively relocating to a college town in North Carolina to start anew with a freshly divorced southerner. Dismissing the neon signs that flashed Rebound Relationship, Kristen was charmed by the host of contrasts with her new beau. He loved hunting and country music, she loved yoga and NPR; he worried about nothing, she worried about everything. The luster of her new romance and small-town lifestyle soon—and predictably—faded, but by then a pregnancy test stick had lit up. As Kristen’s belly grew, so did her concern about the bond with her partner—and so did a fierce love for her unborn child. Ready or not, she was about to become a mother. And then, tragedy struck.

Poignant and insightful, From the Lake House explores the echoes of rash decisions and ill-fated relationships, the barren and disorienting days an aching mother faces without her baby, and the mysterious healing that can take root while rebuilding a life gutted from loss.

“PHOBOPHOBIA,” BY KARL ELDER

From one reviewer: “Wisconsin poet Karl Elder’s full-length collection Phobophobia personifies our fears, presenting them in alphabetical order from acrophobia (height) to zoophobia (animals), with a handy glossary in the back. In between A and Z lurk the usual suspects: darkness, death, and ghosts—along with obscure ones like fear of machines, writing, time, symbols, and jealousy. In this collection, the touch of surrealism inherent in Elder’s style is enhanced by the skewed perceptions of the various sufferers narrating these poems. The book’s psycho-poetic explorations range from cathartic to enjoyably ridiculous.”

Family, Genus, Species

Family Genus Species by [Kevin Allardice]This week’s other featured books, “Kimber,” by L.K. Hingey and “The Zipper Club: A Memoir,” by Thomas Mannella, 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: Family, Genus, Species

PUBLISHED IN: 2017.

THE AUTHOR:  Kevin Allardice

THE EDITOR: Jon Roemer

THE PUBLISHER: Outpost19

SUMMARY: Vee just wants to know where to put the present. She’s come to her nephew’s fourth birthday party — at a sprawling urban farm in Berkeley, California — and has brought a simple gift that she hopes will allow her access into the family she feels alienated from. But when Vee’s older sister admonishes her, saying the invitation explicitly told people to not bring gifts, Vee sets out — through a backyard maze of kale plants, fruit trees, and unrecognizable but surely healthy flora — to give her nephew his birthday present.  Along the way, she must negotiate with party guests, capricious children and hostile adults, and those who insist they know more about her than she does. As night falls, and civil unrest flares in the city beyond the backyard, what began as biting satire becomes nightmarish and violent, and Vee’s straightforward mission becomes an epic quest to claim both personal identity and human connection.

THE BACK STORY: I began writing this at the end of 2014, during the start of the Black Lives Matter protests, and I was interested in the ways that privileged, white, ostensibly progressive families were navigating, or failing to navigate, that cultural reckoning. I began thinking about that in conjunction with the Luis Bunuel film The Exterminating Angel — in which a group of elites become mysteriously trapped in a mansion — and that’s when this young woman’s visit to her sister’s backyard had absorbed enough energy to begin generating its own momentum.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title — Family, Genus, Species — is, of course, part of the taxonomic rank of biology, and it popped up organically in the first chapter, at a moment when the main character — who once aspired to a career in the sciences, but dropped out of college. She often turns to orderly systems of thought to make sense of the chaos of her family relationships, and so when I typed those words in the first chapter, it resonated immediately, and the title stuck.

REVIEW COMMENTS: In a review at Full-Stop, Nina Renata Aron called the novel a “complex, layered not simply with satire, but with emotional revelations about family, community, sexuality, parenthood, race, and class.” And Gloria Beth Amodeo at the Literary Review wrote that “Family Genus Species is a novel about structures, physical ones like urban gardens and inner ones born from trauma. It’s a whip-smart tale of a simple, singular desire that snowballs into destruction and takes all the structures with it.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m the author of one previous novel, Any Resemblance to Actual Persons (Counterpoint Press, 2013). I currently teach high school in the Bay Area, where I live with my wife, son, and our pet rabbit, Harvey.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Please see a sample chapter in the preview at Amazon.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Despite the Amazon link above, please patronize Indie Bound.

PRICE: $9.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: kevinallardice.com

The Zipper Club

THE BOOK: The Zipper Club: A Memoir

PUBLISHED IN: 2016.


THE AUTHOR:
  Thomas Mannella.


THE EDITOR
: Dawn Ius.

THE PUBLISHER
: Jessica Bell.
 
SUMMARY: For years Thomas Mannella observed the intrigue of people who believed him when he said the scars across his chest were from an alley knifing. This was a lie, but the more scarred by surgeries he felt, the greater his denial. He detached himself from the deteriorating valve in his heart, which he hoped would make him feel normal, and appear that way to others, but living this way, he didn’t own the marks; the marks owned him. With every beat, blood leaked back into his left ventricle. His heart ballooned. Finally, his time ran out: he collected his college diploma and walked off campus straight into the OR. He had long been a member of the zipper club.

THE BACK STORY:  I began writing The Zipper Club just before my first son was born and without knowing I was writing about my heart self.  Half a dozen years had passed since the valve-replacement surgery that saved my life, a surgery that had, in part, prevented me from going to graduate school for an MFA in creative writing.  These circumstances, and the approach of fatherhood, triggered a switch in my subconscious that lit several dark corners: I wanted to publish a worthy book without an MFA, I wanted to leave some record of my health history for my soon-to-be-born son, and enough time had passed for me to shine a light on my heart history and its role in shaping my identity.  Seven years and two kids later, I found myself holding a copy of the book, realizing for the first time that other people were actually going to read the thing.

Thomas Mannella

WHY THIS TITLE?:  I didn’t settle on the title until revising the manuscript for the final time.  Folks who have undergone any sort of heart surgery refer to their scars as zippers, and so, as I finished revising my own book and reading Mary Karr’s first memoir, The Liar’s Club, two wires touched in my brain, thankfully, and I realized my title had existed all along.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
Not everyone has physical scars, but we all carry burdens — figurative scars — that we tuck deep inside our psyches, and these are perhaps the most powerful forces shaping our identities.  Additionally, there is a fair amount of writing about the physical trauma associated with open heart surgery, but much less about the emotional and psychological challenges that accompany diagnosis, pre-surgery preparation, ICU-level recovery, and beyond.  The committee at The American Journal of Nursing, which chose The Zipper Club as the 2016 Book of the Year, plainly stated as much, indicating that the experiences I portray confirmed their suspicions about just how difficult open heart surgery can be, especially for adolescents.

REVIEW COMMENTS
:
“Like a pitcher’s muscles charged by the kinetic chain that leads to a perfect fastball, Mannella’s The Zipper Club rushes the reader along his–and his heart’s–frantic journey through pride, craving, and destructiveness to the pivotal moment we feared would come. A rawly honest, extraordinarily detailed, and astonishingly beautiful account of one hard-beating, passionate young life.” —Jane Alison, author of The Sisters Antipodes.”
 
“In the way a good memoirist can, going inward (deep into his own defective heart) in order to go outward, Mannella reveals we’re all of us members of The Zipper Club.” — Bob Cowser, Jr., author of Green Fields.
 
“The Zipper Club is both scary and inspiring, offering valuable perspective for all of us who have hidden our shame and fought to appear normal. I held my breath from the first page to the last.  Eloquent, insightful, and intensely engaging.” — Annita Sawyer, author of Smoking Cigarettes, Eating Glass.
 
AUTHOR PROFILE: Thomas Mannella was born and raised in Naples, NY, and educated at St. Lawrence University and St. John Fisher College.  Winner of the Carol Houck Smith Award in Nonfiction for the 2016 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, he was also a Bread Loaf contributor and a Pushcart Prize nominee in 2015.  The Zipper Club: A Memoir (Vine Leaves Press) is his first book, and has been selected as the 2016 American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year in the category of creative works.  His nonfiction, poetry, and short stories have appeared in SLAB, Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, The Lindenwood Review, The Cape Rock, Gival, Ghost Road Press, and several other publications.  Along the way, he has worked as: a tennis instructor, a landscaper, a paint-mixing, pipe-and-glass-cutting hardware store cashier, a wine-tent bartender, a factory assembly lineman (twice), a tutor, an intern at Penguin Publishing,  a door-to-door coupon salesman (for one day), a childcare provider, and a teacher.  He lives in the Finger Lakes of New York with his wife and sons around the corner from his boyhood home.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 In many ways, The Zipper Club is a love letter to the place I grew up, the people I grew up with, and the hopes I have for my own sons’ formative years — this figurative heart pulses throughout the story.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: For a sample chapter, please visit this Amazon page: The Zipper Club: a memoir.
LOCAL OUTLETS: Artizans in Naples, NY.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Purchase The Zipper Club through the following outlets.

PRICE: $15.99.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR:
INSTAGRAM: tnmannella