Weather Report, June 18

Image result for New York City transit police + photos + free

(Photo from 123RF.com)

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “SID,” BY ANITA FENG, “ART, SEX, POLITICS,” BY WILLIAM EATON AND “LABOR,” BY LISA DeSIRO, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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Writers rarely compete with one another, at least not overtly. That’s one of the things I like about us.

Wouldn’t it be nice if politics were conducted the same way, candidates striving to win  votes on the basis of their own merits, rather than taking out adds warning how awful it would be if their opponent was to win?

I suppose it’s true that we are involved in a contest, millions of books hoping to grab the attention of a finite number of readers. And sure, there are times when a struggling writer might look at a more successful one and mutter: “I don’t see what’s so special about what he/she is doing.”

But we generally don’t say that to the world, and most writers are — quite literally — an open book. If they’ve discovered some tricks of the trade, they will gladly share them. If they have the chance to call attention to someone else’s book, they’ll do it.

As an example, I cite one of this week’s Snowflakes in a Blizzard authors, Kathleen Gerard (“In Transit”). Her blog, Reading Between the Lines (kathleengerard.blogspot.com), offers a wide range of in-depth reviews, and that’s a real service. Given the glut of books currently on the market, an author’s main challenge is simply getting noticed. Blogs and Websites like Kathleen’s are a step in that direction.

The main character in “In Transit” is  a woman who becomes a New York City transit cop. Kathleen writes: “Police work is often over-dramatized and glamorized in books, movies and on TV. The reality is that those who carry the badge, day in and day out, are just ordinary people who have passions, hopes, fears and insecurities like everyone else. That’s why personal dynamics and the psychology of those who wear the NYPD uniform became as intriguing to me as the details surrounding police work, and I wanted to explore those creatively on the page.”

Herta Feely’s novel “Saving Phoebe Murrow” flips that dynamic and tells its story from the point of view of a victim.

In 2008, says Herta, “I read an article in the Washington Post style section about Megan Meier, a 13-year-old who was cyberbullied and then committed suicide. The boy she’d been flirting with on MySpace (Josh Evans) turned out to be a 47-year-old woman, the mother of a former friend of Megan’s.

“It was shocking to me that a mother (Lori Drew) was capable of such meanness, and I thought I might want to write a novel to understand how someone could do this. As a latecomer to social media, I was also intrigued by this method of communicating: how MySpace or Facebook or Twitter (and all the rest) could go from being a friendly venue to a vicious and destructive one, and how easily people can make nasty comments when not having to face the person they are aiming their darts at. The idea gestated in my conscious and subconscious mind for three years, but took only nine months to complete the first draft, then several more years before the final draft could be submitted to agents and publishers. Perhaps it should be noted that although Megan’s story ‘inspired’ my novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow is not ‘based’ on that event.”

Finally, we have the second Snowflakes offering from poet Rodger LeGrand, “Two Thirds Water.” His is poetry that is earnestly and eloquently trying to say something important — and succeeds.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JUNE 17-23.

young desperate and depressed freelance worker or student woman working with computer laptop alone late at night in stress suffering internet bullying victim of social network Stock Photo - 33993073“SAVING PHOEBE MURROW,” BY HERTA FEELY

A cyber-bullying episode, which targets 13-year-old Phoebe Murrow, is at the heart of Saving Phoebe Murrow, told through the eyes of five characters, including Phoebe and her mother. Set amidst the complicated web of adolescent relationships, the novel tells a story of the devastating impact social media can have on teen girls. Isabel, a DC lawyer, does everything she can to keep Phoebe from harm, but fails when the mysterious Shane appears on Facebook and flirts with her teenage daughter. Mother-daughter relationships, teen girls, self-harm, bullying, and modern society’s attachment to electronic devices are topics I explore. Thematically it’s about love and betrayal. Especially the latter.

“TWO THIRDS WATER,” BY RODGER LeGRAND.

Two Thirds Water extends naturally from LeGrand’s previous collection, Seeds. Without water, a seed can’t grow. Transitions are often difficult. The growing in this collection is revealed through inverse relationships. These poems imagine the “Sea Without Water”, setting aside unfulfilled dreams in “Sleepwalking”, and the negation of self in “Spilled Moon”. Seeds is a collection about embarking upon transitions. This collection, Two Thirds Water, is about how we try to find our way while in transition.

“IN TRANSIT,” BY KATHLEEN GERARD

When a psychic in a shopping mall tells Rita Del Vecchio that she is “destined for greatness,” and she will “marry a man in uniform,” the restless, wet-behind-the-ear 22-year-old decides to finally take control of her life. Rita sets out on a quest to become a New york City Police Officer. But can a spry, feisty, single woman thrive in the gritty world of New York’s finest?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sid

Sid by [Feng, Anita]THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “ART. SEX, POLITICS,” BY WILLIAM EATON AND “LABOR,” BY LISA DeSIRO, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

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THE BOOK: Sid

PUBLISHED IN: 2015

THE AUTHOR: Anita N. Feng.

THE EDITOR: Andy Francis.

THE PUBLISHER: Wisdom Publications.

SUMMARY: Sid weaves the traditional tale of Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be with the story of Sid, an everyman who finds himself waking up amid the reality of work and family life in the modern world. Returning to the standard tale with careful consideration of the relationships in Buddha’s life—to his wife, parents, and child—Feng’s narrative embodies the Mahayana perspective of living one’s enlightenment in the world. Beautifully told in poetic prose, Sid teaches that the key to the story of the Buddha’s life is that the story could be about any of us. Includes beautiful black and white illustrations, created especially for this book.

Anita FengTHE BACK STORY:  I think it grew organically, from a number of sources. As a Zen student and teacher I have always loved the Siddhartha story. I appreciated the fact that it was a story, based, no doubt, on a real human being. But still, a story. So why not bring it up to date? Just being alive in the world brought so many many Buddhas-to-be to my doorstep, I felt the time had come to write a Siddhartha story of my own. As a writer, I had been enjoying a collaborative exercise with artist, Linda Davidson, wherein we had been participating in a “conversation”. The rules that we decided upon for this dialog: Linda would send (via snail mail) an ink painting, and within two weeks I would send a poem as reply, then she would reply to that, and we continued this exchange for a couple of years, if I remember right. What evolved was a series of incidents/works of art/poems about a rabbit and a crow. These poems and drawings became the nucleus for my book, Sid.

WHY THIS TITLE?:  Sid just seemed like a natural translation of the name, Siddhartha! And as a name, it also sums up a great deal about the book, all in a single word.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  Did you read Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse? If you loved it half as much as I did, you might really appreciate Sid, which retells the story in a contemporary way, but also with a literary, poetic flavor. Also, for anyone tired of run-of-the-mill story structure, this will wake up your reader’s senses!

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Sid is a magical read, sweet, sad, beautiful. A haunting Zen imagining of the Buddha’s life and our own.”—James Ishmael Ford, author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

“Maybe three times in my life I’ve wept at the sheer beauty of a book. This is one of those times. Sid is deep spiritual teaching clothed as a contemporary retelling of the story of the Buddha. There is heartbreak. There is humor. There is joy. There is aliveness and compassion. And there is love, great love. I bow to the ground in gratitude.”—Geri Larkin, author of Close to the Ground

“Feng tells us a story in luminous prose-poem paragraphs about an ordinary contemporary high school math teacher whose journey parallels the Buddha’s. Sid reminds me that I, too, ordinary as I am, have Buddha nature, and that my seeking is not in vain.”—Susan Moon, co-editor of The Hidden Lamp

“Anita Feng’s book is mythical in spirit and light in tone, making it accessible for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. Sid’s experience of enlightenment is a relevant one for an increasingly egocentric society; he does not become a famous teacher, but rather an individual who exudes curiosity and compassion for the world around him.”—Publishers Weekly

“Anita Feng’s Sid is a sensitive and imaginative meditation on awakening. The contemporary story of Sid, interwoven with the story of Siddhartha, evokes a vibrant

stillness in the midst of suffering that meditators come to know so well.”—Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Abbot at ZCLA Buddha Essence Temple, Great Dragon Mountain

AUTHOR PROFILE: Anita Feng, of Issaquah, WA, maintains a three-cornered career: ceramics, writing and Zen, all of which are focused on the question: what does equanimity look like? Major writing honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, an Illinois Arts Council grant and the Pablo Neruda Prize. In addition to her new novel, Sid, she has published two award-winning books of poetry, Internal Strategies, and Sadie & Mendel. Anita is a graduate of Brown University’s MFA program in Creative Writing.

In addition to her work as a writer, she has worked as a ceramic artist for 40 years. The first thirty years were devoted to making functional musical instruments out of clay; the last ten, she has specialized in silence—in creating figures of unconventional equanimity. Examples of both her ceramic and literary work can be found at http://www.golden-wind.com. Anita’s writing and sculpture are informed by over forty years of practicing Zen meditation. When she is not working with words or clay, she serves as the guiding teacher and Zen Master at the Blue Heron Zen Community in Seattle, Washington.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.wisdompubs.org/book/sid/selections

LOCAL OUTLETS: https://www.wisdompubs.org/book/sid.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

PRICE: $16.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: fenganita@gmail.co

Art, Sex, Politics

Art, Sex, Politics by [Eaton, William]

Image result for william eaton + author + photosTHE BOOK: Art, Sex, Politics

PUBLISHED IN: 2017.

THE AUTHOR: William Eaton.

THE EDITOR: Walter Cummins, himself a short-story writer and long-time, esteemed teacher of literature and writing.

THE PUBLISHER: Serving House Books, an imprint dedicated to offering readers the work of distinguished essayists, poets, and fiction writers from around the world.

SUMMARY: A provocative new collection of essays in which William Eaton, the author of Surviving the Twenty-First Century, shares the pleasures of questions, tastes, reading, and more visual arts. “That we are animals, that is as sure as ever. How savagely we behave! And how affectionately rub up against one another. How, desperately, make love?”

The drawings, also by Eaton, were inspired by a practice of Cy Twombly’s: drawing in the dark, unable to see either what one is drawing or how one is drawing it. Twombly used this technique, in his youth, to get away from figurative drawing. In Art, Sex, Politics it becomes a way to allow the unconscious to have a say, to briefly escape from the super-ego, and to simplify.

THE BACK STORY: Art, Sex, Politics offers a selection from Eaton essays appearing in publications from Agni to Zeteo (The Journal of Interdisciplinary Writing). Selection was governed by the title’s themes and by a desire to offer readers a wide range of approaches to the essay form, pieces long and short, serious and satirical, and pieces that championed both savoring (close attention to life) and conversation.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title touches on a fundamental feature of the American experience. For example, in recent decades secular champions of progressive politics and of new products have also been proponents and practitioners of traditionally taboo sexual practices and supporters of non-traditional approaches to art. We might say, offhandedly, that we used to have “blue movies”; now we have blue states.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Art, Sex, Politics is for people who love reading, art, and sex perhaps, but certainly new thoughts and unexpected connections! The Utne Reader once praised William as a “joyful skeptic,” and said the writer Nahid Rachlin: “What other writer could find a bond among Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana, Camus’ Oran, a Russian landlady, and LBJ?”

REVIEW COMMENT: “In this remarkable collection of essays. Eaton writes of topics as seemingly earthy, and diverse, as gun control, voting patterns, and real estate transactions. Yet these topics serve to deliver insights which carry the reader into a world of mindfulness. One of the pleasures of reading a book by Mr. Eaton is to witness the author peeling away the layers of his stories. His essay concerning “savoring,” for example, first touches on food habits, yet is in fact a call to live with intention; to savor life as one would savor a meal.

“One particularly lovely quote used to wrap up the author’s take on our species: ‘By the winds of capitalism and of less-human elements, we are swept along and through vast changes, driven here and there by forces much more powerful than any one of us and then all of us put together.’ Sounds heady? This lovely prose is followed up with a reflection concerning Dr. Seuss’s Lorax. And it makes perfect sense.” From Claire Stewart, author of As Long as We Both Shall Eat.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Readers of Surviving will know that—even more than a writer or artist or multilingual intellectual—Eaton has been a father. In the essay “On Savoring” he writes:

“My son Jonah and I have our best conversations when walking somewhere together, and thus one of my top priorities as a parent (and having greatly enjoyed conversations with Jonah!) is to make sure we take walks together. And thus I noticed, too, and savored in a certain way, a morning when I walked with Jonah to school, and we seemed in no way angry with one another, and yet said nothing, just walked together.”

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Midway between sex and politics we find the imperfect (increasingly imperfect?) art of friendship. This was a topic that greatly interested Plato who may well have suffered from what we now call “social anxiety disorder.” The essay “Friendship, Deception, Writing” proposes that in the end friendship is both Plato’s Lysis and our own ineluctable topic. While Plato insists on hiding many of his feelings about and experiences with friendship, he reveals while pursuing such things as seduction and power, we often get what we really need and most enjoy. I would define this what—this essence of friendship—as a kind of rubbing against other human beings, a rubbing and being rubbed by them. This analogy may seem more appropriate to sex or wrestling (and to the retirees who play paddleball every day at my YMCA), but certainly conversation, too, is a contact sport.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

Drawing, Conversation, Life

Most artists, before they have begun to draw—in a studio, with a model—have made any number of decisions. What materials they are going to work with and on; the scale of the work; what sort of results they hope to achieve—a likeness? classically proportioned beauty? an evocative gesture? This outline allows us to speak of another, ideal drawing process in which decisions would not have been made. Perhaps the artist ends up doing nothing, or at least not making any marks, and this without shame. The artist’s hand and eye respond to the model, the moment, the lighting, her own emotions and emotions in the room, her technical capacities and limitations, political and economic circumstances surrounding the room, . . . All of which might paralyze or inspire the artist, but could, more likely, less extremely, result in art works that, however great or small, are of their time and place.

This outline allows us to speak of an ideal conversation which would begin, or not begin, amid similar aspirations. Two people—strangers or friends—find themselves intersecting, perhaps seated facing one another, sharing a meal, perhaps side by side in an elevator or walking out of an abs-butt-and-thighs class together. Of course often (always?) there are things we need to say to someone, anyone, to another human being. But in the particular ideal process I am sketching here, any such need is no more than faint. Above all there is this other person who is sharing space with us and who is, to at least some degree, open to hearing what we may say. “I” respond to “you” and you to me, and there is—like a boat blown by a wind across some surface of a vast sea—a conversation.

Might we then go on to speak of an ideal way to live—without planning, but with our eyes, ears, and hearts open, with our hands and our lips ready to respond to others, to our circumstances and feelings? We might.

Although, of course, the artist through drawing learns things, or his hands and eyes do. And if we talk with someone a second, third, fourth time, our minds are no longer unfilled. We come to these subsequent conversations laden, at times happily, with material that cannot be unchosen.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Art, Sex, Politics is available (print on demand) from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble

ALTERNATE TEXT: Now available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble: Art, Sex, Politics &/or Art, Sex, Politics.

PRICE: $12.99, or $9.99 for Kindle

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Readers are encouraged to e-mail any comments or reflections to the author at Eaton0824 AT gmail. He notes that writing and drawing are quite self-involved activities, but they are also one of the strange ways humans have come up with for reaching out toward other humans. Reaching out—and, at times, touching—is our most significant artistic, sexual, and political act.

Those interested in Eaton’s newest, emerging work (much of it now poetry) are urged to visit Montaigbakhtinian.com.

Labor

Labor by [DeSiro, Lisa ]THE BOOK: Labor

PUBLISHED IN: March 2018

THE AUTHOR: Lisa DeSiro

THE EDITOR: Michael McInnis

THE PUBLISHER: Nixes Mate

SUMMARY: This book is a collection of poems about work and life in contemporary urban communities, particularly the Greater Boston area.

THE BACK STORY:  This book developed from separate pieces written during the 25 years I’ve lived in Boston and Cambridge, MA. Some of the poems date from the 1990s and early 2000s; some were written during April 2013 in response to the Boston Marathon bombing; some are from September 2016 when I participated (for the second time) in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project (writing 30 poems in 30 days); some were written in response to the most recent presidential campaign and election. I had started gathering these various components together, not sure if the collection as a whole was “done” or ready for submitting to publishers. Then I was contacted by Michael McInnis, the editor/publisher of Nixes Mate. He’d read some of my poems online and asked if I had any manuscripts. When I sent him Labor, he accepted it (to my delight!) and he helped me fine-tune it prior to publication.

WHY THIS TITLE?  The title Labor had been suggested by a colleague for one of my other (not yet published) book manuscripts. I decided to use it instead for this book, because this collection contains a group of prose poems about odd jobs and a poem written on Labor Day; also these poems focus on people laboring through issues related to race, gender, and equality.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  The book is full of observations and commentaries on current events as well as everyday occurrences, showing the complexities of both. Anyone who’s worked mundane or temp jobs may relate to the “Odd Jobs” section. Readers who’ve lived in Boston or any other large city may especially appreciate the poems of place. And some readers might find it interesting that the book contains a variety of poetic forms: acrostics, free verse, prose poems, sonnets, rhyming quatrains, haiku, syllabics, a ghazal, a golden shovel, a triolet, and an elegy. For those who might be intimidated by poetry: my style tends to be straightforward, using accessible language.

REVIEW COMMENTS:  “I have to keep looking; try to see more, speak more, turn away less,” says Lisa DeSiro in her fine first book, Labor. And this is what her poems do: they keep their eyes peeled, their ears open, and their hearts receptive. (Boston street bustle comes vividly alive in many of these poems.) But receptivity demands a tolerance for paradox, and DeSiro’s poems—in disarmingly simple, idiomatic language—plumb the secrets of the world’s contradictions. “Go ahead, enjoy this day” begins a poem titled “9/11 Anniversary, Public Garden.” At home with the prose poem as well as the tightly rhymed lyric, DeSiro distills memorable music from the most colloquial moments — “We were all thumbs on our dumb phones” — and offers readers a vibrant panoply of sights and sounds, captured and conveyed in her impressively taut writing. — Steven Cramer, author of Clangings and Goodbye to the Orchard

SAMPLE: See Amazon page.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  http://www.masspoetry.org/newbookdesiro/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Grolier Poetry Bookshop, Cambridge, MA

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Direct from publisher (http://nixesmate.pub/labor-lisa-desiro/) or from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Labor-Lisa-DeSiro/dp/0999397133/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520115873&sr=1-1&keywords=nixes+mate+books)

PRICE: $9.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: thepoetpianist.com

Weather Report, June 11

Siddhartha by [Hesse, Hermann]

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “THIS NIGHT ALIVE,” BY TARA DEAL AND “SMALL BITES,” BY DON TASSONE, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY. OR, JUST CLICK THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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It’s almost always interesting when authors put their  own spin on work by previous writers. We’ve already been down that road a few times with Snowflakes in a Blizzard.

Sometimes, this involves taking an old story and reframing it in a modern context, as Linda Bamber did with several Shakespeare plays and Michael Shou-Yung Shun gave us with his interpretation of Alexander Pushkin’s classic tale “Queen of Spades.”

Or perhaps the earlier work left the door open for an alternative ending. Thus, in “Children of Hamelin,” Dawn Sinclair speculated on what may have happened to the children lured away by the Pied Piper, while Marc Estin expounded on “Metamorphosis” in “Kafka’s Roach.”

It’s also interesting to add another element to a previous piece of writing, which is why Norman Lock’s “A Fugitive in Walden Woods” addressed the question of how Henry Thoreau might have dealt with the sudden appearance of a runaway slave.

This week, in that tradition, we will feature Anita Feng’s “Sid,” a modern interpretation of  Hermann Hesse’s classic “Siddhartha.” As Anita explains the initial process:

“I think it grew organically, from a number of sources. As a Zen student and teacher I have always loved the Siddhartha story. I appreciated the fact that it was a story, based, no doubt, on a real human being. But still, a story. So why not bring it up to date? Just being alive in the world brought so many many Buddhas-to-be to my doorstep, I felt the time had come to write a Siddhartha story of my own. As a writer, I had been enjoying a collaborative exercise with artist, Linda Davidson, wherein we had been participating in a “conversation”. The rules that we decided upon for this dialog: Linda would send (via snail mail) an ink painting, and within two weeks I would send a poem as reply, then she would reply to that, and we continued this exchange for a couple of years, if I remember right. What evolved was a series of incidents/works of art/poems about a rabbit and a crow. These poems and drawings became the nucleus for my book, Sid.”

William Eaton, by contrast, is not “channeling” anyone but himself. Yet his ability to cross-pollinate opinion essays with philosophical perspective is rare and valuable today.

One reviewer wrote of Eaton’s “Art, Sex, Politics”:

“In this remarkable collection of essays. Eaton writes of topics as seemingly earthy, and diverse, as gun control, voting patterns, and real estate transactions. Yet these topics serve to deliver insights which carry the reader into a world of mindfulness. One of the pleasures of reading a book by Mr. Eaton is to witness the author peeling away the layers of his stories. His essay concerning “savoring,” for example, first touches on food habits, yet is in fact a call to live with intention; to savor life as one would savor a meal.”

Similarly, in “Labor,” Jill DiSiro uses poetry to not only describe the Boston she has grown to love, but also to deal with such harsh outside intrusions as the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JUNE 12-18

“SID,” BY ANITA FENG.

Sid weaves the traditional tale of Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be with the story of Sid, an everyman who finds himself waking up amid the reality of work and family life in the modern world. Returning to the standard tale with careful consideration of the relationships in Buddha’s life—to his wife, parents, and child—Feng’s narrative embodies the Mahayana perspective of living one’s enlightenment in the world. Beautifully told in poetic prose, Sid teaches that the key to the story of the Buddha’s life is that the story could be about any of us. Includes beautiful black and white illustrations, created especially for this book.

“ART, SEX, POLITICS,” BY WILLIAM EATON.

Art, Sex, Politics offers a selection from Eaton essays appearing in publications from Agni to Zeteo (The Journal of Interdisciplinary Writing). Selection was governed by the title’s themes and by a desire to offer readers a wide range of approaches to the essay form, pieces long and short, serious and satirical, and pieces that championed both savoring (close attention to life) and conversation.

“LABOR, BY JILL DeSIRO.

From one reviewer: “I have to keep looking; try to see more, speak more, turn away less,” says Lisa DeSiro in her fine first book, Labor. And this is what her poems do: they keep their eyes peeled, their ears open, and their hearts receptive. (Boston street bustle comes vividly alive in many of these poems.) But receptivity demands a tolerance for paradox, and DeSiro’s poems—in disarmingly simple, idiomatic language—plumb the secrets of the world’s contradictions. “Go ahead, enjoy this day” begins a poem titled “9/11 Anniversary, Public Garden.” At home with the prose poem as well as the tightly rhymed lyric, DeSiro distills memorable music from the most colloquial moments — “We were all thumbs on our dumb phones” — and offers readers a vibrant panoply of sights and sounds, captured and conveyed in her impressively taut writing. — Steven Cramer, author of Clangings and Goodbye to the Orchard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Night Alive

THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOK, “SMALL BITES,” BY DON TASSONE, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE  “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.” OR, CLICK THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

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THE BOOK: That Night Alive.

PUBLISHED IN: 2016.

THE AUTHOR: Tara Deal.

THE EDITOR: I worked with Margaret Luongo, who was the final judge of the Miami University Press Novella Prize for the year that I won.

THE PUBLISHER: Miami University Press (in Oxford, Ohio). From their website: “Since 2004, Miami University Press has published one book of poetry each year (including poetry in translation) and one book of short fiction. Since 2005 the press has sponsored an annual novella contest.”

SUMMARY: That Night Alive is half futuristic fiction and half meditative memoir. The book begins on the narrator’s last day alive and moves backward in time to tell her story. She traces her path as a successful crypto-reporter, navigating a life of secrecy and solitude and world travel. A counter-narrative intersects, told by the same woman, who starts at the beginning and describes her struggles to create a work of beauty. That Night Alive is a story that investigates art and failure, persistence and success.

Image result for Tara Deal + author + photoTHE BACK STORY: I decided to write this book because I had been telling people that I wanted to pick a death date (say, the day I turn 80) and stick to it. I love the idea of a deadline and getting things done, and this sounded like a great idea, assuming nothing happened to me before then. But then if something did happen, that could be interesting, too. And I (probably immediately) decided to write about these two colliding ideas: happily planning for death on a certain day but then being confronted with death on a day you didn’t choose. And once I had this format in place, I wanted to make sure the two stories (about one woman) were very different, so I decided to combine fiction and memoir. The style I used for the fiction is very clipped, short sentences, monosyllabic words. The style I used for the memoir pieces is more flowery, sensual, emotional. One story goes backward in time. One story goes forward. Until they intersect, and the distinct styles start to break down, and everything comes together in the end and makes sense (or so I imagine).

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title comes from a passage in The Stranger by Albert Camus: “For the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the tender indifference of the world.” I love The Stranger and I am always writing about it in one way or another, always writing about happiness in the face of indifference, which I think is a beautiful thing. My mother-in-law asked me, after she read my book, why I couldn’t write about something happy once in a while, and I was a little bit shocked because I thought my book was all about happiness.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?  If you are a reader with a short attention span, like literature to be a bit of a game, enjoy flashes of poetry now and then (without having to read actual poetry), and like a book to be a companion through absurdity, then I think you might enjoy That Night Alive.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“A futuristic, contemplative meditation on the transitory nature of life, the suffocation induced by a world under surveillance, and the eternal struggle to funnel creative expression into a work that will live long after its creator.” —Heavy Feather Review, May 2017.

“Completely riveting from first page to last” – Midwest Book Review, November 2016.

“The novella reads as a perfect amalgamation of poetry and prose.”— Nerds of a Feather Flock Together, October 2016.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Tara Deal was born in Savannah, Georgia, grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, and spent most of her time in the South trying to get out. New York seemed like a better idea.

When she visited the city for the first time, as a child, she saw a woman standing by herself on a subway platform and eating chocolate ice cream out of a cup. It was July but felt like August. (And the city was, in an hour or so, about to suffer a disastrous blackout, but she didn’t know that.) This woman had a journal under her arm and a big bag strapped across her chest. Filled with books and papers. Important work, perhaps. She had accomplished something, and now she was going somewhere. She looked like she had a perfect life. Maybe she was a book editor.

Tara Deal worked as a book editor in midtown Manhattan for many years. But now she works in an apartment at the bottom of the island, where she writes flash fiction, fragmented essays, and free verse, among other concoctions.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Here’s a “peek inside” feature at Small Press Distribution. The link:

https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9781881163602/that-night-alive.aspx.

WHERE TO BUY IT:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/That-Night-Alive-Tara-Deal/dp/1881163601/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526912076&sr=8-1&keywords=that+night+alive

BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/that-night-alive-tara-deal/1124324881?ean=9781881163602

Miami University Press: http://www.orgs.miamioh.edu/mupress/details/deal_thatnightalive.html

PRICE: $15.

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

email: info@taradeal.com

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taradeal/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tara.p.deal.

Small Bites

THE BOOK: Small Bites

PUBLISHED IN: June 2018

THE AUTHOR: Don Tassone

THE EDITOR: Betsy Delmonico

THE PUBLISHER: Golden Antelope Press

SUMMARY: This is a collection of 40 short stories. Many can be read in about a minute. The longer ones might take half an hour. Stories are divided into three sections — appetizers, entrees and desserts — to fit all tastes and appetites.

Stories touch on a range of themes, including love, loss, generosity, renewal and the power of imagination. The subgenres are diverse — from romance and drama to science fiction and spirituality. In this book, I hope there’s something for everybody.

Don TassoneTHE BACK STORY: One of stories featured in the entrees section, “The Beauty Inside,” is a sequel to a story in my first collection, Get Back. That story is called “The Beauty in Things.” It’s a love story. Many readers asked me to write a sequel. I am delighted to serve up this second course.

WHY THIS TITLE?: At some point, I began to think of all these stories as a meal. Thus, the title, Small Bites. I wanted each story to be “tasty,” and I wanted to offer enough stories to leave readers feeling nourished and wonderfully satisfied.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: We’re all busy these days, but we all love a good story. I created Small Bites with busy people in mind.

REVIEW COMMENTS

“Small Bites offers a menu of short stories that produce a tug-o-war for the reader. One end of the reading ‘rope’ says, ‘Read faster!’ because the stories are so appealing. Tugging at the other end, a voice says, ‘Slow down!”‘because you don’t want this book to end.”

“Small Bites offers small bits of wit and wisdom as it stirs readers’ creative worlds of wonder. Stories invite the reader to consider, “What might I do in that situation?” That’s a good reason to read slowly and allow Small Bites to lead into new realms of imagina-tion.”

“Small Bites extends an invitation to the reader to grow, to move beyond. Small Bites suggests new worlds to explore: tender love, sci-fi, politics and prayer, the possi-bility of the impossible, sunrise and sunset, the sound of God’s breath! Prepare for aha moments in reading Small Bites. Don Tassone rivals O’Henry in the art of surprise end-ings, often endings that are the beginnings of the reader’s journey into deeper thinking.” —  Patti Normile, author of Prayers for Caregivers.

AUTHOR PROFILE: After a long career in the corporate world, Don Tassone has re-turned to his creative writing roots, living the passion for the written word which first led him to earn a degree in English. Small Bites is his third work of fiction, his second col-lection of short stories. His debut novel, Drive, and debut short story collection, Get Back, were published in 2017. Don also teaches public relations at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He and his wife Liz live in Loveland, Ohio. They have four children.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I write to make people think and feel more deeply. I hope the stories in “Small Bites” do that.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Small-Bites-Forty-Short-Sto-ries/dp/1936135558

LOCAL OUTLETS: Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

PRICE: $15.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: My email is dptassone@gmail.com, and my personal web-site is dontassone.com.