Weather Report, Sept. 11

Image result for Alaska caribou + photos + free

Photo: Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

THIS WEEK’S FEATURED BOOKS, “THE ANCHOR CLANKERS,” BY RENEE GARRISON AND “TRACKS ALONG THE LEFT COAST,” BY ANDREW SCHELLING, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.” OR, YOU CAN CLICK ON THE AUTHORS’ NAMES ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

——————————————————————————————————–

Looking over our highlighted books for the upcoming week, I found myself thinking of analogies from the world of art. For like diverse paintings on the wall of a gallery, each book illustrates a different facet of the creative imagination.

“Because It Is So Beautiful,” by Robert Leonard Reid, is a collection of essays from his many years as an outdoor writer, reflecting his enchantment with wild places and wildlife. Think of this book as a landscape.

In “Contract City,” novelist Mark Falkin is also writing about a real place — Tulsa, OK, in the not-so-distant future.  This Tulsa, however, has privatized all its services, and the result is a society edging toward totalitarianism. As one reviewer put it: “Contract City is an engaging, suspenseful portrayal of a world that, although imagined, feels all too familiar.”

Call it surrealism.

Image result for Cheryl Low + author +  photosFinally, Cheryl Low takes her imagination even farther, creating a world of her own.

Her “Vanity in Dust,” she explains, is “a dark fantasy about a city ruled by a terrifying Queen and governed by strict hierarchy and absurd social order. They drink tea to get high, eat cake for every meal, and sit in a library pretending to read books with no words. Dueling is a pastime, whispering is a sport, and there will be bloodshed and broken hearts.”

In other words, a work of abstract art. Or maybe not.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, SEPT. 12-18.

“BECAUSE IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL,” BY ROBERT LEONARD REID.

Writes Robert: “Because It Is So Beautiful” is a collection of nineteen essays, fifteen of which have appeared in earlier books of mine, four of which are new. Each essay centers on the majesty and wonder of the American West, and each inquires into the central theme of the collection, namely, the duality of nature.

 

“CONTRACT CITY,” BY MARK FALKIN

The year is 2021 and the money is still green. The fully privatized city of Tulsa, OK, is home to Sara Paige Christie, a teenage girl with her heart set on a film career in L.A. and her camera trained on the graffiti-covered walls of the city’s outskirts. In pursuit of a documentary subject that might propel her from college hopeful to film school admittee at USC, Sara has focused her ambitions upon a singularly ubiquitous tag―WH2RR??From the facades of storefronts to the walls of public restrooms, the tag is appearing nearly everywhere. Its stark all-capital letters and demanding question marks have captured Sara’s imagination, even as the private security personnel of Free Force Tulsa (FFT) scramble to eliminate the marks with power washers, gray-overs, and full censorship, stripping even photographs of the tags from the locally accessible Internet.

Sara has no doubt that there is meaning hidden in plain sight, and she sets off on a mission to find the person behind the mysterious tags while balancing an already full life: her final exams, her wild best friend, a physical fitness test that threatens her GPA, and a family that seems almost oblivious to what’s happening just down the street from their suburban home. With the exception, perhaps, of her father. A retired Marine turned FFT investigator, Sara’s dad has been on the trail of the graffiti artist for his own professional reasons. And if he knows what’s going on, he’s not telling Sara. And they’re not the only ones on the hunt … tensions are rising in town and beyond. Between the machinations of the city’s home-grown megachurch, Chosen Hill, and the movements of a growing camp of homeless citizens parked just beyond Tulsa’s comfort and security, life in Tulsa is about to become very interesting, and Sara just might be in the right place to catch it all on film … but only if she survives.

VANITY IN DUST, BY CHERYL LOW

In the Realm, there are whispers. Whispers that the city used to be a different place. That before the Queen ruled there was a sky beyond the clouds and a world beyond their streets.

Vaun Dray Fen never knew that world. Born a prince without a purpose in a Realm ruled by lavish indulgence, unrelenting greed, and vicious hierarchy, he never knew a time before the Queen’s dust drugged the city. Everything is poisoned to distract and dull the senses, even the tea and pastries. And yet, after more than a century, his own magic is beginning to wake. The beautiful veneer of the Realm is cracking. Those who would defy the Queen turn their eyes to Vaun, and the dust saturating the Realm.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Anchor Clankers

The Anchor Clankers (The Anchor Clankers Book 1) by [Garrison, Renee]THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOK, “TRACKS ALONG THE LEFT COAST,” BY ANDREW SCHELLING, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY. OR, YOU CAN CLICK ANDREW SCHELLING’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

PUBLISHED IN
: 2017

THE AUTHOR:
  Renee Garrison.

THE EDITOR
: Liz Sims.

THE PUBLISHER
: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing LLC in Tallahassee, Florida,
promotes Southern Authors of fiction and non-fiction throughout the Southeast. They strive to publish unique works set in specific locals that reflect the culture of that area. 

SUMMARY: What if you were the only girl living in a boys’ boarding school?

My Young Adult book, “The Anchor Clankers,” revolves around a ninth-grade girl who never had a brother, at least not a biological one. But she acquires hundreds of them when she moves (with her parents) into a boys’ military academy where her father is the new Commandant. The book a medalist in the 2017 Florida Authors and Publishers Association Book Awards.
 
THE BACK STORY: It’s actually the story of my life. Yes, I grew up in a boys’ military academy. I remember my father walking through the door of our apartment, shaking his head and telling my mother, ‘I ought to write a book.’ He died in 1990 but I’m happy to do it for him.”
 
As a former reporter for The Tampa Tribune, I admit that daily newspaper deadlines kept me from writing the book sooner. When you write stories all day, there’s little time or creative energy leftover at night to devote to a book. However, my husband and I drove to Sanford in 2010 to see the old school building. Though the naval academy closed its doors in 1976, the building was used by a missionary group that graciously gave me a tour of my old home. Memories came flooding back and a book was born.
 
WHY THIS TITLE: “The Anchor Clankers” is actually a derogatory term that local Sanford boys used to refer to midshipmen who lived at the naval academy.
 
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Though there are no vampires, wizards or dystopian societies, this coming-of-age book has a lot of rollicking good fun. (Think of “Animal House” on a high-school level or Hogwarts without the wands.)
 
REVIEW COMMENTS:
 
Renee Garrison has a true gift for developing believable characters. This authentic coming of age story will resonate with teens.”  Patty Lapinsky, Literacy Coach.
 
“This book is kind of Old Florida – the way America used to be before cell phones and the Internet. Nostalgia can be exciting and fun – Suzette is having the time of her life! I hope there’s a film version, because I want to go to a boarding school like this.”  — Julie Neely.
 
This hilarious book tells the tales of 14-year-old Suzette and her adventures with more than 100 high school boys all living under the same roof. It’s a fun read about Florida, the military academy and Suzette’s ways of finding her place in the world.” Liz Sims, BookmarkIt.
 
AUTHOR PROFILE: Award-winning author Renee Garrison was born in Washington, DC. Her father was a naval aviator whose job required the family to move every three years. Though she hated changing schools, Renee loved the freedom to reinvent herself in each new city where she lived. She discovered her love of journalism while writing for her high school newspaper and graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Mass Communications. She spent 16 years as a staff writer for the Tampa Tribune.

 

Most of the time, she writes at home in Florida. But she always carries a notebook and pen so she can scribble thoughts in the car, on beach chairs — she’s even done some pretty good work on the back of vomit bags during airline flights! (She must have coffee, though, and chocolate seems to help her creative process a lot.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Whether you ARE a teenage girl or you KNOW a teenage girl, the book will strike a familiar chord. My life was a bit unique as the only girl in a boys’ boarding school. But the book also deals with themes such as prejudice, peer pressure and groping with change, which are common to all teenagers.”

The main character moves from Boston to Sanford in 1971, but her experience is a universal one. Not wanting to move is normal. Leaving behind everything that’s familiar is frightening. I want my readers to remember that they’re not alone. According to the National Military Family Association, military children will say goodbye to more significant people by age 18 than the average person will in a lifetime.


SAMPLE CHAPTER: Check my Amazon Author page or my blog www.Reneewritesnow.wordpress.com.



WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  http://www.syppublishing.com/anchor-clankers/

PRICE: $15.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: www.reneegarrison.com, www.facebook.com/anchorclankers  or https://twitter.com/ReneeWritesNow

Renee Garrison
523 Heron Point Way
DeLand, FL 32724
(407) 644-4501

Tracks Along the Left Coast

 

THE BOOK: Tracks Along the Left Coast: Jaime de Angulo and Pacific Coast Culture.

PUBLISHED IN: 2017.

THE AUTHOR: Andrew Schelling.

THE EDITOR: Jack Shoemaker.

THE PUBLISHER: Counterpoint Press. Located in Berkeley, a successor to North Point Press and Shoemaker & Hoard, Publishers. Several of their authors have remained throughout: Gary Snyder, Gina Berriault, Wendell Berry, Red Pine (Bill Porter). They publish poetry, non-fiction, novels, and translations of Chinese philosophy & Zen.

SUMMARY: More than an immersive tale of the picaresque life of cowboy, linguist, doctor, ethnographer, and author Jaime de Angulo— the Old Coyote of Big Sur—this book is an exploration of the persecuted Native Californian cultures and languages that thrived for millennia and endured into his day.

Jaime de Angulo’s linguistic and ethnographic work, his writings, as well as the legends that cloak the Old Coyote himself, vividly reflect the particulars of the Pacific coast. His poetry and prose uniquely represent the bohemian sensibility of the twenties, thirties and forties, and he has an underground fame for reworking coyote tales and drawing acute portraits of Native California life-ways. So vivid was his writing that Ezra Pound called him “the American Ovid;” William Carlos Williams claimed that de Angulo was “one of the most outstanding writers I have ever encountered.”

In each retelling, through each storyteller, stories come alive again; that is what Andrew Schelling has achieved in Tracks Along the Left Coast, weaving together the story of a colorful life with the story of the land and the people, languages, and cultures with which it is so closely tied.

THE BACK STORY: “I thought about this book for forty years, ever since I dropped out of Berkeley, disillusioned that no faculty in the English department would sponsor a thesis on de Angulo’s extraordinary writings, his impact on people like Kerouac, Snyder, Kyger, and the whole San Francisco Renaissance. It took a long while to see what kind of book I wanted to make. I didn’t want to write a biography or critical study. I needed something that would further de Angulo’s work—add to the deep mythic culture he was part of, not try to explain it. He was a figure in an ecosystem, a Pacific Coast ecosystem of poems, medicine power, striking personalities, bohemian lifestyles, and creation myths. I had to account for the ecosystem, not just the person. I also think I had to live in a completely different region—away from Northern California where I’d spent twenty years—in order to get the perspective I needed. Once I moved to Colorado I got a new way of looking at the Left Coast. Much of this book is based on stories I have collected, or research I’ve done into hidden corners of linguistics, healing, oral literature, and so forth.”

WHY THIS TITLE?: “Left” Coast conjures a number of things: anarcho-pacifist stance of the artists of San Francisco. Those folk of course stand on the shoulders of the old Wobbly (Workers of the World) heritage. So “Left,” as in resistance to the encroachment of Capitalism everywhere. And of course, remembering that “west is left on the map.” It felt I was writing about the left coast, not just the west coast: a place as spiritual as it is geographical. I have also long tumbled around the notion of “tracks.” Partly it is to rewaken the Old Time Stories when people were animals and animals, people; but also to convey that I am more interested in an eco-system of ideas than any single storyline. You can walk through an eco-system, and what you do is lay down tracks. But they are only tracks. They are not the ecosystem.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? There is a huge, undeniable underbelly to North American culture—you could call it on ongoing counterculture—which tends to be ignored in East Coast intelligentsia circles and book reviews. This has to do with spiritual themes that show up particularly in the West. First, the encounter with vast landscapes and wilderness; connected to that, a greater urge towards self-reliance; a turn away from Europe and towards Asia and Native American traditions. Plus the fact that the West Coast was the original pluralistic culture, with a hundred pre-contact languages; a living repository of oral myths and tales. This also exposes the hidden side of Modernism: the loss of archaic traditions and languages across the West.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Jaime de Angulo! If you could corral into one volume all the legends he inspired, you would already have given us a book worth reading, but poet Andrew Schelling has been able, in this magnificent, long-awaited biography, to reshape the myth into a human being. In a larger frame, Tracks Along the West Coast illustrates something of the troubling ease with which Modernism, hand in hand with the new science of anthropology, fixed and adapted what it imagined as “the Primitive.” As his personal evanescence flickered and burned through the decades, de Angulo shot direction into the skies; we see why generations of Western poets, musicians, and artists were drawn to him, beyond that brilliant intellect. Through California foothills his horse galloped him, naked but for a jockstrap: if you blinked you would miss him…” (more at Amazon). — Kevin Killian, 2016

AUTHOR PROFILE: My original literary homeland, you could say, is Northern California. I cut my teeth on poetry, wilderness, politics, Zen, and languages, in the Bay Area. There I ran with young urban poets, hung out around the Zen centers, and co-edited a couple of samizdat magazines. I also wrote poetry and essays, and studied Sanskrit language and poetry. In 1990 I moved to Colorado to join the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University (then Institute). My first collection of translations—Sanskrit poetry—came out and got a big prize (Academy of American Poets). Since then I have done about twenty books—translation, poetry, essay, anthologies.

I walk the wilderness, have traveled and taught a good deal in India, study various old languages, all of these impractical and difficult tasks. My poems and essays come out of notebooks. I do all my initial note-taking and writing by hand. It reminds me I’m a mammal.

Here are links to a few recent books:

http://www.counterpointpress.com/dd-product/love-and-the-turning-seasons/

http://singinghorsepress.com/titles/the-real-people-of-wind-and-rain/

http://laalamedapress.com/books/arapahosongbook.html

http://manoajournal.hawaii.edu/2013

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I kept thinking I was writing the book for about a dozen people, and one by one they started to die. Some of them are poets, to whom I owe an enormous debt. Others are teachers, friends, lovers, comrades. So that gave some urgency to the project. Along the way I found dozens, maybe hundreds, of young people who still have a hunger for that mix of wilderness, myth, alternative ways of living, and who really “don’t want to buy very much,” but prefer the arts of poetry & story.

I hope the resilience, humor, and sense of what has endured for ten thousand years, is enough to make this book a useful place for others to build. By build, I mean how to live your life as much as how to write more books.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: On the Amazon page.

LOCAL OUTLETS: In California: Moe’s Books, Mrs. Dalloway’s, University Press Books (all in Berkeley); Point Reyes Books, Bookshop Santa Cruz, The Henry Miller Memorial Library (Carmel), Ranger Station at Pfeifer Big Sur State Park. In Colorado at Boulder Bookstore. In Cambridge (MA), Harvard Bookstore. In Brunswick, Maine, at Gulf of Maine Books. Woodland Pattern in Milwaukee. Many other places friendly to poetry, bioregion studies, and literature.

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

PRICE: $26.00.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: schell@ecentral.com

First Tuesday Replay, Sept. 5

THIS FEATURE HAS A TWO-FOLD PURPOSE: 1. TO ALLOW THOSE RECENTLY ADDED TO OUR FOLLOWER’S LIST TO LEARN ABOUT BOOKS THEY MIGHT HAVE MISSED AND 2. TO MAKE SURE PREVIOUSLY FEATURED AUTHORS AND THEIR WORK AREN’T FORGOTTEN. IF YOU’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ANY ONE OF THE BOOKS REVISITED HERE, SIMPLY CLICK ON THE “AUTHOR” PAGE, THEN ON THAT AUTHOR’S NAME.

“NEVER A HERO TO ME,” BY TRACY BLACK

Tracy Black was only five years old when her mother was hospitalized for the first of many occasions, leaving Tracy in the care of her father. His behaviour, seemingly overnight, changed from indifferent to violently abusive and, for the next seven years, Tracy was sexually and physically abused by her father, his friends and her own brother. All of the men were in the British Armed Forces. Tracy’s father compounded the abuse by sending her to baby-sit for his pedophile friends – whilst their own children slept in other rooms, these men would find excuses to leave later or return earlier than their wives in order to abuse her, with her own father’s blessing. When she sought help and safety the doors were closed as the authorities closed ranks. In this shocking and compelling book, Tracy Black pieces together the jigsaw of a story that has haunted her for the past forty years. She reveals the horrific betrayal of trust perpetrated by men who were considered upstanding citizens and heroes. Tracy’s tale reminds us all of the terrible ways in which paedophiles work and the secrets too many children are forced to carry alone. It is only now that she can tell her full story of recovery.

“STEALING CHERRIES,” BY MARINA RUBIN.

74 heart-rending stories, each in 150 to 300 words. This is literature with an adrenaline rush – each story has a plot, a conflict, a lesson, humor, and a spectrum of characters. Who are they? A family of five arrives at JFK with no English and two suitcases per person. Women searching for love at a local Jewish center with the same zest as in a Jamaican nudist colony. Strippers spending $3000 on underwear. They are looking for jobs, they wear bunny slippers to work, they have sex in the office under the scrutiny of security cameras. These characters are all too human, too familiar, too flawed, and just glamorous enough to be endearing and unforgettable.

“FIRE IN THE BONE,” BY MARK HARRIS.

Spanning the years 1964-1972, Fire in the Bones follows Luke, an American boy plagued by panic and loneliness growing up in a nominally religious middle class family.  He looks for security and companionship wherever he can, first through daydreams, including a relationship with an imaginary friend named Bob, and then on to sixties pop culture, via TV icon Batman and pop music sensations the Beatles.  As Luke comes to pattern his identity after the Beatles and others, he creates a fantasy world for himself that keeps the panic and loneliness at bay. But when Lonnie walks into his life, he enters a new reality where a flesh-and-blood female offers him tangible security—but at a price Luke may not be willing to pay.

“THE PASSAGE OAK,” BY K.M. DEL MAR.

High above the coast of Cornwall, a remarkable tree dominates the woodland. It stands out because it is the only oak of its type and larger than any other tree. Down the ages, it has served as a landmark for thieves and smugglers, lovers and outlaws.

In the small village below, people have a rather obsessive dread of anything that stands out, that doesn’t fit the mold. They like to keep to themselves and don’t like to see their traditions threatened.

But along comes an Italian and then an Irishman, each escaping religious persecution in his native country. A young woman and a small boy follow, fleeing the French Revolution, plus a stranger running from a charge of murder, and a girl of mixed race sent by mistake from a London orphanage.

Imagine this motley assortment of people seeking to build new lives in one hard-pressed fishing village.

“SOME WAY OUTA HERE,” BY MARK LAUDEN

Some Way Outa Here: A Personal Story of a Time That Transformed America by [Lauden, Mark]Some Way Outa Here recounts the turbulent year from July 1969 to June 1970, when men walked the moon and students marched in the streets. It’s a joyful and inspiring story about young people who set out to change the world – and each other.

Amid the turmoil of the Vietnam war, high school friends confront the horror of the war and the frustration of hometown apathy. The story is told from the point of view of a teen who must reconcile his zeal for science and his opposition to the war; he is challenged to lead despite paralyzing self-doubts. Two remarkable girls join him in an inspiring and passionate journey.

The young rebels are plunged into the crucible of the Cambodia invasion and Kent State killings. Like America, they each have to decide which path to take. Some Way Outa Here is about finding that path. It captures the wonder of a magical time that flourished briefly, leaving America forever changed. It’s about promises and secrets, dreams and nightmares, and coming of age.

 

 
“OUT OF TOUCH,” BY RUSTY COATS.

 For Jonah Morgan, the past and future run through people like lightning, throwing sparks on everything they touch, and Jonah’s hands catch those sparks – an ability his grandfather called wicking. In Out of Touch, Jonah confronts his own gift – and the ambitions of a phony psychic named Perry Jahn – while saving a small Indiana town when its basketball team boards a flight doomed to crash.

Weather Report, September 4

Image result for big sur photos free

Big Sur (Photo From Trip Advisor).

THIS WEEK’S CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “LITTLE SCHOOLBOYS,” BY JOHN GUZLOWSKI, “HEART BREAKING OPEN,” BY LINA LANDESS AND “WEST SIDE GIRL & OTHER POEMS,” BY LAUREN SCHARHAG, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

The northern coast of California is a strikingly beautiful place, and Andrew Schelling would like to take you there,

But not alone. In “Tracks Along the West Coast,” Schelling has a ghost for company — a legendary Californian named Jamie du Angelo.

He writes: “I thought about this book for forty years, ever since I dropped out of Berkeley, disillusioned that no faculty in the English department would sponsor a thesis on de Angulo’s extraordinary writings, his impact on people like Kerouac, Snyder, Kyger, and the whole San Francisco Renaissance. It took a long while to see what kind of book I wanted to make. I didn’t want to write a biography or critical study. I needed something that would further de Angulo’s work—add to the deep mythic culture he was part of, not try to explain it.

“He was a figure in an ecosystem, a Pacific Coast ecosystem of poems, medicine power, striking personalities, bohemian lifestyles, and creation myths. I had to account for the ecosystem, not just the person. I also think I had to live in a completely different region—away from Northern California where I’d spent twenty years—in order to get the perspective I needed. Once I moved to Colorado I got a new way of looking at the Left Coast. Much of this book is based on stories I have collected, or research I’ve done into hidden corners of linguistics, healing, oral literature, and so forth.”

It’s a somewhat mystical approach to biography, trying to get at not what the subject did or achieved, but what difference he made in the collective consciousness.

“Jaime de Angulo’s linguistic and ethnographic work, his writings, as well as the legends that cloak the Old Coyote himself, vividly reflect the particulars of the Pacific coast. His poetry and prose uniquely represent the bohemian sensibility of the twenties, thirties and forties, and he has an underground fame for reworking coyote tales and drawing acute portraits of Native California life-ways. So vivid was his writing that Ezra Pound called him ‘the American Ovid;’ William Carlos Williams claimed that de Angulo was ‘one of the most outstanding writers I have ever encountered.'”

Our other offering this month comes from the opposite coast, Renee Garrison’s novel “The Anchor Clankers.” Like many “young adult” novels, it revolves a story interesting and entertaining enough to pull in adults, as well.

Writes Renee: “It’s actually the story of my life. Yes, I grew up in a boys’ military academy. I remember my father walking through the door of our apartment, shaking his head and telling my mother, ‘I ought to write a book.’ He died in 1990 but I’m happy to do it for him.”

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, SEPTEMBER 4-10

“TRACKS ALONG THE WEST COAST,” BY ANDREW SCHELLING.

More than an immersive tale of the picaresque life of cowboy, linguist, doctor, ethnographer, and author Jaime de Angulo— the Old Coyote of Big Sur—this book is an exploration of the persecuted Native Californian cultures and languages that thrived for millennia and endured into his day.

“THE ANCHOR CLANKERS,” BY RENEE GARRISON

What if you were the only girl living in a boys’ boarding school?

This Young Adult book, “The Anchor Clankers,” revolves around a ninth-grade girl who never had a brother, at least not a biological one. But she acquires hundreds of them when she moves (with her parents) into a boys’ military academy where her father is the new Commandant. The book was a medalist in the 2017 Florida Authors and Publishers Association Book Awards.
 
FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY
This month, we will revisit “Out of Touch,”  by Rusty Coats, “Some Way Outa Here,” by Mark Lauden, “Fire in the Bone,” by Mark Harris, “Stealing Cherries,” by Marina Rubin, “Never a Hero to Me,” by Tracy Black and “Passage Oak,” by K.M. Del Mara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Schoolboys

Cover Image

THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “HEART BREAKING OPEN,” BY LINA LANDESS AND “WEST SIDE GIRL & OTHER POEMS,” BY LAUREN SCHARHAG, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

THE BOOK: Little Schoolboys.

PUBLISHED IN: June, 2017

THE AUTHOR: John Guzlowski.

THE PUBLISHER: Ravenswood Publishing, a small independent press focusing on popular fiction and selected non-fiction.

SUMMARY: The novel is set in the late psychedelic 1960s in Chicago. Two Chicago detectives, Hank Purcell and Marvin Bondarowicz, are called in by a nun to deal with a pedophile priest who is apparently sexually abusing altar boys. Shortly afterward, the nun is found murdered in her convent. The two detectives are attempting to deal with both the pedophilia and the murder, but the lead detective Hank Purcell is distracted by the disappearance of his daughter who may have been kidnapped by drug dealers.

John Z. GuzlowskiThe novel is a sequel to Suitcase Charlie. It picks up my two Chicago Police detectives 10 years later. The central character, Hank Purcell, is still troubled by the way the previous case ended and by his memories and nightmares of his service in WWII. For him, the case is especially troubling because the nun who was killed is a friend of his and someone who helped him solve the Suitcase Charlie murders.

Marvin is still Marvin. He takes almost nothing seriously and enjoys the fruits of the 60s: marijuana, LSD, and rock and roll.

THE BACK STORY: Two very different impulses motivated me in writing this novel.

First was the pedophilia I saw and heard about when I was a child in a Catholic school in Chicago. Second was World War II, its lasting effects.

My home parish in Chicago was a parish with a history of pedophilia. Three of the priests in my parish were accused of pedophilia. Although I never was approached by these priests, I had friends who were. Some of them were lucky enough to fight off the advances, some weren’t. In either case, the experience was something that haunted my friends. I have friends who still carry this burden, 55 years after the assaults and sexual abuse. As you can imagine, it’s not something they want to talk about.

And what happened to the priests? They were never tried, never brought to justice. Instead, they simply moved from one parish to another until they strangely disappeared from the lists of priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Their names have, however, appeared on another list, the list of sexually-abusive Chicago priests. The list at present contains the names of 144 priests.

I wrote Little Schoolboys because I wanted to talk about pedophilia and what it does to children and their parents.

The other reason was the war.

Most of my writing in the past has focused on the Polish immigrant and WWII survivor community on Chicago’s Near Northwest side. My parents were Polish farm kids who were taken to Germany as slave laborers during the war, and after the war they, my sister, and I came to the US as refugees. We made our home in the Humboldt Park area, St. Fidelis Parish. It was a neighborhood of refugees and survivors. Growing up in the immigrant and refugee neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, I met hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead comrades, and women who had walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. One of the things that was always clear to me was that the war for the people around me, including my parents, had no beginning and no end.

Each day was a reminder of some dark moment from the past. I saw this in my parents and I saw this in my friend’s parents. They had seen horrors that would never shake loose from them.

My main characters – Hank and Marv – are also survivors. Although they were not enslaved by the Germans, they were soldiers who – as made clear in Suitcase Charlie – actively and heroically participated in the war, Hank against the Germans and Marv against the Japanese. The work they do now as detectives is in some way a continuation of the work they did during the war. For them too, the war has no beginning and no end.

Through my detectives and the crimes they pursue in a Holocaust survivors neighborhood, I’m – in some way – working through the horrors my parents saw and that they passed on to me through their stories and nightmares.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I chose the title Little Schoolboys for two reasons. First, my mystery is in part about pedophilia. The crime that gets everything moving at the start is a pedophilic act. I chose this title because I wanted to suggest the innocence of the priests’ victims. They are just little children. I also had another reason. Little schoolboys are delicious French cookies, and the title – to me – suggests the sort of careless, unfeeling, selfish way the priests see the boys and girls they abuse. They are just a treat for the priests.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Little Schoolboys – like Suitcase Charlie, my previous novel – is classic noir, I feel. It’s dark, it’s troubling, it’s cynical, it’s fatalist, and it’s morally ambiguous.

Who would want to read it? It’s the kind of crime fiction I like and that I’ve been reading since I picked up my first Mickey Spillane novel when I was 12 years old. And it’s the kind of crime fiction I’m still reading in the novels of James Ellroy, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Philip Kerr, Daniel Woodrell, and Stieg Larson. Maybe it’s because of where I came from, but I’ve never been a guy who liked to read about mysteries set around a beautiful tea table in a cozy cottage. If you like that list of writers, I think you should give Little Schoolboys a shot.

REVIEW COMMENTS:  “Little Schoolboys is the fast-paced, down and dirty sequel to Suitcase Charlie. The time is ten years later, after the child murders in Suitcase Charlie. Chicago detectives Frank Purcell and Marvin Bondarowicz start out investigating a case of sexual assault on an altar boy by a priest. Then comes the murder of a beloved nun from the same parish. Add to that, Det. Purcell’s family troubles and you have a story that will keep you guessing until the end. I highly recommend this book. It’s not necessary to read Suitcase Charlie first, but I will tell you that it will help you understand this story better if you do.”

“Here we have the same two detectives who delivered such rough justice at the end of Guzlowsi’s Suitcase Charlie. It’s ten years later, and they’re still working the mean streets of Chicago. The setting is carefully drawn, the early 60’s, the era of hippies and psychedelia, social upheaval and change. They’re working a case where, again, the center is a victimized child, and the criminal is someone who recognizes no limits on his own instincts and desires. A nun is murdered, a child is dead, another child, detective Purcell’s teenage daughter Margaret, has gone missing, and it’s the darkest time of the year, filled with cold, and endless snow. This is a gripping crime novel, authentic and fast-paced, once you start reading it’s hard to stop until you’ve reached the last page. But it’s also more than that. What these detectives are confronted with is the problem of evil, with it’s human form and face, it’s presence in human history and institutions. These men have both been through World War II as combatants, have witnessed the brutal evils of battle, have killed, have seen the monumental evil of the Nazi state and its relics. That war haunts these men, and their whole generation. In the city itself, where veterans and refugees have settled, the memories and habits of that war rest like a dark heart, covered in snow and ice that quickly turns filthy and spoiled–the picture of a ruined world. And as the truth about the crime is discovered, the detectives’ response is consistent–physical, brutal, violent–as though the only thing you can do is overcome these evils with your own rage–beat, strangle, smash it to death, no matter what the consequences. Little Schoolboys is a gripping crime novel, and an existential study of evil. I highly recommend it!”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Over a writing career that spans more than 40 years, John Z. Guzlowski has amassed a significant body of published work in a wide range of genres: poetry, prose, literary criticism, reviews, fiction and nonfiction. His work has appeared in numerous national journals and anthologies, and in four prior books. Guzlowski’s work has garnered high praise, including from Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz, who called Guzlowski’s poetry “exceptional.”

Born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, Guzlowski came to America with his family as a Displaced Person in 1951. His parents had been Polish slave laborers in Nazi Germany during the war. Growing up in the tough immigrant neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, he met hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who had walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians.

In much of his work, Guzlowski remembers and honors the experiences and ultimate strength of these voiceless survivors. Guzlowski received his B.A. in English Literature from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Purdue University. He is Professor Emeritus of English Literature at Eastern Illinois University, and currently lives in Lynchburg, Virginia.

His work has received awards from the Illinois Arts Council and the Polish American Historical Association. Most recently, his book Echoes of Tattered Tongues received the Ben Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal for most thought-provoking book of 2017.

He has also been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes and 5 Pushcart Prizes.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I see myself not as a mystery writer or a poet – though I’ve done both kinds of writing; rather, I see myself primarily as a historian, as a writer who is concerned about making people feel what the past was like and telling them why they need to remember what happened. It’s easy to turn away from history, to say that was so long ago, to say that it doesn’t matter to anybody.

“But I think doing so cuts us off not only from the people who brought us to this stage in history, but it also cuts us off from the lessons history wants to teach us about how to survive and how to love and how to hope. History is our mother — teaching us all the lessons we need to know to go on.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

From Little Schoolboys, Chapter 1:

Once downstairs, Hank watched the nun sit down on the couch, and then he sat across from her. He kept thinking this was not going to go well. For a long time, she didn’t say anything. She seemed worried, confused. Unsure of herself. She sat there rubbing her chin and running her fingers along the line where her habit met her right cheek.

This wasn’t the way she usually looked. Usually she was determined and purposeful, focused. He remembered when she helped him make sense of some of the clues in the Suitcase Charlie murders. Back then, she acted almost like an evidentiary professor, giving a lesson she had given a thousand times before.

He waited for her to be like that again, to compose herself. Pull herself together.

“Detective Purcell, I need your help.”

“Sure, Sister, anything, you just name it.”

“It’s hard to talk about what I have to talk about,” she said and paused for a moment, looked around the rec room.

“Take your time, Sister. There’s no rush.”

“But there is, Detective. There’s something terrible happening. I saw it today, for the first time, and it stopped me like a death.”

Hank pulled back a bit, and then he leaned forward and listened.

“After the early Saturday morning mass, the 6 o’clock one, I was measuring the altar for a new altar cloth, and I thought I was alone in the church. It was so silent. Not many people come to those early masses anymore. Mostly it’s just the old widows who live near the church. But even they were gone by then, and the church was empty. I couldn’t hear anything. I dropped my tape measure. It was one of the new kind that roll into themselves, and it dropped behind the altar, and I bent down to pick it up, and I looked through the door to the sacristy, and I saw something there.”

Sister Mary Philomena stopped then.

Hank had seen this before. He knew she had something to say and what she had to say was going to change everything, change the world as she knew it, and he knew she couldn’t bring herself to say it because she was afraid of what this new world would be like.

Hank didn’t want to press her. She had to bring it out herself at her own time, her own speed. He waited.

She looked down at her hands. It looked to Hank like she wished she had a rosary in them.

Sister Mary Philomena looked up then, and for a moment made eye contact with Hank.

“I saw one of the parish priests there, and he was doing something. It was something bad.”

She said it, and she stopped. She looked back at her hands.

Hank knew what she was feeling. Whatever she had seen or heard the priest do or say had somehow transferred to her. Women were like that. They were good at taking on the sins of the world, making them their own. He was surprised Jesus Christ hadn’t been a woman. It would have made a whole lot of sense in a hell of a lot of ways.

Then she looked up again, and Hank saw something in her eyes. He knew he was going to hear what it was the priest was doing, and it was going to come out straight and fast. And it was going to be bad.

She stood up then and said it.

“When I looked, it was sort of dark, and the Father’s back was to me, and there was an altar boy sitting on his lap, like the Father was Santa Claus and this boy was telling him what he wanted for Christmas. I could see his face, the boy’s face, and I recognized him. He’s one of Sister Theresa’s 6th graders, Tommy Sawa. He saw me too, and there was a frightened look on his face. Like he knew he was doing something bad.

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

PRICE: $12.99 for paperback. $2.99 for Kindle. The book is also available as a Kindle Unlimited.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Email: jzguzlowski@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnguzlowski

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jzguzlowski/

Heart Breaking Open

Heart Breaking Open: Discovering the Heart Within Heartbreak by [Landess, Lina]

Lina LandessTHE BOOK: Heart Breaking Open

PUBLISHED: 2016

AUTHOR: Lina Landess

EDITOR: (I used a fellow I found at fiverr.com, but don’t recall his name.)

PUBLISHER: Self published under the name ‘Open Hearts Press’

SUMMARY: (From the intro @ Smashwords) How do you respond when your life falls apart, when you lose those you love to betrayal, death or other losses? Lina Landess’ book reveals, through her honest and open sharing, how the inevitable suffering in our lives can transform us; how beyond our previous knowing, we can discover the love, the Spirit that is always present, always available when we allow our hearts to truly break open.

Offered as a memoir, Heart Breaking Open serves as a powerful example of one woman’s journey into the unknown. From her initial ‘dark night of the soul’ and her ensuing spiritual journey and awakening, this book is a testament to the importance of trusting our hearts’ calling, no matter how challenging things may appear.

THE BACK STORY: The story began as a journal, after my husband’s admission of his affair. Journaling became a way for me to express both the events and my feelings about them. I began journaling in early 1997, the year of the ‘big reveal.’ In 1998 or so, a friend submitted it in that form to an agent who focused on the Buddhist market. When she advised me that I needed to write it as if I was a teacher, I froze, knowing that I was not that.

That paralysis lasted some 4-5 years, but the thing wouldn’t let me go, so it started becoming the book it is now probably around 2008, so it took almost 8 years . . . with a few more stabs and pauses in between. (See why this title for further explanation!)

WHY THIS TITLE? Having my heart ‘broken,’ as happened at the moment of his telling, I saw that something greater, although unexpected, had also occurred. Instead of that dreaded heartbreak, I realized that in making the choice to accept his truth and open my heart, (thanks to the practice called Lovingkindness) I had stepped into a richer, more peaceful and compassionate way of being. (This profound experience of opening my heart and the opportunity it created to handle this experience from there was also the reason for writing the book.)

Uniqueness & niche: I’m not sure it is unique, in that others, namely Pema Chodron & now Glennon Doyle have written similarly (esp.Pema) but perhaps because I, unlike Pema, already had a practice that informed my response to my husband’s news. I am still an ordinary person but who, others tell me, has lived an extraordinary life, not the least of which includes publishing this book.

Niche: Spiritual seekers, women who have been betrayed by a husband, a lover, a friend. My initial reason for writing it, and continuing to work on it, arose from a desire to help others who may find themselves in similar situations, as well as encouraging others to gratefully accept everything life throws at them, knowing that it’s all for their benefit.

REVIEWS:

“I was delighted to read Lina Landess’s book, which chronicles her spiritual explorations over a lifetime. The author’s clear writing style, grounded in an everyday kind of joy, brought the stories of her life alive for me. And I love the subtitle of the book: “Discovering the Heart Within Heartbreak”, which is one of the best descriptions of the way suffering supports us in waking up that I’ve ever heard. It’s easy to miss the fact of our own growing awareness by comparing ourselves to people like the Buddha or Eckhart Tolle or Byron Katie, whose awakenings seem to have occurred all at once. But I’m guessing that most of us, like Lina, open up little by little, like the flowers that we are. Until, one day, we find ourselves simply happy to Be, and truly grateful from the inside out.”

“Honest, real, gripping, well written, inspiring. This book will let you know that Awakening is available to anyone who sincerely searches and can result when we are willing and open to use all the adversity, challenge and let downs in life as spiritual food. My thanks to the author for sharing Truth from the core of her Being!”

“A beautifully written story of life living one woman! Full of joy, sorrow, struggle, and survival, I saw myself in every page. Lina shares her journey to living an awakened life with grace and humility. A worthy read!”

“Lina’s journey is a heartfelt and honest adventure that leaves you reflecting on your path, inspiring you to choose love and compassion upon difficult moments. It was a book I could not put down until I finished the very last page and once I did, I felt a part of my own heart breaking open. Thank you, Lina, for your openness, authenticity and, most of all, inspiration.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: If we each have a calling, writing this book is a part of mine. Much of my life I have been in pursuit of Truth; a truth that could end my search for meaning, my search for a more permanent kind of happiness or even joy. In my early 30’s, this search became like a roaring fire in my soul; one that I could not put out no matter how I tried. And so, I prayed. In answer to that first heart wrenching prayer, God or Spirit or whatever you call Him or Her, my prayer found an answer in an unlikely place; in the words of a strange-looking orange robed man with a skinny grey beard. The rest of the story can be found in my book, Heart Breaking Open.

“Before my life was taken up by the spiritual journey, I had a pretty regular life and worked in a variety of jobs. I started out as a clerk in a small insurance agency, moved up to secretarial work in the headquarters of a nationally known company, went from there to working in a paint manufacturing company in the Human Resources department. It was there, as I track the process the Universe had laid out for me, that I eventually started working as an employment recruiter—the work that would lead me to my first ‘middle-angel,’ a young man who told me about that orange-robed teacher whose words dampened the roaring fire. Through him, I found my first spiritual teacher, and my path.”

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “There comes a time in life when all the toys and trinkets—the things and people we thought might satisfy our desires—lose their luster. We can choose to focus our attention on finding bigger and better things—a better or bigger house, a more impressive vehicle, a person who might make us happy—or to recognize that nothing outside of us; no amount of money, fame or power can make us permanently happy or comfortable.

“Along with that recognition, we open ourselves to something greater; the understanding that the happiness we seek lies within. Within our very own being. Our greatest teacher said this: ‘Be still and know.’ ‘The kingdom of Heaven is within.’ To know this, we seek a teacher; one who already knows this about us and helps us see it for ourselves. This seeking, and the resultant finding is known as the spiritual journey.

“Heart Breaking Open is my experience of the spiritual journey; the journey from love and loss to the recognition that the love for which I longed was, and is, here all along. It’s here for you, too. In your very own heart.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER:  https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Breaking-Open-Discovering-Heartbreak-ebook/dp/B01M6CGQ8A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502134566&sr=8-1&keywords=heart+breaking+open.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, B&N, Ingram (distribution)

PRICE: $14.95 (print); $3.99 (digital) Smashwords, Amazon (digital)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: To contact me, write linalandess@gmail.com, or visit my book Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HeartsBreakingOpen/