Weather Report, Sept. 10

Image result for homeless photos free

(Photo from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal)

THIS WEEK’S CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “THE ONCE AND FUTURE OCEAN,” BY PETER NEILL AND “AVIS HUMPHREY,” BY B.M. SIMPSON, 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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Chances are most of us would never be tempted to live on the streets or take up long-term residence in a maximum security prison, no matter how curious we may be about those lifestyles.

That’s where authors like Larry Fondation and Patrick O’Neil come in. They write about what its like on the dark side so we won’t have to experience it for ourselves.

In Patrick’s case, his memoir “Gun, Needle, Spoon” provides a travel map to the hard road he traveled as a heroin addict and convicted armed robber..

“You might want to read my memoir if you’re in recovery, thinking about getting into recovery, have a loved one that is in recovery, or know someone that should be in recovery,” he writes. “It’s not a cautionary tale of the horrors of addiction, or even a scared straight after school special. It’s a story of redemption and perseverance. Parents, wives, husbands, significant others, and children of addicts have written to me thankful for the insight into what their loved ones have and are experiencing and dealing with.”

Larry Fondation’s “Time Is the Longest Distance” is a novel, but it is grounded in many years of writing about the homeless community.

“Homelessness has touched almost every neighborhood in America,” Larry says. “I present an alternative view of the lives of homeless people and a day-to-day narrative of their experiences, thoughts dreams and struggles. Our understanding of the homeless has to begin with our common humanity.”

This week, Snowflakes in a Blizzard (snowflakesarise.wordpress.com) also features Emmanuel Kane’s novel “Spring Into Light.” Think of it as a counterpart to the two heavier offerings, the story of an immigrant from Africa forced to balance his cultural adjustment to America with the stress of an unexpected love triangle.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, SEPT. 11-17.

“TIME IS THE LONGEST DISTANCE,” BY LARRY FONDATION.

Lawrence is homeless. Unlike the vast majority of the homeless population, however, Lawrence had been a graduate student before living on the streets. He had not been a scholar of any special talent or renown, but rather an awkward, bookish man who studied literature. He has a notion about a connection between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Nathanael West, and he had wanted to write a dissertation about it. Then he had an unspecified nervous breakdown, and found himself on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.

“GUN, NEEDLE, SPOON.” BY PATRICK O’NEIL.

Before his life went totally off the rails, Patrick O’Neil was living the punk rock dream, working at San Francisco’s legendary Mabuhay Gardens, going on to become a roadie and then the road manager for such seminal bands as Dead Kennedys, Flipper, Subhumans, and T.S.O.L. But that was before his heroin addiction veered totally out of control. A junkie for eighteen years, O’Neil, the educated son of intellectuals, eventually turned to a life of crime, ending up the ring-leader of a group of armed bank robbers, all in an increasingly out-of-control attempt to keep himself and his girlfriend in drugs. Now, after a stint in prison and fourteen years clean off drugs, O’Neil takes a look back at the experiences—moving, calamitous, and at times both hilarious and terrifying—that led to his downfall and recovery.

SPRING INTO LIGHT,” BY EMMANUEL KANE.

Says Emmanuel:  “I wanted readers interested in African-American romance and cultures outside American to take a peek at love and marriages in the African context.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Once and Future Ocean

The Once and Future Ocean: Notes Toward a New Hydraulic Society by [Neill, Peter]THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOK, “AVIS HUMPHREY,” BY B.M. SIMPSON, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.” OR  JUST CLICK THE AUTHOR’AS NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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THE BOOK: The Once and Future Ocean: Notes Toward a New Hydraulic Society.

PUBLISHED IN: April, 2016.

THE AUTHOR: Peter Neill.

THE PUBLISHER: Leete’s Island Books.

SUMMARY: The ocean holds the key to humanity’s survival. At a time when the world faces a multitude of potential calamities, from climate change to a struggling oil industry to rapid population growth, author and environmentalist Peter Neill of the World Ocean Observatory argues that the time is now to begin organizing our social, financial and political order around water in all its forms, places and uses.  Neill’s new book offers a bold vision for a practical and possible future, based on a revolutionary paradigm shift toward a new hydraulic society that can be implemented through the political will of individuals who understand the necessity for change, the logic of a new moral alternative, and the reality of the consequences if we fail to act in time. Ambitious in scope yet grounded in actionable, specific ideas and solutions for preserving the health of the world ocean, it aspires to do nothing less than transform our relationship with the world’s most promising and imperiled natural element: the ocean and the inter-connected cycles of water, essential for all aspects of human survival. THE ONCE AND FUTURE OCEAN argues for invention and new solutions, for new answers to fundamental questions, and for a new relationship built around the ocean as a source for new modes of living that are within our grasp if only we have the courage to take hold.

Related imageTHE BACK STORY:
Many books have long sounded the alarm of environmental degradation and the need for alternative values, structures, and behaviors, but suggested solutions are few. We tend to lament, resist in narrow fields of battle, and watch as vested interests continue to undermine progress and extend the consequences in the evermore critical context of exhausted land, overwhelmed cities, and changing climate. Suddenly the future is at stake. The salt/freshwater continuum is the last natural system with the inherent power to sustain us. It represents a solution that stares us in the face, and may guarantee our future, if we will acknowledge its value and protect it. So, this book was written to present a solution whereby we thrive in the 21st century through innovation and revolutionary change based on the power of Nature. We ignore the opportunity at our peril.

WHY THIS TITLE?: We can look at the ocean and read its extensive past as a locus for the exchange of goods, people and ideas, a system that has connected us over time through trade, exploration, immigration, and the sharing of cultural capital. But it is threatened — by complacency, destructive forces, and ignorance. That is the ocean of “once,” a past still essential, but no evermore imperative for our future survival. The future ocean unites the hydraulic systems on earth, relates them to the continuity and success of settlement and civilization, and provokes a new paradigm for living that will sustain a burgeoning global populations with equity, parity, and justice.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: This book is a clarion call for the ocean and fresh water resources, a wake-up to the planet’s inhabitants that it is time for a radical shift and that we need to start now.THE ONCE AND FUTURE OCEAN speaks to everyone and provides guidance on how we can take steps in all aspects of our lives to initiate the changes required to contribute to a new hydraulic society.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“We live on an ocean planet, though most of us rarely remember it; that blindness is one of the reasons we’ve stood by as the seas acidified, one of the great environmental crises in human history. This powerful book reminds us that our maritime identity is one important way we can start rebuilding a damaged planet.”
~ Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth, Founder of 350.org

“…I see this book as a kind of a “Silent Spring” for the ocean and fresh water resources, a wake-up call to the planet’s inhabitants that it is time for a radical shift and that we need to start now.  I recommended this book to all my friends and co-workers, no matter what their background; the book speaks to everyone and provides guidance on how we can take steps at home and in our workplace to start initiating this change. The book had a deep impact on me personally; I have started to do more to play my part and have included my son on our journey towards contributing to a new hydraulic society.”
~ Mireille Chiasson, Fisheries and Oceans, New Brunswick, CANADA

“…This book represents an interesting and important contribution for a better public awareness of the great importance of the Oceans – and Water itself – for the survival of our Planet. It is essential to change into a new development paradigm, based on the values of sustainability and democracy.”
~ Mario Soares, Chair, Independent World Commission on the Future of the Oceans

“…”The Once and Future Ocean” is not just a pleasure to read, it is a critical waypoint in our hoped-for passage into the climatically stressed future…In the spirit of Rachel Carson’s “The Sea Around Us”, Neill not only raises concern for our rapidly deteriorating marine environment, but also offer the concept of a “New hydraulic society” and its great potential for a world looking for an alternative solution.”
~ Dr. Paul Mayewski, Director of the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Peter Neill is founder and director of the World Ocean Observatory, a web-based place of exchange for information and educational services about the health of the ocean. Throughout his career, Mr. Neill has contributed to organizations devoted to marine affairs, education, and culture. He was President of the South Street Seaport Museum from 1985-2004; he is a past President of the Council of American Maritime Museums and the International Congress of Maritime Museums; he is a co-founder of The Sound School, New Haven, Connecticut and The Harbor School, in New York City, two innovative public high schools that use the marine environment as a context for teaching and learning.

He is a contributing writer to the New York Daily News environmental pages and the World Ocean Forum. He has appeared in numerous television documentaries on The History Channel, Discovery, and National Geographic Society productions. His other publications include novels (3, 2013; A Time Piece, 1970; Mock Turtle Soup, 1972; Acoma, 1978); non-fiction (Maritime America, 1988; Great Maritime Museums of the World, 1991; On a Painted Ocean, 1998); anthologies (The City: American Experience, 1978; American Sea Writing, 2000); and numerous articles on maritime history and art. In 1972, he founded Leete’s Island Books, a small publishing house specializing in literary reprints, the essay, photography, and profiles of indigenous healers and practitioners of complimentary medicine around the world. Peter has dedicated his career to marine affairs. He lives in downeast Maine with his partner Mary.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: If every book is a progress of accidents and influences, then this one began on a miserable day in Cambridge, Massachusetts when I ducked into a used book store to escape the sleet and rain. I found there, in the $1 bin, a copy of “The Ocean, Our Future” the final report of the 1998 Independent World Commission on the Future of the Oceans, chaired by Marios Soares, the former President of Portugal. While that year was the United Nations International Year of the Ocean, the Commission was not a function of that body, deliberately independent lest it be influenced by whatever was the official UN policy for the future of the oceans.

The readers of this book, the “Citizens of the Ocean” to whom this book is dedicated, are the perpetrators to come, to take what is provocative and possible from among these thoughts and to put them to meaningful use for you, for your friends, and strangers worldwide who will inevitably come to the ocean for the full spectrum of its beneficence, who will care for it and give back to it, plan a new world around it, and sustain it generations to come. The sea connects all things.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:
https://www.ipgbook.com/the-once-and-future-ocean-products-9780918172563.php?page_id=21
We have a private code available for you (Snowflake) to acquire a free ebook. For the free (private) code, please contact me. lf a sample chapter is required for general public and prospective buyers, I can send over a PDF. Please let me know.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Blue Hill Books

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, IPGbook.com

PRICE: Hardcover: $24.95, Trade Paper: $18.95, EPub: $9.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: director@thew2o.net

Avis Humphrey

Avis Humphrey by [SIMPSON, B.M.]THE BOOK: Avis Humphrey.

PUBLISHED IN: 2018.

THE AUTHOR: B.M. Simpson.

THE EDITOR: Bob Boardman (He has edited both my novels).

THE PUBLISHER: B.M. Simpson, via Amazon, Nook & iBooks.

SUMMARY: Avis Humphrey has a great life. He likes his beat-up old pick-up truck. He likes fishing at his favorite stream with his best bud, Leo. He likes the occasional hook-ups he shares with some of the local women in Watermill, New Hampshire. And he really likes his Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Life is simple, and life is pretty darn good for Avis, and that’s just the way he likes it. Good quickly turns into chaos when Avis uncharacteristically buys a Powerball ticket. While sitting on his ragged old couch in his dilapidated mobile home, Avis is stunned when the numbers printed on the ticket in his hand, match the numbers just announced on his 19 inch-TV screen. The comfortable small-town life he enjoys so much slips instantly away as he finds himself hiding out in the New Hampshire woods from parents who long ago abandoned him, relatives he never knew existed, and the dozens of reporters who are dissecting every tidbit of what they consider to be his pitiful life. Between friends, family, and strangers banging at his door, calling his phone, and hunting him down 24/7, Avis struggles to survive winning the nine hundred and sixty-seven million-dollar Powerball jackpot and the fame of being the richest person in the history of the small town he loves and calls home. Now all Avis has to do, is figure out how to get rid of the ticket and the money.

THE BACK STORY: In the beginning, all I had was the name, Avis Humphrey, and the feeling that his life was in turmoil. That’s how I usually write. I just start with an object or place or person and then see where the story goes from there. Once the story begins to unfold in front of me, it takes on a life of its own. From that point on, I just write it down as I go.

I came up with the name, “Avis Humphrey”, about five years ago, but never wrote more than one or two paragraphs of the story for the next four years. Even those paragraphs got thrown out. I think on day one, in a coffee shop five years ago, I wrote the first line, “Avis Humphrey has problems.” That line eventually went away, but as the readers will see in the story, Avis Humphrey has problems.

One I actually started writing, it took me less than a year to write the first draft and about another eight months or so to go through the editing process. My wife works harder than I do on the edits. She reads, re-reads and reads again until she can’t take it anymore. I go through the same process, but she does the hard labor. Then it goes off to my editor, Bob Boardman. It’s all strictly by email with Bob. He’s edited two books for me now and I’ve never met him and only spoken on the phone once or twice. It’s a process that works good for us.

WHY THIS TITLE?:  While there’s a little more to it than the book shares, the title is revealed in the story. So, I’ll have to leave it at that.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Other than pure entertainment value, the story sheds a light on how different people value money. Some look at money as something that defines who a person is. Then there are people who place almost no value on money, while others land somewhere in the middle. This story has all those people in it.

REVIEW COMMENTS: One reader wrote, “While nearly all of us have dreamed of what we’d do if we won the lottery, the idea that someone would win and then not want the money seems crazy; but, B.M. Simpson made a believer out me when his character, Avis Humphrey, does just that.”

* The book hasn’t been out long enough to get reviews.

AUTHOR PROFILE: B.M. SIMPSON was born in rural Maine. He joined the Air Force at 18 and lived and moved across the U.S. and Europe. After retiring from the Air Force, he spent nearly a decade living and working on construction projects in the Caribbean. On the islands of Anguilla, St. Kitts and Grand Cayman, he discovered a passion for island life and formed friendships second to none. In 2015 he released his first novel, Island Dogs, and he followed it up with his second, Avis Humphrey. Today Simpson calls South Sound, Grand Cayman home, as he continues to travel to and work in the Caribbean. Despite his blue water passion, he holds onto old friendships and cherishes his New England roots. He is currently writing his next novel, Bella Vita.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I like to my stories to be light and entertaining, but have a bit deeper story for those who want to see it. My first novel, Island Dogs, was a fun story about a bunch of messed up expats hanging out in an island bar. Nothing too deep. But for those of us who have seen people’s lives fall apart before ending up in a bar and searching for “the answers” in the bottom of a glass the story is just a tad more real. My books are more about the people than the actual events.

Avis Humphrey is about people you could show me in ten thousand small towns. And it’s about what happens in one of those small towns when one of their buddies is suddenly worth a half billion dollars. Money changes most people. This story is about how they handle the change.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Avis Humphrey Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Avis-Humphrey-B-M-SIMPSON-ebook/dp/B07G5QQVDD/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1534088063&sr=1-1&keywords=Avis+Humphrey

LOCAL OUTLETS: Books & Books, Grand Cayman. Haslam’s Books, St Petersburg Florida.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Amazon (Create Space & Kindle), Nook, iBooks.

PRICE: $7.99 & $14.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Email: BMSimpson@gmx.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BMSimpson.author/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bmsimpson/

Website: (Perhaps the least updated website in the writing world): http://www.bmsimpson.com

First Tuesday Replay, Sept. 4

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.


“DR. KINNEY’S HOUSEKEEPER,” BY SARA DAHMEN.

An Irish doctor. A pregnant widow.  A half-breed grocer.  And the last remaining Sioux in Flats Junction. Doctor Kinney’s Housekeeper is a pioneer fiction that explores themes of tolerance, acceptance and the life on the Dakota Territories in the 1880’s.

Sara DahmenFor newcomer Jane Weber, Flats Junction is both a new start and an enigma.  Who keeps vandalizing and terrorizing Widow Hawks, the only Native American who has not left for the reservation?  How will she be a single mother out on the prairie?  And if she falls in love, can she stay free in the Territories or will she need to go back to her old life in Massachusetts?

“TO THE LEFT OF THE MICROWAVE, BY LISA DE NISCIA

Writes one reviewer: “We meet a 16-year old girl, disdainful of her mother but in total fear of being without her; a literacy volunteer who winds up learning a bigger lesson than she ever intended to teach; a 13-year old who, by story’s end, knows more about loyalty and unconditional love than the adults she studies through her front window. ‘Seat Belt’ may be the biggest pleasure of all. It’s a tale of interracial love, and of prejudice coming from a very unsuspected place. To tell more might spoil De Niscia’s carefully constructed plot; I’ll let readers discover the joy of this story for themselves.”

“OPERATION CROSSBOW,” BY BILL DELOREY

A military spy thriller pits a young and naive but extremely well-trained Special Forces soldier unwillingly and unwittingly against the ruthless head of ICD, a federal intelligence agency seeking revenge for a personal vendetta.

Bill DeloreyA top federal agent recruits Jacoby Klyne, recently discharged from the Army. After six years infiltrating and fighting drug cartels and engaging political hot-spots around the world, Jake declines the Op, wants his discharge, some rest, and to resume the quiet country life he left to serve his country six years ago.

The spymaster manipulates Klyne and others for a unique revenge agenda against a group of men the agent despises. Innocent and alone, Jacoby Klyne twists and turns through a series of nightmares across two continents filled with drugs, violence, sexual betrayal and a prison sentence he didn’t earn that extends beyond his wildest imagination … Klyne finally figures it out, and embarks on a vendetta of his own and confronts the spymaster on his home court in Washington, DC. This edge of your seat thriller takes you on a wide ride.

“JUST UNDER THE SKY,” BY R.K. GOLD.

Far off in the mountains is a village surviving in turmoil. Constantly under the threat of food shortage, villagers live their lives in fear of the neighboring forest. It’s evil. It’s something they do not understand; something they can never understand. Living between the communities looming hatred and violence towards a being they cannot control, and the harsh political climate of their leaders, Jasper and McMichaels make a break for the unknown. With their friendship tested constantly, the two adventurers are put on a path they may not be able to return from. Trapped together, will they be able to escape, or will they remain prisoners?

“HOMONCULUS,” BY JERRY STUBBLEFIELD

Middle-aged Hector has moved, with his beautiful wife, away from a lackluster playwriting career in New York City, to a picturesque Appalachian town, determined to give up the creative life.  But his creativity won’t be denied, and he “gives birth” — somewhat like any artist gives birth to their work — to a decidedly dramatic little character who won’t go away, and is determined that Hector will face the demons he’s been living with.  Though Hec knows he’s hallucinating, he nevertheless finds it impossible to disengage his playwriting mind to end the homunculus’ existence, which leads to his eventual crisis of sanity.

“APOLOGY TO A WHALE,” BY CECILE PINEDA

Apology to a Whale investigates the question: What is it about our culture that is killing life on Earth? The answer will be as big a surprise to the reader as it was to the writer discovering it.

Cecile writes: “In seeking answers, Apology to a Whale draws on history, pre-history, paleontology, linguistics, archeology and anthropology of the world’s first people. If you love Earth, this work will bring you home.”

 

 

 

Weather Report, September 3

Image result for ocean wave pictures

(Photo from e-multisistems)

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “WILDERNESS AND RAZOR WIRE,” BY KEN LAMBERTON, “THE PORTLAND HOUSE,” BY JIM LANGWEH AND “WAITING TO BEGIN,” BY PATRICIA O’DONNELL, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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You may have heard the story about the man who sees flood waters creeping up the side of his house and moves everything to the second floor. Pretty soon, a small rowboat appears and offers him a chance to escape.

“Thank you,” the man tells his would-be rescuers, “but God will save me.”

The waters continue to rise, and the man climbs onto his roof. He is then visited by another boat offering salvation.

“No thanks,” the man says, waving them off. “God will save me.”

The water continues to rise inexorably, until it is up to the man’s knees. At that point, a helicopter hovers overhead and lowers a rope ladder down to him.

“Much appreciated,” the man calls up to the helicopter crew, “but God will save me. I’ve been praying hard.”

Eventually, the man drowns, and find himself face to face with God. He is a bit miffed.

“I prayed to you,” he complains,” and you let me drown.”

“What did you want me to do?” God answers. “I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”

The author of “The Once and Future Ocean,” highlighted this week on Snowflakes in a Blizzard, (snowflakesarise.wordpress.com) could be the guy in the first rowboat. Or maybe it’s the second.

On the bright side, more people are paying attention to the ocean these days.  On the downside, that’s because they fear it may one day rise up to inundate their coastal communities.

Peter Neill is a man of the sea, having built his professional life around exploring, researching and serving as an advocate for the natural wonder and resource that covers three-quarters of the planet.

Unfortunately, the issue of the changing oceans, like the larger specter of climate change, has turned into a political battle between closed minds. Neill’s goal is to offer solutions rather than point fingers.

Meanwhile, this week marks a full-circle turning point for Snowflakes in a Blizzard. Our second featured author, Brian Simpson (who writes as B.M. Simpson) was the first to be highlighted in May of 2015 with “Island Dogs.”

That book made me to realize how much good writing is struggling to get attention these days. Brian’s entertaining second novel, “Avis Humphrey,” just offers more confirmation.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, SEPTEMBER 3-10.

“THE ONCE AND FUTURE OCEAN,” BY PETER NEILL.

“The salt/freshwater continuum is the last natural system with the inherent power to sustain us,” says the author. “It represents a solution that stares us in the face, and may guarantee our future, if we will acknowledge its value and protect it. So, this book was written to present a solution whereby we thrive in the 21st century through innovation and revolutionary change based on the power of Nature. We ignore the opportunity at our peril.”

“AVIS HUMPHREY,” BY B.M. SIMPSON.

Avis Humphrey has a great life. He likes his beat-up old pick-up truck. He likes fishing at his favorite stream with his best bud, Leo. He likes the occasional hook-ups he shares with some of the local women in Watermill, New Hampshire. And he really likes his Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Life is simple, and life is pretty darn good for Avis, and that’s just the way he likes it. Good quickly turns into chaos when Avis uncharacteristically buys a Powerball ticket. While sitting on his ragged old couch in his dilapidated mobile home, Avis is stunned when the numbers printed on the ticket in his hand, match the numbers just announced on his 19 inch-TV screen. The comfortable small-town life he enjoys so much slips instantly away as he finds himself hiding out in the New Hampshire woods from parents who long ago abandoned him, relatives he never knew existed, and the dozens of reporters who are dissecting every tidbit of what they consider to be his pitiful life. Between friends, family, and strangers banging at his door, calling his phone, and hunting him down 24/7, Avis struggles to survive winning the nine hundred and sixty-seven million-dollar Powerball jackpot and the fame of being the richest person in the history of the small town he loves and calls home. Now all Avis has to do, is figure out how to get rid of the ticket and the money.

FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY

This month, we will revisit “Homonculus,” by Jerry Stubblefield, “Dr. Kinney’s Housekeeper,” by Sarah Dahmen, “To the Left of the Microwave,” by Lisa DeNiscia, “Operation Crossbow,” by Bill Delorey, “Just Under the Sky,” by R.K. Gold, and “Apology to a Whale,” by Cecile Pineda.

 

 

Wilderness and Razor Wire

THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “WAITING TO BEGIN,” BY PATRICIA O’DONNELL AND “THE PORTLAND HOUSE,” BY JIM LANDWEHR, 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: Wilderness and Razor Wire: A Naturalist’s Observations from Prison.

PUBLISHED IN: 2000

THE AUTHOR: Ken Lamberton.

THE EDITOR: Foreword by Richard Shelton.

THE PUBLISHER: Mercury House, San Francisco.

Ken LambertonSUMMARY: Serving time in an Arizona state prison, I write about my crime, the effects of my incarceration on my wife and children, and the ways in which my observations of and reflections about the world of nature helped heal and instruct me, as well as pass the time. In a place where boredom can be refined to a new level, I write about insects and birds and weeds that trespass the prison yard or I can observe beyond the wire.

THE BACK STORY: Wilderness and Razor Wire grew out of a collection of essays I had been publishing in literary journals for almost a decade under the mentorship of Richard Shelton, who was leading the creative writing workshops in prison. WHY THIS TITLE? I wanted the title to reflect that wilderness and nature can be found in the most unlikely places, even a prison.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? This is the first book of its kind, not just a book of literary nature writing, which has a huge genre, and not just a book about prison. Wilderness and Razor Wire is both. The book is intended for people interested in nature writing and people interested in prison writing. It won the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing, putting the book into the same class as those by Rachael Carson, John McPhee, and David Quammen.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Ken Lamberton would like you to believe his book, Wilderness and Razor Wire, is about the smell of creosote and rain on the wind, about hawkmoths dipping from the wells of cactus. Don’t believe him.

“Don’t be misled by the drawings of brittlebush and silverleaf oak (all done by Lamberton himself), or the well-intentioned, avuncular foreword by Richard Shelton, who taught Lamberton writing in prison workshops and at the University of Arizona. Though the nature writing here may be some of the best to come our way in a generation, this is not first and foremost a book about poppies and peppergrass. It is about the soul in pain. Reading it is like chatting with someone on the street and suddenly noticing there is blood running down his side.

“All of which is to say that Lamberton (for the past 12 years an inmate of Tucson’s Santa Rita Prison) has written something entirely original: an edgy, ferocious, subtly complex collection of essays on the nature of freedom and the freedom of nature, whose true subject, and greatest accomplishment, may be its own narrative voice.” — Mark Slouka, San Francisco Chronicle.

“This is a moving and troubling book that redefines ‘sense of place’ as a way of seeing and valuing where one is, rather than as coordinates on a green map… a remarkable and significant work.” – Alison Hawthorne Deming

From Publishers Weekly:

“Incarcerated naturalist Lamberton’s strange and compelling debut examines the flora, fauna and microecology of an Arizona prison while describing the author’s life before and during his sentence. Lamberton is a former biology teacher who has now spent over a decade behind bars for his relationship with a teenage student. After his conviction, he became a prolific nature writer, publishing largely in literary magazines. (A year free on appeal saw him become a nonfiction editor of the Sonora Review.) Lamberton’s measured and exemplary prose follows the interactions among the prisoners, their built environment and the birds and plants they encounter there, tracing connections disturbing and consoling, ecological and metaphorical. Africanized killer bees arrive and depart, as does a terroristic guard; brittlebrush and goldpoppy’s tough seeds (adapted to Arizona droughts) imply Lamberton’s own need for endurance. The overcrowded facility’s on-site disposal of toilet water ironically “turned this bleak place into a wildlife island, a rest stop and refuge for wings and beaks and talons.” A few chapters near the end of the book put the desert biology on hold for straightforward accounts of Lamberton’s recent travails. Usually, though, the book’s two genresAfirst-person prison journal and third-person nature-descriptionAcomplement each other. (Lamberton is especially good on insects, on ground-level flora and on the sometimes brutal criminal justice bureaucracy.) Arizona poet and essayist Richard Shelton (Going Back to Bisbee) offers a warm, persuasive introduction. Lamberton suggests that “I learn more by walking across this same plot of ground again and again than if I had the whole world to explore”: his deeply moved readers are likely to believe him.”

From Kirkus Reviews”

“Short, unbuffed essays that shuttle restlessly between natural history and prison life, and the unexpected moments of interpenetration…. These are quick essays, for the encounters are perforce brief and circumscribed: on the seasonal migration of birds through the yard, where they would overnight in the few spare trees that existed before prison officials cut down as being too civilized for inmates; on a tarantula hawk shadowing its prey; or on the spider itself, its fangs piercing the armor of a beetle “with a primeval sound, a sound out of the Devonian.” The writing is stony and unmediated with humor, though warmed by Lambertons remorse, and cautionary; unless you’ve been there, you can’t begin to imagine how bad prison life is, even in medium security. “I’d rather watch bugs,” says Lamberton of all prison amusements, for the moths and bees and jimsonweed are his communicants, if not his salvation.

“…this astonishing testament to the coexistence of beauty and brutality illuminates the presence of grace in tragedy. — Booklist (starred review), November 15, 1999

AUTHOR PROFILE: I moved to Tucson, Arizona, at the age of nine when I slowly and painfully learned to become a child of the desert, taking my first lessons in the front range of the Santa Catalina Mountains. I eventually graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in biology. While serving a 12-year sentence in prison, I joined the creative writing workshop of poet and author Richard Shelton and soon began publishing articles and essays about the natural history of the Southwest.

“My writing began appearing in national magazines and literary journals like Arizona Highways, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Manoa, Northern Lights, Alligator Juniper, Puerto Del Sol, and the Gettysburg Review. Several of these essays, in turn, were selected for anthologies such as American Nature Writing, Getting Over the Color Green, and David Quammen’s The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2000. Editors have nominated two of my essays for Pushcart Prizes, and Robert Atwan of The Best American Essays series listed my work in “Notable Essays of 1998” and again in ‘Notable Essays of 1999.’

In January 2000, Mercury House published my first book, Wilderness and Razor Wire, to critical acclaim. The San Francisco Chronicle called it, “…entirely original: an edgy, ferocious, subtly complex collection of essays…”. The book won the 2002 John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing.

After leaving prison, I completed my MFA in creative writing at the University of Arizona and continued writing and publishing essays and books about the Southwest. In 2015, The University of Arizona Press published my sixth book, Chasing Arizona, which deals my travels to 52 destinations in 52 weeks, experiencing the people, places, and treasures that make our state great. Today, I live with my wife in an 1890s stone cottage near Bisbee, Arizona.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: A key theme of the book is the fascination that people have for nature, what E.O. Wilson called “biophilia,” that humans have an innate affinity for wildness. This includes people locked up in prison. From swallows nesting in our cells and our protective interest in the birds, including missing their absence when they migrate south for the winter, to standing transfixed when a hawk captures a raven outside the fence and perches on a nearby tree to eat it—we are all connected to wilderness. All you have to do is notice it.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Wilderness-Razor-Wire-Naturalists-Observations/dp/1562791168#reader_1562791168

LOCAL OUTLETS:

Powells Books: http://www.powells.com/book/-9781562791162

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wilderness-and-razor-wire-ken-lamberton/1117531277;jsessionid=F9251A828246AFB7ED2D4D341FF83051.prodny_store02-atgap09?ean=9781562791162

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Wilderness-Razor-Wire-Naturalists-Observations/dp/1562791168

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Wilderness-Razor-Wire-Ken-Lamberton-ebook/dp/B00ENP9L1C/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=

PRICE: $11.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: kjlamb@mindspring.com http://www.kenlamberton.com

Waiting to Begin

THE BOOK: Waiting to Begin.

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR: Patricia O’Donnell

THE EDITOR: Larry Smith.

THE PUBLISHER: Bottom Dog Press of Huron, Ohio. I was drawn to their mission of writing that “reveals through its directness an essential human story,” and to their focus on literature of the working class.

SUMMARY: The book opens with me giving a talk about my life to young students entering the college where I teach. As I told them about dropping out of college, making bad choices, moving to San Francisco with a poet, joining a questionable theatre group/cult, finally moving back to Iowa where I became a single mother to two children and worked my way back to college, I realized I wanted to tell the story in a deeper, broader forum. The book describes my early tumultuous years in the 70’s and 80’s, and moves ahead to 2008 when I visit the sites of my youth in Iowa with my oldest child, Emma. At 31 years old, she meets her father during this visit, for the first time.

Though the book describes relationships in my past—including one with an already married man, a story I could not help but tell—a central part of it is the story of how I was lucky enough to meet and fall in love with my husband, and how—against all odds—we manage to make our lives together work.

THE BACK STORY: Years ago I began a memoir of my life as a single mother on welfare who became a college professor, but it stalled as I looked for the center of the story. In 2008 the small town I’d grown up in, Parkersburg, Iowa, was decimated by an E5 tornado, destroying all the houses I’d lived in. I made plans to return to the town, feeling it was time to revisit these important sites in order to understand my life and my self more honestly. When I learned that my oldest child, Emma, had contacted her father and persuaded him to meet her, without my knowledge, during this trip, I felt that the book I wanted to write had been given a gift, and I could put it off no longer.

WHY THIS TITLE?: As I was writing the book, I realized that one of the themes I was discovering was that as a young woman I was always trying personas out, pretending, while I waited for my real life to begin. When I had children, I realized the time for pretense and role-playing was past; it was time to begin in earnest.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? As I wrote, I asked myself this question often. A memoirist (all writers, actually) must ask themselves this question. I came back to the answer that I wish I’d been able to read a story like this, earlier in my life when I was going through hard times. Stories I read of single mothers all seemed to be about brave, smart-mouthed, brilliant women who I had nothing in common with. I was too much of a fuck-up. As I wrote, I realized that part of myself still felt that way about myself, despite the comforts and apparent successes of my life, and I imagine part of all single parents do too, as they worry desperately about their kids (will they be okay?) and about themselves (doesn’t everyone see what a fuck-up I truly am?). I hope to read a broad audience, but the people I feel especially sympathetic with are those who have ambitions and talents but struggle with feelings of self-worth and the temptation to give up on their dreams.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

RJM Terrado, US Review of Books: “Waiting To Begin is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives, contemplating on a restart and a reroute . . . She draws upon the transformative points in her own personal and professional experience to provide a vast, wise resource in threading toward a far-fetched dream. Waiting To Begin contains maps to these transformative points.”

Gretchen Legler: “This beautifully crafted book is about the difficulty and joy of circling one’s past, making one’s life into story, and offering it as written gift to oneself and the rest of the world.”

Judith Slater: “This beautiful book is dramatic, wise and powerful, the interweaving of past and present brilliantly done. It’s like having a glass of wine (a really good glass of wine) with a wise and funny and trusted friend.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Maine at Farmington, where I direct the BFA Program in Creative Writing. My stories have appeared in many places, including The New Yorker, Agni Review, The North American Review, and Prairie Schooner. Besides the memoir, I’ve written a novel: Necessary Places, Tilbury House, 2012: and my collection of short fiction, Gods for Sale, won the 2016 Serena McDonald Kennedy Award and was published by Snake Nation. In the spring of 2018 my novel The Vigilance of Stars will be published by Unsolicited Press. I live in the small town of Wilton, Maine, with my husband. To learn more, read Waiting to Begin!

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

A published excerpt can be found here:

Patricia O’Donnell: Electricity

LOCAL OUTLETS: Devaney, Doak & Garret Books, Farmington, Maine.

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

PRICE: $18.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

My website can be found here: https://patriciaodonnell.weebly.com/.

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/Patricia-ODonnell-240815279803890/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Email: podonnel@maine.edu

Amazon author page is “Patricia O’Donnell:” https://smile.amazon.com/Patricia-ODonnell/e/B06XBXV34B/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1