The Eyes Have It

THE BOOK: The Eyes Have It.

PUBLISHED IN: September 2019

THE AUTHOR: Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse

THE EDITOR: Dog Ear Publishing

THE PUBLISHER: This new novel by Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse pairs young love with current events in an unforgettable journey exploring family loyalty and the hope for a better life.

SUMMARY: SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – High school senior Olivia had no idea that requesting a senior picture from soccer star Ethan Alexander would change her life. It’s as if she’s been struck by lightning when she’s the focus of his megawatt smile. The Eyes Have It tells the story of the young lovers and an event that forever shatters their world.

In “The Eyes Have It,” Olivia and Ethan start a whirlwind romance, becoming absorbed with their new relationship and shutting out the rest of the world. When her father finally meets Ethan, he seems to take an instant dislike to him, leaving the teens puzzled by his behavior. Her father is typically an easy-going man.

Ethan’s family, on the other hand, is much more welcoming, including his Muslim mother, who once lived in Saudi Arabia. The exception is his older brother Jamail, who seems committed to converting Ethan to Islam from Catholicism and has nothing good to say about Olivia.

During a traditional family outing with Olivia’s family and Ethan, disaster strikes, and dozens of lives are affected. Although Ethan, Olivia and her brother are not injured, things will change dramatically in the aftermath of the horrific event, a terrorist attack. As authorities begin to pepper both families with questions, long-held secrets eventually come to light, rippling through the two families with devastating emotional impact.

“The Eyes Have It” takes readers on a journey that could play out in any number of U.S. cities, drawing readers in with its relentless action. Whether the young lovers can survive what life has thrown their way remains to be seen. But sacrifice and love of family can’t always guarantee a happy ending.

THE BACK STORY: My first time at the Saratoga Race Course was many years ago, but post 9/11. I understand security has improved in recent years, but at the time of my visit, people dragged in coolers and rolling luggage presumably filled with treats and entertainment for the day between races—and no one looked inside the containers. The next time I went, several years later, the visitors were checked, but employees were waved through. I got to thinking, “what if?”

WHY THIS TITLE: Eyes play a big role! In the first scene with Olivia and Ethan, she’s fascinated by his eyes. And there’s another connection that I can’t share, since it gives away part of the story line!

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s a Romeo and Juliet type story brought into the 21st century. Unlike my previous novels, it doesn’t have an unambiguously happy ending. It’s bittersweet, even a bit sad.

REVIEW COMMENTS: Lots of favorable (4 & 5 star) reviews on Amazon. Here are a few other review excerpts:

“Lajeunesse constructs a powder keg of family secrets, featuring plenty of dramatic irony…. Olivia remains a vulnerable and realistic heroine throughout, and Lajeunesse pays close attention to her emotional oscillations between yearning and disappointment. A fiery family drama. . . .” — “Kirkus Reviews”

“With her new novel, Dawn Lajeunesse proves she understands the human heart as well as any writer working today, and she knows how to make a reader’s heart thump hard—with anticipation, with sorrow, with fear and with joy. The Eyes Have It is an intelligent, poignant, rewarding experience.” — Mark Spencer, author of A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House.

“Fast paced, engaging, heart-wrenching, all describe THE EYES HAVE It, a third novel for author Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse.  Tender, as first loves often are-a young couple’s sweet romance is besought by old family secrets and the volatility of religious extremism tears this American family apart. The characters are so real. I could feel Olivia’s heart beating.  We just might see “The Eyes Have It” go to film one day.” — Review by Author Gloria Waldron Hukle, author of historical fiction.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse grew up in Troy, NY, and hoped to turn her love of English into a writing career. But her guidance counselor and parents had other, more practical ideas. In those days most girls became a nurse or a teacher. She chose nursing. She never made it through surgery without passing out. Great career planning, huh?

After years in health care she pursued her writing passion. She says, “I create stories from ordinary lives, about relationships, families and other life connections. I love animals, and my novels usually include them. Recently I’ve renewed my connection with my Armenian heritage, unburying the history of the Armenian church and its members near where I grew up for a planned historical fiction.

“Married to Dennis for over half my lifetime, I’m fortunate to have found a man who’s a great friend and playmate. We live with our energetic Russell Terrier, Dubby, in South Glens Falls, NY.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: My Amazon book page (www.amazon.com/Dawn-Lajeunesse/e/B004KHLXWS) has a “look inside” feature. Readers can check out the first few chapters there!

LOCAL OUTLETS: Copies of my paperback are available at Battenkill Books in Cambridge, NY. They can be ordered at any bookstore using the ISBN: 978-145757-110-7.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon (www.amazon.com/Dawn-Lajeunesse/e/B004KHLXWS) or Barnes & Noble (www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Dawn-Lajeunesse). The online sources have soft and hard cover as well as e-books.

PRICE: Soft cover $14.99; e-book $4.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:
Website:
http://www.DawnLajeunesse.com
Blog:
https://justwriteit.live
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dawn-Lajeunesse/101765559916470?ref=bookmarks
Twitter:
@mtnwriter77

Weather Report, Oct. 18

Image result for Turkey reading a book + photo + free

(Clip art from PNGKey).

Our currently featured books, “Nothing to Lose,” by Kim Suhr, “Beautiful Raft,” by Tina Barry and “Sampler,” from Don Tassone, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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I’m going to do things a little differently this time around, out of respect for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The primary purpose of Snowflakes in a Blizzard, after all, is to provide authors with a little more exposure. Given that, it would probably be unfair to feature anyone on Thanksgiving week. Between travel, family, massive calorie intake and Black Friday, a lot of you will be too preoccupied to visit this site, and I totally understand. Therefore, I’m giving you four books now instead of three and letting next week remain open.

UPCOMNG ON SNOWFLAKES IN THE BLIZZARD, NOV. 19-DEC 2

“HALF-HAZARD,” BY KRISTEN TRACY.

Half-Hazard is a book of near misses, would-be tragedies, and luck. As Kristen Tracy writes in the title poem, “Dangers here. Perils there. It’ll go how it goes.” The collection follows the poet’s wide curiosity, from her growing up in a small Mormon farming community to her exodus out into the forbidden world, where she finds snakes, car accidents, adulterers, meteors, and death-marked mice. These wry, observant narratives are accompanied by a ringing lyricism and Tracy’s own knack for noticing what’s so funny about trouble and her natural impulse to want to put all the broken things back together. Full of wrong turns, false loves, quashed beliefs, and a menagerie of animals, Half-Hazard introduces a vibrant new voice in American poetry, one of resilience, faith, and joy.

“CATCHER’S KEEPER,” BY J.D. SPERO.

It’s 1979 and Holden Caulfield, at nearly forty, has yet to heal from his childhood trauma. When his older brother stumbles upon Holden’s teenage “journal,” he believes it will save his struggling writing career. That journal becomes “The Catcher in the Rye” — published secretly under the brother’s name. A stinging sibling rivalry ensues. When Holden fights to win back his authorship, he stumbles into his number one fan: Mark David Chapman. When Holden learns of Chapman’s sinister plans, can he stop the tragic killing of John Lennon?

“APHRODITE’S WHISPER,” BY WILLIAM FURNEY.

Aphrodite’s Whisper is an epic story that begins in the winter of 1903 with the grounding of a private yacht during a brutal nor’easter on North Carolina’s dreaded Diamond Shoals. Caelyn Canady, a moneyed-class misfit from New York, becomes a castaway forced to save herself and the man who should have rescued her. During her journey home, she finds love on the desolate dunes of the Outer Banks, witnesses man’s first flight, and becomes the woman she knows she is meant to be. Ethan Roberts, her would-be rescuer, is a veteran of the Spanish-American War tormented by the deaths of his best friend and an innocent woman. In becoming a surfman, he has found refuge in the untamed isolation of Cape Hatteras where the next call for help may be the one that finally frees him from his guilt and pain. Whether it be through redemption or death he no longer cares — until the stoic Missourian’s passion for life is rekindled by the slight woman who saves him.

“THE EYES HAVE IT,” BY DAWN LaJEUNESSE.

High school senior Olivia had no idea that requesting a senior picture from soccer star Ethan Alexander would change her life. It’s as if she’s been struck by lightning when she’s the focus of his megawatt smile. The Eyes Have It tells the story of the young lovers and an event that forever shatters their world.

In “The Eyes Have It,” Olivia and Ethan start a whirlwind romance, becoming absorbed with their new relationship and shutting out the rest of the world. When her father finally meets Ethan, he seems to take an instant dislike to him, leaving the teens puzzled by his behavior. Her father is typically an easy-going man.

Ethan’s family, on the other hand, is much more welcoming, including his Muslim mother, who once lived in Saudi Arabia. The exception is his older brother Jamail, who seems committed to converting Ethan to Islam from Catholicism and has nothing good to say about Olivia.

During a traditional family outing with Olivia’s family and Ethan, disaster strikes, and dozens of lives are affected. Although Ethan, Olivia and her brother are not injured, things will change dramatically in the aftermath of the horrific event, a terrorist attack. As authorities begin to pepper both families with questions, long-held secrets eventually come to light, rippling through the two families with devastating emotional impact.

“The Eyes Have It” takes readers on a journey that could play out in any number of U.S. cities, drawing readers in with its relentless action. Whether the young lovers can survive what life has thrown their way remains to be seen. But sacrifice and love of family can’t always guarantee a happy ending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing to Lose

This week’s other featured books, “Beautiful Raft,” by Tina Barry and “Sampler: Fifty Short Stories,” by Don Tassone, 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: Nothing to Lose

PUBLISHED IN: Stevens Point, WI (2018)

THE AUTHOR: Kim Suhr

THE EDITOR: Monica Swinick

THE PUBLISHER: Cornerstone Press

SUMMARY: Drawing on the rich complexity of the American Midwest, Kim Suhr peoples her debut book of fiction with characters that we know, carved out of the Wisconsin landscape and caught between expectation and desire. An Iraq war veteran stalks the streets of Madison. Four drunk friends hunt deer outside of Antigo. A mother tries to save her son. A transplanted New Yorker plots revenge against her husband. A man sobers up and opens a paintball range for Jesus. A woman with nothing to lose waits for her first kiss. Personal and powerful, Kim Suhr’s “Nothing to Lose” shows us a region filled with real people: less than perfect, filled with doubts, always reaching.

Kim SuhrTHE BACK STORY: These stories were written over many years, and about half of them were published in literary magazines before the book came out. When I finished my MFA, I realized I had written more than enough stories to make a collection, and the sifting and winnowing began. What remains is, I hope, a glimpse into others’ lives that will open my readers’ perceptions and their hearts.

WHY THIS TITLE: The book is titled after the final story in the collection. The characters in these stories are regular people, people who might seem like they have nothing to lose; however, each has a different struggle worthy of our attention.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: For the eclectic collection of characters and situations that explore various facets of our shared humanity. Also, short stories give us the opportunity to zoom into that moment of transformation so many readers are looking for without the time investment necessary for a novel.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Kim Suhr’s new collection of short stories is like a drawer full of knives. Each one sharp and designed with a purpose. Some cut so close to the bone they will make the reader wince. Others so richly carved in detail, the bizarre becomes believable.” — Jennifer Rupp

“Once I started the collection of short stories ‘Nothing to Lose’ by Kim Suhr, I was captivated. Author Suhr is at once a brilliant storyteller and a gifted writer. And, while her voice is engaging, she artfully disappears in each story allowing the reader to get lost in the prose and characters. Each story is unique and transformative, offering characters that jump off the page.” — Nick Chiarkas

“Kim Suhr’s latest short story collection, Nothing to Lose (Cornerstone Press, 2018), is a beautifully written tapestry of human connection. We see into the multi-layered lives of various characters. These voices are our voices.” — Cristina Norcross

“Each story is a little literary gem, thought-provoking and written in a deceptively simple fashion and yet, each one is different from the others. I read the book over several days, savoring it like an expensive box of chocolates.” — Karen McQuestion

AUTHOR PROFILE: Kim Suhr lives and writes in southeastern Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in Midwest Review, Stonecoast Review, Rosebud, The Other Stories Podcast, and others. She holds an MFA from Pine Manor College, where she was the 2013 Dennis Lehane Fellow for Fiction. She is director of Red Oak Writing and a member of the Wisconsin Writers Association.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I write to try to understand people who are not me, to find empathy for those who see the world very differently from how I do. My biggest hope for my readers is to come away from my stories a little more connected to their humanity and to develop compassion for the “other.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). This is the opening story of the book, “Night Vision,” first published at Solstice Literary Magazine.

Night Vision

LOCAL OUTLETS: Books & Company, Oconomowoc WI; Boswell Books, Milwaukee WI; A Room of One’s Own, Madison, WI

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon (also available as an audiobook from Libro.fm and Audible)

PRICE: $14.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: https://kimsuhr.com/about-the-author/

Beautiful Raft

See the source imageTHE BOOK: Beautiful Raft.

PUBLISHED IN: 2019

THE AUTHOR: Tina Barry.

THE PUBLISHER: Robin Stratton at Big Table Publishing.

SUMMARY: In 1946, the artist Marc Chagall, his partner Virginia Haggard (30 years his junior and pregnant with their son David), and Haggard’s five-year-old daughter Jean McNeil moved from New York City to the rural hamlet of High Falls, New York, where they remained for two years. The prose poems, short fiction and hybrids in Beautiful Raft, written in Haggard’s and McNeil’s voices, tell the fictionalized story of their time in the country.

THE BACK STORY: I began writing the story in 2015, when my husband and I moved from Brooklyn, NY, to the hamlet of High Falls, NY. When we arrived, I began researching the area and discovered that the artist Marc Chagall had lived there in the 1940s. His house and the studio where he painted is still there.

Chagall’s arrival in the hamlet was a big deal at the time, so there were a lot of photographs in local publications. Very little was written about Haggard and McNeil. Who was this woman and little girl? I discovered that Haggard was the daughter of an English diplomat, spoke several languages, and was an aspiring artist herself. I began researching their time here, and soon after started writing in the women’s voices.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Beautiful Raft is a metaphor for Virginia, who the characters in the book turned to for affection and support.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The book appeals to lovers of art and the people who create it, poetry and short fiction. People interested in life in a small country village circa 1940s, will find its setting of interest. Beautiful Raft is a woman’s story, a child’s story, and an exploration of widowhood, motherhood, love, death, and renewal. It’s also an exploration of how women lose their identities to powerful men. One reviewer called it “erotically charged,” so there’s that too.

REVIEW COMMENTS: 

“Easily accessed and stunningly executed, Tina Barry’s Beautiful Raft brings to life a world of characters and another time. As much a love story as it is a social commentary, the end result is a triumph: an illustration of personhood that begins a larger conversation on gender roles and being — a conversation that is rarely understood so completely as through the view of the person that lived it.” — Kate Kernan, Harbor Review, October, 2019

“Tina Barry’s Beautiful Raft floats effortlessly on a lucid opalescent stream. Barry, a trained visual artist, has found worthy collaborators in the personas of artists Marc Chagall, his lover Virginia Haggard, and Haggard’s five-year-old daughter Jean McNeil, who once lived in her own High Falls, New York backyard.

“Precision of language leads to insight; compassion to clairvoyance, resulting in characters so astutely observed we can practically see the paint caked beneath their nails. The authority with which the characters are drawn adds a scholarly underpinning to this sensuous work of historical fiction in verse.” — Lissa Kiernan, Glass Needles and Goose Quills, Two Faint Lines in the Violet.

“The poems and interludes in Beautiful Raft examine not only the deep complexities of a family but also the interplay between art and society. Beyond Barry’s probing portrayal is an examination of the concept of artistic mastery and what it takes to both create andbe seen in the world.” — Jen Knox, Resolutions

“What I love so much about Tina Barry’s Beautiful Raft is how her curiosity turned into a fury-fueled exploration of how and why the partners of famous men are often ignored. With her imagination on fire, Barry searches for answers by allowing both Haggard and her young daughter to tell their stories. And what voices she gives them. What odd, intimate and arresting voices.” — Robert Vaughan, Funhouse, Addicts and Basements, Rift (with Kathy Fish)

From blini “in a cape of butter, tipping a caviar hat” to visits from Pierre Matisse who “leans against an ivory-carved walking stick he doesn’t need,” Barry offers a poetic succession of taut, highly charged prose poems. Kaleidoscope in style, the book shifts from page to page, casting a different light on this loving but uneasy relationship in this deftly constructed and haunting collection.” — Alexandra van de Kamp, Kiss/Hierarchy.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Like Virginia Haggard, the focus of Beautiful Raft, I’m a former artist married to an artist. And like Chagall, Haggard and McNeil, my husband and I made a similar move from Brooklyn, NY, to the hamlet of High Falls, NY.

“I’ve contributed articles about relationships, food and fashion to newspapers and magazines, been a restaurant critic for a newspaper (best job yet), and now work as a writing tutor at a local college, and a teaching artist at Poetry Barn and Gemini Ink.

Mall Flower: Poems and Short Fiction (Big Table Publishing, 2016): https://www.amazon.com/Mall-Flower-Tina-Barry/dp/0996540512/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1J89OIZ5CHCNF&keywords=mall+flower%2C+tina+barry&qid=1573058898&sprefix=mall+flower%2Caps%2C142&sr=8-1

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  Like all my writing, Beautiful Raft supports and encourages women.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

Something Amber

The darkened room smells of baby, and cooked lamb. Over that, the scent of snow. You’d draw my head differently than I hold it now, cocked like a dumb bird listening. Jean’s breath, not a sound really, just the opening of air. And David’s slight baby rumbling. He’s of you and of me but not. Serious somehow. You sketched him as connected circles, like the paper chain you cut from old drawings. We hung it over the table. Something festive to break up the winter. I like to draw your hand. The hand with that thumb. Such a thumb! Wide as the stump of an axed tree. Thoughts of you make me thirsty. I’ll drink something amber. The glasses’ edge etched with your thin cardinal lips. And kiss you that way. My lips over yours.

LOCAL OUTLETS:

Postmark Books, Rosendale, NY.845-658-2479. https://www.postmarkbooks.net; Rough Draft Bar & Books, Kingston, NY. 845-802-0027.roughdraftny.com.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945917490/ref=rdr_ext_tmb) and Big Table Publishing (V= https://www.bigtablepublishing.com/product-page/beautiful-raft-by-tina-barry). For a signed copy, readers can reach out to me at tbarrywrites@gmail.com.

PRICE: $15.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: tbarrywrites@gmail.com, TinaBarryWriter.com, @tinabarry188, https://www.facebook.com/tina.barry.

Sampler: Fifty Short Stories

Sampler: Fifty Short Stories

THE BOOK: Sampler: Fifty Short Stories

PUBLISHED IN: October 2019

THE AUTHOR: Don Tassone

THE EDITOR: Stevan Nikolic

THE PUBLISHER: Adelaide Books

SUMMARY: The 50 stories in this collection are wide-ranging. Some are serious, oth-ers light. Most are gentle, but a few are disquieting. There is fantasy, spirituality and politics here. Many of these stories are slices of life. Most are short. All are an invita-tion to think more deeply.

THE BACK STORY: Most story collections have a theme. But stories come from our experiences, and our experiences are diverse. So why limit a collection of stories to just one theme?

WHY THIS TITLE: This is an eclectic assortment of stories. One story is even a prose poem. The final story is non-fiction. “Sampler” seemed to fit.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: We’re all busy these days, but we all love a good story. Most of the stories in Sampler are short. I created this collection with busy people in mind.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“If there were ever any doubts as to whether Don Tassone could make a successful tran-sition from corporate exec to creative storyteller, he’s put them to rest. In Sampler, Tas-sone glides effortlessly between humor and melancholy, politics and romance, sharing his wisdom through the vessel of narrative. Contemporary anecdotes like “A Little More Conversation” contrast with timeless ones like “Barefoot,” yet all 50 short stories in this collection share a common bond: they stimulate the mind.”  — Dominic Vaiana, writer, marketer.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Don Tassone is the author of a novel, Drive, and three short story collections: Sampler, Get Back and Small Bites. His fourth story collection, New Twists, will be published in October 2020. He lives in Loveland, Ohio and teaches at Xavier University.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I write as an invitation to think and feel more deeply. I hope the stories in Sampler do that.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1951214609

Weather Report, Nov. 11

Related image

Marc Chagall (photo from Widewalls)

Our currently featured books, “Home Everywhere,” by Megan McNamer and “The Hero,” by Helene Sanguinetti and Ann Cefola (translator) can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or, click the author’s name on our Author’s page.

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UPCOMING FROM SNOWFAKES IN A BLIZZARD, NOVEMBER 12-18.

“BEAUTFUL RAFT,” BY TINA BARRY.

In 1946, the artist Marc Chagall, his partner Virginia Haggard (30 years his junior and pregnant with their son David), and Haggard’s five-year-old daughter Jean McNeil moved from New York City to the rural hamlet of High Falls, New York, where they remained for two years. The prose poems, short fiction and hybrids in Beautiful Raft, written in Haggard’s and McNeil’s voices, tell the fictionalized story of their time in the country.

“NOTHING TO LOSE,” BY KIM SUHR.

Drawing on the rich complexity of the American Midwest, Kim Suhr peoples her debut book of fiction with characters that we know, carved out of the Wisconsin landscape and caught between expectation and desire. An Iraq war veteran stalks the streets of Madison. Four drunk friends hunt deer outside of Antigo. A mother tries to save her son. A transplanted New Yorker plots revenge against her husband. A man sobers up and opens a paintball range for Jesus. A woman with nothing to lose waits for her first kiss. Personal and powerful, Kim Suhr’s “Nothing to Lose” shows us a region filled with real people: less than perfect, filled with doubts, always reaching.

“SAMPLER: FIFTY SHORT STORIES,” BY DON TASSONE.

Writes one reviewer: “If there were ever any doubts as to whether Don Tassone could make a successful transition from corporate exec to creative storyteller, he’s put them to rest. In Sampler, Tassone glides effortlessly between humor and melancholy, politics and romance, sharing his wisdom through the vessel of narrative. Contemporary anecdotes like ‘A Little More Conversation’ contrast with timeless ones like ‘Barefoot,’ yet all 50 short stories in this collection share a common bond: they stimulate the mind.”

Home Everywhere

This week’s other featured book,  “The Hero,” by Helene Sanguinetti and Ann Cefola, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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Image result for Megan McNamer + author + photoTHE BOOK: Home Everywhere.

PUBLISHED IN: 2018.

THE AUTHOR: Megan McNamer.

THE EDITOR: Diane Goettel.

THE PUBLISHER: Black Lawrence Press.

SUMMARY: Home Everywhere is about wanting to join the hot and noisy world, rather than viewing it through plate glass windows from air-conditioned rooms or matching images to a description in a book. It’s about trying to un-mediate experience. It’s about wanting to break on through to the other side, while, at the same time, fretting about how much to tip. And it is about the confusion and uncertainties and hubris and plain old mundanities that accompany the more inchoate impulses of travel.

Oh, and it is about wanting to escape death. It’s about wanting to create a stage and strut upon it, to put boundaries around experience and exist within that sphere. For a while.

THE BACK STORY: I wrote sections of this separately, they weren’t intended to be part of a larger story. Some small travel vignettes were based on a guided tour to Bangkok that I went on with my aunt and uncle in l998. Some longer sections were memoirish pieces I’d been working on for years. Finally I decided that they all belonged together, and I set to work stitching up the parts to make it flow. So this is a book about a trip, with stories. That’s how I think of it.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I took the title from a quote by Novalis that I read in something about Heidegger. “Philosophy is really homesickness, an urge to be at home everywhere.”

I find it evocative more than explanatory. Another Heidegger-derived (I think) quote sticks in my mind: “We are always waiting for something. We are always waiting for something as a whole. This something as a whole is the world.”

And then there’s Barbara Pym, who writes about “the desire for something afar, from the sphere of our sorrow.” She was probably quoting some Romantic poet, or maybe one of her clergymen or “excellent women” were doing the quoting, while tucking into a simple lunch or sipping a measured glass of sherry. (Aha –Google says it’s Shelley.)

For me, there is a kind of sorrow in the notion of “home everywhere,” a homesickness, a nostalgia for something you’ve never seen. (But Home Everywhere, my novel, is often funny, I believe. My best friend from first grade kept sending me “LOL” texts, attached to lines from the book as she was reading it. Of course, we share some sensibilities that others might not have.)

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If a reader picks this up and reads it as a travel book, he or she will be baffled and maybe slightly annoyed. It isn’t exactly an anti-travel book, though. It’s about travel as pilgrimage and as theater and as “regular” life dislodged. Dislodged but still tethered to home, whether the traveler wants that to be the case or not.

These characters are not profound or unusual. They might be Evan Connell’s Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, signing up for a chartered tour. Somewhere it’s been written of Evan Connell – “This sensual yearning for knowledge, this insatiable wanderlust – what Anatole France called ‘a long desire’ – is Connell’s constant subject and his greatest theme.”

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Home Everywhere … is a controlled crash, a tour of a sublime tour de force, satisfying on many levels and telling in every tongue.” — Michael Martone (book blurb)

“In Home Everywhere … Megan McNamer shows us that the companions are no less important than the destination. Life brings everyone to unexpected places that are not on any map, and the reader gladly joins in for the ride.” –Laura Esther Wolfson (book blurb)

“…a fascinating kaleidoscope of a novel.” –Grady Harp (San Francisco Review of Books)

AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in small towns in northern Montana and come from a writing family; both sisters are published novelists, and writers in various genres are scattered throughout my contemporary and historical familial connections.

I have degrees in Music (BA from University of Montana) and Ethnomusicology (MA from University of Washington) and acknowledge that background as my primary source of inspiration and training as a writer. If asked to explain, I can’t, exactly. It’s something to do with trying to decode and capture the ineffable.

The highlight of my week is playing Balinese gamelan music with a community group in Missoula, MT (Manik Harum).

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I am interested in travel writing that delves into (or maybe just lightly touches on) theory. Certain bits of this novel are stolen from others (Laurence Durrell, Alain de Botton, Barbara Pym). Barbara Pym, of course, wasn’t a travel writer, but her work in the offices of the African Institute in London inspired some sly send-ups of ethnography, ethnographers and concepts of “the field.” She also has many characters in her novels who make seemingly obtuse observations that are so mundane they become profound. I love that stuff.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: 

1. M(r). Butterfly

His real name was something else. It had tones and diphthongs and unaspirated p’s. It was piquant and fluttering, the way he pronounced it, his voice guarded, clandestine. Quickly then he reverted to the businesslike “Ron,” a created character, clearly. Ron was a combination of police, priest, parent, and pimp. “Get into the temple,” Ron might say, his language pragmatic and unadorned. Everyone liked him. It was nearing the end of the millennium, in the waning days of November, the waxing days of December, the darkening days of winter, the holiday season in the Western world. Time to flee the festive hearth and set off for a ten-day trip to a foreign land. (A reprieve of sorts, this bargain tour, from states of longing, aloneness, and relentless cheer.) When they first shuffled down the chute upon arrival, they arranged their faces to say: We are well-traveled people and students of culture. Some made their faces say even more: I have slept in the rainforest canopy. I have rubbed shoulders with shamans. I don’t tour, I trek. I have trekked to places never before seen by the common traveler. The tourists knew that they were just tourists. I have observed factory workers amid the clang of their toil. I have studied the courtship songs of refugees. I have gone right into the homes and made friends for life!

There stood the beaming Ron outside baggage claim, wearing a crisply-laundered white shirt with thin green stripes, a small brass name tag centered neatly on the pocket. His smile, which appeared to be absolutely genuine, was also instantly, guilelessly flirtatious. “My name is R-O-N,” he said, pointing with his left index finger to invisible letters in the air, a large sliver watch glinting on his wrist like a signal mirror.

“Ron!” the tourists responded, a bit precipitately.

“Ah, your English is excellent,” he smiled, looking right at each of them, a flicker of irony hovering about his lips. They were made to feel good, in cahoots with Ron. He seemed to be saying: I know, and you know, and I know you know, and I want you to know I know, and I want you to know I know you know all those clichés. About all those others. Not you.

“Follow me,” Ron chimed, and swaggered away, confident of their attention. They gathered their things and followed him, over skyways, up ramps, and around corners.

They followed him to the accompaniment of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a melancholy, duple-metered rendition strummed on a steel guitar. (Ron had a fussy, near-prissy physical brio that exuded machismo itself, deconstructed and distilled. That was what some of the tourists noticed. Others simply noticed that his pants fit perfectly.)

Through sliding glass doors, they followed him, waddling stiff-legged after the long flight, elbowing their way out into a steamy, incubator-warm parking garage filled with growling buses waiting in the 4 a.m. neon glare at full, repressed throttle. A quick stab of travel sadness was generally experienced. Or might it be joy? They were here. None of them had been here before. A door had stood open and now it was closed and they were in. Here they were.

The only colors in the gaseous gray were purple clumps of garlands, reminiscent of leis, and the brilliant magenta of the costumes of the lei attendants, languorous, silk-swathed girls accompanied by camera-equipped boys. The sex trade! No, welcome teams. Working the arrivals.

The camera boys wore the same green stripes as Ron, though not so nattily. They stood with the girls at the open doors of the buses, an appropriate number of garlands draped over each girl’s arm, brochures and tin buttons arrayed on a tray. Various toxins vied for space in the semi-enclosed area. As each panting, decompressing passenger ambled gratefully toward the steps of his (or her) designated vehicle, a girl lassoed him (or her) with a lei, saying “Welcome, Sir (or Madam),” with a quick fold of the hands to the forehead. Then the girl stood next to this perspiring, sleep-craving stranger, smooth cheek to rumpled cheek in a mini-position of intimacy, while a boy snapped a photo, redeemable later for US $10.

They wanted to be good sports about this. They wanted to seem unthreatened. They didn’t always travel in hordes (they wanted this understood), but so what? They hoped to convey a stance that was not “anti,” but “post.” We’re beyond being ill at ease. That was what the well-traveled hoped to convey with their stance, distinguishing themselves from the nervously beaming novices.

Everyone looked at Ron, who was monitoring the proceedings with a white, linen handkerchief kept close to his mouth and nose, presumably to filter the fumes, or maybe to dab sweat from his upper lip. Holding the folded square in place, he guided them into the bus with his free hand, the fingers performing a regular little twirl at the end of his languid arm, the heavy watch winking, the overall effect that of a blessing, a mock blessing, a tinge of carnival, a dancer moonlighting as a doorman. They wanted to match Ron’s dramatic flair. But the tourists weren’t there yet. Some tried to duck the photo, others dodged the lei. A woman dropped several packages of peanuts she’d saved from the flight and also her reading glasses, which she retrieved with a pounce. This awkward behavior created a catch in the smoothness of the whole maneuver, the face of her welcome girl became knit with the faintest of frowns. Ron came to the rescue, lowering his handkerchief and bestowing the moment with a sudden big grin, his teeth showing even and radiant in this personalized extension of his uniform smile, itself so full of pleasure and professionalism.

He exudes a male animus that an equally-short Norman Mailer would kill for, a would-be novelist in the group made a mental note to write. He exudes a soft concern, thought the would-be novelist’s wife. And total authority.

“Everything is okay?” Ron tilted his head ever so slightly. The tourists nodded mutely, eyeing the hard holster swivel clip cellphone case he had strapped to his belt, next to a black, collapsible umbrella, as compact as a billy club.

“Get into the bus,” he smiled. They did, with no further struggle. Floating through the city and toward their beds, the tourists wondered if the cool fingers they’d felt on their arms belonged to the silky girls or to Ron. Faint sensations still lingered of just the barest moments of contact, like moths brushing skin. Slipping into nodding half-dreams, they became the moths and Ron their captor. Then Ron and the girls became entangled. He wore shimmering colors; they wore his name tag. Then the tourists were the ones all wrapped up with Ron. He reclaimed his name tag. It said RON. The tourists wore their own tin buttons. These said PARADISE PROMISE. As the bus sighed along, they sank fully to sleep, convinced they had finally arrived.

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