Pieces of Bones and Rags

This week’s other featured books, “My Vietnam, A Gift to My Daughter,” by Jack Billups and Everywhere West,” by Chris Green, 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: Pieces of Bones and Rags.

PUBLISHED: 2021.

THE AUTHOR:  Michael C. Keith

THE EDITOR
: The gracious editor was Bix Skahill, an author himself.

THE PUBLISHER
: Cabal Books

SUMMARY: A collection of epigrammatic tales both luminous and harrowing told across landscapes familiar and exotic. Bizarre, humorous, and prophetic. In the tradition of other Keith’s titles, in particular his latest, Insomnia 11 (MadHat Press). 

THE BACK STORY
: My forte is the micro fiction story and one is always floating in my head. At some point, I get to a keyboard to bring it into the world. It’s usually a daily event. My subjects are typically dark, fueled by a warped view of society. 

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title seemed to fit the mortal (bones) and tragic nature of life that all too frequently leaves us in tatters (rags).

About Michael C. Keith – Michael C. Keith

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My reader likes to see life expressed in an absurd yet candid way because that’s how he/she sees life. It’s my pleasure and privilege to bring that to them

REVIEW COMMENTS
:

“Keith’s pieces of micro-fictions lingers like an amuse-bouche on the palate of the intellect. — Michigan Quarterly Review.

“This new Keith collection proves him a master satirist”. — DeWitt Henry, founding editor of Ploughshares.

“Keith in his masterful micro-fictions Keith has created a kind of literary equivalent of an illuminated manuscript.” — Robert Scotellaro.

AUTHOR PROFILE: After spending twelve years hitchhiking the country with my\his alcoholic father (as depicted in my memoir: The Next Better Place), I joined the army during the Vietnam era and then went to college on the GI Bill, eventually earning a PhD in English. I retired emeritus professor from Boston College and became a fiction writer to release something in me that had been pushing to get out since my childhood. That “something” brings me both light and darkness, but keeps me from watching TV reruns.
  
AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 Writing for me is therapy. It allows me to release the grinch and the stand up comic. Those qualities are evident in my tales, at least I hope they are. 

SAMPLE: See www.michaelckeith.com

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

PRICE: $14.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: See me on Facebook. Friend me.  

My Vietnam

THE BOOK: My Vietnam – A Gift to My Daughter

PUBLISHED: 2020

THE AUTHOR: Jack Billups

THE EDITOR: Skip Press

THE PUBLISHER: Self-published through “Publish Drive”

SUMMARY: With my daughter’s birthday a couple of weeks away, I was at a loss about what I should get her. A few days passed, then Naomi called me and solved my dilemma.

“Hey Dad,” she said. “Instead of a gift, would you sit with me and share your Vietnam experiences?”

Wow, that was totally unexpected! I certainly couldn’t deny her request, but I knew that telling those stories that way would be extremely difficult for a host of reasons I didn’t want to explain. So, I replied, “Naomi, how about I write my memoir?” She agreed, and I took a deep breath knowing I now had time to scrutinize my memories. So, within four months of my commitment to Naomi, I had completed the bulk of putting my memories to paper. I sent what I had finished over to her.

It was several weeks passed before she called to comment. “Dad, this is the best birthday gift I’ve ever received,” she gushed. “Thank you Dad!” She continued, “I liked it so much I went back and read it a second time.”

Now, that really pleased me, but there was more coming, something I never expected, although I should have.

Naomi was born with a heavy dose of adventure in her DNA. After a few days, she called again with a question. “Hey Dad, how would you like to go back to Vietnam, just you and me?”

Image preview

Her request stunned me, catching me flatfooted. Wanting to respond immediately, I found myself frozen with the thought, “Are you crazy?” The challenge of returning to Vietnam initially seemed dark, unrealistic, and heavy. Obviously, Naomi had a desire to experience some of what I had described in my memoir about the land and the culture. Like so many people her age, however, she wasn’t content to simply read about something; she wanted to feel it, to get as close as possible to the reality of the experiences of her father had as a young man only 20 years of age. Could this be accomplished?

My book takes several paths that conclude in the end on one, reconciliation. Along the way the stories of Jack’s life growing up in the 50’s and 60’s adds a favorable dimension of history surrounding this Asian war. This is not only a war book.

THE BACK STORY: As mentioned above, I wrote my memoir per my daughter’s request. Once completed I sent the memoir to my 95-year-old uncle. After uncle Bill read it, he called me to say, “Jack, you must turn this into a book for the public to read. Not to argue with my uncle I said, “Okay!” This project took three years.

I believe that my book provides many points of interest. (1.) War experiences of a 19- year-old kid. (2.)The relationship between a father and daughter that pivots around the Vietnam war. (3.) The element of reconciliation with Vietnam, and my daughter. (4.) The historical value of growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in an America so different than today. (5.) The present day experiences my daughter and I had when we returned to Vietnam. Take your choice, this book has an interest point for many personalities.

WHY THIS TITLE: Other than creating intrigue, which it does, the title explains itself.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ MY BOOK: As stated above, this book was artfully constructed as to present, “the whole picture.” There’s many blood and guts war books and hero books — a category that caters to men who are into that world. However, much more revolved around that crazy Asian war. My daughter! A relationship component that draws women like crazy! The curiosity of growing up in the 50’s. The reunion of old soldiers some 50 years later. My book had a wide circle that accurately portrayed the FEEL of those times that no longer exist!

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Bravo Billups, not just another Vietnam book! You nailed it!” Skip Press, author, scriptwriter and editor.

“Be prepared as the author is honest so it does get rather ‘gritty’ at times, but tastefully done as well. GREAT READ.” — 5 Star Amazon Review Book seeker

“I can’t thank Jack enough for devoting the time and effort in bringing the 3rd platoon together again through this great piece of work.” George C. Colclough (Retired), Colonel, United States Army Infantry

“Everyone, man or woman, young or old, can enjoy this great story. A wonderful read!” — Mike Boyle, host of the Mike Boyle Radio Show. Denver, Colorado

Verified Amazon Review

Beautiful Journey to Healing

“We listened to an interview the author gave on the Mike Boyle Show. My husband, a Vietnam veteran, was eager to read the book.

“The author delivered on our hopes for a healing response to what our boys faced over there. My husband usually can’t read much Vietnam War material due to his PTSD. He read this in just a few days, it was that good. Our thanks to the author for undertaking this topic and telling his story.” — Kitty Meeker.

“Billups’ observations and accounts show the maturity and the perspective of one who has spent time coming to terms with his past; and gaining an understanding of the historical context of the times. He neither romanticizes the experiences nor lingers with bitterness over them. My Vietnam is a GOOD READ! — Perky Granger, author and retreat organizer.AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’m not a professional writer, although it appears I could have been. I say this not from a point of arrogance, but from the realization that we all are unique and have a story to share. I’ve discovered through this process, that PASSION, conquers fear and doubt. I did wrote book from a point of passion, a strong feeling of purpose, the desire to accomplish a goal no matter the challenge I needed to overcome, for the benefit of the end result, the prize. Way beyond literary classes and studies, the element of the desire to accomplish a goal, I believe, is most important, when there’s passion, the rest will fall in line!

SAMPLE CHAPTER: 1 LEAVING NAM

To fulfill Naomi’s request, I documented my thoughts and memories of my military tour in Vietnam from June 1969 to August 1970. Collectively as a nation, American attitudes and sentiments drastically changed from the time the war was going on until now. The U.S. involvement in this war in Southeast Asia was once questioned, despised, and ridiculed.

In the 21st century, American attitudes toward the Vietnamese conflict had morphed into a mystery, a curiosity, even a sort of romanticism for younger Americans. I’d seen an interesting social evolution over five decades. This was the same war from which returning soldiers were shamed by many of their fellow Americans.

Back then, a Vietnam veteran did not advertise his return from the war. I certainly did not. In a stealth manner we slipped back into civilian life nearly undetected, there was no glory and adoration awaiting us. I was aware of this coming home and had no expectations of a warm reception.

Today, these same veterans are shown gratitude, respect, and sometimes a sense of awe. For those of us who lived through it, the contrast is amazing. In this regard, our country has corrected itself. Now, instead of being apprehensive that we served in Vietnam, we veterans are given permission by those who thank us, to feel proud and to be assured that our sacrifice was of equal value to that of those who served in previous, more popular wars of American involvement. Regardless of the right or wrong of that war, the majority of us went out of love of country, and now, Americans understand this.

The memories I share here will not always be in the correct time sequence, as certain events come to my mind like movie trailers, synopsizing the important essences of events in my memory. Also, some stories would be a bit crude if I portrayed actual events as they happened, so I have made them more polite with descriptions that does not distort the reality of each occurrence.

When I began writing for Naomi, it had been 48 years since I stepped onto the plane that would take me home. August 1970, I had been in country for 14 long months and now I find myself in a place and time that not only seemed like a dream, but an event that would never happen, I made it, was the repeated thought that consumed me.

The clerk looked up at me and said, “Jack, you can go to your locker now and retrieve your personal belongings.” It was something I had forgotten. I walked over to the fenced storage complex and hunted down my locker. I opened the door and pulled out my duffle bag and found just a few items. There were some photos, and the Bible awarded to me as a kid for good attendance at Dunlap Community Church, back home in Yucaipa California.

I threw the duffle bag over my shoulders and kept the Bible in my hands. While walking back toward the entry, I ran my hands over the brown leather King James version while pondering the truth of its divinity. My name was neatly inlayed in gold on my Bible, which remained in pristine condition because of my years of neglect. My mind wandered back to those early Sundays when my parents would drive my sister and I to Sunday school, dropping us off only to return in several hours to pick us up. In later years I understood that in addition to my parent’s belief that this was the right thing to do, it also afforded them a little free time together.

During summer, we enrolled in vacation Bible school. In an arts and crafts session, I discovered my special ability to transfer mental images to paper as I created a masterpiece collage of the crucifixion. With the teacher’s praise, I formed a new unique identity of myself, I was good at visualization which enabled me to be talented in art, this I carried throughout my life.

Snapping out of my daydream, I’m standing at the gates of the fenced complex, I saw a 55-gallon trash container and had thoughts of depositing my Bible in the trash. At that point, I wasn’t sure why I brought it to Vietnam, as I chose not to carry it with me in the field. I stood over the container for several seconds, debating with myself, then I decided to correct my foolishness. I have made it this far without even being wounded, I thought to myself, I still have a long flight back to San Francisco; so, with a dose of godly fear I said, I better not test God! I put my Bible in my duffle bag and continued on.

From there, it was further processing and paperwork. The airport was heavily fortified and had large military transport planes, fighter jets, and helicopters lining the runway. Most certainly, I was in a place where I felt safer than the previous fourteen months.

The commercial airliner that I thought of as, my freedom bird, sat on the tarmac waiting for me. She was beautiful, a man-made mechanical Angel “ready to carry me home.” She represented my success, or luck in surviving this crazy jungle war. With my mind racing in the reality of this long-awaited moment, I became anxious, wanting to get on that plane and end that chapter of my life.

As I entered the terminal, an unexpected moment occurred. Among those waiting to board was Eric, a friend from Yucaipa California, my hometown, he’d come in country with me over a year before. Once eye contact was made, we both grinned and laughed as I walked over to shake his hand. “Son of a bitch! Eric, I didn’t expect we’d fly home together.” “Neither did I. How the hell are you doing Jack?”

“Great Eric, it’s good to see you!”

I learned that Eric had extended his tour in Vietnam by two months, as did I. Nearly two years earlier, Eric and I went through six months of boot camp and advanced infantry training together. When we both arrived in Vietnam, we were separated into different units in the Army’s First Air Calvary. So, it came as a pleasant surprise that we would fly back together, and it was great to see Eric and know that he too, survived.

We both had a seat and waited along with the others who had served their time. Finally, we heard the announcement echoing through the large complex to line up and prepare to board the plane. No problem, I thought, “come on Eric, let’s go home!” I exclaimed.

As we walked towards the plane it sank in that these were my last steps on this foreign soil, or so I thought. It felt surreal, given what I’d been through. When I arrived in Vietnam, the hundreds of days ahead of me, justifiably felt bleak, making this day seem like an illusion, a dream not within my grasp, but now it became my reality.

While climbing up the stairs I kept saying to myself, this is unbelievable, I’m going home! When I approached the door, my thoughts detoured as attractive American women came into focus smiling and greeting me as I entered the bird. Notable was their upbeat composure, much different than when I stepped off the plane 14 months ago. One might have expected the mood onboard to be jubilant, but instead it seemed that everyone’s joy was measured, it was quiet and a bit somber. No one was outwardly celebrating.

Eric and I sat down together. I took a deep breath and exhaled a sigh of relief. We began to converse about where we were stationed and what our jobs were. Eric became a point man with the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry, and I was an M60 machine gunner for the 12th Cavalry. Other than that, we didn’t talk much about our experiences because we both understood they were similar. Truthfully, neither of us had an appetite to share war stories.

Once loaded, the door is closed and sealed. The plane taxied to the end of the runway then turned around, my anticipation increased as the engines began to scream, and at last we were racing down the strip and finally lifted off the earth from the country known as, “Vietnam”.

Both of us had escaped flying back home in coffins, unlike so many of our brothers who served in the blood ridden jungle with us. Whether destiny or luck, we both had cheated death in an extremely deadly place, the jungles of Vietnam.

Like me, everyone was staring out the windows to get one last look of the green plush jungle below, riddled with groups of bomb craters filled with rainwater reflecting the sky above. Each individual alone with their thoughts racing as the plane soared towards the heavens. It was eerie to look back on this beautiful plush country, populated by strange people with a strange culture. The country had touched thousands of Americans, then and for years to come, but at that time we had little idea how things would ultimately turn out.

As we flew out over the South China Sea, I settled in with thoughts of the past and what waited for me in the future. I was sure that many others were doing the same. Once Vietnam disappeared from sight, I still found myself thinking, it’s over, or is it? For most of us, our time in Vietnam would leave a lasting mark that would be carried for the remainder of our lives. Our experiences there, both good and bad, had become part of what defined us.

And now, five decades later, my beloved daughter wanted to know all about it. I realized her request could be a blessing because I was far from alone in that unique experience in

this controversial war. There was a whole generation of people younger than me – and maybe some from my own generation who would relish knowing what really happened over there.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, 432 pages, includes photos of interest, past and present.

PRICE: Printed version $19.95 E-Book $7.95 Audio $23.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Website; myvietnambook.com.

E-mail; myvietnam1949@gmail.com

Everywhere West

Everywhere West by [Chris Green]

THE BOOK: Everywhere West.

PUBLISHED IN: 2019.

THE AUTHOR: Chris Green.

THE EDITOR: Judith Kerman.

THE PUBLISHER: Mayapple Press

Mayapple Press is a small literary press founded in 1978 by poet and editor Judith Kerman. We celebrate literature that is both challenging and accessible: poetry that transcends the categories of “mainstream” and “avant-garde”; women’s writing; the Great Lakes/Northeastern culture; the recent immigrant experience; poetry in translation; science fiction poetry

Interview with Chris Green, Author of “Résumé” | Geosi Reads

SUMMARY: The poems in Chris Green’s Everywhere West stand in the light and dark of family life and are bowled over by the beauty of fatherhood. Like a novel, the poetry asks over and over, “What’s worth living for?” The book also explores living in America at a time when basic human value is being hacked and discontinued. The poetry stands and says I am happy and I am not happy. Nothing is simple about being a child and parent, and through complications of time and grief, the book is crowded with hope.

THE BACK STORY: I wrote this book because I want to remember the beautiful struggle of being a dad to daughters and of being a son in an extended family (and country) full of troubles.

WHY THIS TITLE: I stole the phrase “Everywhere West” from the side of a passing train car. I’m originally from Park City, Utah (the mining town, not yet the super-rich resort), and because many of my poems recall family and home, they in effect, go west. Also, the book contains many poems about America and its past and present direction—West is the direction of American expansion, the direction of Manifest Destiny, the essential direction of the vision quest. West, as it has always been, is the direction of seeking. The book’s title poem is also an 8-minute poem-film featured on my website: http://chrisgreenpoetry.com/

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s real-life, not-too-poety stuff about being a son/dad/husband…and about someone like you living in a country and world going politically and culturally crazy.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Poet and professor Green’s fourth collection of poems dives deep into intergenerational domesticities: the sacrifices and fraught relations of parents, the death of a grandfather, the innumerable epiphanies young daughters deliver in unexpected utterances and diary entries: “The baby dolphin was lost in the woods of the sea.” A book of small silences and quiet landings, Green’s elliptical lyrics trace the secret legacies of complicated figures: the speaker’s father, frustrated, struggles to study for law school with a houseful of family and animals; elsewhere, “the starved wooden friar / bent over a chessboard is my father’s affair, / which has lasted twenty years.” There’s a persistent longing, almost a nostalgia for the present: a simultaneous desire to occupy and escape the here and now. And Green’s verses often yield moments of striking brightness: “Bliss, not a balcony on a May evening, / but a golden dome lit from within.” A welcoming collection that will connect with readers as much for its familiar content as for Green’s ability to open intimate poetic moments outward to the world. — Diego Báez, Booklist, 2020

AUTHOR PROFILE: Here’s my “official” bio:

Chris Green is the author of four books of poetry: The Sky Over Walgreens, Epiphany School, Résumé, and Everywhere West (Mayapple Press, 2019). His poetry has appeared in such publications as Poetry, The New York Times, Court Green, and Prairie Schooner. He’s a founding editor of Big Shoulders Books whose mission is to disseminate, free of charge, quality works of writing by and about Chicagoans whose voices might not otherwise be shared. He’s edited four anthologies including I Remember: Chicago Veterans of War and American Gun: A Poem by 100 Chicagoans (Big Shoulders Books, 2020). He teaches in the English Department at DePaul University. More information can be found at http://www.chrisgreenpoetry.com.

Here’s my “unofficial” bio written by the poet cin salach:

Chris Green is an old soul with a new voice for these swirling days…he has a fondness for large animals, mainly tigers and deer.

He is quiet on the outside, but very loud on the inside. His poems never need a microphone to make a big sound.

His family surprises him by being exactly who he needs them to be. Female, fierce and funny. Of course, they are far more than this, and that’s why they are so hard for him to write poems about. Large animals are much easier. They stand still longer.

A seeker of peace over power, he could have been a musician, if he wasn’t such an extraordinary poet.

SAMPLE POEM:

Prodigal Daughter

You are always drumming your small fingers

and refusing to blink.

When you are mad this is a popular act:

write my name on a piece of paper, cross it out,

and hand it to me.

Once you said, “Santa Claus is not looking for you.

God is not looking for you.”

I agreed.

I can even believe you exist to tease me

into writing about you.

You spend mornings looking out the window

for the cloud-white cat that patrols our yard each night,

and the killed baby rabbits always left

in the same spot. The cat does his work

lays his report on our desk.

It is always a matter of life or death.

You are so serious about the predicament of nature.

You keep a field journal at five.

I ask if you write about the weather;

you look disbelieving as if I don’t know a single thing.

You say, “It’s for writing about animals

and their problems and when it’s foggy what’s blocking you.”

Your first entry still feels true:

“The baby dolphin was lost in the woods of the sea.”

There is something to be said for knowing that a house

is not the world.

As I wave in my young old age as if for the last time

watching you, I find my seat at the desk.

Unseen I stare back as you recede.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Mayapplepress.com, Amazon.com.

PRICE: $16.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: seegreen30@gmail.com.

Weather Report, June 21

A common site in Vietnam

Our currently featured books, “She-Oak,” by Linda Goin, “Endings & Beginnings,” by DeWitt Henry and “The Anatomist’s Tale,” by Tauno Bilsted, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JUNE 22-28.

“MY VIETNAM: A GIFT TO MY DAUGHTER,” BY JACK BILLUPS.

Writes Jack: “With my daughter’s birthday a couple of weeks away, I was at a loss about what I should get her. A few days passed, then Naomi called me and solved my dilemma.

“Wow, that was totally unexpected! I certainly couldn’t deny her request, but I knew that telling those stories that way would be extremely difficult for a host of reasons I didn’t want to explain. So, I replied, “Naomi, how about I write my memoir?”

She agreed, and I took a deep breath knowing I now had time to scrutinize my memories. So, within four months of my commitment to Naomi, I had completed the bulk of putting my memories to paper. I sent what I had finished over to her.

“It was several weeks passed before she called to comment. ‘Dad, this is the best birthday gift I’ve ever received,’” she gushed. ‘“Thank you Dad!’”

She continued, ‘I liked it so much I went back and read it a second time.’

“Now, that really pleased me, but there was more coming, something I never expected, although I should have.

“Naomi was born with a heavy dose of adventure in her DNA. After a few days, she called again with a question. ‘Hey Dad, how would you like to go back to Vietnam, just you and me?’”

“PIECES OF BONES AND RAGS,” BY MICHAEL C. KEITH

A collection of epigrammatic tales both luminous and harrowing told across landscapes familiar and exotic. Bizarre, humorous, and prophetic. In the tradition of other Keith’s titles, in particular his latest, Insomnia 11 (MadHat Press). 

Writes Michael:My forte is the micro fiction story and one is always floating in my head. At some point, I get to a keyboard to bring it into the world. It’s usually a daily event. My subjects are typically dark, fueled by a warped view of society.” 

“EVERYWHERE WEST,” BY CHRIS GREEN.

The poems in Chris Green’s Everywhere West stand in the light and dark of family life and are bowled over by the beauty of fatherhood. Like a novel, the poetry asks over and over, “What’s worth living for?” The book also explores living in America at a time when basic human value is being hacked and discontinued. The poetry stands and says I am happy and I am not happy. Nothing is simple about being a child and parent, and through complications of time and grief, the book is crowded with hope.

she-oak

This week’s other featured books, “Endings & Beginnings,” by DeWitt Henry, and “The Anatomist’s Tale,” by Tauno Biltsted, 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: she-oak

PUBLISHED IN: 2019

THE AUTHOR: Linda Goin.

THE EDITOR: Paul Grimsley was the editor, layout artist, cover designer, and publisher.

THE PUBLISHER: Musehick Publications.

SUMMARY: The she-oak is indigenous to Australia. It is not an oak but resembles a pine that has a woody fruit instead of a pinecone. The poems in this chapbook focus on “she”, or any woman. They, like the she-oak, are ambiguous and undefinable.

she-oak

THE BACK STORY: I was participating in several poem-a-day (PAD) challenges over several years and had hundreds of poems that I could pull together to create a chapbook. But I didn’t have a theme until my friend, Paul, in Australia, told me about a dream he had about the two of us. I wrote a poem about our relationship and built a theme around the premise of his dream, which was ambiguous yet pointedly plant-based.

WHY THIS TITLE?: See above.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I like to have fun with words, and sometimes readers catch my double meanings, sometimes they catch the poetry tools such as internal rhyme and metaphor. All that aside, it’s a short book – 40 pages – and the poems are no longer than a page. A reader could absorb the work in one sitting or read a poem a year for 40 years.

REVIEW COMMENTS: I have no reviews. Just one five-star rating. The book is over at Good Reads, where the Ohio Beat Poet Laureate for 2019-2021, John Burroughs, gave it five stars. My publisher also gave it five stars. As you can see, I’m an acquired taste.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I began writing poetry in the early 1990s, and had a poem accepted in an anthology that paid $100 for the piece. I was married to a poet/writer at the time, and I got the distinct feeling that he and his writing group did not take anyone seriously who didn’t have a master’s degree. So I divorced him and obtained a master’s degree in history. That college experience really did teach me how to write, and I have made a good living with that skill over the years; however, my first love is poetry. I have thousands of poems that all need revision. Perhaps that’s what I’ll do in 2022. Revise and publish.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: This first chapbook, she-oak, is a statement of sorts about the ambiguity assigned to women and that women assign to themselves. “She” in the third person, “she” as the other, “she” who remains nameless, yet who experiences so many feelings through loss and success. I hope readers can put a name to “she” in the process of reading these poems. If not, that’s fine…if an impression is made. That’s all any one of us really want, isn’t it? To leave an impression.

SAMPLE: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51481738-she-oak https://www.amazon.com/she-oak-Linda-Goin/dp/1944864547/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=she-oak&qid=1622727103&sr=8-3

WHERE TO BUY IT: Only available on Amazon.

PRICE: Currently at $13; currently no used edition for sale on Amazon.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: lindagoin@gmail.com

Endings and Beginnings

THE BOOK: Endings & Beginnings: Family Essays (paper, 150 pp)

PUBLISHED IN: 2021

THE AUTHOR: DeWitt Henry

THE PUBLISHER: MadHat Press (www.Mad-Hat Press.com; editor-in-chief and designer, Marc Vincenz, who comments: “MadHat publishes work that stretches imaginative and structural boundaries. We lean toward passionate, lyrical and explosive work, well-crafted and somewhat cerebral”).

SUMMARY: Endings and Beginnings: Family Essays marks the third and concluding volume of my trilogy-in-memoir, a work that began with Sweet Dreams, A Family History and extended to Safe Suicide: Narratives, Essays, and Meditations. In the first, I described coming of age in the 1950s: Philadelphia’s Main Line; dysfunctional, candy-manufacturing family; an alcoholic father, artistic mother, and two older brothers and a sister.

In time, I follow my siblings in debating and defying our WASP heritage, its dreams of dynasty, and its prejudices about class, race, place, morality, and material success. Each of us marry, settle, and raise families elsewhere. And each negotiates decades of cultural revolutions, future shock, and personal mid-life crises, which became my impetus for the second volume. Now with this last collection, I measure my own searches and becoming by the outcomes for my parents and older siblings, and by the adult struggles and crises of my daughter and son, along with hopes for their futures.

As John Skoyles writes in the introduction to Endings & Beginnings: “In Henry’s world, Family is not restricted to the household of his parents, siblings and extended relatives. A graceful writer of tremendous compassion, Henry sees all lives as interconnected and each of his essays breaks the boundaries of its original impulse. The resulting collections often focus on family at the start, but reach well beyond, and have an appealing sweep of understanding of all walks of life.”

The Writer's Workshop Review - An Online Literary Magazine

THE BACK STORY: I began as a novelist who believed that to make your deepest emotions signify, you need to imagine lives different from you own. I worked for 13 years on my novel, The Marriage of Anna Maye Potts (2000), based on characters who were life-time workers in our family’s candy factory. I thought of it as an objective fiction; but after I finished, I realized that the characters and conflicts of my imagined working-class couple actually mythologized my own parents’ conflicts and that my parents’ struggle was the true epic in my emotional life. So I turned, of necessity, to writing memoir, thinking there wasn’t time to speak the truth in lies, as it were.

I would begin, I thought, with “the autobiography of my father,” narrated by him as I imagined him. Then tell my own autobiography as researched and narrated from midlife by me (and in reality from still later, with later understanding). Then would conclude from an imagined future, say 2050, as narrated by my daughter in midlife after my death.

This design soon proved beyond my powers, though I remained intrigued by the relation of individual destinies in families to cultural surrounds over generations. How do our different “times” (and I would add “landscapes”) shape not only us, our particular family, but all families? I love Tolstoy’s theory of history at the end of War and Peace: that each one’s self is an integer in epic events, and a measure of common nature. Hence my family’s story was connected to my nation’s. We were typical and representative in our WASP privileges and pretensions in the 1950s, in the secret of my father’s alcoholism and adultery, in our ambitions to out-achieve and escape our pasts, and in our failures and future shocks.

Yet as I explored our story, I discovered experiences and perspectives I could not imagine, which remained baffling, private, and beyond me. I learned to make speculation part of the form. Increasingly I learned my material by living it. Increasingly, from my second volume to the present one, I used abstract topics as occasions for insights, or like frames through which the personal pressed, as if obsessively and always emphasizing the search: experiences of sports, such as swimming, golf, and marathon running, or of concepts such as gravity, parenthood, mortality or conscience. The more I learned relatedness the more I relied on collage, rearranging experiences in overlays, parallels, and contrasts that registered love, regard, bewilderment and wonder.

Endings & Beginnings consists of meditations, narratives, and journeys. Different essays, some brief and lyrical, some fugue-like and symphonic were written between 1994 and the present, but their design is other than chronological. I am baffled, I confess, by history, personal and public, as were such models as Robert Lowell and Frank Conroy.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Discrete beginnings, middles, and ends don’t feel true to my experience. Instead my chapters spiral, in theme, incident, and character, returning with deeper insights to life facts. The cover image of M.C. Escher’s “Bond of Union,” also suggests both form, where there are no endings or beginnings, and relatedness, where we view individuals through their connections. In families, as in nations, as in cultures, we move forward, backwards, and even sidewise in our stories, choices, values, generations and heritages.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?

1) stylistic grace and range;

2) “reality hunger” in content and form;

3) imaginative generosity;

4) cultural and moral criticism;

5) family themes (deracination, impact of social/cultural/political changes, rebellion and growth);

6) breadth of material in time, characters, setting, and life passages;

7) vulnerability, honesty, and good humor.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“How many people get their big moment on the stage, and if so, for how long? This is the writer’s implied question throughout. Maybe it’s better to resist the usual tendency to extrapolate from accounts of other people’s lives in order to better understand our own, and to simply read them as individual statements that point inward, to the heart of an individual. These would be good essays with which to start.” —Ann Beattie, author of A Wonderful Stroke of Luck

“In these superb essays, DeWitt Henry shows himself to be a master of the form. Whether he is writing about his life-long experience as a golfer or with guns or having grown up in the shadow of privilege and alcoholism, one senses that Henry is stepping nakedly, and with a clear and unsentimental eye, into the abiding mystery of the decades of his life thus far: as a son, a brother, a husband and father, a writer, a teacher, a friend. But he accomplishes all this without trying to solve that mystery but to simply live it. This is not an easy path, but perhaps it is the only path toward wisdom, which is abundant in this moving, deeply compelling, and indispensable collection. Endings & Beginnings: Family Essays is a gem.” —Andre Dubus III, author of Townie.

“Endings & Beginnings is a stirring distillation of what it means to be connected—whether through life-long rituals of golf and swimming, or the more monumental of weddings and family losses. As well as through the things of our lives; Henry recalls the BB pistols of not only his own childhood, but of his son’s, when he sets up a makeshift range in his office to shoot at cartoon targets; then of his dying brother teaching his son how to shoot another gun he remembers. The careful refining of such moments into, as Henry describes, ‘a wholeness to the landscape in which I live,’” is the driving power behind this keenly thoughtful and at turns, humorous and haunting new collection.” —Sandra Tyler, author of Blue Glass

“A writer who depicts with fearless precision his own longings, flaws, and remarkable gifts.” —Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field.

AUTHOR PROFILE: In late career, I am a writer, a husband, a father to a daughter and son, and grandfather to three granddaughters.

I left for college from the Philadelphia suburbs and settled for keeps in the Boston suburbs. I was the founding editor of Ploughshares in my thirties, married an elementary school teacher, and taught writing and literature at Emerson College for four decades.

As well as literature, I love fitness and athletics: running, swimming, and trail hiking.

ENDINGS & BEGINNINGS is my seventh book, not counting four anthologies of fic-tion and nonfiction that I’ve edited. (Details at http://www.dewitthenry.com).

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’ve tried to capture time in its flight, measured by lives I know, imagine, and don’t or can’t know. Challenges wanted, wonted, sought and unforeseen. The personal never is, really. We’re all clues to each other: such wonders and becomings. “Memoir” is about the reader, finally, not about the writer. That is the adventure.

SAMPLE:

On Swimming (2003)

I was a good swimmer as a teenager, in a swimming family. My mother had been good and loved swimming still, even after operations in her shoulders and elbows for bursitis. She told stories about diving off cliffs at Cornell. My older brother Chuck was on the team at Martin’s Dam, our swim club, and also at Haverford School. He swam a hard crawl and also butterfly and I don’t remember if he ever won.

My sister Judy, however, was better than good. She was a star on the Martin’s Dam team, doing crawl, butterfly and backstroke, and practicing for hours in the lanes set up for fifty yards between the diving float and racing dock. At Baldwin School she swam races but also water ballet. She and her best friends, Kathleen and Cathy, practiced manically, and I went to their meets. I remember the smell of chlorine and slick seal-like clinging of wet suits, as well as the inane music of Blue Tango they used for ballet. For racing she specialized in rac-ing dives and for backstroke in flip turns. I tried to imitate all this on my own, as a junior at Martin’s Dam.

I don’t remember if I ever placed. but I must have at some meet, second or third. We were given ribbons and badges. I remember the practices, grueling, under the aegis of the Martin’s coach, who was also my science teacher at public school. I imitated Judy’s smoothness in my crawl stroke, turning my wrist to slide into the water, and cupping my hand for thrust, rather than slapping the water. When she swam, she seemed streamlined and effortless, gliding. She would pull ahead of her rivals so smoothly. Just the steady, powerful glide and pull, and she would surge ahead. I tried my best. But my wind, even after hours of practice, laps and laps, was never good for swimming. I could push myself to the brink of nausea, but that was never the equal of the gifted.

I remember varsity meets at Martin’s. The shivery dawn. The butterflies in the stomach, which Judy had too and tried to calm with jelly beans. The pretense and pomp of a real race, team to team. Standing on the block, arms back, ready for a racing dive. The tense expectation of the starter’s gun, then crack! And spring forward for a shallow splash and already churn-ing kick, and stroke, pulling deep. Trying to keep in my lane. Barely aware of anyone ahead or behind. Plunging, digging each stroke, pull, kicking hard. Heart wild. Gasping every third stroke for breath. Harder. Hitting the slimy edge of the diving dock and duck-ing under for a tuck and turn, then push, glide, and back, pulling, digging, as my strength failed, arms ached, gasping, keeping in the lane, between the floats, kicking my best, can I make it, harder, one hundred yards, gasping, failing, and dimly aware of splashing in the adjacent lanes ahead of me, all body, all effort, finishing fourth, fifth, sixth, my hand hitting the dock. Heaving breath at the finish, hardly able to lift myself out.

Our meets were tense with other clubs, sometimes away. I remember Colonial Village, just down the street from Martin’s. The different format, different pool. And shivering, having to show up early, Saturday at 8 a.m. When I got to college, swimming was too difficult a sport. Not only in muscle and stamina, but in time. At Amherst freshman year there seemed barely time to breathe and think, let alone go out for demanding sports, and swimming was one of the most demanding. I watched a couple of meets. I remember a star, Jack Quigley, now a doctor. The conditioning, the regimen, the dedication, and the performance were utterly beyond me. As for Chuck, I think he tried swimming at Franklin and Marshall, after he had flunked out of Cornell, but then he quit. Judy, I think, tried too at Swarthmore freshman year, but then she quit when she got pregnant and married an upperclassman. We never amounted to much, as swimmers.

My mother, after our father died, lived alone in their suburban Philadelphia ranch house, and had the notion to install a swimming pool for health. In her late seventies, said she was too fragile to travel anymore, so she wanted to make her house a spa, where we all would visit. The pool, in a sheltered Plexiglas enclosure, became our baptismal pleasure, and we all clamored in, splashing, playing, with our wives and children. Alone, she swam laps for as long as she could.

I don’t swim much anymore, I confess. In my pre- retirement sixties, I am dedicated ath-letically to workouts in a gym. Neither my wife, my daughter, or my son are serious swimmers. Our New England waters are mainly Walden Pond (inland) or various beaches south of Boston and on the Cape, or the local MDC pool, less than a mile from our house.

Walden for our family has spiritual connotations. From the time our children were young, we and friends would go there, stunned by the privacy no matter how crowded the park. Our family’s best friends also swam there and had appropriated a beach near the original Thoreau cabin, on the far shore of the pond. Sometimes we joined them for picnics. Sometimes they went with our children and without us.

My daughter, always precocious, sneaked into Walden as a teenager for illegal skinny dips. Years after these family friends had suffered untimely losses to cancer, first of their eight-year-old son (best friend to our son), and then of the father, Pat (a second father to our son), we rarely swam at all, and rarely took the trip together to a beach or to Walden.

Now summers, in the heat, I may run ten or twelve miles around the Charles River, then dip in the MDC pool alone on the way back home. It is a shallow pool, crowded with frolicking teens and sub-teens, but exhausted and hot, it is a blessing on a long run. I try a few laps in the old free-style crawl of my sister, but my stamina is only good for twenty yards, if that. Sometimes, special times, my wife Connie joins me, and we swim together in these shallow, neighborhood waters. One of the lifeguards is Caitlin, sister and daughter of the family friends with losses to cancer. We are middle-aged. Two teachers. My wife at an elementary through sixth-grade school, to which she has given her life and now is assistant director, and me to Emerson College, where I have given my professional life.

Two summers ago we are alone at Walden. We both feel the losses and the toll of time. But there is a lovely buoyancy. We wend our way through the paths around the rim and discover that our favorite spit has been reclaimed for conservation. We slip into the wa-ters from a nearby beach. And the waters are warm. We swim together. The bottom falls away to the deep of the pond. I love my wife. I cannot speak to her or to others in words how much. She is a pure, constant and affirming soul against all the doubts and contra-dictions of living. My loving is not worthy of her. But in this twilight we swim as newly-weds.

LOCAL OUTLETS: On special order: Harvard Bookstore, Newtonville Books, Porter Square Books, Brookline Booksmith.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online sellers, as well as the publisher’s website: http://www.mad-hatpress.com

PRICE: $21.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Email: dewittphenry@gmail.com

Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/dewitt.henry1/

Twitter handle: @dewitthenry

Web: DeWitt Henry – Welcome

The Anatomist’s Tale

THE BOOK: The Anatomist’s Tale; Being the confessions of an unwilling pirate, marooned for a time upon the shores of New Madagascar.

PUBLISHED IN: 2020

THE AUTHOR: Tauno Biltsted.

THE EDITOR: Christine Neulieb.

THE PUBLISHER: Lanternfish Press. Founded in Philadelphia in 2013, Lanternfish Press publishes literature of the rare and strange, fiction that crosses the boundary between literary and speculative, and tales of characters at the margins of history.

Tauno Biltsted - Allegra

SUMMARY: Drawn from contemporary first-hand accounts of pirate raids, slave narratives, and travel stories, “The Anatomist’s Tale” is a literary adventure story and a meditation on uncertainty. Set in the early 18th Century the book explores the origins of wage work, slavery, solidarity, resistance, gender, maps, the human tendency to classify the natural world, and many other things.

Born to a peasant family broken apart by poverty and enclosure, our narrator aspires to a better life as a ship’s surgeon, until a tyrannical captain provokes a mutiny, forcing him into a life of piracy and eventually to a tropical commune of maroons called New Madagascar.

THE BACK STORY: Did you know some people have suggested that Benjamin Franklin took some of his models for American democracy from the egalitarian way that pirates made decisions, as well as the democratic practices of the Iroquois confederacy? I’ve always been fascinated by pirates, less for the way that they were depicted in Disney movies and Hollywood, more for ways that pirate ships represent an egalitarian and multi-racial form of outlaw democracy, and by the dream of freedom on the high seas.

The early 18th C was a time when many of the dynamics of our modern world were being established, and I was curious about exploring a space and time that actively questioned some of the more troubling aspects of our world, including social hierarchies, racism and inequality. In exploring a story of pirates and maroons set in the waning years of the Golden Age of piracy, I think I found a fun way to explore some important questions within a great story with compelling and interesting characters.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The narrator of the story is the titular Anatomist – a little outside of the action and with a sometimes morbid curiosity, he is really busy trying to understand the characters and the situations they find themselves in. The long, narrative subtitle reflects the way a lot of books were titled at the time. I did a lot of research along with writing the book, and spent some time with books and accounts written in the early 18th C. I hope the title and the style of the book reflect the work that went into writing it in a way that makes “The Anatomist’s Tale” feel engaging and fun for readers.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Beyond the compelling subject matter and themes the book is very readable, it has action and movement and explores big ideas, intimate relationships, and unique characters in ways that are fun and engaging. Some of the best feedback I’ve gotten is from people who said they wouldn’t normally read a book about pirates but they found the writing to be compelling and the story to have such a unique voice.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “The Anatomist’s Tale” was chosen as a finalist for Foreword Magazines best independent press historical fiction 2020 – final result announced June 17!

Wisconsin Book Watch said: “An inherently riveting read from cover to cover, “The Anatomist’s Tale” showcases author Tauno Biltsted’s exceptional talents and originality as a narrative driven storyteller. This is a unique and gripping novel that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists…”

Paul Lafarge, author of the Night Ocean called the book: “a marvel of knowingness and concision ..:”

And Peter Linebaugh, author of “The Many Headed Hydra” wrote: “With all the authenticity of the social historian, Biltsted writes in a swift, beautiful style. These ‘confessions’ lead to an inevitable destination, leaving the reader pensive, satisfied, and ever willing to lend a hand, hoist a sail, and set out anew.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: I come to writing with a real sense of curiosity, and the themes, topics and characters I write about refract my own life experiences in sometimes obvious and other times obscure ways. Although I’ve been reading and aspiring to be a writer since I was a kid I don’t have a lot of formal training as a writer. I have a degree in political science, although I’ve worked as a social worker, and also do construction work. I’ve been involved in grassroots community projects my whole adult life, and I bring a real curiosity about people and the ways that we work things out in our lives, from personal relationships to community projects and connections, and I hope that curiosity is reflected in my writing.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: My main goal in writing “The Anatomist’s Tale” was to write an exciting and well-told story that holds space for readers to relax and enjoy the story, as well as connect with themes, sensations, and ideas in the story that feel resonant in their own lives. I really believe that writing and reading are deeply intertwined, and that writing is ideally an act of co-creation, a spark that travels between the reader and the writer.

SAMPLE: I don’t really have any links to excerpts from the book, but here’s a link to a podcast where I read an excerpt and have a great conversation with Pearson Bolt from Coffee with Comrades:

https://coffeewithcomrades.com/episode-87-of-shipworms-surgeons.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Well, as you can imagine, 2020 was quite an unpredictable year for independent bookstores and small presses! The disruption of the past year and the tentative re-openings of your favorite independent bookstore means that a lot of bookstores are still trying to sort out what to put on their shelves – so honestly I’m not sure who’s carrying “The Anatomist’s Tale” at the moment. But most bookstores would be glad to order if you request, and if you buy online through bookshop.org you can also support your favorite local independent bookstore.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: If you order “The Anatomist’s Tale” through your favorite independent bookstore your purchase will help support them, also available on Bookshop.org, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and directly from Lanternfish Press. Thank you for your support!

PRICE: $16.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: If you’re curious about the book, want to invite me to your town to do a reading, have any questions, or just want to be in touch, feel free to email me at: builtsteady@gmail.com. You can also find me on Facebook where I generally announce any online or other events. I should do Instagram and Twitter and whatnot but I just can’t wrap my head around it!

Weather Report, June 14

Pirate skull — Stock Photo, Image

Our currently featured books, “The Man Who Loved His Wife,” by Jennifer Ann Moses, “Francesca,” by Don Tassone and “Orion,” by L.K. Hingey, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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You’re invited to check out the latest version of We Who Create (www.wewhocreate.com).

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JUNE 15-21.

THE ANATOMIST’S TALE,” BY TAUNO BILTSTED.

Drawn from contemporary first-hand accounts of pirate raids, slave narratives, and travel stories, “The Anatomist’s Tale” is a literary adventure story and a meditation on uncertainty. Set in the early 18th Century the book explores the origins of wage work, slavery, solidarity, resistance, gender, maps, the human tendency to classify the natural world, and many other things.

Born to a peasant family broken apart by poverty and enclosure, our narrator aspires to a better life as a ship’s surgeon, until a tyrannical captain provokes a mutiny, forcing him into a life of piracy and eventually to a tropical commune of maroons called New Madagascar.

“ENDINGS & BEGINNINGS,” BY DeWITT HENRY.

Endings and Beginnings: Family Essays marks the third and concluding volume of my trilogy-in-memoir, a work that began with Sweet Dreams, A Family History and extended to Safe Suicide: Narratives, Essays, and Meditations. In the first, I described coming of age in the 1950s: Philadelphia’s Main Line; dysfunctional, candy-manufacturing family; an alcoholic father, artistic mother, and two older brothers and a sister.

In time, I follow my siblings in debating and defying our WASP heritage, its dreams of dynasty, and its prejudices about class, race, place, morality, and material success. Each of us marry, settle, and raise families elsewhere. And each negotiates decades of cultural revolutions, future shock, and personal mid-life crises, which became my impetus for the second volume. Now with this last collection, I measure my own searches and becoming by the outcomes for my parents and older siblings, and by the adult struggles and crises of my daughter and son, along with hopes for their futures.

As John Skoyles writes in the introduction to Endings & Beginnings: “In Henry’s world, Family is not restricted to the household of his parents, siblings and extended relatives. A graceful writer of tremendous compassion, Henry sees all lives as interconnected and each of his essays breaks the boundaries of its original impulse. The resulting collections often focus on family at the start, but reach well beyond, and have an appealing sweep of understanding of all walks of life.”

“SHE-OAK,” BY LINDA GOIN.

This first chapbook, she-oak, is a statement of sorts about the ambiguity assigned to women and that women assign to themselves. “She” in the third person, “she” as the other, “she” who remains nameless, yet who experiences so many feelings through loss and success. I hope readers can put a name to “she” in the process of reading these poems. If not, that’s fine…if an impression is made. That’s all any one of us really want, isn’t it? To leave an impression.

The Man Who Loved His Wife

Jennifer Anne Moses

This week’s other featured books, “Francesca,” by Don Tassone and “Orion,” by L.K. Hingey, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK:  The Man Who Loved His Wife

PUBLISHED IN
: 2021

THE AUTHOR:  Jennifer Anne Moses

THE PUBLISHER
: Mayapple Press, an Indie located in Woodstock NY, run on sweat and devotion.

SUMMARYThe Man Who Loved His Wife is a collection of 13 Yiddish-accented short stories about Jews being Jewish, meaning that the book is informed, soaked in, and shot through with Yiddish and Yiddishkeit. A mashup of Hebrew and German, with trace elements of French and the Slavic languages, Yiddish became the everyday vernacular of European Jews living across both linguistic and political borders. Yiddishkeit–or “Yiddish culture”—is the wonderful messy and eclectic culture that the Yiddish language expressed. My stories–about an elderly European refugee living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who comes to believe that his dog is the reincarnation of the sister who died in the death camps, another about a group of middle-aged children mourning the death of their beloved mother among non-Jews—are all, primarily (and of necessity) about the human heart.

The settings of the stories vary– Tel Aviv, suburban New Jersey, the Deep South, London—but characters’ challenges– with God, their loved ones, fate, death, hope, Hitler, transcendence, and the 4000 year old history of Judaism—transcend borders.

THE BACK STORY
:  I wrote the stories over many years, and as they were published in literary and small magazines, it occurred to me that I had a collection. That said, the real back story is my childhood: I was raised in Virginia among ur-wasps who rode horses and had summer cottages in Maine. Then I went to college, where not only were there other Jews, but where I stumbled on a class called “Yid Lit.” From there I was off to the races, reading all the works of Yiddish and modern Hebrew literature I could get my hands on, from Sholom Aleichem all the way up through I.B. and I.J. Singer and eventually to the Dir Nister and Babel.

I think at a certain point most writers of fiction would agree that you write what you have to write, because why bother doing it if it isn’t pressing so persistently against your soul that you have to give voice to it? My own soul, it appears, is indeed Jewish, which is perhaps why I love Yiddish literature more than any other world literature: because it speaks to me, way down in my kishkes.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I originally titled the collection “The Uncircumcised,” which is the title of the first story. But my publisher pointed out that such a title would invite pornographic mis-readings and perhaps worse. Then I thought “The Holy Messiah”—the title of another story in the collection—would be dandy, but again my publisher had reservations, this time because she thought that such a title would be understood as distinctly Christian (and Jesus-centered) literature. Finally I chose “The Man Who Loved His Wife” (the title of the seventh story in the collection) because I liked it.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Anyone who has a drop of Jewish in their soul would find the collection an immense pleasure to read. I’ve gotten comments from readers across the spectrum—from religious Jews to atheists to Episcopalians to Southern Baptists—who get it, who feel the human plight of the mainly Jewish characters who populate the stories. That said, readers whose hearts and souls—and histories—sing to distinctly Jewish melodies will recognize themselves, their families, their anxieties, their histories, and their fellow Jews in the stories. Plus many of the stories are funny.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Jennifer Anne Moses has mastered the art of character voice. Everyone in her anthology The Man Who Loved His Wife is distinctly his or her own person. And the characters speak to you as you read, as if you’re in the middle of this interesting conversation about careers or food or relationships, and you can hear them. You can hear their nasally voices, their hiccuping cries, their disdainful mutters.

“Trust me when I say you’ll love Esther. You will.

“As I read this collection, I looked for the themes and the golden thread throughout. There is a strong sense of Jewish family culture and forgiveness. Some of the families have secrets and the author immerses readers in them until you feel like you’re on stage with them. You’re there in the building in the city wondering who else knows your business. You’re one of the students hearing rumors about the teacher. You’re consoling your mother who just wants you to be happy and find love.

“Moses is a storyteller and conversationalist combined. Her collection is theatrical and bold. She has a way of taking ordinary life events and transforming them into these peculiar moments that readers will remember long after they’ve closed the book.— Shelf Media Indie Review

“Jennifer Anne Moses has the Malamudian touch, and an uncanny gift for transposing the Yiddish mixture of mordancy and compassion into lively English stories” – Leon Weiseltier – Editor, Liberties

“In The Man Who Loved His Wife (Mayapple Press, 2021), Jennifer Anne Moses creates characters who grapple with the minutiae of their lives while considering family, fate, love, death, the afterlife, the divine presence, and spirituality. Peppered with Yiddishisms and salted with sisters, brothers, parents, children, grandparents, neighbors, and friends, Moses tells the stories of regular people faced with the problems of daily life but weighted with the 4000-year-old history of Judaism. She is reminiscent of writers like Isaac Bashevis Singer, Cynthia Ozick, Chaim Grade, and Philip Roth (to name a few) who captured the spirit of humanity in a specific time and place.” — JP Gottlieb, New Books Network

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m the author of seven books of fiction and non-fiction: The Man Who Loved His Wife is number seven. My journalistic and opinion pieces have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Newark Star Ledger, USA Today, Salon, The Jerusalem Report, Commentary, Moment, and many other publications. I’m also a painter in the Outsider tradition, where I fuse Hebrew prayer with a distinctly Southern sensibility, born from the many years I lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with my husband and three children.

According to Google I am a “multi genre” writer–but it’s more than a matter of genre. I’ve internalized different worlds and voices, and eventually it all bubbles up into my work.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Before the Holocaust, Europe was some to 11-to-13 million Yiddish speakers. Hitler murdered most of them, and assimilation, both in Israel and North America, all but wiped out what was left of Yiddish itself. I myself knew Jews of my parents’ generation who, ashamed of the old language and its associations of being “jargon,” and uncouth, forbade the use of Yiddish expressions in their homes. Meantime, in Israel, Hebrew waging an all-out battle with Yiddish, not just as a matter of linguistics, but as a matter of identity, Zionism, philosophy, religion, and literature. Thus the loss of one of the world’s most vibrant, poetic, pugnacious, and soulful languages.

These days, somewhere in the neighborhood of between half a million and one million people speak and use Yiddish as their everyday language. Of these, most are Haredim—extremely religious Jews of various sects, easily identified by their old-timey garb—men are bearded, women cover their hair. (Versus nine million Hebrew speakers. And 360 million English speakers, one reason why for most of my life I was strictly monolingual.)

How do Jews express their Judaism? Why do we bother? What is our heritage? What is our connection to the divine? These questions permeate my work and dwell inside me.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, NJ

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IThttp://mayapplepress.com/the-man-who-loved-his-wife-jennifer-anne-moses/

https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9781936419968/the-man-who-loved-his-wife.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-man-who-loved-his-wife-jennifer-anne-moses/1138623896

PRICE: $20.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

www.JenniferAnneMosesArts.com

Francesca

THE BOOK: Francesca.

PUBLISHED IN: May 2021

THE AUTHOR: Don Tassone

THE PUBLISHER: Adelaide Books

SUMMARY: It is 2055, and there’s a new pope. It’s Jessica Simon, an American, a wife and a mother. She’s taken the name Francesca. A lifelong advocate for the poor, she be-lieves the Catholic Church must return to Jesus’ teachings and bring God to life in the world.

But powerful forces are aligned against her. They see Francesca as a threat.

Will Pope Francesca succeed in renewing the Church? In an hour of darkness, can she rekindle the light?

Don Tassone

THE BACK STORY: This novel is not only about religion. It’s a reminder that we need to periodically re-examine and renew our purpose and make sure what we’re doing lines up with that purpose. It’s also a reflection of my belief in women as leaders in every realm of life.

WHY THIS TITLE: Francesca is the papal name Jessica Simon chooses. It’s a tribute to two of her progressive predecessors, Pope Francis and Pope Francis II, and her spiritual hero, St. Francis of Assisi.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: To imagine what’s possible.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

A woman from Missouri ends up on the balcony of St. Peter’s in Rome in 2055, having just taken the name Pope Francesca. Like “the visitable past” Henry James speaks of, Tassone’s future is visitable. The reader can go there, to that balcony, that life; and though impossible now, it seems a possible future when imagination and reason to-gether see what the mind alone cannot see now. I enjoyed suspending disbelief and getting to know Pope Francesca. She has a lot to offer that speaks to the needs of our world today, a lot that makes a woman Pope not so far-fetched as it may seem now. What can be imagined is often not far from what can happen. — Murray Bodo OFM, author of Francis: The Journey and the Dream.

Francesca reminds the reader of an untapped potential of emerging faith and growth within the Roman Catholic Church. Women! To some readers that may be alarming. To them Francesca invites the question, “What is there to fear?” To others who believe Jesus still speaks to his followers today to come follow him, perhaps in renewed and vigorous ways, Francesca challenges, “How will you believe? How will you share the Good News in the 21st century?” To both groups of the faithful Francesca reminds, “Nothing is impossible with God.” — Patti Normile, author of Following Francis of Assisi

AUTHOR PROFILE: After a long career in the corporate world, Don Tassone has returned to his creative writing roots. Francesca is his sixth book. The others are the novel Drive and four short story collections: New Twists, Sampler, Small Bites and Get Back. His fifth story col-lection, Snapshots, will be published in August 2021. Don and his wife Liz live in Love-land, Ohio. They have four children and five grandchildren.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Once in a while, someone comes along who reminds us of what’s most important. The main character in this story is such a person. In times of great change, these people in-spire us to think deeply about the new normal we want to create. I hope this novel will open hearts and minds.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

Here’s the very short first chapter.

Chapter 1

May 2055

Rays of the rising sun hit the Egyptian obelisk in the center of St. Peter’s Square, casting a long, thin shadow, pointing like a finger toward the Basilica.

Twelve hours earlier, a newly elected pope had appeared briefly on the balcony. Now the new pontiff was about to hold a news conference, the first ever at the Vatican. Everyone was eager to learn more about this improbable new leader of the world’s two billion Catholics.

Reporters jockeyed for seats or spots to stand. Their cameras, microphones and lights stood in stark contrast with the fourteenth-century, frescoed room.

At 8:00 sharp, with no introduction, the pope entered the room and stepped up to the podium, scanning the curious faces of those gathered and smiling.

“Good morning, everyone,” she said with a slight Missouri drawl.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Joseph-Beth Booksellers

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1955196443/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i5

PRICE: Kindle $7.99, Paperback $19.60

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: dptassone@gmail.com, https://www.dontassone.com