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Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control
9781783784912, A$29.99, paperback, 256 pages
Dr Ann Skea, Reviewer
Barbara Ehrenreich has a reached the grand old age of seventy-six and is quite prepared to die. She is damned if she's going to let the medical profession subject her to any more demeaning tests and procedures. And she is scornful of all the industries which promise renewed youth, health and "wellbeing".
Her research and her arguments are extensive and as a scientist she knows a great deal and shares (perhaps too much for comfort) her inside knowledge of the treacheries of our bodies and their cellular mechanisms.
Forget the ardours of "working out" unless you enjoy them, as she does. Forget the restrictive diets which deny you such pleasures as butter on your bread or the relaxing glass of wine with your dinner. The grim reaper will get you anyway, as even some of the most ardent fitness gurus have discovered. Rockefeller Foundation director, John H. Knowles, for example, who argued that most illnesses are self-inflicted and due excesses of eating, drinking and sex, died at the age of fifty-two.
Forget the idea that you are responsible for your own life, says Ehrenreich, your body is actually a site of perpetual warfare, and harmony and wholeness within the body is a myth. Cells like macrophages (about which she is a scientific expert) whilst posing as "the good guys" - the "garbage collectors" of the body - can turn traitorous and aid and abet cancer cells in their invasion of the body. "Their M.O. as a killer", she writes, is "brutal and thug like".
Even such seemingly normal things as pregnancy and menstruation are actually the result of chemical warfare within the body. Pregnancy, says Ehrenreich, is the result of a maternal/fetal "arms race". And she quotes evolutionary biologist Suzanne Sadedin, who writes that "Far from offering a nurturing embrace, the endometrium is a lethal testing-ground which only the toughest embryos survive". Menstruation, too, is far from "the gentle autumnal-sounding process of shedding an endometrial lining". It is actually "a killing field" resulting from chemical release of immune cells which "devour" the endometrial lining of the womb.
Ehrenreich loves to give cells and bodily processes human characteristics for dramatic effect. It is a habit of anthropomorphising which she acknowledges but which is usually taboo for a scientist.
She is quick, too, to dismiss theories with which she disagrees but which, if one researches further, are still being usefully adapted and debated. James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, for example, which posits Earth as a self-regulating system in a long geological time-frame and a version of which still drives ecological research, is dismissed by Ehrenreich because it has not immediately "corrected" the results of our "profligate consumption of fossil fuels".
Ehrenreich provides copious footnotes to support her arguments. Unfortunately, the one which I followed up out of interest in the topic refers to a 'Mrs Mindfulness' blog about Microsoft research which suggests that the attention span in humans is now shorter than the attention span of a goldfish". This led me to search further for the original research report, which was not scientifically valid. I also discovered that goldfish are now used in memory research because of their remarkably good memory skills.
Ehrenreich's book is a very readable, often funny, acutely perceptive polemic by a woman who has completed a doctoral degree in cellular immunology. Ehrenreich, however, strays far beyond her professional expertise when she ventures into the ancient and complex philosophical debates on mind, body and consciousness. She claims, for example, that the concept of self - "the capacity for introspection and internal questioning" - originated in the late 16th, early 17th centuries. Aristotle's teachings and the philosophical writings of Early Greek philosophers seem to have passed her by.
This book, however, proves a valuable counterbalance for the many commercial and medical pressures which assure us that we can live longer, look younger, and stay "strong, fit and healthy" well into our dotage if only we exercise, meditate, eat special diets and allow our medical specialists to persuade us that they are miracle workers.
Her suggestion that with the help of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin (magic mushrooms) we can abolish our present-day obsession with self (that "monstrous self that occludes our vision"), find "some unity with the universe", and accept death with equanimity, is surely going a step too far.
Vietnam: A History
c/o Penguin Books
Paul Binford, Reviewer
Having grown up during the Vietnam era, I thought I was well informed on the background of the war that took so many of my generation to a place that most people had never heard of. From the first page of "Vietnam; A History", I realized that I knew very little. It had seemed at the time that it was a simple black and white matter between communist and "free world" adversaries, but as a short summary by Publishers Weekly explains, the book is "a saga with plots and counterplots and political and religious intrigues - all set on a global stage and played by an amazing cast of characters...".
Stanley Karnow, a journalist who began his career in the early 1950's in Paris, makes the effort of digging back into the early centuries of Vietnam, all the way to 208 B.C., when a Chinese general carved out a kingdom he called Nam Viet, which was later annexed as a province by China and renamed Giao Chi. So began the off and on tug of war between China and Vietnam. That struggle continued, with a few brief intervals of peace, until the French became the overlords in the mid-1800's. Their colonialism got a foothold in 1862 when an emperor, Tu Duc, agreed to hand over three provinces near Saigon, which was called Cochinchina. By and by, with plenty of fighting between the French and Vietnamese, what we know today as Vietnam was completely under France's colonial system.
As a good journalist is likely to do, Karnow sectioned off the story into a chronological timeline, with the French colonial times interrupted by the Japanese occupation in World War II. Not much is written about that episode, except that is when Ho Chi Minh entered the stage.
Ho had left Vietnam in 1911, traveling around the world on freight ships and working at odd jobs. He made an appearance at the Versailles conference at the end of WWI to beg for Vietnamese independence. He was disregarded by all, but his efforts attracted the attention of French socialists, who led him into the Communist party. He continued his sojourn, even living in New York for a while, and finally returned to Vietnam at the beginning of WWII. His arrival was a perfect recreation of the Plato's cave allegory: from China, he "slipped across the border back into Vietnam, his first return in thirty years. A comrade had found a cave near Pac Bo... There Ho met confederates like Pham Van Dong and Vo Nguyen Giap. They called him Uncle..."
Lost opportunities to avoid the fiasco that became the American war proliferated, beginning with Ho's appearance at the Versaille conference. The Vietminh, an early version of the Vietcong, tried again after WWII to assert independence. In spite of American anti-colonialism, the U.S. could not afford to alienate the French. One idea that floated around was to treat Vietnam in the same light as the western countries viewed Yugoslavia, a communist country that did not align with the Soviet Union. This concept was nixed in the early fifties by then Secretary of State Dean Acheson, in the context of having just "lost" China to the communists. What the United States did not seem to realize was that Vietnam and China were ancient enemies, and Ho Chi Minh had no intention of aligning with China. As Karnow puts it: "Thus it was that two decades before its commitments of combat troops there, the United States began to sink in the Vietnam quagmire."
Still more missteps occurred in the years following the defeat of the French at Dienbienphu. The Geneva accords allowed for the separation of Vietnam (implausibly orchestrated by the French and the Chinese at the convention) and an election that would determine the future of Indochina. The election never took place, as the U.S. stepped into the void and installed a puppet leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, to lead the south. His administration lasted until his assassination in 1963.
The "plots and counterplots and political and religious intrigues" mentioned earlier in this review were too numerous during the years of Diem's rule to list them all. There were Buddhist, Catholic and various other military organizations, such as the Hoa Hao, a religious militia made up entirely of armed women. The Cao Dai religious sect had armed troops, as well as a criminal gang of thugs, the Binh Xuyen, who controlled a large part of Saigon. Then there was Bao Dai, the former emperor who had his own intrigues at play. Diem used American resources to put down these groups, annoying the policy makers who had installed him to fight the communists. It was this failing on Diem's part that led to his overthrow, which was backed by President Kennedy.
There is no need to go over the details of the American war in this review. Most people are somewhat familiar with images of young soldiers marching through jungles and rice paddies, on the alert for booby traps and ambushes, ferried about from barracks to battlefields aboard helicopters, large scale battles with thousands of casualties on both sides, the unrelenting bombing campaign. It is worthwhile to mention the massive anti-war protests that erupted in the United States and other countries. It is also worthwhile to note the anguish and frustration that American policy makers felt at every step into the quagmire.
Beginning with Truman, the presidents and their advisors were aware of the complexities of the dilemma. Early on, American military advisors warned their civilian leaders that the war was unwinnable. A brief history lesson showed only too clearly that the Vietnamese would continue fighting no matter what sort of firepower was thrown at them. Kennedy knew this, but he had also promised to give the American people "a powerhouse of the ideals of Freedom and Justice", meaning that communism would not prevail. Johnson, who bore the brunt of the worst years of the war, moaned that "I feel like a hitchhiker caught in a hailstorm on a Texas highway. I can't run. I can't hide. And I can't make it stop." Nixon, to his credit, began a withdrawal of troops, to the effect that in 1972 there were only 70,000 military personnel, down from half a million during the Johnson years. However, he also continued the B52 bombing campaign, allowing for the bombardment of civilian centers like Hanoi and Haiphong.
An excellent appendix including a chronology of events, beginning with the earliest incursions by China, accompanies the book. There is a cast of characters including the Vietnamese side, the French, the Americans and others. Karnow provides an excellent index, to allow for cross-referencing in what could be considered an encyclopedia of Indochina. Then there are the photo credits. These photos, taken from various archives, are sandwiched between the chapters and are by themselves a remarkable journey. There are even photos of the French colonials from the nineteenth century. One example that sticks out is the picture of the "Armed women warriors of the Hoa Hao...", the private army that vexed Diem. A commander of the elusive Vietcong, General Tran Do, is shown in the forest near the Cambodian border. Perhaps the most heart-wrenching photo, for an American, is of a young soldier, cradling his gear topsy-turvy, leading a patrol in the jungle with an absolutely dazed and bewildered expression on his face.
Stanley Karnow, (1925 - 2013), was a correspondent for "Time" magazine when he started his career in 1950. He was assigned to Southeast Asia for "Time" and "Life" in 1959, also reported for "The Observer" (London), and was the editor of "The New Republic." He is the author of seven books, most notably "Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution." He also served as the advisor for the PBS television series "Vietnam: A Television History." He graduated from Harvard University and the Ecole des Sciences Politiques in Paris. He died in 2013 of heart failure.
The 12 Days of Christmas Geek Edition
9781370638499, $3.99, eBook, Words: 730
"Christmas isn't a season it's a feeling".
Christmas is a time for family, it's filled with great joy and love. Step inside the household of one loving couple. Each day for twelve days a gift revolves around the latest technology and is presented to show gratitude and to let the other know how much they mean to one another.
THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GEEK EDITION has a festive and merry mood as you find yourself humming along to the familiar tune. As you turn the page to discover what the next gift will be you can't help but find yourself smiling as the book unfolds.
Chris Mason has written a wonderful holiday edition. Christmas is a time where peace, acceptance, and family all blend together. This book provides a unique look at how one family celebrates this festive holiday!
Fools and Mortals
Harper Collins Publishers
9780062250872, $27.99, 370 pages
Are all mortals foolish? In Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, the character Puck is quoted as saying, "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"
Yes, we have all done innumerable foolish things in our past. William Shakespeare revealed the true nature and foolishness of people of his time period through his keen eyes of observation. Whether death, romance, love, stupidity somehow he was able to develop his characters into real people in his comedies or tragedies. Even though Shakespeare wrote years ago, the time and place is different, but people are still the same. Surprisingly, even though the setting is different from four-hundred years ago.
Bernard Cornwell also wondered about the brilliant author, William Shakespeare. In Fools and Mortals, Cornwell explores the world of theater in London with Shakespeare during the late 1500s. The story is told through the perspective of William's younger brother, Richard, who is an actor in his brother's company.
Unlike Cornwell's other books, Fools and Mortals reveals the backstage theatrical world of William Shakespeare. He is the writer and partial owner of his numerous, well-respected plays favored by Queen Elizabeth.
Since Richard was ten-years younger than his brother William, the brothers were not close. Richard ran away from him due to his father's brutality and arriving in London required additional financial obligations for the writer.
Fools and Mortals excels in allowing the reader a sense of time and place. In Shakespeare's time, the printing press was not available to him. The scripts were copied by hand. The complete script was prized with often only one complete copy. The actor's script consisted only of their own lines. These scripts were hidden from rival theatrical companies in the hopes that they would not be stolen.
Fools and Mortals are very different from Cornwell's other books which consist of historical battles and struggles for power. This particular book does have some battles, but most of them are on stage or in small fighting situations.
Bernard Cornwell is a masterful storyteller. He specializes in historical fiction utilizing the well-known and little-known facts about the people, time, place as well as the accepted results and actions weaving into a memorable, logical and readable and thrilling stories based on facts. He has numerous stand alone and series of historical tales, including his The Saxon Tales with ten novels, The Sharpe Novels with twenty-one novels, The Grail Quest Series with three, The Nathaniel Starbucks Chronicles with four, The Warlord Chronicles with three, The Sailing Thrillers with four and one non-fiction book, Waterloo. I highly recommend to read the series books in order.
Fools and Mortals is exceptional reading. The little known life of the theater at the time made me feel that I was actually witnessing the stress of being part of the theatrical world.
To all readers, I found myself wanting to watch a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" again. After Fools and Mortals, I feel that now I understand Shakespeare's writing and enjoy it much more for the humor and the capture of real personalities.
Maybe you are not a Shakespeare fan, after reading Fools and Mortals, you will feel as if you want to embrace every play and poem written by the master and described by the masterful story teller, Bernard Cornwell.
In the Blood
David Hoing and Roger Hileman
Beacon Publishing Group
9780998593258, $19.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle
Donald Schneider, Reviewer
Kasey (or "K.C." as she prefers to style her first name in accordance with her musical aspirations) Brown hails from a staid and conventional family of the staid and conventional city of Waterton, Iowa, a thinly veiled representation of Waterloo, Iowa, the hometown of the authors. Waterton is the main venue of Hammon Falls, a previously published novel of the writing team of Dave Hoing and Roger Hileman and there is a minor tie-in to the former work via a character's now deceased father. Nineteen-year-old Kasey is, however, far from conventional in a place and era where and when traditional Christian morality and mores have a stranglehold over "decent society." Kasey is rather a renegade, at odds with her parents over her passion and goal in life to become a professional musician as well as her "loose" sexual habits, at least as defined by her times. Although she doesn't cohabitate, forbidden in her apartment building - and probably by law then - her boyfriend Jack occasionally spends nights with her as the building's manager turns a blind eye, less out of sympathy, as one gets the impression, than a reluctance to make waves and jeopardize the loss of a paying tenant. Complicating Kasey's seemingly serious relationship with Jack is her parents' antipathy towards him bred from a long ago high school feud between the young lovers' mothers, not to mention rumors of the young man having taken liberties with their daughter's honor, presumably having led her into a course of ill repute.
The year is 1948. Kasey and Jack work in a local grocery store as Jack, having narrowly escaped the WWII draft, attends college in preparation for becoming an economics teacher, an ambition that Kasey finds respectable yet boring as she envisions herself consigned to a lifetime of being a housewife and mother like one of her more conventional two older sisters. (The other is also somewhat estranged from their parents over her vocational choice of opening a dance studio, a profession they find less than respectable for a young woman of her background.) Such a fate is most decidedly not to the heretical Kasey's more exotic tastes. Although a gifted pianist with virtuoso potential, Kasey's first love is the alto sax, an instrument that features prominently in jazz, a musical genre developed by African-American musicians and still dominated by them. She therefore aspires to join a local black jazz band comprised of middle-aged men or near, which establishes the seemingly preposterous premise of the novel, a young white woman publicly playing with older black musicians in such a segregationist and outright racist era. This reviewer was most skeptical but read on to gradually have his doubts dispelled as the writers adroitly navigate the pitfalls of what appears to be such an absurd narrative arc.
Kasey, responding to a newspaper advertisement, auditions for a jazz band called The Bluenotes, a musical reference to a jazz technique of playing or singing a piece a tad flat for effect, in a black section of town in a club called the New Orleans, but pronounced by all as the "Narlins." It is owned and operated by a widow named Ruthie, a no-nonsense, black businesswoman with a sardonic wit who nevertheless often displays a sympathetic and compassionate underlying nature. The band is managed by Dwayne Hite, an educated and always impeccably dressed man who has retired as a performer in order to concentrate on his band and composing "charts" (musical compositions), often variations of songs he has lifted from other bands, a standard practice within the jazz scene of the era. The band's booking agent is Freddie Ross who is also its trombonist. Ross has badly mangled fingers, the source of which is the product of a misspent youth that remains a mystery to Kasey until near the end of the events related within the novel. A very talented pianist (or "eigthy-eighter" in jazz parlance) in his youth playing Scott Joplin and other greats of the period ragtime genre, Ross was forced to take up the trombone, the only instrument he could play after this great tragedy of his life which gives rise to his sobriquet of "Boneman," one of many colorful music-related nicknames of characters who populate the book. The long ago sordid incident did, however, instill within him a reflective wisdom, equanimity, and sense of empathy bred from experience, the lack of which as a young man had colored his entire life thereafter.
The band is amused at the audacity of this young woman whom they dub "White Bird," both because of her apparent youthful hubris in thinking she could play well enough to join them and her equally apparent naivete that even if she could, it would be tenable for her to join a black band in an era when racism was not only endemic, but accepted as natural by blacks and whites alike. When Kasey smugly asks if any other applicant: "Can do the changes [improvisations] in 'Ko-Ko'?" (a bebop or "bop" standard composed by genre legend Charlie Parker, Jr. ("Yardbird" or just "Bird"), Hite mockingly responds: "'Do the changes'? Ain't it somethin' how dat white girl do talk jive?" before playfully adding: "What I mean is, the young lady is impressive in her ability to express herself in the appropriate vernacular." The book is replete with such skillful dialogue tangentially addressing period stereotypical racial prejudices and nuances.
Although she inevitably fails the audition, Kasey remains persistent in her goal after receiving solace and encouragement from a sympathetic Ross, an older man who later becomes a mentor and even an uncle-like figure in the course of events. Unable to find a suitable replacement for the band's recently departed alto saxophonist (which constitutes an intriguing backstory), in desperation Hite, through Ross, offers the job to Kasey, much to her delight but to the astonishment of others in the band who fear (a not unwarranted reaction as events turn out) racial repercussions as well as those in Kasey's personal life, including Jack who, despite relatively enlightened views, bears vestiges of racial prejudices.
The remainder of the novel relates Kasey's coming to terms with her now being able to pursue her dream and navigating the inevitable consequences of it while preparing for her first "gig" with her bandmates as well as peripheral matters such as a bitter labor strike at the town's meatpacking plant which results in violence and death, an historical event lifted from real life in Waterloo. As she strives to fit in with her newfound companions, Kasey also discovers and experiences facets of black life and culture during this time period. It is in this context that she encounters Sue, another racial renegade of the period, a hardboiled, chain-smoking white woman from a prejudiced family who had nevertheless married and divorced the brother of a band member and bore a mixed race daughter. A librarian and former school bus driver, she drives the band to their out-of-town gigs and serves as a source of solace to the young Kasey needing a sympathetic ear in the unorthodox situation which she has entered.
Most of all, Kasey's relationship with Freddie blossoms into their becoming full-fledged confidants. She is horrified at Freddie's revelations concerning the traumatic past in the Deep South of his longtime wife, a former prostitute whom he had patronized as a youth, with whom he has shared a tumultuous relationship with frequent separations; and finally, the story behind his mangled fingers. Aside from exploring racial prejudices and tensions of the period, the novel also explores the seemingly endemic and existentially menacing specter of heroin in the subculture of jazz musicians then, as well as undertones of homosexuality, a taboo topic even within the white community of the era and viewed as especially depraved by blacks.
As a side story, throughout the book Kasey is almost literally haunted by her patriotic, courageous older brother who died in North Africa in the war. Kenny had also been a gifted musician who had alone, save for their high school music teacher, encouraged his kid sister's ambitions. Kasey has countless imaginary conversations with Kenny throughout the novel, though she is not mentally ill, fully realizing that she is the source of both her voice and his. She often finds refuge during her periods of stress and sorrow with such subterfuge of solace coming from such a revered and beloved figure from her recent past.
In the Blood is a tour de force that cries out to be translated into a feature film along the lines of Ray, the superlative movie based upon the life of musical legend Ray Charles. The music alone would serve as a tantalizing hook, but when combined with such a superb narrative would become fascinating viewing. I unreservedly recommend it as compelling period reading that explores a society of the not too distant past but seems so alien to many of us living today in a very different time nonetheless.
9781938406706, $14.95 PB, $8.99 Kindle, 136pp, www.amazon.com
Paige Van de Winkle, Reviewer
Reeve Lindbergh's family was in the public eye again and again during the twentieth century. In her memoir Two Lives, she reveals personal memories of her parents, the controversial aviator-authors Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Through delightful essays on the nuances of caring for chickens and dealing with the overwhelming family archives that are scattered throughout the country, Lindbergh skillfully reveals tidbits about what it was like growing up in her family, while also confronting broader themes like death and memory.
Addressing her family's controversies is perhaps unavoidable, but Lindbergh successfully uses Two Lives primarily as an exploration of the simpler pleasures of her life on a Vermont farm, like her favorite rooster soup and her husband's fascination with trees. This makes for a surprisingly charming memoir about cycles of time, the calm certainty of death for roosters and people alike, and the joys of home cooking.
Seeing Charles Lindbergh through his daughter's eyes is fascinating. He is at once a decorated innovator and someone who failed out of college. He is a father grieving his son's gruesome death, and also someone who secretly had mistresses and other children. Lindbergh tells her story as only she could, remaining acutely aware of her family's faults, but also with a certain unconditional warmth.
Though some topics may appear innocuous, Lindbergh uses them as jumping-off points to tell stories packed with complexity. In one compelling chapter, "Remnants and Recipes," she hints at her feelings towards her father, blaming him for the addition of canned soup into her mother's hearty recipes. Yet the appeal of the book is not just the Lindbergh enigma, but also how Reeve revels in memories of eating "ladylike" lunches with her mother, or the nostalgia and laughable disgust of finding odd recipes like "Souper Baked Chicken" among her mother's things.
The memoir shifts between subjects quickly and seamlessly, weaving the intensely personal and the mundane with charming finesse. The prose has depth while maintaining lightness. Two Lives is an engrossing memoir.
Credit the Crocodile
Godfrey Harris, author
Josh DeAngelis, illustrator
c/o The Americas Group
97809350478989, $16.95, HC, 260pp, www.amazon.com
Credit the Crocodile is a new book that deals with an unusual subject: international wildlife politics. That, in itself, is reason for animal rights groups, conservationists and economists to pay some attention.
As a novel set in modern-day South Africa, the story of Credit the Crocodile focuses on how Nile crocs were saved from possible extinction, when farmers were allowed to raise and harvest them. But the principal crocs in this story are particularly interesting because of their ability to understand English.
While the descendants of white Europeans may no longer rule black African countries, many Westerners in far away lands still exhibit a strong penchant to dictate how African wildlife is to be protected and preserved. As the story of Credit the crocodile unfolds, the author finds interesting ways to offer fresh ideas on a viable basis for wildlife conservation policies in the future.
The book is designed to open the eyes of adults through the fresh perceptions of their kids, particularly to the possibility of saving a species while maintaining a trade in its parts. The book raises a few questions: Does the world appreciate the reality that sustainable use of wildlife products, such as ivory or rhino horns, actually creates an incentive for conserving wildlife? How can we best communicate this message so that people begin to appreciate a different approach to conservation?
These are some of the basic questions that compelled Godfrey Harris to write the book. He wanted people worldwide to come to understand and not miss the opportunities of alternative and practical ways of saving wildlife within the context of an exciting and fun story.
Written creatively and compellingly, Credit the Crocodile is a must-read for anyone who values wildlife. It warns us against the continued and needless loss of African wildlife to poachers as is currently happening to rhinos and elephants in Southern Africa. One of the key lessons that I drew from the book and have also experienced through my 25-year interaction with poor African rural communities as an environmental journalist, is that the continued increase in elephant and rhino poaching in Africa lies not in stopping international trade in their products, but in allowing controlled trade in them.
Without meaningful benefits from their wildlife, poor African rural communities are forced to consider wild animals as a nuisance. But with benefits that wildlife can bring to rural communities through sustainable use as the book is correctly suggesting, those who collaborate with poachers can stop. Instead, they would start supporting elephant and rhino conservation initiatives at both local and national levels.
I strongly recommend Credit the Crocodile to anyone who has a desire to become involved in saving wildlife in Africa and worldwide.
Note: About the writer -- Emmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.
The Old World Dies
Lune de Ville
9781976725845, $14.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 220pp, www.amazon.com
April 15th, 2018
In Jarrard's (Cognac, 2008, etc.) satire, a prodigious artist and a multifarious cast of characters navigate their way through an unsettling urban landscape.
Paris is crumbling. Murderous gangs of teenage girls prowl the streets, and citizens are bracing themselves for a catastrophic civil collapse. Theo Carnot is a painter of nudes who wants to emerge from the shadow of his uncle Raymond, a distinguished watercolorist who recently died. Roland Jean-Marie Ayme is a taxi driver who's bedazzled by the beauty of his partner, Marina, a "black-eyed creature from Mexico" with a beauty that's almost "beyond believing." Then there's John Green, a suave, if overly bold, American who casually says that he owns a couple of paintings "by that fellow Monet, and I think one by his friend, almost the same name."
These characters intermingle with a vast, diverse network of other people in a dreamlike swirl. There is a plot here, punctuated by adventure and romance, but locating it is akin to discovering the eye of a hurricane. Part of the joy of the book is in forcing one's way through what initially appear to be relentless, fragmented images and thoughts in order to understand its central structure and how its characters fit together.
The language often apes the moodily introspective monologues of 1950s French art-house films: "Do I look like another man? / The man I know, and there is this improvement. / Roland runs his hand over his head. / Younger? / And older. Both. There is this balance. It's interesting."
The surreal elements, as when artists find themselves wandering in the Pyrenees looking for light, are reminiscent of Andre Breton's Nadja (1928). But it's all deliciously tongue-in-cheek. It's a challenge to turn a page without finding an example of Jarrard's inimitably observant approach to prose: "She had wanted to go out of the station and see Basseville for herself, this place where girl murderers come from, but everything is dark and smoky in the beyond and the high-rises stand like grave markers of a race of giants who died in the crepuscule."
An intoxicatingly unique literary voice that demands further attention.
V. S. McGrath
Brain Mill Press
9781948559010; $16.95 PB; $5.99 Kindle; 348pp; www.amazon.com
Amy Nikita, Reviewer
A Magical World of Words
Look no further if you want an action-packed, extremely well written, very emotional adventure.
I love this book. The characters have so much depth, the new characters we're introduced to are all so vivid and layered, and the plot is twisty, action-packed, thrilling, and intelligent. There is romance (which was nonexistent in the first book) but it's always in the background.
The women of this series are amazing. There are so many of them, they're treated as equals, and they're all such badasses. It's awesome. The relationships between everyone (especially the sisterly bond between Abby and Hettie) are also so dynamic and compelling. I particularly love Uncle's gruff but fierce love for the Alabama girls; it's so sweet to see how although he thinks of them as daughters, his personality won't let him show it in obvious ways. It's so endearing.
Portals in Time: The Quest for Un-Old-Age
John Joseph Teressi
High Castle Publishing
9780964185432, $14.99, PB, 412pp
9780964185425, $4.99, Kindle
Susan Sewell, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite Reviewer
A brilliant, philosophical, New Age novel with the qualities of the classics!
In the gripping fantasy novel, Portals in Time (The Quest for Un-Old-Age) by John Joseph Teressi, ten time-travelers living in a dystopian world on the verge of obliteration, volunteer for a mission of redemption. The citizens of Grippland are aging at an alarming rate and the entire population is at risk. Gripp High Command chooses ten volunteers from their prison and forms the Grippland Eye of Time Exploration Team.
The team's objective is to travel through time and search for the answer to the extension of life and, ultimately, bring back a cure. The group embarks on what they believe is a scientific journey, but are dropped into another dimension, in the mystical land of Acronos. The two guardians of Acronos meet the travelers and try to guide them. Suspicious and paranoid, the exploration team spurns the proffered help. With unexplained energy waves, frightening magical creatures, and changes in time and space, the Gripps fight and struggle to survive. Despite the team's antagonism, the guardians stay close, attempting to assist the ignorant intruders through a cosmological maze. With the visitors' lack of respect and courtesy for Acronos, can the guardians keep the Gripp team safe and find a cure?
Portals In Time (The Quest for Un-Old-Age) by John Joseph Teressi is an exciting fantasy novel with a riveting plot suffused with the mysteries of time and space. It is a brilliant philosophical New Age novel in which the qualities of two centuries-old classics, Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland" and John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," are melded into a dynamic futuristic tale. Surpassing dystopian and utopian novels, it is an inspiring spiritual journey that delves into metaphysics and the fundamentals of reality. The time-traveling aspect of the story has the capricious effect of going "down the rabbit hole," and is an enthralling part of the adventure from the first chapter to the last.
The stark contrast between Grippland's egotistical lack of care for its ecological environment, and Acronos, where ego is non-existent, and nature seems to have a life of its own, will especially thrill those who are interested in spirituality, mysticism, holism, and environmentalism.
A M Wilson
A M Wide Awake
1985066750, $14.95 PB, $4.95 Kindle, 376pp, www.amazon.com
The Nerdy Girl Express
Populace by A.M. Wilson is set in the year 2151 after the United States has gone through a tremendous change. Our main character, Tom Stout, lives in the center of the New United States, Omaha. This entire city survives by keeping the population on a cocktail of drugs that can both suppress emotions and also force them to feel euphoric or a variety of other positive emotions. When Tom is tasked with a special mission he finds himself on a journey he never imagined.
Initially Populace feels like a futuristic version of American Psycho, with Tom sharing his internal monologue on the issues he has with Omaha and the company he works for that runs everything, Leviathan. When he is sent outside of Omaha to find the wanted terrorist Joe Ikowski. This is when Populace shifts into a story that feels like the Odyssey. Tom learns that there are places in America that aren't controlled by Leviathan and that people live lives that vary tremendously from what he experienced. On his journey he becomes involved with people fighting against Leviathan as well as the over medication and industrialization of the country and through this he learns who he truly is and the man that he can be.
I enjoyed the intense amount of world building in Populace. Wilson creates not just one world, but a plethora of them and each one has their own individual way of life. I would have liked to spend more time understanding Leviathan and their work, though Wilson does work to add additional information about Tom's life throughout the story. Each of these cities could receive their own novel and I am very curious to see what will happen to Tom and the people living within the New United States after the events in the Epilogue. If you are a fan of futuristic worlds and Orwellian inspired writing you should check out Populace today.
You can find me online at thenerdygirlexpress.com, Twitter, @kleffnotes, on my blog, kleffnotes.wordpress.com, on my kleffnotes YouTube channel, and I run The Nerdy Girl Express Snapchat, thenerdygirlexp.
Hollowtop Smoke Signals
9781937849474, $14.00 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Gary R. Forney
"I'm very pleased that Art Kehler has finally put a collection of his wonderful essays together. From the first time I heard him read one of his works I was impressed by his writing, beautiful imagery, and self-deprecating sense of humor.
"Art is a gifted story-teller. Whether he's writing of snake hunting, adventures in the Tri-cities (three small towns in the northeast corner of Madison County, Montana, with a combined population of fewer than 400 people) or making improvements to the English language, one finds in each story his wit, humor, and - just a wee bit beneath the surface - a gem of wisdom.
I suspect Art's hesitation in bringing this work together may have been some combination of his genuine modesty and his earnest, painstaking quest for perfection. I think you'll agree that Hollowtop Smoke Signals was worth the wait."
The Dreamachine: Gripping Sci-Fi Novel Blends Reality and Fiction for a Disturbing Look at the Future
Kettle of Letters Press
9780985188658, $11.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Craig Manning, Reviewer
"The Dreamachine," as defined by Wikipedia, is a "stroboscopic flicker device that produces visual stimuli." Essentially, it is a cylindrical device with slits cut in the sides. Placed on a record turntable with a light illuminating the center of the cylinder, the Dreamachine spins around and casts flickers of light around the room. Supposedly, if a person were to sit down in front of a spinning Dreamachine and close their eyes, they would fall into an "hypnagogic state," where they would be more likely to fall into some sort of daydream or lucid dream.
This device probably sounds bizarre - perhaps like the stuff of a science fiction novel - but it is actually real. The Dreamachine was created all the way back in the 1960s, by an artist named Brion Gysin and a mathematician named Ian Sommerville. In fact, the Dreamachine and its dream-aiding capabilities apparently won over some pretty famous fans, including author William S. Borroughs and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
In his new novel Dreamachine, though, William Dickerson actually does make the Dreamachine into the stuff of a science fiction story. The novel tells the story of Jasper Keepnews, a seemingly normal man whose life takes a turn when he starts experimenting with the Dreamachine. The device takes Jasper deep into his own mind and into memories he'd forgotten, revealing secrets that he isn't supposed to know. From there, the book takes one suspenseful turn after another - to the point where spoiling the plot or the ending would be all too easy. Suffice to say there is a body count.
The Dreamachine is William Dickerson's second novel. The first one, No Alternative, was a previous indie groundbreaking book selection, back in the fall of 2012. While Dickerson is a novelist, though, he is a filmmaker first and foremost. His films include Detour, Don't Look Back, and No Alternative, which he adapted into a movie based on his own novel. It's not surprising, then, that The Dreamachine owes much of its setting, suspense, and overall atmosphere to the history of action and sci-fi cinema. Dickerson clearly has a taste for Hollywood thrillers, so when The Dreamachine becomes The Bourne Identity meets The Matrix - with a little bit of Minority Report thrown in for good measure - it works because Dickerson brings everything to life with the eye for detail that you'd only expect from a die-hard fan. It's not difficult to imagine The Dreamachine becoming a film - which, given Dickerson's history, it probably will.
Another strength of The Dreamachine is the way Dickerson incorporates dreams into the storytelling. Dream sequences in novels are tricky. When written poorly, they can become confusing diversions, or perhaps even unnecessary distractions from the overall plot. The Dreamachine avoids these fates. The book starts with a dream sequence that we don't immediately know is a dream, and Dickerson's writing in this introductory segment is subtle and smart. His words are vivid and descriptive, outlining things that could be real, but also dropping enough breadcrumbs to make readers feel like something is amiss. By the time Jordan Keepnews startles awake in his bed, we're hooked.
In addition to being an entertaining and suspenseful sci-fi yarn, The Dreamachine also has a fair bit of political commentary to it. The story is set in a "near-future landscape," one that is slowly revealed to be a dystopia. Unlike the rash of dystopian novels that have hit the marketplace over the past 5-10 years, though, The Dreamachine manages a setting that is unnerving not because of how it is different from our world, but because of how it is the same. This book's themes - of government overreach, truth versus illusion, and the battle for freedom and independence - are all too relevant in the era we live in. These days, with fake news, eroded privacy, and a government only concerned with its own growth and preservation, we're practically living in a dystopia already. The Dreamachine's shadowy world of conspiracy and lies brings this revelation to the fore.
Chicken Culprit: A Backyard Farming Mystery
9780999440209, $14.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 265 pp, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Linda Thompson, Reviewer
Host of The Authors Show
Reading for pleasure can't get much better than this. I fell in love with the characters, and having lived in Denver, I could just picture the setting of the fictional town Carolan Springs. I'm also a backyard farmer (sans chickens) and laughed until my sides hurt at the descriptions of the compost patch. Just when I thought I had it figured out, Walton hit me with another twist; so masterful is her ability to weave a tale. And the humor is appropriate, even when talking about murder. There are so many curves and corners in the story it reminds me of driving in the Colorado mountains. I was blown away at the ending - not at all what I had expected. I can't wait to read the next in this series. These characters are just too good to be lost to one book only. This one is now on my gift list to all my reading buddies.
Honor Among Outcasts (DarkHorse Trilogy, Book 2)
9781946920317, $16.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 246pp, www.amazon.com
Literary Titan, Reviewer
The Civil War was filled with pain, suffering, and too much death for both the North and the South. The often-untold stories of suffering and valor are those of the slaves and former slaves. Out in Missouri and Kansas some of the most brutal fighting occurred, not from the armies, but from guerrilla warfare. Honor Among Outcasts continues the story of the Dark Horse inhabitants that have joined the Union Army as soldiers in the Missouri State Militia Ninth Calvary. This is a story of how a group of former slaves fight for their freedom along with their half Indian partner. They face war, racism, and the loss of family and friends, and a multilevel conspiracy; but through it all, their spirit and honor never waver.
Ed Protzel uses historical fiction to bring light to things that went on during the Civil War. While the story of Durk and Antoinette is fabricated there is truth underlying their situation. Generals in the war often didn't agree with the side they were on; but cared more for their political status than the men they sent off to die. Colored soldiers were especially expendable and were not given adequate supplies and provisions to fulfill their missions, yet few cared. Protzel does an amazing job showing the fear for each decision and action that the soldiers in the Dark Horse regiment had to make. It was never a simple decision of what makes the most sense, it was always about, what will keep us alive the longest while maintaining honor. Paralleling their story, is the one of the women from the Dark Horse plantation. These women could not join the army, so they had no protection when all their papers are lost. This was a common issue among freed slaves. You could not go anywhere without your documentation or you were at risk of being put in jail or hung. This fear is so prevalent in the writing.
Reading about the harsh conditions in Missouri that the soldiers lived in is hard: starvation, lack of medical care, equipment shortages in the way of horses and weapons. Soldiers being sent out with little more than their bare hands to fight off guerrilla attacks. I know growing up and learning history I never heard about the guerrilla warfare and the complete brutality of it all. It didn't matter who you supported, they were merciless and only cared about collecting the spoils of war. Killing meant nothing to these mercenaries. Double agent spies playing to whatever side they could is not a far-fetched idea and I'm sure it happened more often than even Protzel makes mention of. Lives and families torn apart and those left alive must suffer from it all.
Reading Honor Among Outcasts, I can see where Ed Protzel got the title. Everything is stacked against the Dark Horse group, men and women, but through it all they retain their honor. They refuse to take the easy way out of things to save their own lives. As I read this book I wanted to see the happy ending, I wanted everything to be okay, but true to real life, that isn't always the case, not everyone will live, not everyone has a happily ever after. There is still another book in this series and I look forward to reading it to see what happens with the remaining Dark Horse members, just maybe they will find peace.
The Passion Of Marta
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston, SC, 29406
9781977936196, $15.99 PB, $6.99 Kindole, 362pp, www.amazon.com
Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Reviewer
The violin is one of the finest ever made. Its sensuous curves and glossy shine make it an irresistible work of art. It was created in Nuremberg, Germany in 1782 by the very talented luthier (violin-maker), Leopold Wilhelm. It is smaller than other violins, but the sound it emits is so rich and full of emotion that this gem of an instrument is both a rarity and a treasure. Its story takes it on a journey to Jebenhausen, a self-contained Jewish community in Wuerttemberg, Germany. Carried along by a talented Jewish violinist, the instrument makes its appearance at the Lindauer Inn, where the owner, a widow, and her children reside, as well as a tutor who takes his role seriously as the only son's instructor for his bar mitzvah. The violin is both beautiful and it is a curse, for it brings havoc to those who admire and play it. When the instrument first arrives at the Lindauer home, Marta is only nine. She instantly takes to the violin, but, as a girl, she is forbidden contact with either the instrument or the music teacher. Secretly, she manages to secure the lessons she so desires, the lessons her brother receives. But at what price?
Caren Umbarger's novel, The Passion of Marta, is rich in both history and music. The idea of a passion relating to music was quite popular in Christian circles during the eighteenth century (the era/setting of this novel). The significance of the title is not lost on readers. The religious connotations of the title are significant: a young Jewish girl is steeped in grief, misery and suffering, until her unspeakable pain is released through the beautiful power of music, a true gift from God. Marta's passion is her pain and suffering and how she can make something beautiful, in spite of the darkness inside her, in the form of music to glorify her God. Even the construction of this novel parallels that of its musical counterpart. The plot, much like the form of a musical passion, unravels in four parts, plus the prologue. Each part speaks with a different voice, a different point of view, but each voice speaks for the violin and the power it holds to express beauty beyond belief. This is a powerful story, full of the profound and deeply moving passions of music, beauty, art, love and faith. Like the 1998 movie, The Red Violin, Umbarger's The Passion of Marta reaches the very depths of the power of music. A real treasure.
G. R. Williamson
Indian Head Publishing
978197634487, $14.95, 230pp, www.amazon.com
Trudi LoPreto, Reviewer
Hell Bound by G.R. Williamson has all the makings for a perfect Western adventure story. I was taken back to the late 1800s to meet Peyton, Sarah, Marie, Doc Thomas, and brothers, Homer and Shawn; and what would a good Western be without the bad guys, Gussie Albright and his crew. I found it impossible to put the book down because I just had to find out if Peyton lives or gets shot; what happens to Sarah and Marie, and will there be justice served on Gussie? If you are a fan of the Western genre, Hell Bound will not disappoint! I really enjoyed this book - it would make a wonderful TV movie. Don't pass up Hell Bound; it is a riveting Western winner.
Hell Bound by G.R. Williamson has all the makings for a perfect Western adventure story. If you are a fan of the Western genre, Hell Bound will not disappoint! I really enjoyed this book - it would make a wonderful TV movie. Don't pass up Hell Bound; it is a riveting Western winner.
c/o Escape Media
PO Box 69, Morrison, CO 80465
9780998427461,$16.95, PB, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Connie Daugherty, Reviewer
Montana Senior News, October 1, 2017
"The old-time miner knows how it works: Give a man a week in Butte, and the Copper Camp will either capture his heart or send him running forever. The miner knows he doesn't have much time...Women consider funeral and burial arrangements. They wonder about living in a town like Butte, a town now thick with smoke."
As I read Milana Marsenich's Copper Sky, the wind blew smoke in from the western Montana forest fires. It hung trapped in the valley hiding the Highlands, veiling the East Ridge and the abandoned head frames and busy open pit mine from my home on the flats. We became accustomed to the daily air quality reports and warnings.
Marsenich's descriptions of the 1895 warehouse fire and of Butte in 1917 are vivid and detailed, and this summer's skies helped take me back to when smoke in the air and danger underground were routine.
There were no warnings, just reactions and a struggle to survive.
Copper Sky is about that struggle to not only survive but thrive in the rough mining town.
Marsenich's debut novel is set in 1917 with the country on the edge of war in Europe and the emergence of the labor movement at home. Before the year is over, Butte will experience one of the worst mining disasters in history. Marsenich skillfully and cleverly revisits this one year in history through the eyes of two young women who are also at a crossroads in their lives.
It is a time of change, and these two women are determined to find their way through it all. No two women could be more different. Kaly Shane is haunted by the past and nightmares, while Marika Lailich has dreams and aspirations for the future. When their paths cross, their lives take unexpected and intriguing turns, like the tunnels deep underground in the mines.
Kaly is an orphan who grew up at the Polly May. Life, which had always been hard for her, just got harder as she finds herself living in the redlight district with child.
Marika, an aspiring doctor and healer like her grandmother, is the much-loved daughter of a Slavic immigrant miner and union organizer. Her close family life has always been her refuge until now, when she's faced with an unwanted arranged marriage.
While Kaly struggles to keep herself and her child safe, Marika risks everything as she steps outside the sheltered environment in which she grew up, quietly closing a door behind her.
Both women have something to prove to themselves and to those around them who think they know what is best for each of their respective futures. The two women recognize each other on the street, have exchanged polite greetings, but really have nothing in common except the determination to make a difference in their world.
"She saw Kaly sleeping peacefully in her bed. Somehow, Marika's life had intertwined with Kaly's. It had taken one of those unreal turns and here - in this moment - she relished the turn."
Over the course of a few days, Kaly and Marika form a unique - almost sisterly - bond that gives them each the strength they need to face the days ahead.
Then disaster strikes. "The quick, high trill of a mine whistle sounded...Then the shrieks of several mine whistles clouded the air." The fire in the Speculator mine would forever color Butte's history and change the lives of everyone involved on that day. "The work didn't stop. Doctors. Rescue squads. Helmet men. Ambulance drivers. Undertakers. Priests in black robes. Women cooking. People praying. They all worked on...black smoke plumed." When it was over lives would be changed forever, including the lives of Marika and Kaly.
Copper Sky is a well-researched, engaging story with strong women characters who reflect so much of Butte's personality - then and now. A definite must-read.
Milana Marsenich has published several stories and articles, including a short story in the Montana Quarterly Book, Montana, Warts and All: the Best From Our First Decade. She is a graduate of the University of Montana and of Montana State University (a Grizzly-Bobcat hybrid) and lives in Northwest Montana.
Angels - The Discovery
Starr Lee Bryant
Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.
9781641146074, $16.95, PB, 226pp, www.amazon.com
Angels: The Discovery, by Starr Lee Bryant, is the touching and sometimes harrowing tale of one boy's ascent to Heaven. As young Fraser awakens in an unfamiliar and empty room, he struggles to remember how he arrived there and why he feels simultaneously at peace and full of an unexplained energy. Fraser becomes acquainted with several other young people in the same boat. Soon enough, he and the others are oriented to their surroundings, briefed on the details of their arrival in Heaven, and allowed to choose jobs within the kingdom--except Fraser. Even amidst the serenity, Fraser finds himself fighting to understand his true place and purpose among the other angels.
I was immediately struck by Bryant's depiction of Fraser's first moments in Heaven. He is overwhelmed but, at the same time, curious and calm. His surroundings are described in the most vivid and tangible details. The reader shares the main character's peaceful and comforting sensation as he/she enters the first chapter. Bryant spends a great deal of time illustrating the pristine and comfortable quarters to which Fraser is oriented by Gabrielle, his assigned guide.
Bryant uses her cast of characters to emphasize two major aspects of Heaven. She has created Fraser in order to show readers the freedom from pain and suffering found in Heaven and to underscore the fact that those who make it to Heaven are, indeed, believers of God (The Big Guy). I was moved by the flashbacks Fraser experiences with increasing intensity and clarity. As he begins to learn more about the way he reached Heaven, he sees scenes from his life on Earth in a new way--a way he never would have been capable of as a mortal. Each of Bryant's characters contributes to the plot in a unique way. I am quite partial to Ms. Jamerson, Fraser's orientation instructor. She's unflappable and more than willing to provide detailed explanations to Heaven's newest residents.
One of the most unique aspects of Bryant's depiction of Heaven centers on the angels' relationships with their loved ones. The grieving process is very much an earthly sensitivity. Fraser learns quickly that, though he still loves the family he left behind, his feelings toward them will be much less sad, and the expected pining for their companionship and closeness is a not an emotion with which he will battle.
As beautiful and as perfect as Heaven and the angels are drawn in Bryant's work, her narrative regarding the dark angels is breathtakingly disturbing. The author draws chills from the reader with Fraser's first encounter with the dark angel hovering above his family. Bryant goes on to describe amazing scenes in which the dark angels seem to be silently dominating life on Earth.
Angels: The Discovery, by Starr Lee Bryant, deserves every one of the 5 stars I am giving it. Bryant provides a thought-provoking account of life after a hero's death for believers in Christ. I found Fraser's "choice" of job as both fitting for him and a wonderful tie-in to his concern for his family's welfare after his death. In addition, Bryant leaves the door wide open for a stirring sequel featuring young Fraser.
Not Elegy, But Eros
New York Quarterly Books
9781630450502, $15.95, PB, 96pp, www.amazon.com
Frank Wilson, Reviewer
Elegy derives from a Greek word meaning "lament," typically of the dead, but covering as well a wide range of subjects, both serious and sad. Eros, of course, is passionate love.
Nausheen Eusuf was born and raised in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University. Her poetry has appeared in major journals. Her ear for sound and sense is distinctive, and her range of subjects and variety of tone suggest a sensibility in which poetry and being have coalesced. There is much that is elegiac in this debut collection. But at work always is a love of all that we can know only by sight and hearing, taste, touch, and fragrance.
There is a wryness to many of these poems, and some contrive a mordant introspection. Take "Selfie": "If self's the man, she's the wife / who follows, shadow faithful," who in the end is "the past you can't deny, / the fellow sufferer, the portrait / in the attic that you become." Four elegies compose "Elegy for the Family Romance," the first "for my mother, still alive," "who tracks an airplane's progress / for hours across a screen when her children travel, / intent upon a small green dot as if their lives / depended on it"; the second "for her son, age 38," "who never learned to drive, the streets of Dhaka / too treacherous," who "oughta ditch the thick-framed glasses- / she'll bet it's why he doesn't have a girlfriend"; the third "for the man she married," "who wonders daily the when where what / why and how . . . his neurons noncommittal, his synapses / like faulty wiring . . . his engineer's precision dulled"; and the fourth "for my mother's daughter," "a willful child" who "learned the language of the trees, / held court with the birds, and drowsed at noon / with the dragonfly . . .."
That would be the girl, one surmises, who conducts the tour in "Musee des Beaux Morts":
And now, if you'll follow me this way -
careful, madam, not to step on those sandals,
acquired at a noisy bazaar in New Delhi -
we enter the study which doubles as a den.
On the shelves you see her lecture notes (note the penmanship - the confident strokes,
the graceful ligatures, the little flourishes) . . .
The emotional ambiguity of leaving one's homeland for a new one is nicely limned in "Allegiance": "The heat rising off the tarmac, the little men / with orange flags raised, waving good luck! / farewell!" And then, "the captain speaking. Acceleration, take-off, / the plane pointing its nose to the unknown, / the ground falling away, no turning back." And then arrival: "At immigration, bright lights and long lines . . . I have nothing to declare . . . I bent my tongue to new inflections . . . I grit my teeth even though my soul rebelled." In the end,
I renounced, I abjured, I pledged my troth to you.
Did I give myself freely? Did I bear true faith?
I did so not knowing how, so help me God.
Then there is the title poem, which would stand out in any collection. It bears a dedication: "for Xulhaz Mannan, LGBT activist murdered in Bangladesh, April 2016."
"I have heard the summons," the speaker tells us, "and offered myself to whatever it was / within me, calling. Some said don't." He is held, he says, "only by the thought of one I loved":
the arch of his brow, the two-day scruff of his jaw rasping against my cheek,
the pulsing veins of his slender limbs.
He sounds almost serene when he says "I have faced the flash of steel, the howl / of unholy voices." Then he confesses: "But it was their eyes, / their hard unloving eyes, that undid me."
Genuine heartbreak - and genuine poetry.
The Last Aliyah
Mark Alan Leslie
Elk Lake Publishing
9781946638892, $14.99, PB, 362pp, www.amazon.com
Randall Murphree, Reviewer
American Family Association Journal
In The Last Aliyah, it's the near future, and anti-Semitism has invaded the halls of the nation's capitol. The UN has passed a resolution that forbids Jews worldwide to migrate to Israel, and the U.S. Senate quickly agrees to enforce the edict. Likewise, U.S. President Herald Smith and Vice President Daniel Fireside are complicit in the travesty.
Author Mark Alan Leslie has crafted a chilling novel, The Last Aliyah, in which God's chosen people are victimized by those whose worldview would obliterate all evidence of the one true God. The word aliyah was used to describe the Jews' first return to their homeland in the fifth century B.C., after years of captivity in Babylon.
In Leslie's gripping narrative, political intrigue drips from every page. Nobel laureate Omri Zohn and Sen. Joseph Frank are among a little band of U.S. Jews determined to find a way around the UN decree, and a modern-day underground railroad emerges to assist them.
In a world fractured by social clashes and religious unrest, The Last Aliyah is a bit unsettling. It will alert readers to realize how fiction could conceivably turn into fact.
Prayer, Marriage & the Leadership Roles of Husband and Wife
Bishop Ken and Pastor Sheila Giles
9781948951012, $9.95, PB, 98pp, www.amazon.com
A compilation of Giles' three other books, Prayer, Marriage & the Leadership Roles of Husband and Wife is an excellent read especially, to those considering marriage, currently married and responsible for children. The book further communicates how God has created, through the covenant relationship of marriage, leadership roles that are established in spiritual unity. Also, this book highlights how the proper working of the husband and wife in their leadership roles secures the blessings of the Lord in the marriage, family and broader society.
The authors pack a lot of valuable information into the mere 98 pages of this book. It's an easy read with Biblical instruction that is backed up with scripture references.
This book is a perfect tool for Christian family counsellors, pastors and those teaching adult small group or Sunday school classes.
I highly recommend this book.
The Korean Table
Taekyung Chung & Debra Samuels
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9780804850575, $14.99, HC, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Beautifully and profusely illustrated with the full color photography of heath Robbins, "The Korean Table: From Barbecue to Bibimbap 100 Easy-To-Prepare Recipes " by the team of Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels is specifically intended to shows novice American cooks just how to replicate the exciting and authentic flavors of Korean cuisine at home using fresh ingredients available from their neighborhood grocery store or farmer's market. "The Korean Table" deftly guides home cooks through the process of making Korean meals without fuss and multiple trips to specialty markets, or worse, expensive online shopping with one hundred palate pleasing, appetite satisfying dishes that range from Zucchini and Onion Pancakes; Seafood Salad with Pine Nut Mustard Dressing; Mushroom and Sesame Soup; and Barbecued Beef Ribs; to Pork Ribs with Fresh Ginger; Chicken with Fresh Cabbage; Tofu and Clam Hot Pot; and Rice Casserole with Kimchi and Pork. Ethnically authentic, 'kitchen cook friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Korean Table" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, family, and community library cookbook collections.
Wits Guts Grit
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613736883, $16.99, PB, 304pp, www.amazon.com
"Wits Guts Grit: All-Natural Biohacks for Raising Smart, Resilient Kids" is inspired by the many questions acclaimed science writer and mother Jena Pincott explored about the natural forces that shape children's minds and health. What if we identify the microbes that support stress resilience and find ways to expose our kids to them? What if we reintroduce the mineral magnesium, deficient in almost every child's diet? Would it reduce anxiety and increase bounce back, as the science now suggests? What if memory and learning could improve measurably after eating certain foods (such as blueberries) high in plant chemicals called flavonoids, or after certain forms of exercise? These and many more questions led Pincott to simple, all-natural "biohacks" (experiments inspired by current research and theory) complete with instructions on how to undertake them to help your own children strengthen their wits, guts, and grit. Explaining the science and her own experimentation with her two gung-ho daughters in a lively, accessible way, Pincott shows parents how the underlying ingredients of the traits we all want for our kids (resilience, focus, perseverance, working memory, and more) may be all around us in the natural world, ready to be harnessed. Accessibly informative, with thoughtful and though-provoking observational commentary, "Wits Guts Grit: All-Natural Biohacks for Raising Smart, Resilient Kids" is fully and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Parenting instructional reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Wits Guts Grits" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781538490389, $34.95, CD).
The Inner Cause
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781844097531, $17.99, PB, 276pp, www.amazon.com
The late Martin Brofman (1940-2014), was a renowned healer and founder of the Brofman Foundation for the Advancement of Healing. He had developed a special healing approach, the Body Mirror System, after he cured himself from a serious terminal illness in 1975. With the publication of "The Inner Cause: A Psychology of Symptoms from A to Z" he integrated his more than 30 years of research and healing practice, "The Inner Cause" comprises an A to Z compendium of 800 symptoms and a psychology of their inner causes, the messages they are trying to send to our consciousness. Woven into the descriptions of symptoms, Brofman also discusses personality profiles associated with certain symptoms, derived from his understanding of the chakras, the body-mind interface, and the connections he discovered when developing his Body Mirror System of Healing. Brofman also explains that when you explore the inner cause to a symptom, you recognize that you have created this symptom through the stressed way you chose to respond to the conditions in your life. By learning a symptom's message, you become empowered to take charge and effect change on the inner level. A timeless classic, "The Inner Cause" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Alternative Medicine collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students, academics, and non-specialist general readers that "The Inner Cause" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).
Coconuts for Your Health
Larry Trivieri, Jr.
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9780757004513, $15.95, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com
Before the introduction of the Standard Western Diet to their culture, the natives of the South Pacific islands were among the healthiest people in the world. Heart disease and obesity were unknown, infectious diseases were extremely rare, and few people suffered from dementia. Swollen gums and dental cavities were uncommon as well. Most remarkable was that the majority of the calories consumed by the islanders were found to come from coconuts. Today, medical researchers have rediscovered the many health benefits of this tropical fruit. The health benefits coconut includes: Reducing weight & belly fat; Raising good cholesterol; Lowering blood sugar levels; Boosting memory & brain function; Protecting gums and teeth; Fighting malicious bacteria, viruses. "Coconuts for Your Health: Nature's Most Delicious & Effective Remedy" health writer Larry Trivieri Jr. has created a clear and simple guide to understanding how the nutrients in coconut work and how you can best employ the different coconut products now on the market. "Coconuts for Your Health" begins with a history of the coconut's use. It then discusses the science behind the fruit's beneficial effects on the body, including the latest research regarding its impact on brain function. The chapters that follow focus on specific health concerns, from heart disease to high blood pressure to memory loss. Each chapter presents a description of the problem, how coconut works to combat the condition, and important considerations during treatment. This is followed by recommendations regarding the most appropriate form of coconut and proper dosage. Also included is a resource section that guides you to available coconut-based products. A unique and invaluable addition to personal, community, and academic library Health/Medicine collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "Coconuts for Your Health" is an ideal instructional reference work for the non-specialist general reader, while having a wealth of invaluable information for medical studies and practitioners.
Turmeric for Your Health
Larry Trivieri, Jr.
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9780757004520, $15.95, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial flowering plant of the ginger family, It is a natural spice that had the proven power to reduce or eliminate inflammation -- which is the underlying cause of so many serious health disorders. Tumeric has been shown to: Lower blood pressure; Combats ulcers, IBS, and indigestion; Reduce arthritic pain; Increase brain function; Relieve depression and dementia; Help fight cancer cells; Improve kidney and liver function; Aid in weight loss, and so much more! In "Turmeric for Your Health: Nature's Most Powerful Anti-Inflammatory" health writer Larry Trivieri, Jr. has created a clear and simple guide to understanding the science behind turmeric's effects and how it can best be used to enhance well-being. Part One provides both the history and science of turmeric's therapeutic powers, including the latest breakthrough research related to turmeric's most active constituent, curcumin. Part Two offers an A-to-Z guide covering the ailments for which turmeric can provide effective treatment. Each entry presents a description of the problem, how turmeric works to combat the condition, and important considerations during use. This is followed by recommendations regarding the most appropriate form of curcumin and proper dosage. Also included is a resource section that presenting the best turmeric and curcumin products. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Turmeric for Your Health" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Health/Medicine collections.
Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo: Ice Worm Intervention
Oneeka Williams, author
Valerie Bouthyette, illustrator
560 Herndon Parkway, #120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781684018413, $14.95, HC, drdeedeedynamo.com
It's time for the Cordova Ice Worm Festival! What fun! But the tiny ice worms are in danger: their homes are melting because of Climate Change! Can Supergirl Surgeon Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo and her friends save the day? Colorfully illustrated by Valerie Bouthyette, "Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo: Ice Worm Intervention" is another utterly charming and thoroughly entertaining children's book by author Oneeka Williams and very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of young readers that "Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo: Ice Worm Intervention" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99). "Cordova Ice Worm Festival, here we come. / We can't wait to have loads of fun. / Who knew there are worms that live in ice! / Not much bigger than a grain of rice. / WAHOO, WAHOO, WAHOO. / Gordon sounds the alarm! / The ICE WORMS are coming to harm. / Their home is too warm due to CLIMATE CHANGE. / And they will die out on the glacier range. / The need an INTERVENTION and they need it quick! / DEE DEE DYNAMO to the RESCUE, does the trick! / Armed with SUPER POWERS, problem-solving skill and her team. / She delivers a solution that makes the Arctic animals, / Earth and the Ice Worms BEAM!"
Accessing the Media: How to Get Good Press
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781510730250, $14.99, PB, 176pp, www.amazon.com
Accessing the Media takes the reader behind the scenes to understand how best to work with press to get publicity. Perfect for politicians, business leaders, lobbyists, media junkies, authors and publishers, this instructional reference and guide provides an insider's look at how the modern newsroom works, detailing the different roles of reporters, editors, and producers. Readers will learn how to forge relationships with media personnel in television, radio, print, and the web to craft the press coverage they want.
Award-winning journalist Jill Osborn exposes the three strategic steps that must be used to gain favorable coverage with the media at just the right time. She gives you the inside scoop on how to think like a national or local journalist so you can control the headlines. And she even provides sample press releases to help shape your message. When reading Accessing the Media, you will have a personal media consultant without the cost of hiring one.
Whether you are running for office, looking to improve visibility for your business, bringing a book to the attention of its intended readership, or simply want a deeper understanding of what you see and read in the news, Accessing the Media is impressively informative, 'real world practical', and immediately applicable, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, corporate, community, and academic library Business Management collections in general, and Publicity/Marketing supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Accessing the Media: How to Get Good Press" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781543680812, $14.95, MP3 CD).
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9781101985328, $27.00, HC, 400pp, www.amazon.com
Within mere weeks of thwarting a cataclysmic electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the United States, Michael Garin, former leader of the elite Omega special operations unit, discovers that Russia has triggered an ingenious and catastrophic backup plan. Garin's efforts to warn the administration of the new attack, however, fall on deaf ears. No one believes the Russians would initiate another strike of such magnitude so soon. Without government support, Garin turns to three people for help: Congo Knox, a former Delta Force sniper; Dan Dwyer, the head of a sprawling military contracting firm; and Olivia Perry, an aide to the national security advisor. Yet Garin and his ad hoc team are checked at every turn by the formidable Russian assassin, Taras Bor, who is directed by an individual seemingly able to manipulate the highest reaches of the US government. As evidence mounts that the Russian plot has been set in motion and that Bor is pivotal to its success, it's up to Garin and his team to thwart an attack that will cause the death of millions and establish a new world order. "Second Strike" is a first page to last thriller that could be drawn from tomorrow's headlines. A compelling, roiling, inherently fascinating read from cover to cover by a novelist with a genuine flair for riveting narrative storytelling, Peter Kirsanow's "Second Strike" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Second Strike" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).
The Family Gathering
9780778330769, $26.99, HC, 384pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan's Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he's immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.
Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone's radar - especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he's really only attracted to the one woman who isn't interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.
When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he's always wanted.
Critique: Another deftly crafted novel by Robyn Carr, "The Family Gathering" is a solidly entertaining, and inherently riveting read from first page to last and the newest addition to her simply outstanding series 'Sullivan's Crossing'. While an absolute 'must' for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for the legions of Robyn Carr fans that "The Family Gathering" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
Love in a Tuscan Kitchen
Tuscan Dreams LLC
9781732019416, $19.95, PB, 394pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In a real-life fairy tale, author Sheryl Ness shares how she fell in love with Vincenzo, a chef in a quaint Tuscan kitchen, over his decadent hot chocolate cake in her autobiography "Love in a Tuscan Kitchen: Savoring Life Through the Romance, Recipes, and Traditions of Italy".
This is an enchanting and deftly scripted memoir transporting her readers to the cobblestone streets, the lush hillsides dotted with grapevines and olive trees, and the unique characters that create the backdrop for Sheryl's intensely personal Italian love story.
"Love in a Tuscan Kitchen" is sprinkled throughout with traditional recipes Sheryl collected along the way. The text of "Love in a Tuscan Kitchen" is engagingly flavored with rich accounts of how her dreams were fulfilled many times over while living in a picturesque village in Chianti.
With "Love in a Tuscan Kitchen", Sheryl reveals how when she opened her heart to love, and in turn she found herself on a remarkable journey of discovery through the people, traditions, and customs of Italy as a blond Americana who fell in love with the chef with twinkling eyes.
Critique: A wonderfully entertaining thoroughly engaging read with the added bonus of authentic 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes, "Love in a Tuscan Kitchen: Savoring Life Through the Romance, Recipes, and Traditions of Italy" is unreservedly recommended, especially and particularly for community library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Love in a Tuscan Kitchen" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Randi Hutter Epstein
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393239607, $26.95, HC, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Metabolism, behavior, sleep, mood swings, the immune system, fighting, fleeing, puberty, and sex: these are just a few of the things our bodies control with hormones. In the pages of "Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything" and armed with a healthy dose of wit and curiosity, medical journalist Randi Hutter Epstein (who is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and a Lecturer at Yale University) takes her readers on a journey through the unusual history of these potent chemicals from a basement filled with jarred nineteenth-century brains to a twenty-first-century hormone clinic in Los Angeles.
Brimming with fascinating anecdotes, illuminating new medical research, and humorous details, "Aroused" introduces the leading scientists who made life-changing discoveries about the hormone imbalances that ail us, as well as the charlatans who used those discoveries to peddle false remedies.
Professor Epstein exposes the humanity at the heart of hormone science with her rich cast of characters, including a 1920s doctor promoting vasectomies as a way to boost libido, a female medical student who discovered a pregnancy hormone in the 1940s, and a mother who collected pituitaries, a brain gland, from cadavers as a source of growth hormone to treat her son. Along the way, Professor Epstein also explores the functions of hormones such as leptin, oxytocin, estrogen, and testosterone, demystifying the science of endocrinology.
Providing a simply fascinating look at the history and science of some of medicine's most important discoveries, "Aroused" reveals the shocking history of hormones through the back rooms, basements, and labs where endocrinology began.
Critique: Something that medical histories are not usually noted, "Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything" is a simply riveting read that is as informed and informative as it is well written, organized and presented. While an absolute 'must have' addition to both community and academic library Health/Medicine collections in general, and Human Hormone supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Aroused" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (HighBridge Audio, 9781684412204, $29.99, CD).
Fast Track to Romance
9780999830604, $15.00, PB, 156pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Fast Track to Romance: An Exclusive Online Dating Guide For The Mature Woman" by Gail Karpus (whose extensive knowledge of online dating was gained over many years of her own trial and tribulations) is an online dating guide for today's mature woman who have never dated online or have been unsuccessful at dating online.
"Fast Track to Romance" includes fill in answers to the site's questionnaire, an easy to follow fill in profile template, along with straight talk on what photos the romance seeker will want to put online. Readers will learn how to plan the first meeting, where to meet a date and what to wear. Readers will get good 'girlfriend information' on what to say or not say at when meeting an online contact in person -- along with 'real world' information about the type of men that are encountered online.
"Fast Track to Romance" is an exclusive guide that is written by a past matchmaker and a dating expert with over 500 dates of her own, and which will easily help navigate the mature woman through the online dating process.
"Fast Track to Romance" is a fun read with humor and directness that will help anyone to become successful at online dating while having fun!
Critique: Exceptionally informative, impressively written, accessibly organized and presented, "Fast Track to Romance" is an exclusive and unreservedly recommended instructional guide knowledgeably written by Gail Karpus -- a past matchmaker and a dating expert with over 500 dates of her own. "Fast Track to Romance" will easily help the mature woman to easily, effectively, and successfully navigate through the online dating process. While highly recommended for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fast Track to Romance" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
SuperWomen Do IT Less...Or a Helluva Lot Better!
Rose Marie Ray
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480856141, $16.99, PB, 228pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Superwomen are around us every day. They are strong, willing, and able to achieve goals and do whatever is necessary to take care of themselves and their families. Still, superwomen often face seemingly insurmountable challenges. Taken from "SuperWomen Do IT Less...Or a Helluva Lot Better!: A Millennium Guide to Having It All: Children, a Career, and a Loving Relationship", Rose Marie Ray's words are especially relevant now. "Sexual harassment is not a privilege given to men in business or anywhere else. Do not believe you are alone. Speak out. Be brave. No job is worth hiding it."
In the pages of "SuperWomen Do IT Less...Or a Helluva Lot Better!" Rose Marie Ray, who has been mentoring other superwomen for years, shares an upbeat instructional guide that leads women to both survive and thrive beyond the tough choices they must make while juggling family, careers, and personal needs. Through uplifting personal stories that detail how she overcame her own trials and tribulations that included discrimination and sexual harassment and took brave leaps of faith, Ray provides inspiration to all women that they can do the same by setting expectations and goals, building self-confidence, and recognizing pitfalls before they occur. Included are references, reviews, and quotes that address specific challenges women face.
"SuperWomen Do IT Less... Or a Helluva Lot Better!" shares time-tested guidance and positive reinforcement for women of all ages striving to be the best they can in both their professional and personal lives.
Critique: An inherently fascinating, inspiring, thoughtful, and thoroughly 'real world practical' read from cover to cover, "SuperWomen Do IT Less...Or a Helluva Lot Better!" is a life enhancing, life affirming read recommended for personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "SuperWomen Do IT Less...Or a Helluva Lot Better!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Speak: The Graphic Novel
Laurie Halse Anderson, author
Emily Carroll, illustrator
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
175 Varick Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10014
9780374300289, $19.99, HC, 384pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Speak up for yourself -- we want to know what you have to say."
From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless (and a social outcast) because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her.
Through her work on an art project, she is finally able to face what really happened that night: She was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her.
Critique: With powerful illustrations by Emily Carroll, "Speak: The Graphic Novel" is a compelling and deftly crafted story by Laurie Halse Anderson that simply comes alive from first page to last. While unreservedly recommended for community library graphic novel collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Speak: The Graphic Novel" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Timeless: Nature's Formula for Health and Longevity
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393713251, $16.95, PB, 368pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Few prejudices in Western (and especially American) society are more powerful than those concerning aging. Until recently, we have assumed that the story of aging is one of loss and decline. But there's an entirely different truth. Despite the popular notion against it, you really can teach an old dog (or even a sort-of-old dog) new tricks.
Is there a secret to staying young? It turns out that there are many, and they all begin with nurturing our existing relationships to foster brain health, keeping us happier and healthier.
"Timeless: Nature's Formula for Health and Longevity" by Louis Cozolino, (Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine University) shows that learning, wisdom, enhanced social relationships, greater adaptation and flexibility (mental, if not physical) are all things can be attained, with the proper psychological attitudes as we grow older.
Critique: Whatever age we are or aspire to be, our state of mind is the key to living successfully and fully. An impressive compendium packed with practical and thought-provoking suggestions toward that goal, "Timeless: Nature's Formula for Health and Longevity" is essential reading for anyone who wants to "age in style". While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Psychology of Aging collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Timeless" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.10).
A Better Place
Pati Navalta Poblete
Nothing But The Truth Publishing
9781946706997, $15.95, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Pati Navalta Poblete's world is shattered when her 23-year-old son, Robby, is violently killed. She blames God, the American culture of gun violence, the town where he was born and died, even herself. Two years later, in the pages of "A Better Place: A Memoir of Peace in the Face of Tragedy" she shares how Robby's death was transformative for her and many others -- including their family and friends, and even the first journalist on the scene.
A Bay Area native, Pati takes the reader on a raw, heartbreaking journey from the scene of the crime, to a Buddhist monastery in Northern California, to Asia where she travels for work, to Robby's favorite beach in Hawaii to mark the first anniversary of his death -- everywhere she goes trying to make sense of what has happened. Along the way, she offers glimpses into her and Robby's lives, underscoring what makes his loss so tragic and why every loss such as his matters.
Critique: A simply riveting read from first page to last, "A Better Place: A Memoir of Peace in the Face of Tragedy" is one of those all-to-rare and deeply personal stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Simply stated, "A Better Place" is unique and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.
J. D. Salinger and the Nazis
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299315702, $24.95, HC, 168pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Before J.D. Salinger became famous for his 1951 novel "The Catcher in the Rye" and infamous as a literary recluse, he was a soldier in World War II. While serving in the U.S. Army's Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) in Europe, Salinger wrote more than twenty short stories and returned home with a German war bride.
In "J. D. Salinger and the Nazis", Eberhard Alsen (Professor Emeritus of English at Cortland College, State University of New York) through meticulous archival research and careful analysis of the literary record, corrects mistaken assumptions about the young writer's war years and their repercussions. Though recent biographies and films claim that Salinger regularly participated in combat, Professor Alsen cites military documents showing that his counterintelligence work was well behind the front lines.
Professor Alsen is a longtime Salinger scholar who witnessed the Nazi regime firsthand as a child in Germany. In "J. D. Salinger and the Nazis" he deftly tracks Salinger's prewar experiences in the army, his work for the CIC during significant military campaigns, and his reactions to three military disasters that killed more than a thousand fellow soldiers in his Fourth Infantry Division.
Professor Alsen also identifies the Nazi death camp where Salinger saw mounds of recently burned bodies. Revealing details shed light on Salinger's outspoken disgust for American military leaders, the personality changes that others saw in him after the war, and his avoidance of topics related to the Holocaust.
Critique: The result of a unique and seminal body of original scholarship, and enhanced with the inclusion of ten pages of Notes; a seven page Bibliography; and a five page Index, "J. D. Salinger and the Nazis" as impressively informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, as it is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. While an especially recommended addition to both community and academic library American Literary Studies collections in general, and J. D. Salinger supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "J. D. Salinger and the Nazis" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Galantiere: The Lost Generation's Forgotten Man
Overlook Press LLC
9780999100226, $34.00, HC, 412pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Lewis Galantiere was a playwright, a literary and cultural critic, an author, a Federal Reserve Bank economist throughout the Great Depression, the director of the French Branch of the Office of War Information at the onset of World War II, an ACLU Director during the McCarthyism-fraught 1950s, a Counselor to Radio Free Europe and, and at a crucial time in its history, president of the writers advocacy organization PEN America .
How he could now be forgotten seems unfathomable. Yet, today, few know his name and, to those who do, he is a cipher.
And that was precisely his intent. The son of Jewish Latvian immigrants at a time of rampant anti-semitism, Lewis spent his first thirteen years in Chicago's tenements and did not complete grade school. Yet, by his early twenties, Lewis had convinced the world that he was the apostate son of French Catholic parents, and had earned degrees from French and German universities.
"Galantiere, The Lost Generation's Forgotten Man" by Lurie Mark is both an historical chronicle providing rare insights into the lives of leading twentieth century figures (including previously unpublished personal correspondence from Hadley Hemingway and Alfred Knopf), and a meticulously researched biography. Galantiere presents, for the first time, the seemingly magical story of the self-fabricated and fully-realized man, Lewis Galantiere.
Critique: Impressively researched, extraordinarily informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Galantiere: The Lost Generation's Forgotten Man" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library 20th Century American Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Galantiere: The Lost Generation's Forgotten Man" is also available in a paperback edition (9780999100202, $22.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The History of Havana
Dick Cluster & Rafael Hernandez
OR Books/Serif Books
9781944869670, $17.95, PB, 352pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Since its founding in 1519, Havana has drawn people from all over the world, including explorers, immigrant, refugees, and the exiled, to create a melting pot of influences and cultures -- and a very distinct history.
From its colonial roots to its communist revolution, in "The History of Havana" authors Dick Cluster (who is a translator of Latin American literature) and Rafael Hernandez (who is the editor of Temas, a Cuban quarterly in the field of history, culture, economics, and politics) examine not only the ruptures in the city's life, but its continuities as well.
The traditions that make the city unique, like its idiosyncratic combination of territorialism and hospitality or its proclivity for protest, are as much a drive for change as an integral element of its character. Drawing on oral histories and cultural artifacts alike, "The History of Havana" acknowledges the rich and artfully selected stories of the citizens, from their fascinating exploits to their grand successes, to be as significant to the very fabric of the city as its dynamic culture and intriguing politics, making it a superbly well-rounded account of the most alluring city in the Caribbean.
Critique: Now in an updated and revised second edition, "The History of Havana" is illustrated with black-and-white photographs and maps, making it an ideal introduction to the History of Cuba's major city and will prove to be a welcome and valued addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The History of Havana" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
When Evil Came to Good Hart
University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
9780472037223, $22.95, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Now brought back into print for the benefit of a new generation of appreciative readers, "When Evil Came to Good Hart" is page-turning true-life whodunit in which author Mardi Link looks into the cold-case files of the murders of a wealthy Detroit-area family in their northern Michigan cabin in 1968, detailing and reviewing all the evidence to date.
Link deftly crafts her book around police and court documents and historical and present-day statements and interviews, in addition to exploring the impact of the case on the community of Good Hart and the stigma that surrounds the popular summer getaway. Adding to both the sense of tragic history and the suspense, Link laces her tale with fascinating bits of local and Indian lore, while dozens of colorful characters enter and leave the story, spicing the narrative.
During the years of investigation of the murders, officials considered hundreds of tips and leads as well as dozens of sources, among them former secretaries who worked for murder victim Dick Robison; Robison's business associates; John Norman Collins, perpetrator of the "Co-Ed Murders" that took place in Washtenaw County between 1967 and 1969; and an inmate in federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, who said he knew who killed the Robison family. Despite the exhaustive investigative efforts of numerous individuals, decades later the case lies tantalizingly out of reach as an unsolved cold case.
This edition of "When Evil Came to Good Hart", published at the 50th anniversary of the murder, includes a new Afterword by Mardi Link. In it, Link discusses information that's come to light since the book's original publication and reflects on how the Robison murders might have been handled differently today.
Critique: An inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "When Evil Came to Good Hart" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library True Crime collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that this new edition of "When Evil Came to Good Hart" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval
9781856048248, $70.94 / 54.95 Brit. pounds, PB, 368pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Metadata is a computer term for information that is held as a description of stored data.
Now in a newly revised and updated second edition, "Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval: Understanding Metadata and Its Use" is a classic instructional text by David Haynes (who is a visiting lecturer on the Library and Information Science programme at City University London) provides a thought-provoking introduction to metadata for all library and information students and professionals.
"Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval" is fully up to date with new technology and standards and includes new chapters on Metadata Standards and Encoding Schemes, assesses the current theory and practice of metadata and examines key developments in terms of both policy and technology.
"Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval" also includes: an introduction to the concept of metadata a description of the main components of metadata systems and standards an overview of the scope of metadata and its applications a description of typical information retrieval issues in corporate and research environments a demonstration of ways in which metadata is used to improve retrieval a look at ways in which metadata is used to manage information consideration of the role of metadata in information governance.
"Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval" should be considered to be essential reading for library and information students at undergraduate and postgraduate level and will also be useful reading for LIS professionals looking for an accessible introduction to metadata.
Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval: Understanding Metadata and Its Use" is a comprehensive and highly recommended instructional textbook and reference that is especially recommended for community and academical library Informational Technology and Computer Science instructional reference collections in general and Metadata Management supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Citizenship and the American Revolution
David W. Maxey
American Philosophical Society
104 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106-3387
9781606180631, $37.00, PB, 90pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It is not widely realized that there is a genuine historical question to be asked regarding the American Revolution -- When did a person living in one of the rebellious colonies cease to be the subject of George III and become a citizen of a newly constituted American state?
Well into the 19th century uncertainty persisted regarding citizenship acquired (or lost) during the Revolution.
Turning to original sources, independent scholar and historian David W. Maxey brings into clear focus a family dispute over inheritance rights and the task the Supreme Court faced in determining the status of Daniel Coxe -- either as a citizen of New Jersey entitled to inherit, or as an alien barred from doing so.
Having heard the arguments on two separate occasions, the Supreme Court announced its decision in 1808. Twenty years later, the Court measurably diverged from the rationale supporting that decision.
Critique: A unique, extraordinary, informative, and invaluable contribution to American History collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "Citizenship and the American Revolution: A Resolute Tory's Abiding Status" is an essential addition to community, college, and university library collections.
Willis M. Buhle
Steve R. Dunn
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781526701237, $39.95, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Bayly's War: The Battle for the Western Approaches in the First World War" by military historian Steve R. Dunn is the story of the Royal Navy's Coast of Ireland Command (later named Western Approaches Command) during World War I. After the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915 and the introduction of unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans, Britain found herself engaged in a fight for survival as U-boats targeted all incoming trade.
Vice-Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly was the man appointed to the Coast of Ireland Command. A fierce disciplinarian with a mania for efficiency, and thought by some of his colleagues to be more than a little mad, Bayly took the fight to the enemy. Using any vessel he could muster (trawlers, tugs, yachts) as well as the few naval craft at his disposal, he set out to hunt down the enemy submarines. Relief came when the United States sent destroyers to Queenstown, now known as Cobh, to serve under him, and Bayly, to the surprise of many, integrated the command into a homogenous fighting force.
"Bayly's War" is a vivid account of this vigorous defense of Britain's trade and brings to life the U-boat battles, Q-ship actions, merchant ship sinkings, and rescues as well as the tireless Bayly, the commander at the center.
Critique: An impressively researched and deftly written history that is extraordinarily well organized and presented, "Bayly's War: The Battle for the Western Approaches in the First World War" is an invaluable and enduringly important contribution to the growing library of World War I histories and memoirs. Nicely illustrated with a series of plate illustrations, and featuring six Appendices, six pages of Notes, a three page Bibliography, and an eight page Index, "Bayly's War" is unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of military history buffs, as well as both community and academic library World War I Military & Naval History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Among the Aspen
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299317508, $22.95, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Following his English setters into thickets in search of grouse and woodcock, Mark Parman feels the pull of older ways and lost wisdom. How rare it is, in our high-tech world, to find oneself completely off the track, bewildered in the wild, and then find the path home by sight and scent and memory.
"Among the Aspen: Northwoods Grouse and Woodcock Hunting" Mark deftly interweaves tales of companionable dogs, lucky hunts, and favorite coverts where quarry lurks with ruminations on the demise of hunting traditions, the sale of public lands and the privatization of places to hunt, the growing indifference to science, and the loss of wilderness on a planet increasingly transformed by the sprawl of humanity.
Critique: Mark Parman is the author of "A Grouse Hunter's Almanac: The Other Kind of Hunting" (9780299249205, $29.95 HC; $15.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle) and the editor for "A Passion for Grouse: The Lore and Legend of America's Premier Game Bird" (Wild River Press, 9780989523608, $75.00, HC, 548pp), and a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society, American Woodcock Society, and Loyal Order of Dedicated Grouse Hunters. He taught English for many years at the University of Wisconsin - Marathon County in Wausau and currently lives near Seeley, Wisconsin.
In "Among the Aspen: Northwoods Grouse and Woodcock Hunting" he draws upon his years of experience, expertise, and ability to fully engage his readers from first page to last. Showcasing his genuine flair for narrative driven outdoors writing, "Among the Aspen" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of outdoors enthusiasts in general, and grouse hunting fans in particular, that "Among the Aspen" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Class War, USA
PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618
9781608468478, $19.95, PB, 168pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Class War, USA: Dispatches from Workers' Struggles in American History" is a rich collection of stories about ordinary people who resisted oppression and exploitation against all odds. Brandon Weber (who has written for The Progressive, Upworthy, Big Think, and many other online publications, and has been a union activist for over 30 years) provides the reader with a series of twenty-five succinct and vivid essays capture crucial moments of struggle when working-class people built movements of hope and defiance. Evocative imagery, archival photographs, and descriptive text make history come alive in these pages.
From the mines to the factories to the fields, Weber shares the experiences of the real-life men and women who organized, heroically resisted, and battled the bosses and corrupt politicians. In the spirit of A People's History of the United States, this book conveys engaging and accessible narratives of ordinary people who led labor struggles that have indelibly shaped American history.
Essays include vivid accounts of resistance in the workplace like the Ludlow miner's strike and organizing at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, as well as broader pieces on cultural figures like Woody Guthrie, Black Wall Street in Tulsa, OK, and the fight for the eight-hour day.
An invaluable tool for learning the lessons of grassroots struggle, "Class War, USA" is the perfect counter-narrative to the myth that change comes only from the top, and will appeal to students of history and labor activists alike.
Critique: An refreshingly iconoclastic, impressively informative, exceptionally well written series of enlightened and enlightening, thoughtful and thought-provoking commentaries, "Class War, USA: Dispatches from Workers' Struggles in American History" is a especially recommended for the personal reading lists of social and political activists, as well as a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to both community library Social Issues, American History, Labor History, and Political Science collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Tito and His Comrades
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299317706, $44.99, HC, 552pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Josip Broz (1892 - 1980), nicknamed Tito, led Yugoslavia for nearly four decades with charisma, cunning, and an iron fist.
"Tito and His Comrades" by Joze Pirjevec (who is Professor of History at the University of Primorska in Slovenia and a Fellow of the Slovenian Academy of Arts and Science) is a landmark biography revealing the life of one of the most powerful figures of the Cold War era.
With his Partisans Tito fought Hitler during World War II, and after the war he shrewdly resisted the Soviet Union's grasp. A leader of the non-aligned nations, he long enjoyed a reputation in the West as "the only good Communist" despite a dubious human rights record at home.
In "Tito and His Comrades", Professor Pirjevec employs impressive research from archives in eight languages to offer his illuminating, definitive, biographical portrait of a complex man in turbulent times.
Professor Pirjevec recounts how Tito, with little schooling but an astute intellect and driving ambition, rose through Communist Party ranks to shape and rule the Yugoslav federation. Surviving multiple assassination attempts by Nazis, Soviet spies, and others, Tito (Professor Pirjevec reveals) boldly threatened Stalin in return and may have contrived Stalin's death. The narrative follows Tito's personal and political life into old age, as the specter of a Soviet invasion haunted him until his death at age eighty-seven.
Available in English for the first time, this new edition includes new material from Pirjevec and a foreword by Emily Greble.
Critique: Including a seventy pages of Notes and an eight page Index, impressively informative, exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, and"Tito and His Comrades" is a seminal work of simply outstanding scholarship and a definitive biography of Tito, his allies and his enemies. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, that "Tito and His Comrades" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).
Introduction to Cities
Xiangming Chen, Anthony M. Drum, Krita E. Paulsen
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781119167716, $59.95, HC, 432pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The collaborative work of Xiangming Chen (the founding Dean and Director of the Center for Urban and Global Studies and Paul Raether Distinguished Professor of Global Urban Studies and Sociology at Trinity College, Hartford, as well as a guest professor in the School of Social Development and Public Policy at Fudan University, Shanghai, China); Anthony M. Orum (Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the founding editor of the journal City & Community); and Krista E. Paulsen (Associate Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Florida), this newly revised and updated second edition of "Introduction to Cities: How Place and Space Shape Human Experience" explores why cities are such a vital part of the human experience and how they shape our everyday lives.
Written in engaging and accessible terms, "Introduction to Cities" examines the study of cities through two central concepts: that cities are places, where people live, form communities, and establish their own identities, and that they are spaces, such as the inner city and the suburb, that offer a way to configure and shape the material world and natural environment.
"Introduction to Cities" also covers the theory of cities from an historical perspective right through to the most recent theoretical developments. The authors offer a balanced account of life in cities and explore both positive and negative themes. In addition, the text of "Introduction to Cities" takes a global approach, with examples ranging from Berlin and Chicago to Shanghai and Mumbai.
Extensively illustrated with updated maps, charts, tables, and photographs, this new edition of "Introduction to Cities" also includes a new section on urban planning as well as new chapters on cities as contested spaces, exploring power and politics in an urban context.
"Introduction to Cities" contains; information on the status of poor and marginalized groups and the impact of neoliberal policies; material on gender and sexuality; and presents a greater range of geographies with more attention to European, Latin American, and African cities.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, and enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an eight page Glossary; a seventeen page list of References; and a thirteen page Index, "Introduction to Cities: How Place and Space Shape Human Experience" is a complete and comprehensive textbook that is unreservedly recommended for both college and university library Urban Studies collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, urban planners, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Introduction to Cities" is also available in a digital book format (eTextbook, $40.76).
She Writes Press
9781631523205, $16.95, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, "Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago" by documentary producer, author, blogger, educator, and archivist Linda Gartz exposes the racist lending rules that refuse mortgages to anyone in areas with even one black resident.
As blacks move deeper into Chicago's West Side during the 1960s, whites flee by the thousands. But Linda's parents, Fred and Lil choose to stay in their integrating neighborhood, overcoming previous prejudices as they meet and form friendships with their African American neighbors. The community sinks into increasing poverty and crime after two race riots destroy its once vibrant business district, but Fred and Lil continue to nurture their three apartment buildings and tenants for the next twenty years in a devastated landscape -- even as their own relationship cracks and withers.
After her parents' deaths, Linda discovered long-hidden letters, diaries, documents, and photos stashed in the attic of her former home. Determined to learn what forces shattered her parents' marriage and undermined her community, she searched through the family archives and immerses herself in books on racial change in American neighborhoods.
Told through the lens of Gartz's discoveries of the personal and political, "Redlined" delivers a riveting story of a community fractured by racial turmoil, an unraveling and conflicted marriage, a daughter's fight for sexual independence, and an up-close, intimate view of the racial and social upheavals of the 1960s.
Critique: Candid, informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago" is an extraordinary contribution to both community and academic library 20th Century American History collections in general, and 20th Century Black History supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers that "Redlined" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.56).
Lawrence Hill Books
c/o Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9780915864126, $26.99, HC, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Martin Luther King Jr. was a cautious nineteen-year-old rookie preacher when he left Atlanta, Georgia, to attend divinity school up north. At Crozer Theological Seminary, King, or "ML" back then, immediately found himself surrounded by a white staff and white professors. Even his dorm room had once been used by wounded Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. In addition, his fellow seminarians were almost all older; some were soldiers who had fought in World War II, others pacifists who had chosen jail instead of enlisting. ML was facing challenges he'd barely dreamed of.
A prankster and a late-night, chain-smoking pool player, ML soon fell in love with a white woman, all the while adjusting to life in an integrated student body and facing discrimination from locals in the surrounding town of Chester, Pennsylvania. In class, ML performed well, though he demonstrated a habit of plagiarizing that continued throughout his academic career. But he was helped by friendships with fellow seminarians and the mentorship of the Reverend J. Pius Barbour. In his three years at Crozer between 1948 and 1951, King delivered dozens of sermons around the Philadelphia area, had a gun pointed at him (twice), played on the basketball team, and eventually became student body president. These experiences shaped him into a man ready to take on even greater challenges.
Based on dozens of revealing interviews with the men and women who knew him then, "The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age" is the first definitive, full-length account of King's years as a divinity student at Crozer Theological Seminary. Long passed over by biographers and historians, this period in King's life is vital to understanding the historical figure he soon became.
Critique: Patrick Parr has written about Dr. King for magazines and newspapers such as the Atlantic Magazine, the Seattle Magazine, and the Japan Times. He has also worked as a historical consultant for the New Jersey Historical Commission, helping to decide on nominated Martin Luther King Jr. landmarks. In 2014, he was awarded an Artist Trust Fellowship. In "The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age" he has created an inherently fascinating biography of one of the most influential Americans of the second half of the 20th Century.
Enhanced with the inclusion of three appendices (Crozer incoming Class of 1948; Events from ML's Student Body Presidency; A Brief History of the Crozers and Old Main); thirty pages of Notes; a six page Select Bibliography; and a seven page Index, "The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century American Biography collections in general, and Martin Luther King Jr. supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Seminarian" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Working Class
Ian Gilbert, editor
Crown House Publishing
81 Brook Hills Circle, White Plains, NY 10605
9781781352786, $34.95, PB, 544pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Ian Gilbert is an award-winning author and editor, a leading educational speaker and an entrepreneur and a man who the IB World magazine named as one of its top 15 educational 'visionaries'. He established Independent Thinking in 1994 as a platform for leading practitioners to share their work in bringing the best out of all children.
In "The Working Class: Poverty, Education and Alternative Voices", Gilbert unites educators from across the UK and further afield to call on all those working in schools to adopt a more enlightened and empathetic approach to supporting children in challenging circumstances.
One of the most intractable problems in modern education is how to close the widening gap in attainment between the haves and the have-nots. Unfortunately, successive governments both in the UK and abroad have gone about solving it the wrong way.
The contributors to "The Working Class" are not telling teachers or schools leaders how to run their schools, their classroom or their relationships the field is too massive, too complex, too open to debate and to discussion to propose off-the-shelf solutions. Furthermore, the research referred to comprising "The Working Class" is not presented in order to tell educators what to think, but rather to inform their own thinking and to challenge some of the dominant narratives about educating the feckless poor. "The Working Class" is about helping educators to ask the right questions, and its starting question is quite simple: how can we approach the education of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in a way that actually makes a difference for all concerned?
Written for policy makers and activists as well as school leaders and educators, 'The Working Class' is both a timely survey of the impact of current policies and an invaluable source of practical advice on what can be done to better support disadvantaged children in the school system.
Critique: An impressive body of work, "The Working Class: Poverty, Education and Alternative Voices" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists, teachers, students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject should be aware that "The Working Class: Poverty, Education and Alternative Voices" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.73). It should be noted that all royalties from the sale of "The Working Class" will be used to support the education of children living in poverty in the UK.
The Curious Life of Krill
2000 M Street NW Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
9781610918534, $30.00, HC, 216pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Krill are small crustaceans of the order Euphausiacea, and are found in all the world's oceans. The name "krill" comes from the Norwegian word krill, meaning "small fry of fish", which is also often attributed to species of fish. (Wikipedia)
Scientists say they are one of most abundant animals on the planet. But when pressed, few people can accurately describe krill or explain their ecological importance. Antarctic krill have used their extraordinary adaptive skills to survive and thrive for millions of years in a dark, icy world far from human interference. But with climate change melting ice caps at the top and bottom of the world, and increased human activity and pollution, their evolutionary flexibility to withstand these new pressures may not be enough.
Eminent krill scientist Stephen Nicol (Adjunct Professor in the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, in Hobart, and the recipient of the Australian Antarctic Medal for outstanding contributions to Antarctic research) wants us to know more about this enigmatic creature of the sea.
In the pages of "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World", Professor Nicol argues that it's critical to understand krill's complex biology in order to protect them as the krill fishing industry expands. This account of Antarctic krill-one of the largest of eighty-five krill species-takes us to the Southern Ocean to learn firsthand the difficulties and rewards of studying krill in its habitat.
Professor Nicol clearly lays to rest the notion that krill are simply microscopic, shrimplike whale food but are in fact midway up the food chain, consumers of phytoplankton and themselves consumed by whales, seals, and penguins. From his early education about the sex lives of krill in the Bay of Fundy to a krill tattoo gone awry, Professor Nicol uses humor and personal stories to bring the biology and beauty of krill alive. In the final chapters, he examines the possibility of an increasingly ice-free Southern Ocean and what that means for the fate of krill-and us.
Critique: Offering both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World" offers a newfound appreciation for the complex ecology of a species we have much to learn from, and many reasons to protect. An exceptional and impressively informative study, "The Curious Life of Krill" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Marine Life collections in general, and Environmental Conservation & Protection supplemental studies lists in particular.
Michael J. Carson
Douglas J. Wood
Plum Bay Publishing, LLC
9780998861722 $14.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: "Doug, I been practicin' law for fifty years. And I learned a long time ago, there ain't no such word as 'attorney' or 'lawyer'. It's 'asshole attorney' or 'fuckin' lawyer.' "
Author Douglas Wood first heard that advice from a southern lawyer nearly forty years ago. It was his inspiration to write Asshole Attorney, a book of observations and reflections over his lifetime and legal career. A self-proclaimed "Army Brat", Doug moved to eight different homes throughout his childhood. His last move from Hawaii to Rutherford, NJ was a tough one, especially when faced with years of cold, snowy winters in lieu of sandy beaches and warm sunsets.
His madcap journey included college in Rhode Island, three law degrees, working with out-of-control rock stars, dealing with international crises in the dark alleys of Eastern Europe, and a partnership in one of the world's leading law firms. Readers will be charmed by Wood's candor and humor and will laugh aloud at his sharp, witty commentary as he navigates the pathways of his life and the jungles of his profession.
Critique: Raw, candid, and utterly unforgettable, Asshole Attorney: Musings, Memories, and Missteps in a 40 Year Career is a no-holds-barred window into the lifelong career of author and entertainment lawyer Douglas Wood. Here are stories of uncontrollable rock stars, international crises in Eastern Europe, and the perils and pitfalls of being a partner in one of the world's leading law firms. Riveting to the final page, Asshole Attorney is highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Asshole Attorney is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Geek's Cookbook
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781510729230 $14.99 hc / $14.24 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Binge-watching your favorite season of Dexter, Breaking Bad, or The Walking Dead? Planning a Pokemon Go gaming party or a Harry Potter viewing party? Need sustenance to fuel your attempt to achieve the impossible and watch all six Star Wars movies in a row? Enter The Geek Cookbook, your guide to cooking all sorts of treats and goodies to nourish your inner (or outer) geek.
Send your taste buds to another world with over thirty recipes from your favorite series, TV shows, and video games. Experience the supreme taste of the Matrix Burger or the Sauron Tarts, succumb to the Dagobah Marsh in Herb Crust or the Karadoc Crunch. Top it all off with some Minecraft Cookies or Meringue Pokeball, and you've got yourself a meal fit for Geek royalty.
Also featured inside are recipes inspired by Game of Thrones, Zelda, The Big Bang Theory, Batman, Final Fantasy, and many more!
Critique: Featuring full-color photography throughout, The Geek's Cookbook: Easy Recipes Inspired by Pokemon, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and More! lives up to its title with a wealth of dishes visually reminiscent of or directly referring to pop culture movies, television shows, comics, and video games. From Sam Gamgee Stew with Nasty Fries and Lembas ("The Lord of the Rings") to Donuts and Blue Meth, B*tch! ("Breaking Bad"), to the sumptuous Meringue Poke Balls ("Pokemon") featured on the cover, these recipes will amaze, delight, and prove a hit at parties! It should be noted that some of the television shows that recipes allude to are intended for mature audiences, especially "Breaking Bad", "Dexter", "Game of Thrones", and "The Walking Dead", making The Geek's Cookbook ideal for adult or older teen cooks rather than young children. Highly recommended. It should be noted that The Geek's Cookbook is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.24).
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd St; New York, NY 10022
0066214122, $12.50, 364 pp
The U.S. military wants a 'swarm' of nanobots to be radio controlled and act as a lens to look down of battlefields. They have contracted with a biogenetics lab to create a 'swarm' using distributed intelligence. The only problem: the swarm was designed using a 'predator/prey' configuration to keep the nanobots focused on their goals.
Jack, the husband of one researcher discovers the swarm has escaped from the lab and is becoming more intelligent when he sees it kill a rabbit. The swarm becomes self-aware and perpetuates itself inside three of the human researchers.
We (you and I) are warned that artificial organisms "will be 'alive' under any reasonable definition of the word. These organisms will evolve in a fundamentally different manner ...The pace ...will be extremely rapid ...the impact on humanity ...could be enormous." (Doyne Farmer, 1992). Crichton warns us not to "release self-replicating entities into the environment." (p. x).
Prey is an easy to read harbinger of future doom that illustrates what man could do to our planet. That is the true message.
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd St; New York, NY 10022
9780061929373, $24.99, Hardcover, 312pp
Swashbuckling pirates. Heavy, over-weight aristocrats. A hero who leads and saves a damsel in distress. The same hero uses an ax to chop at the tentacle of a 'kraken' that attacks his ship. The same hero (Charles Hunter) is betrayed by the same damsel Hunter saved from certain rape. Hunter has five helpers who assist with gunpowder, navigation, tiller work in their mission to capture a Spanish nao (treasure galleon).
Yes, the story is swashbuckling. We see Hunter defending Lady Sarah (fictional character) with a sword. We discover at novel's end the lives of the major characters, based on Charles Hunter's book Life Among the Privateers of the Caribbean Sea.
The Kraken attacks and Hunter defends himself. A tentacle grabs him and he attacks it with an ax. I was reminded of the scene in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (the movie) and asked myself 'was it possible Crichton was not satisfied with this novel?' (It was found in a file after his death). He created an active adventure story reminiscent of a 1930's pirate movie starring Errol Flynn. 'Nuff said.
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd St; New York, NY 10022
9780062473363, 9.99, PB; 329 pp
A fictional student (William Johnson) goes West with a vertebrate paleontologist to search for fossils. Crichton tells the violent stormy 'war' between Edward D Cope and Othniel C. Marsh, early bone hunters who recovered skeletons and illustrated their natural forms.
Johnson, the hapless student is left behind by Marsh. He falls in with Cope and lives a life with many adventures that turn him from 'rich' student to 'full' manhood. His adventures and the animosity between Cope and Marsh (actual paleontologists) give us a glimpse of the West as it was in Deadwood, Dakota Territory: exciting, muddy and short (for miners and gamblers).
Historical fiction can be exciting. This was! Some of the history of Wyoming and Montana is revealed. It was an era of illegal mining in the Badlands, a time of killing miners and reprisals by whites. Crichton was correct to tell us a story of naive youth who fails to see the reality of life on the frontier: there were miners, gunslingers, prostitutes, bartenders, angry Native Americans and naive college students out there to collect bones. We can say 'Thank You!' Michael Crichton. We love your thirty-two novels.
Marty Duncan, Reviewer
Our Newlywed Kitchen: The Art of Cooking, Gathering, and Creating Traditions
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781589979451, $34.99, www.tyndale.com
Laura Schupp, grandmother, happily married mother of three adult children and devoted follower of Christ, releases "Our Newlywed Kitchen" May 8. The unique keepsake book, inspired by one she made for her daughter, provides hard-won wisdom and guidance for newlyweds on "the art of cooking, gathering, and creating traditions."
The entire book features the importance of family, faith and building family traditions around the kitchen and the dinner table with space to "insert special recipes and prayers." She begins with a dedication page that affords room to note date, who the book is from and several lines for a personal message, favorite scripture or prayer.
This is followed with wedding gift registry information and a comprehensive checklist of "kitchen essentials" such as types of cutting boards, knives and cookware to consider, the pros and cons of each and tips on what Laura prefers to use. Other necessary items include baking dishes, cake pans, measuring cups, small appliances and other tools like graters, thermometers, tongs and whisks. A checklist is also available to print online. www.ournewlywedkitchen.com
Another section features favorite recipes. Some recipes might be inspired from family traditions while others bring back memories of special places or times or they might simply be recipes you like and want to make again. This section is designed as note cards with several cards to a page. Each card has lines for recipe name, ingredients, directions, prep time and how many servings the recipe makes.
Laura also includes a three-step dinner rotation comprised of 21 pre-planned meals which she writes is where "you take control." The first step involves a calendar, the "free downloadable MNK 21-Dinner Rotation Monthly Menus Calendar and the MNK Grocery Grab List also available online. www.ournewlywedkitchen.com
Next are a series of questions about meals to consider for your rotation collection from recipes you already know how to cook, your new husband's favorites or other new recipes you want to try. Step three is about grocery lists, items you need for the selected recipes and the reminder to note ingredients you already have on hand.
This is a small sampling of what's included in this beautiful keepsake book that's also a "guide, a planner and a tutorial" all in one. From recipes that encourage healthy eating to tips and lists that save time and money, to memorable prayers "Our Newlywed Kitchen" is a "keepsake the new bride and groom will cherish for years."
Fire Falls: A Vintage National Parks Novel
10807 New Allegiance Dr #500, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780735289567, $9.99, https://waterbrookmultnomah.com
Karen Barnett, former park ranger and award-winning Oregon author releases "Where the Fire Falls" June 5, book two in her "Vintage National Parks Novel Series." For this book the setting is California's Yosemite National Park and the time is just before the 1929 stock market crash. That's when Olivia Rutherford, a talented, struggling young artist, haunted by her father's past, meets Clark Johnson, a backcountry guide who has secrets of his own to hide.
Olivia couldn't know what waited for her or how her life would change when she was given the lucrative contract to paint Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine. She only knew the money would help her continue the charade of being a modern, sophisticated bohemian artist, provide for her sisters and give them the life she had missed out on. A relationship was the furthest thing from her mind.
Clark wasn't looking for a relationship either after the false allegations he'd been charged with three years ago. When he left the ministry, he worked as a Yosemite Park backcountry guide while he waited on the Lord for a new direction. Although he believed he had failed in his calling as a minister, regardless of who was at fault, he had come to love the beauty and grandeur of Yosemite's trails, falls, rivers and giant sequoias.
However, this morning, Chief Ranger John Edwards told Clark he had to decide about the ranger position he'd been holding open for him. The park planned to hire a guide service in a month, not next year like John first thought. Clark wondered if this was the Lord's direction or would he be "fleeing God's divine guidance" if he accepted.
Before he had time to think he was told his new month-long assignment would be to guide a talented, young artist around the park while she painted the majestic vistas of Yosemite and thoughts of his pending decision vanished! He just knew "placing himself under a woman's thumb again would be a mistake - an all-too-familiar one" he couldn't afford to make again.
Thus, begins a Christian romance wrapped in a complex tale of secrets, danger and mysterious duplicity when the wealthy Vanderbilt's, philanthropists and patrons of the arts, commission Olivia to paint Mrs. Vanderbilt's portrait while she fulfills her contract to paint the wonders of Yosemite National park for the travel magazine. Yet nothing is as it seems in this historical romance that comes wrapped in danger and suspense.
Barnett's first-hand experience as a naturalist, former park ranger and outdoor educator enable her to capture the spirit, the grandeur and the essence of one of our nation's most beautiful parks. Her elaborate historical research, well-developed characters, dialogue and characterizations transport readers into an engaging read that keeps pages turning long after the lights should go out.
Gail Welborn, Reviewer
The Known Universe
Hanging Loose Press
9781934909546, $18.00, 106 pages
"Wit" is defined as mental sharpness, intelligence, and inventiveness; the first two would be nothing without the third. Winch writes as if he's the first person on earth to look around and strip the world of pretense leaving only the funny and the painful which he makes magically the same. Wilde, Shaw, O'Hara, Beckett - Look. Winch is here too with paradoxes, irony; and a systemic itchiness that may be mistaken for philosophical brilliance.
There's no high-fat content in this poetry. No line in this book is subjugated to any other line. Every word is an irreplaceable link to the next - this is indisputable stuff; and why we want to reread - (besides liking to laugh and cry) - we want certainty, a control that only comes from the authentic and the inimitable.
We meet a grandmother who imagines our speaker with her at 'funerals and wakes:' "...We would dig up every joke/ in the book and the universe/ with our filthy laughter." And then there's 'Kenny in New Orleans' who takes the implied author to his first strip club where "... the dancers wore infinite pairs of panties and bras, so there was always/one more layer between fantasy and reality." There's a sick brother who lifts his hand: "I don't know what to do, so I take his hand in mine. /We've never done anything like this before." 'Mother' says, "The Complaint Book is full ..." in spite of a list of hilarious entreaties.
In Just This, "I have asked you over and over/not to bring flowers into the house. /Also, please don't wear perfume. /And don't wear perfume and bring/flowers at the same time, I beg/you..." And in the poem The New, a series of inversions beginning with "Winter is the new spring..." and ending with "...forever is a new never." (I love this guy.)
This is a book of Beatitudes, for each poem is saying Blessed are my friends and family; Blessed are the old days; Blessed are the new days; Blessed are the Emperor's new clothes; the gas station on Route 1; 'trees birds and Woodland animals;' and especially the past, where Terence Winch says he spends most of his time," ... It's vast and entertaining, and I know how it ends."
Subject to Change
Let us shove the last 73 minutes down the garbage
disposal and vacuum up all traces of the past 17 years
and stuff them in a plastic bag and be done with them.
Let's scrape our alternative versions of everything
we have learned since 1981 off the ground and flush
them all down the toilet. I'm worn out by my misdeeds.
My hands hurt, my fingers won't curl anymore.
I'm in the emergency room at Holy Cross hoping
all is not lost. I have no one to pray to, just the vast
empty sky, the black hole inside the black hole
that swallows up everything whole. They make
me lie down on the blank slate. Dr. Baker is running
late. Then the nurse lifts the curse and Baker says
you're a lucky man. It could have been worse.
Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl
9781555978068, $16.00, 103 pages
Diane Seuss' poetry is in dialogue with art and literature. To call these responses to great paintings "ekphratic" is to misrepresent the scope and depth of her writing. Her work mirrors the old Masters but she takes deeper and daring looks at their visions and virtues; then she attacks the ideas with fierce attention. The speaker's emotional life is intertwined with literary detail, personal incidents, as well as the art itself. A writer with such capacities is able to create worlds of originality and one way to see is through myth, Eden: An Outline, is a three-page roller coaster ride of extraordinary imagination.
In Self-Portrait with Levitation, a twenty-stanza three - page account of 'family,' uses humor as underbelly of human conduct. There are five prose poems under the heading Walmart Parking Lot on Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Georgia O'Keeffe, Andy Warhol, and Alice Neel. Every poem changes perspective in surprising ways with psychographic messages, because Seuss sees a world that combines versatility, tenderness, and sheer lingual strength.
Seuss is a mega talent. I could hardly choose a favorite poem but Sentences has characters (lots of them) living lives neither comforting nor terrifying but somewhere in between i.e.: survival. It's pure poetry psychodrama and if Seuss wanted to write a sitcom she could. If she wanted to win the Golden Globe, she could. Her digital look at subjects is perfect, with not one stanza or syllable out of step. Craft, brightness, darkness; she's writing at the top of her game. Girl Crush Here!
Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath's Braid
Some women make a pilgrimage to visit it
in the Indiana library charged to keep it safe.
I didn't drive to it; I dreamed it, the thick braid
roped over my hands, heavier than lead.
My own hair was long for years.
Then I became obsessed with chopping it off,
and I did, clear up to my ears. If hair is beauty,
then I am no longer beautiful.
Sylvia was beautiful, wasn't she?
And like all of us, didn't she wield her beauty
like a weapon? And then she married
and laid it down, and when she was betrayed
and took it up again, it was a word-weapon,
a poem-sword. In the dream I fasten
her braid to my hair, at my nape.
I walk outside with it, through the world
of men, swinging it behind me like a tail.
The End Of Chiraq: A Literary Mixtape
Edited by Javon Johnson and Kevin Coval
Intro and outro by Javon Johnson
Preface by the editors
Northwestern University Press
9780810137189, $20.00,160 pages
"Chiaraq" is a word combining Chicago and Iraq, a war zone made of artists scholars, essayists, hip-hop performers, creators. The violence regularly experienced by young Chicagoans is harnessed here to transform the potential and richness via rhythm, slang, hip-hop, scholarship, imagination, and documentation. It's an important book encapsulating the feelings and experiences of the black community in Chicago, a city under siege. These are stunning voices in rap, story, interviews, never put together like this before. In the preface written by the editors, Chiraq is defined as an amalgamation of Chicago and Iraq that starts and ends with the idea that "creativity is critical in imagining better possibilities." The preface and intro are really essential reading because here we get the pulse of the book. The editors cite Chicago native Kanye West 's quote, "I feel the pain in my city wherever I go. 314 soldiers died in Iraq, 509 died in Chicago."
There's a more-than-meaningful interview with graffiti artist Liz Lazdins (conducted by Leah Love.) Lazdin's quoted, "... when you feel you have no voice, no power, putting your name for the world to see, it feels good... Many might see the act as an illusion - a meaningless gesture - but actually, a good graffiti writer knows the city better than 99% of us. They know where construction is happening; they know how to climb buildings, all the alleys, bus routes, when cops come on and off shift...." These are important messages brought to us by gifted messengers.
Jalen Kobayashi writes important truths in, "The Stoop "... This stoop, a manhole/covers the X marking/the spot under an awning. /rolling dice until morning. /clouds rolling in, the ol heads/rolling blunts...."
Marvin Tate titles his poem" Hip Hop Poet "and begins "Give us a poem/that celebrates, struggles/cuts like a revolution that won/that will sing at the top of its lungs..."
In "Windowpain" Nile Lansa writes a lyrical piece, "Deep dish Dreamin'/ghetto awakening/ Sun don't shine too bright 'round here/ Big brother tells me it glistens on the North Side... Concrete angel/Displayed on the ground/After the corpse is removed/Bystanders revel in the beating silhouette//Stunning pain. Beautiful dirt/When the moon smiles on family barbecues/& popped water balloons//The Land of the Misunderstood/Spike don't know nothin' bout my kingdom."
Few in literature are more revered than Dr. Haki Madubuti who's fostered our greatest poets. He writes a meaningful essay that gives us "Unconditionals" for love for black people. Editor Coval ends this book with an essay committed to the work ahead, quoting historian Howard Zinn, "You can't be neutral on a moving train." This is a powerful encyclopedia of human progress though creativity.
The Eyes Have It
Anne Harding Woodworth
9781625492661, $19.00, 102 pages
Anne Harding Woodworth's new book is a testimony to her stature as a writer. What emerges from these new poems is the image of a poet who's awake every moment of her life - on a subway platform, lifting her head to hear bird sounds, surprising the snake in the garden, telling a tale of parakeets, parrots, the Zen moment of feeding fish etc. We learn early on that everything is the subject for poetry, for the poet can't hold back her responses. The fundamentals of life are ingredients that turn on some small fire that becomes a poem; what 'makes' these pieces 'work' is the emotional connection to the material - making charismatic the inert, reframing reality to freshen, rinse and refocus the frame. In each poem it feels as if we're being told a secret just for us that becomes a special moment - together, they message a meaningful life. I love the flashback poems from age nine, the last section, my favorite part of the book. Queen of content; Queen of form. I'm a fan.
To be briefly with my son again,
who goes by different clocks,
I took the Swiss pocket watch he gave you
from its special box.
I wanted to
inspect its inner workings through
a magnifier largely
bringing far-away up close to me.
I wound it and it ticked,
but time seemed slow,
to get there faster,
I nudged the arrow
But then like feet of clay
the seconds stopped
and nothing moved.
I blew at gears,
as if my air
would breathe back in time,
reconstitute the sound of years.
And some time I will confess to you -
will make it known -
how I broke my watch
and at what time and zone.
How To Love The Empty Air
Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Write Bloody Publishing
9781938912801, $15.00, 88 pages
Sometimes the person offstage in a play becomes the most memorable character. Aptowicz relives her mother's sayings, her mother's death, and its aftermath. It's very moving material but impossible to become darkly depressed because our poet is a buoyant writer who energizes with performative language. She takes us through the steps of recognition, then, transforms the hole torn out of her world with stories she can understand. Her colloquial conversational poems reveal a great relationship that will never die, and we should be privileged to be part of it. Although these poems come from a deep place, memory bubbles effortlessly pulling light through the waters that are troubled. What a miracle literature is - indelibly giving us a character we would never have known.
Isn't Every Love Poem an
Unfinished Love Poem?
Praise the ear.
Praise the hair curling
around the ear.
Praise the music
we never turn on,
Praise the caps
of your shoulders, my lips
pressed against them.
Praise the poem
I was trying to finish
when you showed up
at my door.
Best New Poetry Handbook
How To Read Poetry Like A Professor
Thomas C. Foster
9780062113788, $15.99, 187 pgs.
Honestly, this is the best book since Ted Kooser's Poetry Home Repair Manual. I've learned so much, remembered a lot, and was reminded of more. No one wants to read a book dissecting our precious art. That's what Foster knows and so he wrote a book that's fun, irreverent and profound. The title is unfortunate because we don't want to read like a professor, and Foster, knowing this, writes in opposition to the image of academia, dust, and yellow pages. Even discussions of meters are totally alive. How he does it, I don't know, but he makes us keep reading and we cannot stop. So, what if we already know what anapests are, or consonance and assonance. That's not the point.
The craft of understanding (and it is a craft) is carefully unraveled here for our reading pleasure. I don't mind a little Kubla Khan and Edgar Allan Poe thrown in. It can't hurt. And if Foster has to resort to saying A B A B once in a while, well we need a little roughage in our diet. It's good to see the nuts, and bolts and wheels again and recall what makes the carousel go around. Listen to some of the chapter titles: Chapter 1) The Sounds of Sense; 2) Sounds Beyond Sense; ... 9) Look Who's Talking; 10) A Haiku, a Rondeau, and a Villanelle Walk into a Bar, etc. They sound quirky, but the content is invaluable. "Is Verse Ever Really Free?" This book presents a sparkling infrastructure for poetics. "Craft" has always been in the shadow of our star - we tolerate it to get to what we truly want. Foster shifts the center of gravity, making craft, believe it or not, the star.
Dog Runs Through It
9780393651300, $18.95, 59 pages
The title means what it says. In a poet's life, we first think of contemplation and reverie. But the truth is, disruption runs through it, and sometimes in the form of living breathing rollicking unpredictable, loving creatures, some who have indelibly marked Pastan's life. They're assembled with homage paid to drool, grass rolling, arrivals and leavings. Heartbreak is inevitable whenever love exists-- especially for those in our charge-- children & animals - since they'll grow beyond their tenure with us. This is not a dog calendar with cute utterances and torn slippers. These are real dogs with names and personalities who call to mind larger moments involving friends, parents, mythology and memory. The canines are written with Pastan's natural strengths - lyrical lines, fluidity and grace. Whether by parable, anecdote, elegy, or narrative, Pastan's dogs are blessed with poetry's name by one of our best.
The New Dog
Into the gravity of my life,
the serious ceremonies
of polish and paper and pen, has come
this manic animal
whose innocent disruptions
of my old simplicities
as if I needed him
to prove again that after
all the careful planning
anything can happen.
Cherry Grove Collections
9781625492654, $16.00, 36 pages.
Love is difficult to write about. First, it must be genuine. That's hard enough. Then it must be carefully changed into a mechanism of service to the poem, no longer an abstraction, but an emotional calculus for language. The intention is not to describe but to magnify the strengths of a relationship. Love takes the best possible communication where each poem taps into something deeper than words. We wish it to be aspirational because we all want something from it that relates to us. At best, it unleashes the assets of the poet. Happily, poet Pia Taavila-Borsheim fulfills its greatest purpose.
As he waters blue hydrangeas, I peek
through the window, shy as morning glories,
waiting to bloom like moonflowers coming out
at night to entwine his pergola frame.
He picks cucumbers, cherry tomatoes,
cradling them in his hands as if they will break
at any moment, spilling seed across the floor;
he brings them into the house like diamonds.
We will can them in the water baths,
eat them in winter, glad of color and pulp,
pucker at the dill and the sharp taste of garlic.
It will linger on our hands after dark.
Let You Fly
Finishing Line Press
9781635344158, $14.99, Pgs. 24
What I admire most is the way Okie can move back and forth across time within a single poem. The imagery assists the consequences of space and thought, therefore she can compress and expand time to tell her story, and a large story can be made in a small space. The poem is an act of compression and the challenge is always to use that tension gracefully. Okie's precision and sharp eye makes for clear writing; and, it's the love of the exact that we read which benefit the reader. Never is an idea obscured because it's heartened by a visual or a sensual assistant. The speaker enters the landscape but doesn't ever dominate the picture. These are virtues that make us trust the work, along with honesty and to intimacy.
The hinge, crusted with mud,
resists your effort,
so you twist and saw,
cut through the crack,
turning a line into
a mouth helplessly opening.
You pry the shells apart
to show gray flesh
glistening in its sea water
and you pass it to me.
I tip the bed and slide
the cold body onto my tongue -
like the afterbirth
of a mermaid: salty,
so mellifluous that I
swallow it whole.
Best Poetry With illustrations
Fable of the Pack-Saddle Child
Mia Leonin, Illustrations by Nereid Garcia Ferraz
9781943491148, $19.95, 99 pages
A child protagonist in a book for adults was rarely seen in literature until the 21st century. I can think of a handful of successes in this genre and this addition to literature is inventive, original and engaging. Ten-year girl, Micaela, overcomes trauma by immersing herself in words that become her salvation and her saviors. Braiding poetic prose, narrative, verse and fable, the story's action is propelled by delightful illustrations.
Dog doesn't walk Micaela to school
or wag his tail when he sees her.
He scurries from behind trash cans.
He rolls himself into an armadillo shape to sleep.
Dog appears when Micaela sits on the apartment steps
or under the lemon tree in the lot down the street.
When Micaela pulls a bread scrap or a boiled potato from her pocket,
Dog lowers his head, always bowing before receiving a scrap.
He limps to the base of a tree, devours the food, and looks up,
searching for the morsel so he no longer remembers.
Best Literary Magazine
The Massachusetts Review
edited by Jim Hicks
Univ. of Mass/Amherst
Since 1959 The Massachusetts Review has featured fiction, poetry, essays, and art. In the spring issue there's a one-act play advancing drama, something other literary magazines seldom do. The visual art is irreverent and ingenious; the prose is bold and the spreadsheet of poetry rich with respected names, Ilya Kaminsky, Mary Morris, etc. and a national favorite, Emily Fragos.
This magazine with its interrupted agenda knows what literature is and how it should be presented. A magazine is a community; its writers, each issue, contribute a tone and a statement. There's an underlying text of political thought here made better by historical purpose. Since the second half of the 20th century the Massachusetts Review contributes stylishly and intellectually to America's literary canon.
Here's Emily Fragos:
The body she needs me now to cut her food and feed her,
to bring the glass of sweet water, never sweeter, to her mouth,
dry and shuttered. Now it unfurls itself as mouth, fish wet
and bird ascendant to a higher branch, with the taste of peaches
on its tongue, and for a moment she is mine again. The body
she needs me to hold her hand in the antiseptic rooms, the pill-clicking
halls, the ill surrounding her with their ugly eyes surrounding her.
Needs me to massage her neck, her legs, her temples so filled with
ancient agonia. Her breathing is shallow now, more so than yesterday.
I alone can tell. She needs me to call her back. She grows evermore
distant, ever deeper, too tired to lift her head, her arms, to speak
the barest of words. I alone know what is happening. The body
she requires me now full force to her kind attention.
www.massreview.org/node/6443 (Interview with Emily Fragos)
Grace Cavalieri, Reviewer
Washington Independent Review of Books
Neil and Other Stories
9780999621592, $15.00, PB, 194pp, www.amazon.com
Neil and Other Stories (WhiskeyTit, 2018) is the sharp edge of a bed frame, jutting out in the dark. It jabs into your shin, and the feeling bruises, lingers. But this time, strangely enough, you're kind of glad it happened.
Twenty-five different stories make up the first sixty-five pages of this stellar microfiction collection by J. Bradley. The author thrusts us into the lives of everyday individuals with ease, illustrating their pains in realistic situations and guiding them toward change and contemplation in just 200 words. And lucky for IBR, it's also styled with just the right amount of strange.
The structure of Bradley's "Job Aid" stories fit that unique mold the most:
Imagine that you've just started a job. You walk over to your new desk, and there's instructions waiting on top, formatted like a daily lesson plan. The paper introduces your issue and how to solve it, like "How to Survive an EELE." An EELE, which Bradley describes, is an acronym for an "emotional extinction level event," and defined as "an internalized rapid decrease in the amount of positive emotions." In other words, super sadness. But instead of just giving us advice on how to conquer these EELEs, Bradley tells a full story about the creator of the "Job Aid" sheet, whoever had left it behind, without ever curating a single scene. There are maybe four "Job Aid" stories like this in the collection, and we truly were gripping for more.
The largest portion of this collection is "Neil, a novella-in-flash." For those unfamiliar with the form, a novella-in-flash is one long narrative similar to a traditional novella, except each chapter tells its own complete story in under 1,000 words. In Bradley's case, the "Neil" novella tells the story of Neil's dad, an unnamed narrator, struggling with his instincts to act like his own problematic father. The narrator shows continued glimpses of parental insensitivity, even though he doesn't want to, but he just can't shake what had been instilled in him from his upbringing. It results in a complicated character battling with an intriguing, relatable issue.
Bradley's ability to flashback to the narrator's experiences with own father, while telling the main story of taking care of Neil, is exceptional - especially when you consider he does it in around 200 words. The backstory acts more like a side narrative than a subplot in each tale, influencing the narrator's present-day decisions and creating a character we can both relate to and root for. Masterful. Truly.
Bradley concludes his book with "Neil, a novella in theatre." While the screenplay form does provide an interesting new perspective on the main character's life, it does retell the same "Neil..." story a bit. We are sure there is some added purpose in retelling the story, but we did want to reach for just a bit more clarity on it.
In the end, this collection proved thoroughly enjoyable. It provides a fast and unique experience, and for those looking for insight and impactful imagery in about two minutes per story, we would highly recommend you get to reading.
P.O. Box 2015, Palatine, IL 60078
9780999472309, $16.00, 271pp, www.Maudlinhouse.net
This grief is good. Trust me.
Debut novelist Nick Gregorio kills the game with Good Grief from Maudlin House from the very first sentence: "Tony hasn't been to work since he found his brother dead with a needle in his arm sitting cross-legged on a twin bed in their parents' house."
Good Grief follows Tony D'Angelo, a high school teacher clearly in the wrong profession, struggling with the loss of his older brother, and with his own realization that he hates him. Nate has been a problem for Tony his whole life: the beloved son, the popular one, the smart one, the one who always knew just how to make Tony look bad. Even amidst his addiction, Nate found a way to be his parents' clear favorite, and when Nate dies, he soaks up the air in the room even more. So Tony is left to deal with his grieving parents. Alone. He's not too ready for that.
Even with a few truly questionable characteristics, Tony is an empathetic main character from the first page. Despite his claims at strength and confidence, the reader sees a damaged man, drinking, smoking, hallucinating his younger self dressed in a Ninja Turtle costume.
His younger self (Mikey) plays a particularly interesting role in this Maudlin House novel. While he appears solely because of Tony's psychological instabilities, we still really never want him to leave. Mikey provides lightness and relief in an otherwise hopeless and heavy situation, making for an incredible read. Cowabunga, dude.
Good Grief takes place entirely in-scene, creating natural transitions in the narrative and cinematic pacing throughout. Readers can easily walk beside Tony, smelling his smoke, wanting to lend a hand on the steering wheel when he might be a bit (or a lot) too drunk. We want to be there for him. We want to have in him. Trust him, even as he's talking to his imaginary six-year-old self.
There are multiple opportunities in Good Grief for Gregorio to walk a slow line, to guide us with his funny and succinct voice through a plot that we care about, but he doesn't give us that. He'd prefer to keep us guessing. Just when the reader believes that nothing will happen, that everything is safe, a change occurs. We should have trusted our instincts. Things are not really as we want them to be for Tony. But he'll get there.
He'll get there.
Joe Walters, Reviewer
Independent Book Review
Record of Regret
Dong Xi, author
Dylan Levi King, translator
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806160009, $24.95, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Be careful trying to place blame, or it might come back to you," Ceng Guangxian's father warns him after the first time his good intentions end in ruin. Yet time and again as Guangxian comes of age, bad luck and his own desires for a bigger, better future wreak havoc upon his family, fortune, and social reputation, leaving him scrambling to find the causes of the mishaps that define his life.
Set in the wake of China's Cultural Revolution, "Record of Regret" is a novel that follows Guangxian from his days as a middle school student to adulthood as a lonely, middle-aged man. Guangxian's path of misery (which he meticulously documents) is driven by absurdity: his discovery of two dogs mating leads to his father's infidelity with a neighbor; Guangxian's attempts to court a woman with the gift of a new dress result in his imprisonment for rape; he selects a spouse through a catastrophic game of chance, drawing from a set of names scrawled on crumpled pieces of paper. Guangxian's guilty conscience and youthful understanding of morality compound these disasters.
Critique: "Record of Regret" by Dong Xi (the pen name of Tian Dailin, who is the award-winning author of four novels), is now available to an appreciative American readership in its first English translation by Dylan Levi King and introduces a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese literature, and to the unparalleled tragicomic style of one of China's most celebrated writers. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Chinese literature that "Record of Regret" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.95).
Sarah Hays Coomer
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781580057738, $17.99, PB, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Even as a wave of renewed feminism swells, too many women continue to starve, stuff, overwork, or neglect our bodies in pursuit of paper-thin ideals. "Fitness" has been co-opted by the beauty industry. We associate it with appearance when we should associate it with power.
Grounded in advocacy with a rowdy, accessible spirit, "Physical Disobedience: An Unruly Guide to Health and Stamina for the Modern Feminist" by a self-proclaimed 'diet abolitionist' Sarah Hays Coomer asserts that denigrating our bodies is, in practice, an act of submission to inequality. But when we strengthen ourselves--taking broad command of our individual physicality -- we reclaim our authority and build stamina for the literal work of activism: the protests, community service, and emotional resilience it takes to face the news and stay engaged.
"Physical Disobedience" introduces a breathtaking new perspective on wellness by encouraging nonviolence toward our bodies, revitalizing them through diet and exercise, fashion and social media, alternative therapies, music, and motherhood. The goal is no longer to keep our bodies in check. The goal is to ignite them, to set them free, and have a mighty fine time doing it.
Critique: A critically important, exceptionally informative, deftly crafted, impressively insightful books that should be a 'must read' for every woman of every age who is concerned with their physical appearance or who has suffered under any number of fad diets trying for that 'perfect' physique, "Physical Disobedience: An Unruly Guide to Health and Stamina for the Modern Feminist" is an essential and needed addition to personal, community, and academic library Women's Health & Fitness collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Physical Disobedience" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
A Court of Refuge
Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, author
Rebecca A. Eckland, author
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
9780807086988, $26.95, HC, 208pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren is a humanitarian and mental health advocate who pioneered the first therapeutic mental health court in the United States, dedicated to the safe decriminalization of people with mental illness and neurological disorders, with the goals of breaking arrest cycles and promoting recovery and public safety. Judge Lerner-Wren is also an adjunct professor in Nova Southeastern University's College of Psychology. She lives in Broward County, Florida.
As a young legal advocate, Ginger Lerner-Wren bore witness to the consequences of an underdeveloped mental health care infrastructure. Unable to do more than offer guidance, she watched families being torn apart as client after client was ensnared in the criminal system for crimes committed as a result of addiction, homelessness, and mental illness. She soon learned this was a far-reaching crisis--estimates show that in forty-four states, jails and prisons house ten times more people with serious mental illnesses than state psychiatric hospitals.
In "A Court of Refuge: Stories from the Bench of America's First Mental Health Court", Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren (with the assistance of freelance writer Rebecca Eckland) tells the story of how the first dedicated mental health court in the United States grew from an offshoot of her criminal division, held during lunch hour without the aid of any federal funding, to a revolutionary institution.
Of the two hundred thousand people behind bars at the court's inception in 1997, more than one in ten were known to have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. To date, the court has successfully diverted more than twenty thousand people suffering from various psychiatric conditions from jail and into treatment facilities and other community resources.
Working under the theoretical framework of therapeutic jurisprudence, Judge Lerner-Wren and her growing network of fierce, determined advocates, families, and supporters sparked a national movement to conceptualize courts as a place of healing. Today, there are hundreds of such courts in the US.
Poignant and compassionately written, "A Court of Refuge" demonstrates both the potential relief mental health courts can provide to under-served communities and their limitations in a system in dire need of vast overhauls of the policies that got us here. Lerner-Wren presents a refreshing possibility for a future in which criminal justice and mental health care can work in tandem to address this vexing human rights issue -- and to change our attitudes about mental illness as a whole.
Critique: A compelling, informative, exceptional, thoughtful, insightful, and extraordinary judicial history, "A Court of Refuge: Stories from the Bench of America's First Mental Health Court" is a critically important and strongly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, mental health advocates, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "A Court of Refuge" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $25.99).
Coming From Nothing
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
9781785356193, $12.95, PB, 136pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Coming From Nothing" by Matthew McKeeveris a tragi-comic love story concerned with notions of identity, such as Judith Butler's idea that sexual identity isn't determined by the body, and John Locke's that personal identity is a question of memory.
The first novella in Zero Books new series of 'Thought Experiment Novellas', "Coming From Nothing" works out philosophical arguments in it's plot. Successfully fleshing out philosophical problems, "Coming From Nothing" is a deftly crafted story where philosophical ideas have consequences in the lives of its characters.
Critique: Deftly crafted, entertainingly thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Coming From Nothing" is an ideal vehicle for launching the new Zero Books 'Thought Experiment' series of novellas and will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Coming From Nothing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Norman J. Fried
c/o KTAV Publishing House
527 Empire Boulevard, Brooklyn, New York 11225
9789655242126, $19.95, HC, 112pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The inner world of a healthy child is filled with wonder, awe, and faith in a fair and just world. But for some children, a belief in the benevolence of the world and its people is often too hard to claim.
A unique guidebook, "Reclaiming Humanity: A Guide to Maintaining the Inner World of the Child Facing Ongoing Trauma" by Dr. Norman Fried (a clinical psychologist and a disaster mental health specialist for the American Red Cross of Greater New York) gives the reader valuable insights into the lives of children who have been victimized by chaos and disease, and teaches how to help them grow within the context of a loving, accepting, and ethical bond.
Using 'real world' examples, along with writings of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik on religion and psychology and the wisdom of trauma specialists, Dr. Fried shows how divine connections can serve as an inspiration, as well as a template, for other healthy interactions in a world that needs repair.
Through directed action, biblical citations, and psychotherapeutic techniques that provide empowerment and hope, Dr. Fried takes the reader on a journey toward healthier functioning.
Critique: Impressively written for the benefit of non-specialist general readers, "Reclaiming Humanity: A Guide to Maintaining the Inner World of the Child Facing Ongoing Trauma" is an extraordinary and 'real world practical' instructional guide and reference that is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections that will be of special and particular interest to parents of traumatized children and their caregivers.
The Future of Us
Irwin Redlener, MD
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
9780231177566, $30.00, HC, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Inadequate education, barriers to health care, and crushing poverty make it overwhelmingly difficult for many children to realize their dreams. "The Future of Us: What the Dreams of Children Mean for Twenty-First-Century America" is an especially candid memoir in which Dr. Irwin Redlener draws on poignant personal experiences to investigate the nation's healthcare safety net and special programs that are designed to protect and nurture our most vulnerable kids, but that too often fail to do so.
Raymond is a talented young artist who carries his work from homeless shelter to homeless shelter in a tattered bag but has never even been inside a museum. He is emblematic of the children that the renowned pediatrician and children's advocate Irwin Redlener has met over the course of his long and colorful career.
"The Future of Us" follows Dr. Redlener's winding career, from his work as a pediatrician in the Arkansas delta, to treating child abuse in a Miami hospital, to helping children in the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. The reader accompanies him to the board of USA for Africa, to cofounding the Children's Health Fund with Paul Simon, as he persuades Joan Baez to play a benefit concert for his clinic in rural Arkansas, and to dinner with Fidel Castro.
But what has motivated Dr. Redlener most powerfully are the children who struggle with terrible adversities yet dream of becoming paleontologists, artists, and marine biologists. These stories are his springboard for discussing larger policy issues that hinder us from effectively eradicating childhood poverty and overcoming barriers to accessible health care in the form of persistent deprivation and the avoidable problems that accompany poverty ensnare millions of children, with rippling effects that harm the health, prosperity, and creativity of the adults they become.
Dr. Redlener argues that we must drastically change our approach to meeting the needs of children -- both for their sake and to ensure America's resiliency and influence in an increasingly complex and challenging world.
Critique; An extraordinary read from cover to cover, "The Future of Us: What the Dreams of Children Mean for Twenty-First-Century America" is one of those compelling personal stories that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Informative, moving, and ultimately inspiring, "The Future of Use" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Future of Us" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.19).
Feng Shui Plain & Simple
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781571747891, $14.95, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Feng Shui (also known as geomancy) is a philosophical and metaphysical concept which originated in ancient China and seeks to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment.
"Feng Shui Plain & Simple: The Only Book You'll Ever Need" by Sarah Bartlett (who studied with the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London for three years) is simple guide to the art of feng shui provides easy-to-use tips and techniques for improving the energy in your life. You will learn to harmonize and lay out spaces in your home to enhance your personal energy, improve your overall wellbeing, and bring good fortune and balance into your life.
"Feng Shui Plain & Simple" explains how to: Declutter to clear the energy in your home; Use the Chinese bagua (number square) to map out rooms to enhance energy; Employ the five elements to harmonize the energy of your home; Use feng shui for the exterior of your home and outside landscaping.
A wonderfully 'user friendly' primer "Feng Shui Plain & Simple" will be of special interest to readers with an interest in interior design, Chinese legend and lore, and the metaphysical creation of healing and harmonious living spaces.
Critique: Impressively informative and well written, "Feng Shui Plain & Simple: The Only Book You'll Ever Need" clearly lives up to its title and will prove to be of particular and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Feng Shui Plain & Simple" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.88).
Hunting Charles Manson
Lis Wiehl, author
Caitlin Rother, contributor
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780718092085, $26.99, HC, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the late summer of 1969, the nation was transfixed by a series of gruesome murders in the hills of Los Angeles. Newspapers and television programs detailed the brutal slayings of a beautiful actress (twenty six years old and eight months pregnant with her first child) as well as a hair stylist, an heiress, a businessman, and other victims. The City of Angels was plunged into a nightmare of fear and dread. In the weeks and months that followed, law enforcement faced intense pressure to solve crimes that seemed to have no connection.
Finally, after months of dead-ends, false leads, and near-misses, Charles Manson and members of his "family" were arrested. The bewildering trials that followed once again captured the nation and forever secured Manson as a byword for the evil that men do. Manson ultimately died in prison of natural causes.
Drawing upon deep archival research and exclusive personal interviews (including unique access to Manson Family parole hearings) former federal prosecutor and Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl has written a propulsive, page-turning historical thriller of the crimes and manhunt that mesmerized the nation. And in the process, she reveals how the social and political context that gave rise to Manson is eerily similar to our own.
Critique: "Hunting Charles Manson" by Lis Wiehl (with informative contributions by Caitlin Rother) clearly documents an horrific life and what it took to end a lethal spree of charismatically driven murder and mayhem. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hunting Charles Manson: The Quest for Justice in the Days of Helter Skelter" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978606944, $26.99, MP3 CD).
Israel, the Church, and the Middle East
Darrell L. Bock & Mitch Glaser, editors
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825445774, $24.99, PB, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The relationship between the church and Israel has been the source of passionate debate among Christians throughout much of church history. In recent years the traditional pro-Israel stance of evangelicals has come under fire by those who support the Palestinian cause, calling for a new perspective and more nuanced approach by Christians who believe that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people by virtue of God's covenants and promises.
"Israel, the Church, and the Middle East: A Biblical Response to the Current Conflict" by Darrell L. Bock (Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary) challenges the supersessionist drift of the modern church, showing that God retains a plan and purpose for the Jewish people while also addressing a number of the divisive issues raised by authors critical both of Israel and of those who affirm Israel's right to the land.
"Israel, the Church, and the Middle East" explores the hermeneutics and wider effects of the conflict, such as the growing antipathy within the church toward the evangelization of the Jewish people. It provides readers with an objective and interdisciplinary treatment, which is irenic and respectful in tone.
It should be noted that the contributors to "Israel, the Church, and the Middle East" represent a broad evangelical Christian spectrum.
Critique: Exceptionally informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Israel, the Church, and the Middle East" is especially appropriate and highly recommended for community church pastors, global Christian leaders, theological students, and all members of the Christian community who are actively seeking guidance and resources regarding the Middle East conflict.
The Procrastination Economy
New York University Press
838 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10003
9781479844234, $27.00, HC, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In moments of downtime (such as waiting for a friend to arrive or commuting to work) we pull out our phones for a few minutes of distraction. Just as television reoriented the way we think about living rooms, mobile devices have taken over the interstitial spaces of our everyday lives.
In "The Procrastination Economy: The Big Business of Downtime", Ethan Tussey (Assistant Professor of Communication at Georgia State University) argues that these in-between moments have created a procrastination economy, an opportunity for entertainment companies to create products, apps, platforms, subscription services, micropayments, and interactive opportunities that can colonize our everyday lives.
But as businesses commoditize our free time, and mobile devices become essential tools for promotion, branding and distribution, consumers are using these devices as a means of navigating public and private space. These devices are not just changing the way we spend and value our time, but also how we interact with others and transform our sense of the politics of space.
By examining the four main locations of the procrastination economy (the workplace, the commute, the waiting room, and the "connected" living room) Professor Tussey illuminates the relationship between the entertainment industry and the digitally empowered public.
Critique: Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of thirty-eight pages of Notes; a four page Select Bibliography; and a six page Index, "The Procrastination Economy: The Big Business of Downtime" is a model of deftly crafted scholarship and inherently fascinating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read from first page to last. "The Procrastination Economy" will prove to be an especially welcome and enduringly appreciated addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Economics collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academics, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Procrastination Economy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.77).
Thou Shalt Innovate
Gefen Publishing House
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9789652299345, $27.00, HC, 284pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World" by Avi Jorisch ( a Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council) profiles wondrous Israeli innovations that are collectively changing the lives of billions of people around the world and explores why Israeli innovators of all faiths feel compelled to make the world better.
"Thou Shalt Innovate" is the true story of how Israelis are helping to feed the hungry, cure the sick, protect the defenseless, and make the desert bloom. Israel is playing a disproportionate role in helping solve some of the world s biggest challenges by tapping into the nation's soul: the spirit of tikkun olam the Jewish concept of repairing the world.
Following Start-Up Nation's account of Israel's incredibly prolific start-up scene, "Thou Shalt Innovate " goes on to tell the story of how Israeli innovation is making the whole world a better place. Israel has extraordinary innovators who are bound together by their desire to save lives and find higher purpose. In a part of the world that has more than its share of darkness, these stories are rays of light.
Critique: As informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring, "Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World" is a extraordinary read from cover to cover and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Thou Shalt Innovate" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
An Introduction to Husserl's Phenomenology
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812693386, $35.95, HC, 212pp, www.opencourtbooks.com
Synopsis: Jan Patocka is now considered to have been one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. He was a student of both Husserl and Heidegger. He lived most of his adult life in Communist Czechoslovakia, where he was at times banned from publishing his work and from holding academic positions. Having written his Heretical Essays, Patocka defied the Communist regime as one of the spokespersons associated with Charta 77. He died in 1977, following two months of police interrogation.
With the publication of "An Introduction to Husserl's Phenomenology" by the Open Court Publishing Company, Patocka's celebrated Introduction is now available in English for the first time. In addition to introducing Husserl's ideas, "An Introduction to Husserl's Phenomenology" is also an important work of original philosophy.
Patocka ranges over the whole of Husserl's output, from 'The Philosophy of Arithmetic' to 'The Crisis of the European Sciences', and traces the evolution of all the central issues of Husserlian phenomenology including: intentionality, categorial intuition, temporality, the subject-body; the concrete a priori, and transcendental subjectivity.
But rather than attempting to give a tour of Husserl's workshop, Patocka is himself hard at work on Husserl's problems.
Critique: A valued and inherently thought-provoking contribution to college and university library Philosophy collections, this edition "An Introduction to Husserl's Phenomenology" ably translated by Erazim Kohak, and deftly edited with an informative introduction by James Dood. While especially and unreservedly recommended, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of philosophy students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "An Introduction to Husserl's Phenomenology" is also available in a paperback edition (9780812699807, $24.95).
10300 N. Central Expressway, STE 400, Dallas, TX 75204
9781594935985, $17.95, PB, 286pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It is said that whoever you are it's okay -- you were born that way. But those words don't comfort Emily, because she was born Christopher and her insides know that her outsides are all wrong.
It is also believed that life gets better if you simply accept who you are and everything will be fine. For Emily, telling her parents who she really is means a therapist who insists Christopher is normal and Emily is sick.
Telling her girlfriend means getting lectures about how God doesn't make that kind of mistake.
Emily desperately wants high school in her small Minnesota town to get better. She wants to be the woman she knows is inside, but it s not until a substitute therapist and a girl named Natalie come into her life that she believes she has a chance of actually being Emily.
Critique: A deftly written and sensitively offering a 'real world practical' context, "Being Emily" by Rachel Gold is a deftly crafted story that will hold immense appeal (and recognition) for anyone who has ever felt that their own personal inside and outside don't match -- and that no one else will understand. An original and extraordinary LGBTQ novel, "Being Emily is unreservedly recommended for highschool and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Being Emily" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Stories of Oka: Land, Film, and Literature
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
9780887558191, $31.95, PB, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the summer of 1990, the Oka Crisis (or the Kanehsatake Resistance) exposed a rupture in the relationships between settlers and Indigenous peoples in Canada. In the wake of the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, the conflict made visible a contemporary Indigenous presence that Canadian society had imagined was on the verge of disappearance.
The 78-day standoff also reactivated a long history of Indigenous people's resistance to colonial policies aimed at assimilation and land appropriation. The land dispute at the core of this conflict raises obvious political and judicial issues, but it is also part of a wider context that incites us to fully consider the ways in which histories are performed, called upon, staged, told, imagined, and interpreted.
In "Stories of Oka: Land, Film, and Literature" Isabelle St-Amand (Assistant Professor in the Department of French Studies and the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Queen's University) examines the standoff in relation to film and literary narratives, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. This new English edition of Professor St-Amand's interdisciplinary, intercultural, and multiperspective work offers a framework for thinking through the relationships that both unite and oppose settler societies and Indigenous peoples
Critique: An impressive work of original and seminal scholarship that is able translated into English by S. E. Stewart, "Stories of Oka: Land, Film, and Literature" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of eighteen pages of Notes; a two-page Glossary; a nineteen page Bibliography; and an eleven page Index. "Stories of Oka: Land, Film, and Literature" is unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Canadian Indigenous Studies collections.
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771122900, $24.99, PB, 300pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Bird-Bent Grass: A Memoir, in Pieces" by Kathleen Venema chronicles an extraordinary mother - daughter relationship that spans distance, time, and, eventually, debilitating illness. Personal, familial, and political narratives unfold through the letters that Geeske Venema-de Jong and her daughter Kathleen exchanged during the late 1980s and through their weekly conversations, which started after Geeske was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease twenty years later.
In 1986, Kathleen accepted a three-year teaching assignment in Uganda, after a devastating civil war, and Geeske promised to be her daughter's most faithful correspondent. The two women exchanged more than two hundred letters that reflected their lively interest in literature, theology, and politics, and explored ideas about identity, belonging, and home in the context of cross-cultural challenges. Two decades later, with Geeske increasingly beset by Alzheimer's disease, Kathleen returned to the letters, where she rediscovered the evocative image of a tiny, bright meadow bird perched precariously on a blade of elephant grass. That image - of simultaneous tension, fragility, power, and resilience - sustained her over the years that she used the letters as memory prompts in a larger strategy to keep her intellectually gifted mother alive.
Deftly woven of excerpts from their correspondence, conversations, journal entries, and email updates, Bird-Bent Grass is a complex and moving exploration of memory, illness, and immigration; friendship, conflict, resilience, and forgiveness; cross-cultural communication, the ethics of international development, and letter-writing as a technology of intimacy. Throughout, it reflects on the imperative and fleeting business of being alive and loving others while they're ours to hold.
Critique: An extraordinary and deftly written memoir, "Bird-Bent Grass: A Memoir, in Pieces" is an inherently compelling read from beginning to end. Complex, candid, and offering an intrinsically fascinating account that will prove to be an enduringly valued addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bird-Bent Grass: A Memoir, in Pieces" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).
Making It Legal
Frederick Hertz & Emily Coskow
950 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781413325096, $29.99, PB, 248pp, www.amazon.com
In America, full legal marriage for gay couples is now available in all fifty of the states. But there are still many questions that same-sex couples should discuss before walking down the aisle. Now in a fully updated and expanded fifth edition, "Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions" by attorney-mediators Frederick Hertz and Emily Coskow show how a same-sex marriage will affect: your family if you have children; your taxes, and your responsibility for your partner's debts.
"Making It Legal" also covers state laws on same-sex domestic partnerships and civil unions, and explains whether your registration will be recognized if you move to another state.
Of special note is that this edition of "Making It Legal" also comes with access to a unique web page on www.nolo.com where you can stay current with thematically relevant legal updates and have access to thematically relevant podcasts and blogs.
Critique: Thoroughly accessible for non-specialist general readers and a handy reference for anyone seeking an understanding of the legal rights and responsibilities associated with same-sex marriages and other forms of permanent relationships, "Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions" offers a complete course of instruction in a single volume, making it an ideal and very highly recommended addition to community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Making It Legal" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.19).
The Mismade Girl
101 Hudson Street, Suite 3705, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
9781627781824, $15.95, PB, 216pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The pendulum has shifted in Catherine's life once again. Four years after peeling back the curtain and discovering the carnal secrets held within The Janus Chamber, she is now working as a political journalist, settled into a mundane routine and dating life because she chose to tell the truth about Inana Luna instead of embracing a life of decadence with The Juliette Society.
Meeting a man who reignites her passion for cinema and guilt-free sex makes her realize what she's been missing, but an unwanted scandal douses the flames of their passion. Forced to lay low, she finds an opportunity to take back her career, but there are people who see Catherine's article as a threat and will do everything they can to stop her from writing.
The world she uncovers is unlike anything she's ever seen. As Catherine's life is turned upside down, she must choose to either perish -- or be remade anew.
Critique: The third volume in author Sasha Grey's outstanding series 'The Juliette Society', "Sasha Grey" continues to showcases Grey's genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling. While very highly recommended for a sophisticated readership, it should be noted that "Sasha Grey" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 978-1520092911, $29.99, CD).
P.O. Box 3671, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-3671
9781612941219, $16.95, PB, 216pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Police Lieutenant Gianna Maglione heads up the DC Police Department's Hate Crimes Unit. She investigates those who espouse and perpetrate acts of hatred. She hunts them down and infiltrates their habitats, and then she finds out where they live and work and who their friends are. She learns what their next evil acts are likely to be, and who will be their victims. Then, she must stop the violence?because hatred is almost always violent. But what happens to a cop when one of her officers becomes the victim of a brutal hate crime, and her girlfriend is targeted for a hit?
Mimi Patterson is the lead investigative reporter for Washington DC's top newspaper. She's not the kind of reporter who skims the surface of any story?she digs deep, asks the hard questions, leaves no stone unturned. She's looking for facts, for all of them, seeking out the truth. There's nothing fake about the news she reports, and the truth that she uncovers comes at a terrible price. But what happens when she finds herself unable?or perhaps unwilling?to pursue the big stories that come her way, to follow them wherever they lead?
The evils of racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny, and religious intolerance pervade every aspect of our modern society. Hatred is a powerful force, one whose goal is to maim, weaken, diminish, and destroy. After so many years and so much hatred, Mimi and Gianna must finally come to terms with the price paid for their personal commitments to their jobs and to each other. And this time, the violence hits close to home, and the voices of its victims live on in the minds and consciences of Mimi and Gianna. They speak to them?and they remind them never to forget that they were denied life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness simply because of who they were.
Critique: An instantly compelling novel that simply rivets the readers total attention from first page to last, "Death's Echoes" is an extraordinary and consistently entertaining read that is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. Showcasing author Penny Mickelbury genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling, it should be note for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Death's Echoes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.00).
Awakening of the Summer
9781543923421, $14.99, PB, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: James, an economist at a Wall Street firm, takes a summer vacation at a hotel in Oberon Woods, New Hampshire, where he meets two beautiful sisters: Sophie, an editor of a law review magazine, and her younger sister, Kelly, a secretary at a museum. James is attracted by Sophie's intellectual beauty while he is infatuated with Kelly's ardent charm. But he finds out both women have their own boyfriends.
James's pastime is oil painting. He begins painting a pastoral landscape of a lake near the hotel with the majestic Mount Washington in the background, adumbrating the green world. He decides to paint two additional pictures, one of Sophie and one of Kelly using the same scenery. He titles the three paintings the Summer Lake Series.
David, an ambitious lawyer, visits Sophie. Their encounter ends in her mysterious near-drowning. James rescues her. Seeing his bravery, Kelly falls in love with him and becomes his lover. Sophie also falls for him?Kelly finds this out.
Steve, a son of a wealthy family, visits Kelly and proposes to her. She decides to return to Steve to give James to Sophie. Hearing about the relationship between Kelly and James, Steve rejects Kelly. She has a car accident but survives. Sophie, Kelly, and James reach an understanding that James is Kelly's lover.
One evening at the hotel, there is a show opening of James's Summer Lake Series, attended by many hotel guests. James, Sophie, and Kelly become celebrities. They are all intoxicated with the fame. That night, while Kelly sleeps, James and Sophie end up making love.
The following day, David and Steve visit the sisters again. Thus, the triple love-triangles continue, at the center of which James strives to make the situation best for both Sophie and Kelly, as dark secrets of each sister are revealed.
Critique: "Awakening of the Summer" by Yorker Keith is a deftly crafted romantic novel about a man and two sisters who go through intricate triple love-triangles during their summer vacation in a mountain resort. An original and entertaining read from cover to cover, "Awakening of the Summer" is an especially and highly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Awakening of the Summer" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Ohio University Press
215 Columbus Road, Suite 101, Athens, OH 45701
9780821423233, $26.95, HC, 168pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dolly Parton is a country music superstar who has built an entertainment empire. At the heart of that empire is Dollywood, a 150-acre fantasy land that hosts three million people a year. Parton's prodigious talent and incredible celebrity have allowed her to turn her hometown into one of the most popular tourist destinations in America. The crux of Dollywood's allure is its precisely calibrated Appalachian image, itself drawn from Parton's very real hardscrabble childhood in the mountains of east Tennessee.
"Gone Dollywood: Dolly Parton's Mountain Dream" by culture and history authority Graham Hoppe addresses such questions as: What does Dollywood have to offer besides entertainment? What do we find if we take this remarkable place seriously? How does it both confirm and subvert outsiders' expectations of Appalachia? What does it tell us about the modern South, and in turn what does that tell us about America at large? How is regional identity molded in service of commerce, and what is the interplay of race, gender, and class when that happens?
"Gone Dollywood" blends tourism studies, celebrity studies, cultural analysis, folklore, and the acute observations and personal reflections of longform journalism into an unforgettable interrogation of Southern and American identity.
Critique: Remarkably informed and informative, impressively detailed and documented, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Gone Dollywood: Dolly Parton's Mountain Dream" is a 'must read' for Dolly's legions of fans, as well as added to the community and academic library Popular Culture collections in general, and Appalachian History supplemental studies reading lists in particular. it should be noted that "Gone Dollywood: Dolly Parton's Mountain Dream" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $25.60).
Hubble & Hattie
9781787110793 $12.99 amazon.com
Synopsis: Caring for a dog who lunges, barks at and even bites other dogs is incredibly difficult. Canine Aggression follows the inspiring story of a Bull Mastiff called Calgacus, and his caretaker, first-time dog owner Tracey McLennan. For Tracey, the arrival of Calgacus in her life was a lifelong dream come true ... but a dream that became a nightmare when Calgacus attacked and badly injured another dog, and showed every sign of doing the same to any other dog he came into contact with. Help came from many amazing people, and enabled Tracey to understand Calgacus, and how to encourage him to direct the pace and direction of his rehabilitation. TTouch, clicker training, walks with other dogs, and trick training, all played their part in allowing Calgacus to discover joy in knowing his own kind, until he became a dog who loved to be with other dogs. He would play with those who liked to play; be gentle with nervous dogs, and would calm tense situations, encouraging other dogs to be kind to each other.
Critique: Canine Aggression: Rehabilitating an Aggressive Dog with Kindness and Compassion is the true-life story of caring for and training a dog-to-dog aggressive Bull Mastiff named Calgacus. A saga of life-lessons, dog training tips, and compassion, Canine Aggression is an excellent read for dog lovers everywhere. Highly recommended.
Home is Nearby
9781911293140, 8.99 Brit. pounds
It is fitting that Home Is Nearby begins and ends with water. The opening scene of a carp in the bathtub in the Polish city of Wroclaw is pivotal to the narrator, Ania's, burgeoning artistic vision. At the end of the book, on the beach near Brisbane, Australia, Ania commits to a fluid sense of home. The book ends beautifully illustrate the themes of this debut novel: identity and belonging.
Poland declares martial law in 1980, just as Ania starts art school in Wroclaw. While her widowed father works as a headstone carver in an outlying village, Ania and her avant garde friends put on and document art happenings despite increased surveillance and curfews. Ania and her boyfriend, Dominick, are both arrested. Under very different circumstances, Ania is released to Australia and Dominick to London.
Like Ania, the book's writing is heavy on action and light on exposition. She learns from her father to wield tools and work hard but struggles to assert her own concepts. She develops as a character mostly by making mistakes and discovering what she doesn't want to do before settling on more intentional goals. The narrative moves along through Ania and her friends' artistic pursuits, lush with descriptions of the feelings various paintings, sculptures, and performances evoke. Dominick, a writer, spices up the dialogue with his charisma and charm, Malgorzata, Ania's best female friend, lends a provocative flair, while boyfriends Dariusz and Krzysio a tragic innocence. Ania's ability to appreciate each on his or her own terms makes them stand out in well drawn individuality.
Scenes of police brutality punctuate the otherwise bohemian student life, forcing Ania, and the prose, to a headier tone. In these sections, in prison and as Ania confronts Poland's political tyranny towards her friends, she comes closer to defining her own vision. She speaks more about her ideals and herself in these scenes. Instead of bogging down the plot, these more reflective passages bring to light Ania's power as an artist and woman.
The well researched novel, attested to by a long list of references in the back, emphasizes persons over politics. The primary conflict is Ania's search for her own direction. While she looks up to Malgorzata's activism and admires Dominick's bravery as a journalist, she discerns she can follow neither of them entirely. Distance from Poland provides both space for Ania to discover her path and put Poland's political situation in perspective. She doesn't just want to react to its injustices but act creatively.
Although set in a tumultuous time in Poland's history, Home Is Nearby asks universal questions about the artist's life. The setting and well developed narrator, Ania, bring these questions into a poignantly personal focus. The questions aren't so much answered as deeply explored through artistic endeavors and relationships. Ania triumphs as a strong woman at home enough in her own skin as to abide multiple homes.
Translated by Tiina Nunnally
158642050, $16.00, 2002 (1911 original)
Set during a working holiday in Rome, then a disheartening return to Norway at the turn of the twentieth century, Sigrid Undset's Jenny is one woman's heartwrenching journey to determine her own fate.
Jenny and art school friend Cesca share lodging while they paint in Italy. Out with male friends Ahlin and Heggen, they meet another Norwegian, Helge, who, like many others, falls first for the vivacious, capricious Cesca, but later discovers a deep affection for Jenny's steadfast and more sober love. When Jenny and Helge both move back to Norway, she meets his unhappy parents. Unwilling to enter into their revengeful lives, Jenny also pities them, endeared particularly to Helge's father, Gert. She's torn between the joy she finds in her work, in art, and her pursuit of love. She leaves Norway for Germany, then Italy again.
For Undset, Italy serves as a sort of alternative universe in which Jenny develops as an artist, in a natural, less rigid environment. Italy's idyllic, carefree beauty contrasts with the reality of Jenny's Nordic Home, her impoverished, forbearing mother and Helge's dysfunctional family. Jenny resides in both these worlds, a passionate idealist holding out for one whom she can love wholeheartedly, and who will love her for independent, artistic herself, as well as a frugal pragmatist who can "expect the worst... and reap quite a bit of good from it" (23). Although much of the novel takes place in Jenny's head, in her stream of consciousness, she is beautifully drawn as a product of her time and place. She is on the cusp of modernity, of untold freedoms, expansions travel affords, yet still beholden to her own and her society's principles.
Jenny is a particularly Norwegian tragedy. It may be set in glorious Italy, but is grounded in Norwegian tradition. Each of the Norwegian characters expresses his or her views on Norway's relationship to the past. Gert is stuck in the romantic period. Helge himself is a historian. Heggen is a critic of women's rights and a staunch socialist. Cesca opts for marriage over work. Jenny wants to create something new, to bring beauty to whatever she sees. "Never will we women reach the point where work is enough for us," she tells Heggen. She wonders if it possible to succeed in her work as an artist and as a woman, who needs love, who needs to be in relationship. She embodies the creative tension of her era.
Jenny's wonderings are never fully resolved. Jenny doesn't end, but, rather, becomes a recurring dream that nurtures and torments many women still today. Undset exquisitely renders a female character in the midst of becoming, without dictating what she becomes.
The Warehouse Industry
9781786080547, 8.99 Brit. pounds pbk / 3.99 Brit. pounds ebook
What is character? What makes a person stand out? In The Warehouse Industry by William Macbeth, the unnamed first person narrator's primary character trait is that he wants not to stand out and be noticed. Brilliantly developed as a "bad" character, this protagonist satirically dramatizes the Herman Hesse quote at the start of the book: "The dream of death is only the dark smoke/ Under which the fires of life are burning."
The book begins as the narrator takes a nondescript job in a nondescript warehouse and ends when his employment finishes. In between, he narrates the misadventures that lead him there. Meandering randomly across various threads in his past, the pacing of the book matches this young man's demeanor. He's "helpless in the face of cajoling," and has "no intention at all" (47). He has trouble interpreting why others do things. He wanders through life. Not wanting to go to either his brother's stag party nor his wedding, he goes anyways, carried along by events. Finally, the threads come together and he willfully acts out despite himself. "We all sacrifice ourselves for ourselves," he says (120).
Wry irony characterizes this book. The only named characters are inanimate objects (Duck, Sofa, Invitation), to whom the narrator speaks more than to humans, and The Undertaker and Ratty, villainous friends of the narrator's brother. These names become and define these two, whereas, unnamed, the narrator defies labels. The narrator repeats himself often with pithy sayings: "wishing does me no good at all," "I'm no expert when it comes to...," "I felt like a ghost." Instead of laboring the text, these phrases point to the narrator's singular purpose and particularity. At a pivotal juncture toward the end of the book, he is both "I" and "you," noticer and noticed, hero and victim, at once. Satisfyingly unpredictable, the book's unexpectedness drives the plot with wit and ingenuity.
The overall tone of the book is unemotional and distant, but its effect is full of pathos. While Macbeth employs rich metaphors that elicit feeling as well as conjure image, he also includes irrelevant details, that the narrator says don't matter. The result is a tense combination of tears and laughter. Darkly humorous, this book succeeds in portraying the every man who is no man, The Invisible Man whose strength is in making himself known on his own wayward terms.
Mari Carlson, Reviewer
Duke University Press
905 W. Main St., Suite 18B, Durham, NC 27701
9780822368809, $94.95, HC, 280pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In today's American volunteer military many recruits enlist for the educational benefits, yet a significant number of veterans struggle in the classroom, and many drop out before graduation. The difficulties faced by student veterans have been attributed to various factors: poor academic preparation, PTSD and other postwar ailments, and allegedly anti-military sentiments on college campuses.
In her definitive study, "Grateful Nation: Student Veterans and the Rise of the Military-Friendly Campus", Ellen Moore (who is a visiting scholar at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at the University of California, Berkeley) challenges these narratives by tracing the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans at two California college campuses.
Drawing on interviews with dozens of veterans, classroom observations, and assessments of the work of veteran support organizations, Moore finds that veterans' academic struggles result from their military training and combat experience, which complicate their ability to function in civilian schools. While there is little evidence of anti-military bias on college campuses today, Moore demonstrates the ways in which college programs that conflate support for veterans with support for the institutional military lead to suppression of campus debate about the wars, discourage antiwar activism, and encourage a growing militarization.
Critique: An original and seminal work of simply outstanding scholarship, "Grateful Nation: Student Veterans and the Rise of the Military-Friendly Campus" is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of one particular area of reintegration issues with respect to bringing contemporary American military veterans back into a civilian society. Impressively informative and exceptionally well organized and presented, "Grateful Nation" is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Grateful Nation" is also available in a paperback edition (9780822369097, $29.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.65).
Why Indigenous Literatures Matter
Daniel Heath Justice
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771121767, $19.99, PB, 260pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Part survey of the field of Indigenous literary studies, part cultural history, and part literary polemic, "Why Indigenous Literatures Matter" by Daniel Heath Justice (a member of the Cherokee Nation and who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture at the University of British Columbia) asserts the vital significance of literary expression to the political, creative, and intellectual efforts of Indigenous peoples today.
In considering the connections between literature and lived experience, "Why Indigenous Literatures Matter" contemplates four key questions at the heart of Indigenous kinship traditions: How do we learn to be human? How do we become good relatives? How do we become good ancestors? How do we learn to live together? Blending personal narrative and broader historical and cultural analysis with close readings of key creative and critical texts, Professor Justice argues that Indigenous writers engage with these questions in part to challenge settler-colonial policies and practices that have targeted Indigenous connections to land, history, family, and self. More importantly, Indigenous writers imaginatively engage the many ways that communities and individuals have sought to nurture these relationships and project them into the future.
"Why Indigenous Literatures Matter" is a provocative volume that challenges readers to critically consider and rethink their assumptions about Indigenous literature, history, and politics while never forgetting the emotional connections of our shared humanity and the power of story to effect personal and social change. Written with a generalist reader firmly in mind, but addressing issues of interest to specialists in the field, "Why Indigenous Literatures Matter" welcomes new audiences to Indigenous literary studies while offering more seasoned readers a renewed appreciation for these transformative literary traditions.
Critique: A seminal work of simply outstanding scholarship, "Why Indigenous Literatures Matter" is as impressively informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Indigenous Literature collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Why Indigenous Literatures Matter" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).
Standing on Principle: Lessons Learned in Public Life
James J. Florio
Rutgers University Press
106 Somerset St., 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
9780813594293, $24.95, HC, 302pp, www.amazon.com
James J. Florio was the forty-ninth governor of New Jersey (1990 to 1994). Since leaving office in 1994, he has worked as an activist, attorney, teacher, and speaker specializing in public policy, health care, and environmental issues. His achievements as a progressive reformer are more substantial than most realize.
"Standing on Principle: Lessons Learned in Public Life" is candidly written political memoir that tells the remarkable story of how Florio, a high school dropout who left to join the Navy as a teenager, went on to become an attorney, a state assemblyman, a congressman, and a governor.
A passionate defender of the environment, Florio played a crucial role in the enactment of 1980s-era Superfund laws, which helped to clean up toxic waste sites in New Jersey and around the country. As governor, he fought for the groundbreaking Clean Water Enforcement Act. But his reforms quite literally came at a cost, as he raised New Jersey sales taxes and income taxes to balance the state budget. Florio reflects upon the challenges of meeting the state's budgetary needs while keeping his tax-averse constituents happy.
"Standing on Principle" reveals a career politician who has never been afraid to take a progressive stand -- including a firm stance against semiautomatic weapons that led gun lobbyists to bankroll his opponent. His story is sure to inspire readers from New Jersey and across the nation.
Critique: Nicely illustrated with the occasional inclusion of black-and-white historical photographs, "Standing on Principle: Lessons Learned in Public Life" is an impressively informative and ultimately inspiring read that is especially recommended to the attention of anyone considering a life in public service as either an elected official or a social activist. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Political Memoir and Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Standing on Principle" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.70).
Beyond East and West
John C. H. Wu
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268103651, $75.00, HC, 412pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: John C. H. Wu (1899-1986) was a diplomat, scholar, and authority on international law. He wrote works in Chinese, English, French, and German on Christian spirituality, Chinese literature (including a translation of the Tao Teh Ching), and legal topics. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, he was the principal author of the constitution of the Republic of China. He maintained a correspondence with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and later produced scholarly work examining Holmes's legal thought.
When John C. H. Wu's spiritual autobiography "Beyond East and West" was first published in 1951, it became an instant Catholic best seller and was compared to Thomas Merton's "The Seven Storey Mountain", which had appeared four years earlier. It was also hailed as the new Confession of St. Augustine for its moving description of Wu's conversion in 1937 and his early years as a Catholic.
Now in a new edition that includes a foreword written by Wu's son, John Wu, Jr., makes "Beyond East and West" a profoundly beautiful book by one of the most influential Chinese lay Catholic intellectuals of the twentieth century available for a new generation of readers hungry for spiritual sustenance.
Critique: An absorbing, informative, and inspiring read from cover to cover, "Beyond East and West" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to community and academic library Biography collections in general, and Catholic supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for Catholic seminary students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Beyond East and West" is also available in a paperback edition (9780268103668, $27.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.65).
The Thousand Year Beach
Tobi Hirotaka, author
Matt Treyvaud, translator
c/o Viz Media LLC
1355 Market Street, Suite 200, San Francisco CA 94103
9781974700097 $16.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: In a posthuman virtual world sealed off from the ruins of Earth, the idyll is shattered by an arachnid invasion.
Designed in imitation of a harbor town in southern Europe, the Realm of Summer is just one of the zones within the virtual resort known as the Costa del Numero. It has been more than a thousand years since human guests stopped coming to the Realm, leaving the AIs alone in their endless summer. But now all that has come to a sudden end, as an army of mysterious Spiders begin reducing the town to nothing. As night falls, the few remaining AIs prepare for their final, hopeless battle... War between the virtual and the real begins in book one of the Angel of the Ruins series.
Critique: Superbly translated from the original Japanese, virtual reality meets War of the Worlds in The Thousand Year Beach, a surreal sci-fi novel and first in the Angel of the Ruins series. Although the major characters are AIs, they carry burning and painful emotions, in this saga of frantic fighting for survival, crushing despair, and even flickers of love in an artificial world on the brink of apocalypse. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Thousand Year Beach is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Ten Dead Comedians
Fred Van Lente
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781683690368 $14.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Now in paperback, Fred Van Lente's brilliant debut is both a savagely funny homage to the Golden Age of Mystery and a thoroughly contemporary show-business satire.
As the story opens, nine comedians of various acclaim are summoned to the island retreat of legendary Hollywood funnyman Dustin Walker. The group includes a former late-night TV host, a washed-up improv instructor, a ridiculously wealthy "blue collar" comic, and a past-her-prime Vegas icon. All nine arrive via boat to find that every building on the island is completely deserted. Marooned without cell phone service or wifi signals, they soon find themselves being murdered one by one. But who is doing the killing, and why?
A darkly clever take on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and other classics of the genre, Ten Dead Comedians is a marvel of literary ventriloquism, with hilarious comic monologues in the voice of every suspect. It's also an ingeniously plotted puzzler with a twist you'll never see coming!
Critique: Ten Dead Comedians at once both celebrates and parodies classic murder mysteries, particularly Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None". Written with savage wit and skewed humor, Ten Dead Comedians is an uproarious treat. Highly recommended, especially for connoisseurs of dark comedy!
R. D. Stevens
9781788034104, $4.99 eBook
There is a key moment in Robin Stevens' The Journal when Ethan Willis, a young man who journeys to Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand in search of his missing sister, Charlotte, is confronted with the brute existence of Evil in the shape of S-21 in Phnom Penh. S-21 was a major Khmer Rouge torture chamber, where many thousands of people were murdered. Ethan gazes at the crude paintings made by former prisoners on the walls of their hell; sees the blood and the smiling onlookers depicted in the images. In the visitors' book he reads the wholly inadequate responses of western tourists: 'How terrible ...', 'Give peace a chance.' A tearful Cambodian woman says something to him he does not understand, touches him momentarily.
Ethan is much concerned with depth. Digging deep into life can reveal complexities that confuse and unsettle. Yet Evil is not inexplicable: it has causes and contexts, victims and perpetrators. Neither is it inevitable: it can be prevented and extinguished. Gazing upon its works with silent incomprehension or with trite responses only prepares the ground for its return. Charlotte says in one of her invented aphorisms, 'If God exists, why wouldn't one day of evil a year be enough for us to tell the difference between right and wrong?' But telling the difference is not the issue; it's making a difference that counts.
Ethan's quest for his sister is of course another manifestation of the male quest for an absent/abducted female, with profound roots in western myth and culture. (For instance, is it by chance or subconscious calculation that Ethan shares his name with Ethan Edwards, the agonized and lonely outsider who propels that great conflicted exemplar of the search narrative, The Searchers?) It is seldom solely the search for a missing person; often, a principle is at stake, a way of seeing and living, a whole that is no longer whole. 'I wanted so badly to feel whole somehow,' Ethan tells us, revealing the lack he knows is there, the impossibility of being himself until he finds himself somewhere on his journey through the heat and dust of Southeast Asia. The sights and sounds of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are described in a kind of frenzied physicality - unceasing perspiration, the squalor of backpacker hostels, the ubiquitous motorbikes, the contrast between tasteless approximations of pizzas and genuine Cambodian food enjoyed in an unprepossessing structure crammed into a narrow side street.
Sister Charlotte fled the family home, leaving Ethan to cope with his loss amid the silent anger of his morally unimaginative father and his bewildered mother, both of whom created a dull, stifling domesticity that left little room for love or spontaneity. The Journal deftly suggests the emotional vacuum at the heart of the Willis household, the words never spoken and the things left undone. This is another kind of evil, spelt with a small 'e' and cloaked in middle-class desperation.
Until she ceases to communicate, Ethan does not have the internal resources to emulate his older sister, whose spell he is under because she has always been just that little bit more mature, more dreamy, less ordinary than he. The Journal is constructed around his recollections of Charlotte, which seep into his mind at unguarded moments: the time she talked about the beauty of the stars; when he found her weeping over a dead hedgehog; when she built him a transformatron from cardboard boxes, into which he could crawl and be transformed into anything he wished - an eagle perhaps, his wings outstretched as he soars around the bedroom - but visible only to her. Visible only to her.
Ethan lives life in modes: survival mode, social mode, cool mode. He is unacquainted with himself, but will gradually learn who he is as his quest develops, as he finds love, and discovers skills and qualities he didn't know he possessed. He will finish reading his sister's journal for clues to her whereabouts and will commence his own. There is not just one journal in The Journal, but two.
Ethan has a 'dark place' inside him, he knows that much. One of his own aphorisms summarizes his experience: 'A beautiful world means nothing if everything you care about gets ruined.' Later, he says: 'I wish the world could go back to the way it had been before it got ruined. Before it all got so messed up.' Charlotte tells him not to worry: 'You're not stupid. It's the world that's stupid.'
The Journal takes itself seriously even as we wonder whether we should agree. Christina in Cambodia is typical of many young westerners whom Ethan meets:
'I mean,' she carried on, 'if you look at objects in the world, stuff that we perceive, like ... this glass.' She picked up her drink and held it in the air, raising her eyebrows. 'How do you know that it exists? Really exists? Sure, we can say that it exists now, because we're experiencing it. But if you think about it, the only time you know it's there is when you are experiencing it. How do you know that anything exists when you aren't looking at it, or hearing it or touching it?'
Clearly, Christina is unaware that to express scepticism of this nature in an evidential vacuum merely be asserting the possibility of doubt is incoherent. This kind of adolescent thinking has its place, but we should be wary of building a life or a novel upon such foundations. Similar nonsense is spouted by Charlotte: 'So if all life is suffering anyway, then why not smoke? What difference does it make? If it gives you relief from the torment of living, then it must be a good thing.' Come back in twenty years and tell us that.
The trouble with travel is that it can narrow the mind rather than broaden it, confirming us in our prejudices and delusions, tutoring us in the ways of self-righteousness. Ethan's great learning appears to be 'The world is an amazing place, I know this now.' That's all right then. He tells us he 'felt the attraction of a real travelling experience for the first time.' His friend Seija says, 'I travel to see different ways of life and to dive into them as deep as I can go.' But there's depth and there is depth, and one suspects that Seija is merely paddling rather than exploring the abyss. In other words, there is nothing inherently praiseworthy about travelling to far-away places - not if it culminates in the kind of solipsistic apotheosis contained in Charlotte's self-regarding verses: 'I am the World' - dear girl, we can assure you you're not and never will be.
The Journal is thus principally concerned with western individuals churning up other people's cultural and physical environments with their motorbikes and all-night beach parties, blithely unaware of their largely egocentric and instrumental approach to the world they despoil. What one might accept initially as gently accurate satire of youthful pretensions becomes the unsettling suspicion that we are meant to take much of this seriously - that the novel is as blind as many of its characters. It is a significant ambiguity that colours appreciation of the novel's moral stance, which might seem trivial, or empty, or both.
There are also minor problems: an overuse of italics for emphasis (depth); occasional typos; some uncertainty about tenses. These mistakes aside, The Journal is an enjoyable and interesting novel, full of delightful observation, characters at whom we can smile, and situations that can make us wince inside. The countries it visits are immensely real: there is never any doubt that we are there, feeling just as hot and dusty as Ethan, and local people are not presented as curious specimens for our entertainment. As for the ethics of travel, the luxury of choosing what to believe may soon be a thing of the past.
The Well Deceived
Clink Street Publishing
9781912262922, $15.99, pbk
9781912262939, $4.99, ebook
The haunted and haunting image on the cover of The Well Deceived, Isaac Kuhnberg's blistering novel of conformity and rebellion, represents, we must take it, William Riddle, the antihero whose journey through a 'privileged' education sees him at once internalizing its class-ridden values and resisting instinctively its brutalities, hypocrisies and evasions. Kuhnberg has created a strange parallel world to our own, sordid, sinister and bleak beyond words, yet full of laughs and stuffed with allusion, complete in every way except for one thing: the female gender does not exist.
English culture - literature, film and television - is a fount of public school mythology. From at least the nineteenth century onwards, it was celebratory and unabashed in the service of Empire and Class. Later on, as certainties crumbled amid social upheaval and popular resistance, it was subverted to parody and ridicule - it is quite a way from Tom Brown's Schooldays to If.... and Tomkinson's Schooldays, despite the commonality of ubiquitous bullying. Yet Harry Potter is the product of such a system and is a hero. Downton Abbey is his world as much as ours. Public schoolboys still hold the reigns of power.
And some experiences are so awful, so threatening, so full of fearful consequence, that we feel compelled to keep them at a psychic distance to protect ourselves. So, for example, we might employ a Brechtian strategy that erects a barrier of formality around our feelings, as happens in Hitchcock's late masterpiece, Frenzy (1972). Or we can take refuge in myth and imagination as fuel for rebellion, as in Lindsay Anderson's If.... (1968). Something similar seems to be at work in The Well Deceived, which apparently is inspired by the author's own experiences of public school. Rather than attempting to describe those experiences directly, The Well Deceived evokes another world, another British Isles, that is sufficiently different to be strange, but sufficiently similar to be familiar. By doing so, it reveals the power dynamics that manipulate normality for the benefit of the few: 'democracy', class, morality and wealth are each used and abused to maintain the status quo.
The world of The Well Deceived is cheerless, cold and uncomfortable, rather like the squalid descriptions of Hell provided by C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters (1942). Except in the homes of the wealthy, everything is tasteless, and there is nothing beautiful upon which to rest the eye. It is a world of 'pink tablecloth[s], over which [is] stretched a weathered covering of yellowing transparent plastic, secured to the table-edges with red plastic clips.' The food is equally bland and nauseating, but somewhere at the back of all this lies nostalgia for a cosy domesticity: manual lawnmowers and carpet sweepers, the 'sagging brown net of the luggage rack' in a train.
Welcome to Anglia, whose five centuries of recorded history may or may not be a continuation of our own times - whether something happened to make history start over, whether Anglia and the contiguous northern appendage of Alba are an irreal island in time and space, remains obscure. However, the topography of the twin towns of Ensor and Bune, separated by the River Flux, sounds like Windsor and Eton, and the students at Bune wear Etonian 'gleaming toppers'.
In addition, there are stories about an obese boy named Barnaby Bumble (Billy Bunter?), a description of a painting that could have been by Thomas Gainsborough, and the inebriate painter Higgins produces nudes like those of Lucian Freud and lives life as a cross between Francis Bacon and Walter Sickert. Above all, there is the revered Bard, Andrew Wagstaffe, whose Tarquin, Prince of Antibia is half-brother to Hamlet, and whose statue sports stockings that are 'cross-gartered' in the manner of Malvolio from Twelfth Night.
Early on, William takes a holiday with his father, an irascible scientist understandably annoyed by officialdom's disdain for science:
And for the next three days it seemed that happiness was something that could be created magically, out of thin air, and that a limitless supply of it was waiting for me in the future.
This is the last he shall see of happiness. William is sent to Bune, where he knows right from the start he does not fit in:
Their voices were all so self-assured, so confidently Anglian, so effortlessly posh - like the voices of boys heard on the wireless. I did not speak like that. I could not speak like that.
And yet, almost immediately, he begins to adopt 'his new friends' comportment and turns of speech and opinions as if to the manor born' (cf. 'Two Brothers' in Malcolm Devlin's You Will Grow Into Them). Eventually, he makes a special friend of Paul Purkis, who really is to the manor born, and together they construct a literary alternative to Bune, their short stories becoming increasingly scatological. But there are limits, as Purkis explains:
Some areas are off limits, don't you see? You don't tread there, and you don't ask why you can't. Learn that and you'll be fine. Disregard it, and you'll be out on your ear.
One of the things that cannot be spoken of is Union, a mysterious semi-medical process in which something happens to perpetuate the race. William undergoes Union, but the experience is clouded in drug-induced amnesia and clinical impersonality. There is no female gender, no one with whom to procreate. Sex is sterile because it is entirely male - male; what's more, sexual relations are predominantly power relations that alternate between abuse and expediency.
The absence of females is never explained. There are many possible reasons for the author's decision in this regard, but it might have been interesting to see how women dealt with the world made by men. Certainly, little of what takes place in single-sex Anglia is any worse than in multi-gender England.
William later becomes the target of the state's wrath, personified by secret policemen, a network of spies and the faceless National Advisory Council, which is more like a national security agency. Party politics are a sham and interim coalition governments of national unity are anything but. William witnesses a political rally at which state operatives inflict violence completely at odds with media reports of the incident:
'The truth?' Haverhill smiled. 'What is the truth, William?'
'The truth is what really happened.'
'And who's to say what "really happened"? Certainly not you. No, William: the truth is whatever people believe it is. The truth is what people read in their newspaper.'
The Well Deceived interrogates truth, both personal and political.
The last forty pages or so are less assured than they might have been. One suspects the author was in two minds about how to end his story: it appears to be heading for a particularly satisfying conclusion, only to veer off at the last moment. Readers may also find the appendixes unnecessary. Despite this, The Well Deceived is a magnificently realized novel full of wonderful invention and wicked characterizations. From its steam-powered motor vehicles to its urban squalor, it seldom ceases to enthrall and amuse and bewilder. It is angry and sad, refusing to accept defeat although defeat is assured. Thus are we returned to the front cover, which conjures Mick Travis in the final scene of If...., machine-gunning teachers and patrons from his precarious rooftop hideaway, his face forever frozen in defiance and despair.
Black Queen White City
Black Queen White City begins with a number seventeen tram sitting 'silent and abandoned on the tracks of a turning circle on the outskirts of the city in the middle of the night. On a soft patch of grass inside the circle, a black cat with white paws sat licking its nether regions with meticulous care.'
Trams. Cats. Circles. We are immediately alerted by these allusions to Bulgakov's Master and Margarita (1966) that we should expect the unexpected in Black Queen White City, an ambitious novel that aspires to paint its own universe (no less) by means of framing devices, parallel worlds and an eccentric cast of characters that includes the white city of Zagreb itself, where the author was born.
The novel also draws on other sources, most notably the local myths and legends surrounding Zagreb, plus Tolkien and Dante, and even Marvel/DC superheroes. The result is frequently compelling and thoroughly enjoyable, the novel's dark vision balanced with humour, pastiche and irony. Central to the latter is the narratorial voice which, although far too fond of simile for its own good, deflates pretention and pomposity, and takes the magical and fantastical in its stride while relishing the description of architecture and its sinister transmogrifications.
Alejandra Pizarnik's disturbing short story La condesa sangrienta (The Bloody Countess, 1968), based on the notorious life and legend of Hungarian Countess Erzsebet Bathory, whose alleged torture and murder of hundreds of young women places her on the same blood-soaked pedestal as Wallachian Prince Vlad the Impaler, haunts Black Queen White City, in the shape of the Black Queen herself. Her Stargate-like ascension towards apotheosis is at the heart of the novel's finale, when the different narrative paths converge in a tumultuous Night of All Hallows.
Black Queen White City is in many ways a gothic fantasy of resurgent Evil opposed by a rag-tag group of individuals brought together by circumstance. Chief among them is Leo Solar, a Star Daimon (one of many), who falls to Earth in a flash of lightning that tears the abandoned tram and frightens the cat. Leo was unintentionally responsible for making the Black Queen as powerful as she has now become - so powerful, in fact, that she is poised to escape her prison - kingdom beneath Bear Mountain. A group of schoolchildren led by the redoubtable Stella inadvertently unleash the monstrous creatures serving the queen when they play the game Black Queen One-Two-Three. The resulting destruction alerts Dario, an ineffectual young man under the thumb of his landlady, that something odd is going on.
Black Queen White City is positively cinematic in its cutting back and forth, and its impersonations of other stories; occasionally, one can almost see the camera's point-of-view-appropriation of the set and its background artists, particularly when Leo penetrates the circles of hell surrounding the Black Queen's underworld fortress. Then again, perhaps this is more painterly than cinematic (the author is also a painter); the scenes of peasant life painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, for example, are recognizable ancestors to the camera framings in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Who will read Black Queen White City? Adults who enjoy fantasy and spectacle, no doubt; also a younger audience, provided they can cope with the grisly bits (but then, children often love the grisly bits). The novel works at various levels of sophistication; rather like the superhero films of today, different people will enjoy different aspects. There are problems: the aforementioned over-attachment to simile; the frequent redundant word which, I imagine, is a holdover in the author's otherwise impressive command of her second language; a series of structural choices that militate against narrative tension and reader involvement. And while the majority of characters are enjoyable company, many readers will want more of the Black Queen than they are given. Evil characters are invariably more interesting than the good ones, and it's likely the Black Queen would have received a warm welcome much earlier on in the novel. As it is, she is always the major threat but seldom a principal protagonist.
Black Queen White City is often charming and intriguing. As in all 'big' stories, there are longeurs, but the novel is undeniably the product of an immensely fertile imagination brimming with confidence. There are many stand-out scenes in addition to Leo's arrival on Earth: Stella's descent into the school basement, for instance; the mysterious tram; those architectural transformations. There is also an entirely unexpected illumination of a minor character that is genuinely poignant. Like Bulgakov, Sonya Kudei knows that the secret of the fantastical is to ground it in the ordinary. Zagreb never seemed so mysterious.
Jack Messenger, Reviewer
Glass Kitchen Shakers 1930-1950s Identification & Value Guide
Gene and Cathy Florence
9781574323894, $19.95, Paperback: 160 pages
Florences' GLASS KITCHEN SHAKERS 1930-1950s Identification & Value Guide is a useful, handy edition usable by novice and long time collectors alike.
While some collectors of Depression Era Kitchen Glassware gather only Shakers, others of us have a few shakers and collect other items as well.
Cover is beautiful, filled with a diversity of shaker examples. Table of Contents includes Acknowledgments, discussion of Salt and Pepper (Shakers) and Preface before naming Company specific pages detailing types of shakers produced and shown in this particular edition.
Included in the Preface the Florences, Gene and Cathy, indicated 'This book is useful for those who know little about shakers as well as those who know more than we do. It is organized by company, shapes, and patterns; it is as structured as we could make it, and hopefully informal enough to be enjoyable. There is no one way to collect shakers. Gather those you like!
Anchor Hocking /Hocking Glass Corporation pages show photo examples of fired on colors on a basic shape model, and down on the right is an example of the Salt & Pepper shakers used on our table during my childhood! The tulip graced lids and clear glass containers, Philco, bring back happy memories.
Some shakers have lettering indicating usage, Salt, Pepper, Flour, Spice, Sugar, etc. Shakers are found in a broad variety of container colors blue, black, yellow, clear.
Some sets were used on the stove top, Salt and Peppers are larger than those intended for table usage, and often have a covered Drippings container.
I always enjoy seeing images of actual catalog pages, the first in this Anchor Hocking section shows bowls, covered refrigerator bowls and an 8 piece pantry set with large canisters and smaller essential shakers.
Page 22 brought a smile to my lips as I viewed a catalog page from 1951, Fire King, an Anchor Hocking brand, large 4¼" Salt and Pepper, and 16 oz canister, ivory with tulip lids, a prize given by our local grocery store and won by my mother was used by our family for years. She stored sugar in the large canister.
Dutch motifs appear on many of the shakers found at Depression glass shows, estate sales and jumble shops, I have several of the smaller sized ones. Bartlett Collins was one company offering the Dutch motif.
Collectors Gene and Cathy Florence indicate 'Confusion still exists between the square shakers of McKee and those of Hazel-Atlas. Hazel-Atlas square shakers have a distinct sharp edge down the corners whereas, McKee shakers have less sharp, more round edges. The screw threads on top of Hazel-Atlas shakers are immediately on top of the squared design, but McKee shakers have a round shoulder before the threads are encountered.'
Along with lettering found on some Hazel Atlas shakers this is one company to include a stylized Colonial Couple for those who like motif decor. Hazel-Atlas is another of the companies offering Dutch motif shakers.
Because I have Dutch heritage; I have limited my own collection to those featuring Dutch motif.
I found the Hazel-Atlas catalog image filled with Restaurant and Institution ware especially interesting.
Jeanette Glass Company in addition to their line of kitchen shakers offered in a variety of colors and motif also offered Bath Shakers with lettering indicating Bicarbonate Soda, Boric Acid, Epsom Salts, Mouth Wash and the like.
McKee Glass Company decorated some of their shakers as well as others to be decorated by others. McKee decor showcased in this edition show patriotic motif pieces, as well as ships, bi centennial George and Martha Washington, a hand-painted Colonial lady, Barn Yard.
Several pages are devoted to McKee pieces decorated by Tipp.
Owens-Illinois Glass Company pages are filled with motif shakers, colonial, Dutch, Mexico, along with square glass shakers with glued labels.
Sneath Glass Company shakers were often found in Kitchen cabinets of the 1930s and 1940s . The cabinets were commonly known as Hoosier cabinets and the canisters as Hoosier shakers.
Tipp Novelty Company is first mentioned in the McKee section, this was a company that apparently produced decorations to place on plain shakers produced by McKee and other glass companies. Some of the motifs attributed to Tipp, and found, in this edition, are Rooster, Black Leaf Flower, Basket, Cattails, Cherries, Flowers, Dutch Dancers, Produce Basket, and Watering Can Lady.
A section found at the end of the book entitled Unidentified, includes several types of Dutch motif, Musketeers, Herbs, some with decals, various Sugar Shakers, and lastly Late Arrivals with a 1941 catalog page from Anchor Hocking, and a page showing various shakers.
I found handy the page labeled Conditions of Shakers; the authors display a number of shakers from excellent condition to very poor.
A two page spread with more Florence titles and a full page show casing Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide round out the book.
I find Florences' GLASS KITCHEN SHAKERS 1930-1950s Identification & Value Guide showcasing 1,000+ glass kitchen shakers, including sugar shakers, pictured in this volume of catalog image pages and full-color photographs to be a bang-up reference work useful for novice and experienced collector alike, and, perchance for dealers too.
The book, as are others by this collector author team, is well-written; in depth text is presented in lucid comprehensible prose. The detailed material present provides much content regarding kitchen, table top and cabinet shakers, as well as explaining, range/stove sets.
Photographs and period catalog images are distinct, attractive and detailed making them helpful for distinguishing shakers and the companies producing them. I appreciate the sharp images, and, perceptivity regarding availability and potential values of these attractive shakers. Specific dates of production are not included; that is not a problem for me, 1930s - 1950s is close enough for me, I realize it may not be so for dealers
Gene Florence, is likely the most recognized authority today regarding glassware. I trust his authoritative guide as I add to my collection of Depression Era Kitchen items.
I find catalog identification of shaker names along with the manufacturing company, to be especially helpful. Companies featured mention well known names for most Depression Era collectors; Hazel Atlas, Anchor Hocking, Jeannette, McKee, Owens-Illinois, and lesser recognized perhaps, Tipp City Decorations.
While author Florence adds potential sales values, it is always wise to understand that value of any collectible is only what a potential buyer is actually willing to spend should you purchase with hope to resell at a profit.
This book may well stir happy memories, as it did for me when I viewed pieces my mother used during my childhood, and may make a nice gift for special mom, aunt and grandmother who lived during the 30s, 40s and 50, whether they collect or not.
Happy to recommend Florences' GLASS KITCHEN SHAKERS 1930-1950s Identification & Value Guide for collector bookshelf, public library inclusion and possibly for nursing home and assisted living setting to spark reminisce discussion.
Danny and Life on Bluff Point, The Man on the Train
Mary Ellen Lee
0595324347, $12.95, Paperback, 168 pages
On the pages of Danny and Life on Bluff Point, The Man on the Train Mary Ellen Lee continues her narrative of Danny and his family, who during the late 1890s, live up in the Finger Lakes region of Yates, County, New York.
This title is the fourth in a series of well-expressed novels relating the day to day happenings of a 10-year old boy's life in 19th century rural Yates County, NY. Starting with "Danny and Life on Bluff Point", set in December of 1894, the series based on the life of the author's grandparents, father, and his sisters was launched.
Per the author's revelation concerning the series; it was when entering her grandfather's childhood journals into her word processor, that the sentiment for the Danny books was born. Mary Ellen Lee decided to write a historical novel based on the journals. Many of the stories are based on her Grandfather's journals and include, as well as, the in depth research that she does. The "Danny" series began with each well written edition a compendium of several vignettes supporting a central theme.
Danny and Life on Bluff Point The Man on the Train is the fourth in the series of historical, slice of life novels targeting middle grade students relates the ups and downs of daily life for the family enjoying life on their farm where livestock and fruit trees abound.
Great Grandma Baker regales her audience as she tells the children how her family undertook a journey from Rensselaer County to Orleans County on the Erie Canal. Grandma relates that it was in 1858 that she and her husband traveled along canals, passing through locks, and enjoying a chance meeting with an elderly couple .
Danny is the only boy in the family and is expected to do his share of the chores on the family farm. His diminutive stature and paucity of strength is the misery of Danny's existence as he longs to gain stature and become brawny like his Pa. Danny is determined to help provide toward the well being of his family.
It is during this period that Grandma and Grandpa Scott, with the help of the Lee family, determine to leave Bluff Point and move to Gorham. Along with all of his other chores, Danny is very eager and ardent to willingly accept the responsibility of raising the goats his Grandparents give to him. He is thrilled with the opportunity because he is cognizant of his parent's financial concerns and he has an opportunity to make some money from the goats.
Danny is now 10 years old and facing a crossroads centered in large part on his desiring more responsibility. The book depicts some of the physical and financial hardships of the times, along with the dynamics of family life, including affection and support through the inevitable disagreements all families commonly experience.
During spring, 1895 the last ice-boating adventure of the winter is completed with a family trip across Keuka Lake to the community of Crosby. Danny and his siblings are growing up on a rural farm near Keuka Lake in New York State. At the end of winter spring in the air. Spring thaws increases peril for the ice boaters and Danny must be extra careful as his young sister is riding with him. Danny with his sister Mary depending on him must cautiously control his iceboat in a very strong wind.
The time is now March 1895, Ma has taken the train to Hall's corner with her mother, Grandmother Scott. They are visiting Great Grandpa Hall who is seventy one years old.
Sister Mary's vexation with Danny and his day dreaming has not yet been solved and he and Mary are not yet friends again as the Danny saga continues.
Danny is a little apprehensive about trying to make pancakes for breakfast. Cooking on the wood stove is proving daunting to sister Ruth who is trying to fills Ma's shoes while Ma is away.
Ice-boating on the lake, Uncle Jerome, a trip across the ice to Crosby, crabby cousin Al, a visit with Grandma Baker, Cousin Marion and Cousin Al all provide exciting fun for the family.
At last Ma comes home, the family enjoys a get together with Uncle Philo and Aunt Clelli, the children have fun with yo-yos, and the ice begins breaking up.
Driving pigs home becomes quite an adventure, as Uncle Ed and Danny go to a neighboring farm to bring home the family sows. Using stout sticks they get the pigs heading home without too much trouble, it isn't too long until the sows have notions of their own and begin to wander off the roadway.
Grandpa Smith, a blacksmith and a farmer is going to move and Danny wonders how his life is going to change. Danny and the men busy themselves with preparing the household goods for the move. Uncle John and Uncle Edward will take a load of goods to Gorham in the horse-drawn democrat wagon.
It is an emotionally bittersweet time for the family as the Grandparents are moving away, creating the need to experience both ferry and steam car excursions.
Danny is a little concerned about Mary and himself traveling alone to Gorham on the train to visit their Grandparents and to help with the unloading and setting up of the new home. He is apprehensive about being with so many strangers.
During the trip Danny proves himself a hero when a stranger with a cigar tries to hurt sister Mary. The ride on the steam cars is fun for all until Mary is trapped in the livestock car by an evil man. Danny helps with the rescue. Danny's instincts concerning the evil man on the train pay off and he is able to save his young sister from harm.
Author, Mary Ellen Lee has a keen interest in the Finger Lakes Region; her family has lived there for four generations.
Lee has undertaken an important role furthering the education of young readers. Students in the middle grades gain an enjoyable history/social studies lesson by reading this series and learning how much life has changed since the 1890s.
While this series is written for the 8 - 12-year-olds, my reading then aloud to my fourth grade students during the 15 minute period following lunch recess offered opportunity for children living in a rural setting in modern day Oklahoma whetted my students' appetite to learn more of the fabric of our nation and their own families.
I particularly like that the books are well-researched and while set largely on Bluff Point, a peninsula located between the two branches of Keuka Lake, the situations described are not unlike rural family life experienced during my childhood spent in the San Joaquin Valley, California or to the life my students living today in rural mid America.
The escapades pitting young Danny against danger, whether strong wind on the frozen lake or an evil man terrorizing his sibling on the train, add appeal and excitement leading to spirited discussion for my students.
Danny, as were my students of the same age, was learning through mistakes, and beginning to see consequences for action while learning about responsibility and discovering how to make good choices. Sometimes it works, for Danny, and as my students noted sometimes, he and they, make poor choices and while they are maturing they still find themselves in a messy situation.
I found The Danny Books to be a first-class addition for our class library shelf.
I enjoyed reading Danny and Life on Bluff Point, The Man on the Train, learned interesting facts regarding the Finger Lakes area of New York and am happy to recommend the series for the personal reading shelf, the class reading list and school and public libraries.
My Visit to the Dinosaurs a Scientific Read
Aliki's My Visit to the Dinosaurs, a Scientific Read commences 'Yesterday I went to see the dinosaurs.'
Hence we ready for a journey to the museum with a small lad, his sister and their dad.
Walking along the corridor with other visitors; the family arrives to the environment where are located skeletons! Towering, huge and all but over powering, Genuine Skeletons. It was a pretty alarming sight for young children.
Nonetheless, before long the visitors are soon reassured that there is nothing to fear; there are no dinosaurs alive today.
The skeleton of the Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus shown in the graphic we learn was created using both actual as well as plaster bones held together with use of wires.
The text tells Readers the very first dinosaur fossil was located completely by accident in 1822.
My first grade students were fascinated to learn that when I was a college student prevailing wisdom concerning dinosaurs was that each was a solitary animal. Eggs were laid, females left them in the sand, and never returned, male dinosaurs did not guard the eggs.
And today we know that many dinosaurs traveled in large groups, both parents were often when the eggs hatched and dinosaurs were not the solitary beings as was taught not all that many years ago. Prevailing wisdom was amended when baby dinosaurs were found along with fossil eggs in sandy pit nests.
Nearby were adult and juvenile specimens too, all apparently fell victim to ash inundation of the nesting area when a volcano erupted.
Paleontologists are the scientists who study animals and plants of the past. My students always adored learning new words, and Paleontologists is a word they savored.
Author Aliki includes many facts regarding each dinosaur. Information pertaining to Paleontologists and their work along with an explanation of the study of dinosaurs and fossils is presented in the work.
In general, I found from day one in the classroom many years ago, to my final one three years ago; six-year-olds LOVE & ADORE dinosaurs.
This tome offered by Aliki show cases a number of commonly recognized dinosaurs with simple text geared to child understanding.
The author tells Readers Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus was a huge plant eater. Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus look a good bit like the Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus. All three walked on four feet and are often called the long necks.
A two footed plant eater was Trachodon, this one was called the duck bill.
Not all dinosaurs ate plants Tyrannosaurus was one of the big meat eaters.
First grade students quickly learned one simple fact regarding whether plan or meat eater; dinosaurs walking on 4 feet ate plants. Those walking on 2 feet, check the teeth. Sharp pointy teeth, likely meat eater, flat topped chewing teeth, likely plant eater.
Other dinosaurs introduced in the book include Protoceratops, Ankylosaurus, Allosaurus, Oviraptor and Ornitolestes. The last two were small dinosaurs that ate meat. Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Styracosaurus and Monoclonius were four footed plant eaters.
At last the family is ready to leave the museum and return home happy with their visit and the knowledge that dinosaurs are not alive today.
My Visit to the Dinosaurs acquaints children to the world of dinosaurs and to some activities used for undertaking scientific investigation. I found this book is one that can be used as a foundation for future investigation into a study of dinosaurs.
Vocabulary used is simple enough for children to understand and often to read for themselves with a bit of help. Text used to explain the scientific process undertaken by Paleontologists is set down in child friendly manner with dandy, lucid explanation for how to proceed carefully so that damage will not take place should bones be found. Preserved bones are reassembled and if necessary replaced to create skeletons for display.
Writer Aliki's My Visit to the Dinosaurs is a thought-stimulating, specialized, meticulous tour through dinosaur hall of a natural history museum. Illustrations and lucid, child friendly text help preserve children's interest without baffling them.
Many of the students in my first grade classes have never had opportunity to visit a museum and have little understanding regarding them. Using this book to help guide class discussion has helped acquaint my resident critics not only to the riveting world of the past complete with plants and animals we today will never see, but to the world of the individuals who search for and reconstruct these captivating animals and familiarize the students to what a museum is all about.
More Books by Aliki Include: Fossils Tell of Long Ago, Dinosaurs Are Different, Digging Up Dinosaurs, and Wild and Woolly Mammoths.
My first graders always enjoyed my reading to them, regarding dinosaurs; child friendly science books were always a choice for an extra book for looking through and reading as much as possible after the grade level reading material was read during DEAR reading time.
I purchased my copy of Aliki's My Visit to the Dinosaurs many years ago during my long tenure teaching in a public school setting. As a testament to the frequently chosen small, hard cover book for teacher reading and for taking home to read at home with family, my edition remains in good condition despite use of nearly 30 years duration.
I enjoy the Aliki's My Visit to the Dinosaurs, a Scientific Read too, happy to recommend.
My Visit to the Dinosaurs, is a must have for the personal pleasure list of dinosaur loving youngsters, classroom use, and home, school and public library shelves.
highly recommended .............. 4 stars
Higglety Pigglety Pop!
9780060284794, $16.95, Hardcover, 80 pages
Maurice Sendak's Higglety Piggletry Pop! OR There Must Be More To Life presents the audacious creative thinking Sendak centered around Jennie, a Sealyham Terrier Sendak lived with for many years and loved, and, a children's rhyme
Higglety, pigglety, pop!
The dog has eaten the mop;
The pig's in a hurry,
The cat's in a flurry,
Higglety, pigglety, pop!
The Author's caring for this small canine comes through brilliantly in this creative narrative threaded carefully on the pages of a small, Chapter book meant to be read aloud to young children, Pre, K and 1, and read by strong Primary Readers.
Jennie, the Terrirer found on the pages of this lesser known work by this well acknowledged children's writer/ illustrator, has everything, two windows, two pillows, two bowls, a red wool sweater, eyedrops, eardrops, two different bottles of pills, a thermometer, and the love of her master. Nonetheless, Jennie was discontented.
She was discontented because she wanted something she did NOT have, there must be more to life than having everything!
Thus, with her bag packed, Jennie went out into the world to see what conjectural venture might await.
Soon she meets a pig wearing a sandwich board, finds out the World Mother Goose Theatre needs a Leading Lady, and is abashed to learn that she must have experience before she can be considered for the part.
Jennie hopes to gain the necessary experience by the night of the full moon and knows it is going to be an intimidating task to accomplish as she continues her pursuit.
And, what a quest it becomes, A new nurse for Baby is needed at the big house at the edge of town. Jennie is offered a ride in the horse-drawn milk delivery truck driven by a cat wearing shirt, tie and jaunty billed hat, who sets out to take Jennie there. The milkman tells Jennie it will be an experience if she can persuade Baby to eat. Experience is what Jennie needs!
Jennie busies herself sampling the yogurt, eggs, cheeses and milk she finds in the truck. During her quest to gain experience Jennie becomes a nursemaid, suffers jumping stomach, eats many pancakes and syrup, learns Baby's parents are at Castle Yonder, is given one chance to persuade Baby to Eat, eats all Baby's breakfast herself, locks Baby in satchel, Baby rages, breaks or throws every out of the satchel and Jennie knows she is doomed to be eaten by the Lion.
Jennie is not quite convinced what caused a change, however, Lion does not eat her, rather, he abruptly grabs Baby and disappears running toward Castle Yonder. Jennie is left with a just about stripped satchel holding a few broken items; and now she has nothing, There must be more to life than having nothing.
Lost in the woods, A befuddled Jennie awakens and is pleased, but baffled to see Pig, Milkman, and Rhoda, the parlor-maid. Now that she has gained experience; they have come to welcome her as the new Leading Lady. The trio tells her; they too are actors in the World Mother Goose Theatre.
Jennie finds out what her experience entails, discovers Baby is more than first seemed, becomes the leading lady in a new production Higgelty Pigglety Pop!
And, once again, Jennie has everything, she is the best leading lady ever, she performs each day, twice on Saturday, always has luscious salami to eat, and even sent a letter to her master inviting him to look her up.
Story and Pictures are crafted by Maurice Sendak. Rendered in black and white, most are full page graphics and some cross both leaves.
Sendak's graphics for this charming children's tale represent, via this artist's well-familiar black and white style of lines building upon lines to supply figures and shade. Occupied with whimsical characters and dynamic detail graphics add much to the text.
I bought my copy of this marvelous children's book when our school librarian placed it on the sale table in the hall just outside the library door. When asked she told me, no one checks it out, the kids don't like it.
Higglety Piggletry Pop! OR There Must Be More To Life very quickly became an Osage County First Grade preferred for teacher reading aloud during the period just after lunch as children settled on the rug prior to beginning afternoon work. I read one Chapter a day, Chapters are very short, illustrations make up a good bit of the chapter.
Osage County First Grade Child of the Day was allowed to be the one to take Higglety Piggletry Pop! As one of his/her extra books to be read as time permitted during children's 20 minute DEAR reading period. Many times during the years I spent teaching Osage County First Grade Higglety Piggletry Pop! Was frequently called for, 'read it again, Mrs M, read it again!' as I finished the last page.
I enjoyed reading book as much as my Firsties enjoyed listening to the reading, the book rarely was left on the shelf by our Child of the Day, most often Higglety Pigglety Pop! went home to spend the evening with family and friends.
Maurice Sendak's Higglety Piggletry Pop! OR There Must Be More To Life is a Charming, Child Pleasing Read ... Recommended ... 5 stars for the Primary Classroom library shelf, First Day of School class gift for Firstie to present to Teacher on first day of new school term, school and public library, gifting a Firstie or other Primary level Little Reader.
Molly Martin, Reviewer
The Salarian Desert Game
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
9781770531147, $12.95, 280 pages
On the desert planet of Salaria, games are taken very seriously. Losers in the Salarian Desert Game are required to spend several years as an indentured servant/slave in the crystal mines to pay off their debt. Kia is a translator for the Order of Universal Brotherhood (sort of like the religious police). She is determined to go to Salaria to rescue her sister. Just before she is ready to leave, she is ordered to accompany Agatha, as her translator, to Salaria. There has been a vision, so the mission is more important than anything. Kia has surgery to become Idaro, daughter of Philana, who left Salaria many years previously, in opposition to the way things were. Philana helps Kia to become Idaro.
Salaria is a matriarchal planet. The men are a little better than slaves. As a rite of passage, all fifteen-year-old girls are sent into the desert on a survival mission. Kia/Idaro is included. The idea is that the girls will bond with others, and choose their triad. It's stronger than marriage, and it's for life. Women are not identified by family names, but by the triad of which they are a part.
As soon as they arrive on Salaria, Kia and Agatha are separated. Kia realizes that Salaria is on the verge of civil war. Kia first has to convince Ryo, the matriarch of her triad, that she really is Idaro. Kia also knows that if she makes one wrong move, joining her sister in the mines will be the least of her problems. She joins the other "fifteens" in the desert, and almost does not return. The others run the gamut, from decent, reasonable people to those with their own agendas. Do Kia/Idaro and Agatha ever find each other? Does the planet erupt in civil war? Does Kia rescue her sister? Can Idaro do anything about the slavery on Salaria?
This is an excellent novel. The author does a fine job at making the reader care about the characters, especially Kia. The story explores a number of subjects. Even though it is marketed as a Young Adult novel, adults will also enjoy it.
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
9781770530836, 234 pages, $12.95
This paranormal novel is about Mason Cross, resident of Terminal City and student at the local university. His father, John Cross, was a well-respected professor at the university until his death several months previously.
A mutual friend, Lester Wright, tells Mason that John was a Necromancer, someone interested in magic and communicating with the dead. Lester is also a Necromancer. Mason is shown Dad's library of old books on necromancy, and learns that he is also a Necromancer. Mason has no interest in raising the dead, or anything like that, he just wants to know more about it. That does not matter to the Inquisitors.
For the past several hundred years, an all-out war has been going on between Necromancers and Inquisitors, religious fanatics who think that the only good Necromancer is a dead one. Lester is killed by them, and so is Mason. He finds himself in the spirit realm, where the spirit of his father helps convince the being in charge to give Mason another chance. Mason is returned to Terminal City with a task; kill a "bad" Necromancer named Rowland, and send him back to the spirit realm.
Rowland has been alive for over 300 years, and has perfected the ability to kill with a mere thought. He also knows that Mason is coming for him. Meantime, Rowland has made it known to all the Inquisitors in North America that he is making his final stand at the top of a Terminal City skyscraper that is still under construction (come and get me). Mason is also there. Who is still alive when the battle ends; Rowland, Mason or any of the Inquisitors?
This is an excellent piece of writing. It is just weird enough, without being too weird, or too much like a horror story. The body count gets pretty high by the end, but it is very easy to read. I look forward to a sequel.
The Appointed Hour
Department of English, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
2100 Main Street, Stevens Point WI 54481
9780984673940, $19.99, 168 pages
This group of connected stories shines a spotlight on rural America.
A woman walks into a tattoo shop, wanting a large tattoo across her chest for a less-than-intelligent reason. The male tattoo artist reluctantly fulfills her wish. A few years later, when the artist has his own shop, the same woman wants another tattoo. This time he says no; the art outweighs the money.
A local handyman, who has acquired the nickname Useless John, goes to a woman's house to install a hardwood floor in her kitchen. She just happens to look exactly his wife who died several years previously. He was driving when there was a bad auto accident.
A descendant of the Mayflower attempts to deal with a monument to an ancestor. A woman with post-traumatic stress disorder finds a group of other women to help her regain her voice. There is a story about dealing with HIV. An actress in the 1950's who got to kiss Elvis Presley on screen decided, in later years, to become a nun. She is now known as Mother Agnes.
These stories take place in Connecticut, but they could take place anywhere. Individually, these stories are excellent. Put them together, and this collection nears the level of Amazing. It is extremely highly recommended.
Danger At The Ballpark
9781943401321, $14.95, 196 pages
A trip to a live baseball game is supposed to be a relaxing afternoon or evening watching America's favorite sport. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?
This book contains many examples of people getting hit in the face by foul balls coming at them at great speed. From the time the ball leaves the bat until it hits someone in the stands is about one second, so getting out of the way is not feasible. Perhaps the person is making their way to their seat, and gets hit by a foul ball. The person could be heading to the snack stand to get some peanuts and Cracker Jack, and a foul ball finds them. It is also possible to be outside the stadium, and get hit by a foul ball coming from pre-game batting practice. Instead of a ball flying into the stands at high speed, the bat might slip out of the batter's hands and fly into the stands. The bat could shatter into many sharp pieces that fly into the stands. An injured person can sue the team for damages, right?
That suit won't get very far. There is a legal principle called the Baseball Rule. It basically says that, from the time they enter the ballpark, the patron, not the team, assumes the legal responsibility for injuries that may occur there. The injury may come from a fight with a drunken patron, from falling from the upper deck (because the railings are only two feet high), or from a fight with the team mascot. A "reasonable" person is supposed to know that danger can come from almost anywhere. Any injury is the fault of the patron, not the team.
Japanese baseball parks have netting along both base lines as far as the dugouts. Why can't American parks do the same? Nothing shall interfere with the patron's enjoyment of the entertainment experience (it's no longer just a baseball game).
This book is a big eye-opener. After reading this, maybe more people will stay home and watch the game on TV. It's easy to say "What are the odds?" How much do you want to push your luck?
Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How
Theodore John Kaczynski
Fitch and Madison Publishers
9781944228002, $16.00, 236 pages
There are more than a few people who feel that society's rush toward a technological future will lead to disaster. This book presents some pointers for thinking in broad, strategic terms about getting society off that particular road.
The overall goal for any organization, whether it is social, political or environmental, should be clear and simple. It can't be something vague, like "promoting democracy" or "protecting the environment." The goal also needs to be irreversible; once achieved, it can never be taken away. An example is when women got the right to vote in the early 20th century. After it happened, any politician was going to have a very hard time taking it away from them. No matter how democratic an organization claims to be, there will be times when not every issue can be placed before the entire membership for a vote. There needs to be an inner core of committed members with the authority to make such decisions.
Throughout history, many people have suggested that human society needs to be "planned" or "controlled," for various reasons. A huge, chaotic thing like human society can not be controlled to any great extent. At most, it can be "nudged" in one direction or another. Who decides in what direction human society should go? What is a "good" outcome? Assume, just for a moment, that it is possible to control human society. Assume that there is a computer system big enough to handle the trillions of equations that need to be solved. Who is in charge, a person or a small group? Who gets to decide who that person, or people, should be? Can a lack of ego be guaranteed?
A number of writers, including Ray Kurzweil, are looking forward to the day when human immortality, or the coming of human cyborgs or the uploading of a person's brain to a computer become reality. The author asserts that these are nonsense. For instance, immortality will only be available to the one percent, not to everyone.
This book is heavy history and social science, so it is not for everyone. The reader will get a lot out of it. This is very highly recommended.
The Art of Invisibility
Little, Brown and Co.
c/o Hachette Book Group
9780316380508, $28.00, 310 pages
In this age of government and corporate online surveillance, being anonymous while online is becoming more and more important. This book, from "the most famous computer hacker in the world" (according to Publishers Weekly) gives some pointers.
In this day and age, anyone who still uses "password" or "12345" for their computer password should be ashamed of themselves. Change that password to a long and random string of letters and numbers, like twenty or twenty-five characters long. Write it down, or use a password management program, and frequently change it.
If you are on a public wifi connection, like at the local library or coffee shop, do not do any online banking or e-commerce. It is very easy for a hacker to get your information, or send you to a site that looks legitimate but is not legitimate. If you are using anyone's computer, other than your own, it is a very good idea to delete the browser history, and reboot or shut off the computer before you leave it.
Did you know that many printers, including work printers, have a hard drive that records everything that was printed? Save the printing of personal items, like medical test results or your credit report, until you get home. You can be sure that your boss is keeping a close eye on your internet usage, even during your lunch hour.
For anyone traveling to the US, even American citizens returning from overseas, border authorities have the right to seize your laptop or cellphone, and keep it for as long as they want, searching through files. It is possible to use "strong" encryption on any personal files, store those files securely in the cloud, then wipe, not just delete (there is a difference) those files from your computer, and re-download them later.
Parts of this book may be too technical for the average reader. The rest of the book may be considered common knowledge, but it certainly bears repeating. It is very much recommended.
Nomadland: Surviving America In The Twenty-First Century
W.W. Norton and Company Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10110
9780313249316, $26.95, 274 pages
This book looks at a growing number of people, usually retirees. Not always by choice, they have abandoned their homes, and are living in a van or trailer or RV as they travel around America.
Perhaps their savings disappeared during the Great Recession, or they are officially "underwater" on their mortgage (owing more than the house is worth). Regardless of the reason, they are living on Social Security as they travel around the country. There are several websites dedicated to the subject. It's possible to make friends with other such "vanampers."
It is also possible to get temporary employment while living in your vehicle. A person, or couple, could, for instance, spend the summer as Camp Hosts at a campsite. Then they could spend a couple of months flipping burgers for a professional baseball team during spring training. More important than the modest pay is the chance to get a safe place to park the vehicle for a time. Then there is working for Amazon; they call the vanampers their "camperforce." Not all Amazon warehouses accept them; who wants to live in a van up north during the Christmas rush? It's normal to walk the equivalent of ten or twelve miles a day at an Amazon warehouse.
There are many things to consider when living in a vehicle. The first night in your vehicle, parked in a parking lot, will be nerve-racking. You fear that any footsteps you hear will be vandals, or the police. A growing number of cities and states have taken to criminalize homelessness. If your vehicle is not set up for it, how do you go to the bathroom, or take a shower?
This is a fascinating, and eye-opening, book. Many Americans are just one layoff, or hospital stay, away from joining the "vanampers." If such a thing is in your near future, start your preparations by reading this book. It is very much worth the time.
Hypercapitalism: The Modern Economy, Its Values and How to Change Them
Larry Gonick and Tim Kasser
The New Press
120 Wall Street, 31st Floor, New York NY 10005
9781620972823, $19.95, 230 pages
In graphic novel form, this book attempts nothing less than an accessible explanation of capitalism. It also shows how present-day worship of markets harms a person's well-being and the planet's health.
The five commandments of hypercapitalism are: Thou Shalt Consume, Thou Shalt Operate Globally, Thou Shalt Not Regulate, Thou Shalt Spend Less on Labor and Thou Shalt Privatize. How can the average person afford all this consumption when wages have generally stagnated over the past couple of decades? The answer is: credit cards, the overall debt of which is about $700 billion. That does not include student loan debt, which is another trillion dollars. Are obsessed consumers really happier than the average person, or do they get a momentary "high" from their purchase?
Is there anything the average person can do about it? Before buying, here are some questions to ask yourself. Can I afford it? Do I need it, or do I want it? Will it improve my life? What company makes it? There are tool banks and seed banks and time banks, where such items can be shared. If your town or neighborhood does not have one, consider starting it. Get to know your local library. It is possible for a business, like an employee-owned business or a non-profit, to be more socially responsible than average. For some people, more direct methods are the way to go. These include boycott/buycott, advocating for a better deal for workers and publicly funded political campaigns or taking to the streets and protesting.
This book deserves six stars. It is very easy to read, and does a wonderful job at explaining capitalism, even for those who "hate" capitalism. It also gives a number of alternatives that anyone can adopt. This is extremely highly recommended.
Tesla for Beginners
Robert I Sutherland-Cohen
For Beginners LLC
30 Main Street, Suite 303, Danbury CT 06810
9781939994486, $15.95, 160 pages
Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest scientists of modern history, on the same level as Guglielmo Marconi or Thomas Edison. Here is his story.
In the late 19th century, Tesla emigrated to America from his native Serbia. He carried more than a letter of introduction to Thomas Edison, who was The Man at that time. After working for Edison for several months, Tesla went off on his own. New York City had started to get electricity through Edison's direct current (dc) system. Tesla developed alternating current (ac), a much more efficient way of distributing energy, which has become the standard.
Tesla had an incredible memory, and a head full of ideas. It led to him receiving over 300 patents. Among other things, alternators in cars, robotics, remote control and radio are based on his work. He envisioned a hand-held device that could connect people all over the world with pictures, voice and information (sound vaguely familiar?). He became world famous.
Tesla was a great scientist, but he was not much of a businessman. Getting funding for his various projects was a constant struggle. In later years, his work went from Cutting Edge to Just Plain Weird. In 1943, he died in New York City, broke and alone.
This is an excellent, and easy to understand, book. Tesla was world famous, and seems to have been forgotten by history. If you are reading this on a cell phone, thank Nikola Tesla.
The MECE Muse: 100+ Selected Practices, Unwritten Rules and Habits of Great Consultants Christie Lindor
9780998673080, $17.95, 444 pages
In this world, there are two types of business consultants. Some will do the minimum amount of work to not get fired by the client. They will answer only the question or problem that they have been given. Others will go out of their way to learn a client's business, and answer questions that the client has not even asked. Which do you want to be?
Never underestimate the power of common courtesy. Network, network, network (then network some more). While you are on the road, flying from city to city, set aside some time for yourself. You will be no good to anyone, especially the client, if your health suddenly collapses due to stress and unhealthy eating. Metaphorically speaking, "force" the client's CEO to put you in his or her rolodex, because of the wonderful job you did. You should be the first person they call with any future problems.
The first day of a new consulting assignment is not the time to start researching the client. Spend a couple of weeks ahead of time learning the client's business and industry. That way, you can hit the ground running, while everyone else is just getting started.
If you are part of a large group of consultants, you will come into contact with all sorts of personalities, some of them less-than-pleasant. If you are done for the day, and a colleague is still working, Always ask if you can help. The final product is the important part, not what individual consultants did, or how quickly they did it.
If there is such a thing as "one stop shopping" in the consulting world, this is it. It is most recommended for new MBA's who think that they have all the answers. Experienced consultants will also learn something from this book. It is well worth reading.
Paul Lappen, Reviewer
The Little Bastards
9781494356736, $15.00 pbk / $6.99 Kindle 288 Pages
A true celebration of life in the 1950's, this coming of age story encompasses the good, bad and the ugly side of this amazing decade.
Although not a biography, the author of this exciting story has utilised his experience of growing up in these times to make this incredible fiction story really unforgettable.
The main character is Sonny Mitchell and it is he and his group of friends who became known as the 'Little Bastards' in Willamette, the small town in America where they grew up.
The story begins in the August of 1954, it is Sonny's 14th birthday and excitement is in the air when his friend Joe informs him that a train wreck has just happened at the golf course. What did the boys do? Well, just like boys would now, they hopped onto their bikes and raced to take a look, oblivious of the chaos they wreaked in the process.
Thus follows years of carefree existence for the 'Little Bastards' intermingled with some scary experiences and life lessons. However generally it's just good fun as being typical boys they build a hideout, giving them a place to smoke, listen to Elvis and Buddy Holly, and generally learning first-hand about life, sometimes the hard way.
Then as they go through their high school and senior years their interests evolve into the drag racing scene, transforming one of the gang's 1940 Ford standard coupe into a hot rod. Behind a wheel, with driving licences they are free to do what they want, until life brings them up short when they discover that they are not invincible. A truly sobering time. However, nothing can quelled their zest for life for long and so their adventures to go on, with new things and experiences to discover, the world is their oyster.
The 1950's was a time of freedom, after the wars and depression anything seemed possible, and life was for living. As we follow Sonny and the other 'Little Bastards' on the rollercoaster which was their teenage years, through the author's wonderfully descriptive writing we are given the opportunity to experience those years in a truly unforgettable story.
Mommy and Mikel Go For a Walk
9781467040242, $TBA print / $2.99 Kindle, 36 Pages amazon.com
Memories of the lovely times spent by the author with her son Mikel are the inspiration for this wonderful story.
As parents we know how important it is to keep our children safe, however children don't always understand. So, through this story the author explains to children that because mummy wants Mikel to get the best out of their walk in the park, she knows that he must dress correctly, and is important for Mikel to accept what she says.
On their walk Mikel sees a beautiful bird, and mummy tells him that it is a goldfinch and that they are the state bird of Iowa. However Mikel is soon to discover that there are lots of different things to see on their walk, and that not all are okay, some can be dangerous, but with mummy's guidance he is safe.
Later, when they see an animal swimming in the river, Mikel wants to get closer, but mummy sensibly reminds him that it is dangerous to get too close to water, and so they take a look at the animal and then go to the library to discover what it is.
In the library not only does Mikel learn how to behave, but he also finds the mysterious animal in an encyclopaedia. Can you guess what it is?
I read this with my two grandsons aged 4 and 6 and they not only enjoyed the story but learnt a valuable lesson from it. The lesson was that they should always listen to their mummy and take her advice, as she loves them and not only wants to teach them about the wonderful world around them, but also keep them safe.
This book is beautifully illustrated by Blythe Russo, and will be treasured for years to come.
Eight Months in Provence: A Junior Year Abroad 30 Years Late
Marshall & McClintic Publishing
9780991044634, $14.95, 212 Pages
American Diane Covington-Carter was obsessed with France. She had spent her youth listening to her father's wartime tales, studying French, and saving every spare penny to go there on her junior year abroad when she finished school. Alas this was not to be, and instead she found herself becoming a young married mother. However, two children later Diane's love of France had not diminished. Therefore at the age of 50 she decided to rent out her home, and set off on an eight month French adventure.
Arriving in Paris on a chilly November day, the author drank in the sights and sounds of this wonderful city before finding somewhere to stay. Not for her the high class hotels, instead she found herself sleeping in dorms to save money. The magic and atmosphere of Paris captured her heart, and for a while she considered staying there. However, deep within her soul she knew she was destined for the wonderful ancient spa town of Aix-en-Provence, France.
The years fell off her as immersing herself into the French way of life, she embraced everything French. Resolute, hopeful and strong in spirit she looked forward to the months ahead, and if she ever doubted herself she reminded herself of the motto she had taken as her own, 'believe in yourself.'
Despite arriving in winter, the charms of Aix-en-Provence wove their way into her soul. She set up home in a cosy apartment in Aix centre ville. Joining an American expat group, and meeting new people all the time, her circle of friends rapidly grew. Life was good, and in the New Year she enjoyed exploring France and sharing it with her family who visited her from America.
In following her dream, the author found peace. Away from the madding crowds she had time to discover herself and fit together the missing pieces of the puzzle which was her life. However, all too soon it was time to return to her life in America and the family she had left behind, but the magic of France and the person she had discovered in herself will stay with her forever...
It's a book that's written from the heart. a charming tale that's easy to read. An inspiring "it's never too late", feel good memoir that will sweep you along on the author's journey as she finds herself in the France of her dreams.
Whether you love France and its people, are looking for a good story, dream of moving or holidaying in France, then this is the book for you. Whatever your age and wherever you come from, within the pages of this book you will truly be inspired to follow your dream - whatever it may be. Beware though, this book will make you want to go and live in Provence!
Susan Keefe, Reviewer
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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