June 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm (Uncategorized, Writing, culture, life, humor, creative writing, publishing, food, literary fiction, random, buddhism, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, entertainment)
Tags: culture, food, humor, life, Writing, random, love, fiction, creative, story, Breakfast Special, second helping, Railroad Crossing
Stepping carefully down from the hard packed snow mounded at the street corner curb, Lily quickened her steps along the semi-cleared sidewalk where thick snowflakes were concluding languid descents. As long as she maintained her current stride she’d cross the railroad tracks with a decent seven to ten minutes to spare before the morning train made its daily appearance. She welcomed the cool emptiness of the vacant sidewalk and street after the heat of the crowded breakfast bar. She took a huge bite out of the cinnamon roll and chewed with gusto while moving into the full length of her stride. The roll’s thin glaze, fresh dough and spice combined with the satisfying aftertaste of recently devoured eggs and buttered toast to produce euphoria resulting from finally filling a too long empty stomach. With only a single other person passing her by in a solitary snowplow going the opposite direction down the one way street, Lily reveled in having the space from one side of the empty street to the other all to herself this morning. Another deep breath of moist snowy air, another tearing off of a large portion of the sweet roll for gleefully mashing it into her mouth and Lily went on her way through the gloomy grey cast morning. All was currently just right in the surrounding snow globe world.
Then, in the space behind her, Lil’s ever alert ears detected footsteps. Without breaking stride, her attention moved from scanning any possible obstacles of piled snow or icy sidewalk ahead to the sound of someone quickly coming up out of sight at her rear. Ears itching for more information, she checked the small storefronts for signs of life forms readying to meet the day’s forthcoming challenges and found them all sorely wanting. Still, even though her auditory organs had detected the inhaling and exhaling, probably of a male closing the distance between her and him, she maintained her calm. Despite the relative darkness of the snow clouded morning it was still morning hours and she reminded herself that even in this part of the small city the to-be-evaded-by-all-means crazies had by now staggered into their own bedding for a respite from their darker versions of the daily grind. Odds were in favor that whoever’s feet were speedily devouring the cement space was as un-intent on criminal behavior as herself. If not, then grabbing her would commence a swift, albeit unhappy, emptying of the contents of her stomach all over the grabber followed by violence to whatever soft target he might unwittingly offer. Lily kept walking, scanning ahead and listening until suddenly there he was walking beside her less than a hand’s breadth away filling the cold air with steaming warmth and an awkward, “Hey, um, . . Poached Eggs . . . “
Lily abruptly stopped walking and turned to look directly at the man who was unexpectedly now at her side. When he stopped also, his feet slightly sliding on an uneven patch of ice, then stood facing her with his hands in his pockets, Lily stepped backwards closer to the store window now behind her. Recognizing the man who’d sat beside her in Big Bob’s Bar a few minutes earlier did nothing to ease her mind. She remained on red alert as she assessed his threat potential to her physical well-being. Instead of speaking, her head turned ever so slightly to the left, she gave him a much more serious looking over than she had during breakfast. When he’d been sitting on the stool with his shoulders hunched over the bar counter, she hadn’t gotten any sense of his actual height. Now it made an imposing and intimidating impression she didn’t much care for when considered in conjunction with the rest of him. His unbuttoned long wool army coat didn’t add bulk to his broad frame but rather strained to wrap around it. Looking up to make eye contact had the effect of thrusting her chin out and forcing her to adjust her balance. Hands now in her pockets, she eased off her mittens wishing she hadn’t clipped her fingernails last night. That regret passed quickly as she realized it would be a bit of reach for a useful poke in his eyes. Adam’s apple location and his solar plexus were within more effective striking ranges. Lily held her breath as packed snow cracked under his weight when he stepped back away from her as far as the piled snow mound on the street allowed. It was clear he’d accurately read her body language which prompted him to increase the distance between them to something more acceptably polite between strangers. “Hey, sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you . . um . . .”
Nothing moved on the street or on the sidewalk. Thick snowflakes the size of Lily’s bare palm languidly descended between them. Her black eyes took note of his hazel ones that had the disconcerting effect of reminding her of her neighbor’s way too clever cat. She watched the man watching her consider speaking, then remain silent waiting for some sign from herself. With a little shrug of her shoulders and small shake of her head, she acknowledged his effort to put her at ease. “It’s ok. Did I take your roll by mistake or what?”
He answered with a short, deep laugh and a fleeting grin that Lily nearly missed seeing due to a mustache and beard as badly in need of a trimming as the rest of his hair. “No. But I wouldn’t put it past you to snarf it right along with yours.” Lily nodded a little and waited. She’d relaxed just enough to be aware that time was passing and her window of opportunity for crossing the tracks before the train was closing. Still she left him to his own devices for creating conversation. She stared at him and he stared back while snow continued drifting downward. When he took a deep breath, she found herself doing the same then holding it until he spoke again. “Ok, yeah, this is kinda weird even for me, but . . . um. Hey, I don’t exactly have a lot of options here, right. You follow? I mean, come on, it’s pretty lame just saying something like ‘I want to ask you out for a date ‘cause I like that you eat poached eggs . . . and lots of ‘em.’ Yeah, right. Not going so well, but, hey, it’s all I’ve got to work with here and now. Umm, maybe I should have opened with ‘Can I buy you coffee some time?’” Lil watched his ungloved hands come out of his pockets in an effort to help him talk. “Yeah, that’s not flying too well either, is it?” His left hand began nervously combing through his hair when he went silent again.
Lily bit her bottom lip while considering the man’s increasing nervousness, the distance he was maintaining and his uncertain age. Deciding keeping things polite and calm seemed like a good way to put an end to this encounter, she curbed her desire to tell him nothing was flying much less approaching lift off and just walk away. “A date? You’re asking me for a date? Seriously?”
Something about her response, or perhaps just the fact that she had responded, brought about a noticeable change in his attitude. Suddenly his hand ceased the nervous hair action, he straightened up and leaned back slightly still meeting her gaze. “Seriously. Yeah.”
Lily’s black eyes narrowed to speculative slits. “Seriously. Okay. What do you have in mind? Another round of Big Bob’s Breakfast Specials or what?”
This time his grin lasted just long enough for Lily to wonder about it under the mustache and beard. She herself grinned inwardly thinking he’d back off now that she’d set him the task of doing more than badly chatting her up on the street.
“How about ‘Or what?’” Lil frowned, but he pressed on. “As in, your choice. You pick when, where, what.” He made a gesture of handing her a plate with both hands. “Lady’s Choice.”
He nodded. “Yeah, your choice. I’ll meet you wherever, for whatever. You decide. ”
Lily watched several snowflakes settle in his unkempt thick brown hair. “My choice. Okay. Sure.” She considered several options, all of which could do the job of sending him the way of melting snow, until the ticket the theatre student she tutored had paid her with for their last session came to mind. A smile slowly appeared on her slightly flushed face. Seeing his hazel eyes narrow slightly, she had the distinct impression that he not only sensed she was trying to be sly about this but that he was enjoying it. “Next Friday. Seven p.m. Orpheum Theater. Volpone. Meet up outside. Fair enough?”
He nodded. “Friday, 7, Orpheum. Yeah, fair enough.”
She took a step on her way then stopped to make a tiny effort to play fair. “The Orpheum is at—“
“Third and Main. I got it.” He watched her take another step. “Hey, I’m Sarge. What’s your name?”
Lily started walking slowly backward. No point in rushing now as she could hear the train’s location from here. Sarge wasn’t following her. He’d moved to stand in the middle of the sidewalk watching her moving away from him and waiting for her to share her name. Instead of replying promptly, she wondered why he wasn’t looking at all smaller as she put distance between them. Only when she reached the corner where she would have to turn around in order to traverse a not inconsiderable amount of piled snow did she call out: “Lily. I’m Lily.” After speaking, she stood for a moment feeling all of eleven years old when he acknowledged her answer with a wave. She then put her attention to navigating her way over and around the hard packed snow. Upon reaching the point where she needed to turn down the intersecting street, she looked back to see Sarge was now walking backwards on the sidewalk still observing her progress. Three more steps took her closer to the passing train’s roar and cut her off from the man’s sight and he from hers.
April 25, 2013 at 8:43 pm (creative writing, culture, entertainment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, food, humor, life, random, Writing)
Tags: bar, Breakfast Special, chance, creative, creative writing, culture, Eggs, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, food, humor, life, love, meeting, random, romance, story, tavern, Writing
Enjoying crunching the snow beneath his boots Sarge ventured along the street of small bars filling the west side of Schmall’s Falls lack of eating establishments catering to the needs of early risers, night owls, and swing shifters until Big Bob’s window sign on bright yellow paper touting “Sunrise Special: 2 eggs, toast & coffee for a buck” caught his stomach’s attention.
Entering the tavern currently conducting its own version of fast food service for the dawn dwellers. he stood to the side and held the door open for an exiting trio of grumpy construction workers. Toe kicking the rock salt from his boots he scouted for an empty stool at the bar crammed with white plates featuring steaming eggs, butter brushed toast and a constantly flowing, heady stream of coffee into squat thick cups vying for countertop space with slippery side dishes flashing crisp thick bacon and fat spitting sausages. After some careful navigation between the hands passing plates from the bar to the fully occupied booths, he managed to slide onto a still warm shiny red stool where the bar snuggled flush up against the far wall. Upon opening his paint speckled wool army coat, he generously contributed his share of body heat to that already creating streaking condensation on the bar’s large front window. He commenced pounding the alternate ends of an unlighted cigarette on the counter while patiently waiting for the barkeeper to take his order.
After setting down four full plates for the customers seated at the curve in the bar near the entrance, the lanky, middle-aged barkeeper smoothed a few slack grey hairs back into place with the rest of a backcombed wave and turned to make eye contact with him. “What it be today?” he demanded while wiping his hands with his waist apron.
Imitating the barkeep’s thick Polish accent Sarge replied, “Ve vant da special. Overeasy, if you please, Stanley.”
Smirking, Stanley nodded. “You gonna be a smartass today, eh? Forget it, Sarge. No mood for funny business.” Stanley scratched the order on a small pad of white paper, clipped it to the wire across the top of the serving window, then picked up the waiting filled order. Plate in hand, Stanley strode to stand across from the customer sitting beside Sarge, before setting down the plate, Stanley growled, “No mood for your funny business, either. F’n poached eggs. Not again. Messes up cook’s grill timing. Got it?”
A hoarse female voice croaked out, “You asked how I wanted ‘em and I told you. You didn’t say “no poached eggs.” Now you gonna give me my order or you wanting to eat them dead chickies yourself, Stan?”
Holding back a laugh in consideration for the barkeeper, Sarge watched Stanley scowl as he set down the platter covered with a double order of milky eggs whites wrapped around gentle hints of yellow yolk and perfectly browned toast drenched with melted butter. Right gray eyebrow arched high, Stanley silently filled the poached egg orderer’s cup with coffee. He started to work his way to the other customers, then, with the nearly full fresh pot of black coffee in his left hand he stopped and looked from Sarge to the customer sitting next to him. Stanley’s pale blue eyes flashed between the two. “You two at same time not good on Stan’s nerves. Don’t get any ideas or eggs go kaput!” Without waiting for a response, Stanley set about filling the coffee cups of the other customers at the bar.
Sarge leaned sideways to set his shoulder against the wall so he could turn and get a better look at the young woman sitting next to him. The Hudson Bay Blanket coat cut in old French Canadian trapper style drapped around her shoulders immediately culled her from the variety of working girls who frequented the bar during alcohol serving hours. It also separated her from the nearby telephone company’s swing shift working women. That left college student pulling an all nighter or some variation thereof. But the last wasn’t quite fitting the bill either in Sarge’s mind since there was no need for such creatures to venture off the perpetually buzzing college grounds for a cheap breakfast special in a working class bar. Hoarse Voice was busy poking the pointed edge of toast into what he considered an obscenely salted egg yolk. “Having a little egg with your salt, huh?”
A mass of long black hair crackling with static electricity was pushed back over a shoulder hunched inside the Hudson Bay Blanket coat, then a white face, made paler from the lack of any real sun during weeks of perpetual snow, with assessing black eyes turned towards him. She sipped coffee to mix with her mouthful of eggs and toast, chewed slowly, then swallowed, all the time staring directly at him. She sniffed a little, then said, “Yep. Three spoons of sugar in my coffee too. You wanna make something of it?” Caught off guard by the effect on him of the unexpectedly sharp lines of her cheeks and bold aggressive eyes, Sarge simply shook his head of brown shaggy hair in reply and Hoarse Voice’s attention immediately turned back to her food.
Sarge watched her small fingers set a fork to work covering a slice of toast with egg, fold it over and stuff nearly all of it into her thin-lipped mouth. More salt was shaken over the remaining eggs, more sugar, along with a very generous amount of cream, mixed with the new coffee that flowed quickly into her cup via the pot wielded by the quick sighted Stanley. Questioning his interest, Sarge continued his surveillance of her liberal saltings, pokings and smearing of eggs until his own plate arrived and distance required him to ask her to pass the Tabasco sauce. She complied readily then made a point of watching him rain red sauce upon his eggs until it pooled along the plate’s upward crease. Deciding to let her know he was aware of her watching him, Sarge twirled his fork in anticipation but turned toward her, clearly waiting for some comment. None came. Unable to resist, Sarge quipped, “What? Want a taste?”
She responded by looking his long broad frame up and down, slowly taking inventory of the well-worn jeans, heavy work boots and dark grey plain sweater. “Nope. Wouldn’t dream of depriving you.”
Sarge thought the better of uttering the sexually suggestive reply that skipped to his lips. He’d had a way too long night of loading freight, hunger for a great deal more than food had been gnawing at him for months, and he already knew his overtired body wasn’t going to settle down for the deep oblivious sleep he mentally craved. Instead of verbally needling the hoarse voiced woman, he commenced slicing and swirling his eggs through the Tabasco sauce and finally satisfying his stomach. Eggs, spices and black coffee worked their usual soothing magic.
After mopping up the remaining streaks of red sauce on his plate, Sarge took note of the departing early morning rush crowd, held up his empty cup for a refill then pulled a half read paperback copy of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency from the inside pocket of his long coat. With the still unlite cigarette now resting between his lips, he pushed his plate away and flipped through the book. As he smoothed out the creased page corner, Stanley cleared Sarge’s plate and laid a cinnamon roll wrapped in a paper napkin on the counter in front of Hoarse Voice. Taking the cigarette between his fingers, Sarge looked up just enough to allow him to see Hoarse Voice’s reflection in the mirror behind the bar. Standing up she shucked her black sweatered arms back into her coat sleeves, hauled a thick orange backpack off the floor and onto her stool, fished out a man’s style wallet from the pocket in its flap, laid out enough to cover the bill and the sort of tip an appreciative regular customer leaves, then yanked the Hudson Bay Coat belt tight enough to reveal a waist Sarge was frankly surprised to see considering the double breakfast special she’d just slammed down. Black straps went over both shoulders centering the pack. Her eyes slid sideways to the book in his hand just long enough to read the title as she picked up her sweet roll. When she pulled up the coat’s hood she caught him observing her in the mirror. She nodded at his reflection then turned and left.
Leaning back on his stool, Sarge watched her stop outside the tavern door while unwrapping a portion or the roll before walking off. He turned to lift his cup and found Stanley staring at him with a serious degree of curiosity as he poured himself a cup of coffee to enjoy in the current lull of customers. He set a side plate with Sarge’s usual sweet roll on it next to the paperback.
Sarge frowned at the barkeeper, shrugged then picked up his book. Sarge glared at the cover for a few moments before pulling a fiver out of his pocket and tossing it on the counter. Book in one hand, he grabbed the roll from the plate then made a fast exit leaving behind Stanley’s amused laughter.
Once outside in the snow hazy bleak excuse for morning sunshine, Sarge surveyed the street. Hoarse Voice was quickly jaywalking diagonally through the empty four way stop designated by red flashing lights. With his longer legs all that was required was a slightly quicker pace to close the half block distance between them. Setting the necessary pace, Sarge took a big bite of the sweet roll, focused his sights first on the orange back pack then her black leather boots and went in pursuit of quenching more than what overeasy eggs swimming in hot sauce could ever dream of satisfying.
February 5, 2013 at 1:48 am (creative writing, culture, entertainment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, humor, life, literary fiction, poetry, publishing, random, Writing)
Tags: animation, Book, books, entertainment, excerpt, fiction, free verse, Haper Collins, horror, literary fiction, novel, poetry, random, reading, review, Sharp Teeth, Toby Barlow, video, werewolves, Writing
Quick and dirty is the way this book review post goes today.
Who wants a werewolf story?
Who wants a love story?
Who wants a horror story?
Who wants a lot of free verse?
Who wants a L.A. story?
Who wants a dog story?
Yes, indeed, Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth serves up horror tacos filled with hot she wolf women, blonde surfer dudes, dogs galore, mystery men, several varieties of criminals and features some very sharp teeth indeed. Add a dash of the unexpected humor along the lines of bad boys playing bridge with blue haired old ladies and this razor blade of a novel via verses will have you wondering whose really howling at the moon rising above the waves lapping sandy beaches everywhere. Is there anything easier to read than free verse? I doubt it. If you’re searching for a guilty reading pleasure please go ahead and take a bite. Beware: Barlow’s verse is served bloody rare liberally seasoned with sex and violence.
via Tobybarlowny YouTube
Taste some ink at Harper Collins http://www.harpercollins.com/browseinside/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061430220
February 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm (creative writing, culture, entertainment, ethics, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, humor, life, literary fiction, publishing, random, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: "Water", 2013, Alaska, Alexis M. Smith, Book, creative writing, culture, entertainment, fiction, Glaciers, life, literary fiction, love, Middle East, novel, Oil, Oregon, Portland, publishing, random, review, Tin House, Tin House Books, war, World Book Night, Writing
Hmm, it’s Sensual Saturday and sometimes that means a musical posting. Tell you what, if you click the link to Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith there’s music at the other end via the video playing on the novel’s homepage. Music covered now, okay? Now for those of you searching for something sensual for your Saturday there’s this lovely little novel just stuffed full of stories of scopes large and small. Alexis M. Smith has inked a wickedly sweet little tome with an expanse far beyond its 174 pocket-sized pages. Some folks might be inclined to savor this book tidbit by tiny tidbit over a week’s time. Some other folks, like myself, may savor it whole in the course of a single day of word craft pleasure-seeking. While there’s nothing erotic about Smith’s Tin House Books publication, her prose elicits a certain sort of response some of us experience when stimulated by wordcraft so easy-going that one has no sense of any effort on the writer’s part at all. Glaciers reads like gently flowing stream water encountering a rapid or two along the way to keep you on your toes.
So what’s it about? Love, longing, the past, the future, Amsterdam, war, families, Portland, storytelling, Alaska and glaciers of several sorts. Smith writes about a young woman, a young man, a library, and a war. Yet another anti-war book of the most subtle yet most earnest kind.
Her eyes close, and she begins to drift. She thinks of these things: Spoke and the war; the oil in Alaska and the oil in the Middle East’ the glaciers melting’ and the water that connects them all. the glaciers will melt and the water will rise. Everything will be washed though. All the young lovers in their hats and party dresses. All the plane trees and the elms. All the tall houses. All the narrow brick lanes and city squares. Glaciers take the cities, cities take the architecture, the architecture takes the bodies. (p. 151)
Glaciers melt. Glaciers are melting. Keep in mind ever-expanding scopes.
What postcards are you saving? Why?
Alexis M. Smith http://alexismsmith.com/
Tin House Books http://www.tinhouse.com/home
Take note: I discovered this literary delight via World Book Night 2013–it’s one of the selections for the free books being given away. What a wonderful reading gift! http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/books/2013
January 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm (creative writing, culture, education, entertainment, ethics, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, life, literary fiction, music, poetry, publishing, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: 3013, April 23, books, culture, deadline, entertainment, fiction, Free books, German, Give, Ireland, January 25, life, literacy, literature, love, publishing, random, reading, signup, UK, USA, videos, World Book Night, Writing
Never know what will be discovered when following the “dots” in cyberspace. Today I discovered World Book Night in the USA, April 23, 2013. Event also flows in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany. You too can sign up to give away free books to people. Yes, you read that correctly–on April 23, 2013 people will be giving away free books to promote reading. As a life long reader I totally support this event.
Now–if you’re willing to give away free books–Sign up at http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/
It’s really easy to sign up. There’s a great list of books to pick from.
Spread your love of reading and writing!
November 29, 2012 at 6:23 pm (creative writing, culture, entertainment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, history, life, literary fiction, publishing, random, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: Battle of Hastings, Book, books, creative writing, culture, Evil Machines, fiction, free book download, historical, history, Kingsnorth, literary, Paul, publisher, publishing, random, read, reading, resistance, Terry Jones, The Wake, Unbound, video, Writing
Ever wish book publishers paid some real attention to what really interests your reading brainpan? Hmm? Care to put your dollars and scents, yes that’s a deliberate misplay on words. Cents is so predictable. Let’s play with sense a little more. After all they’re very important to your nose, your taste buds and your memory–scents are. Got that? Okay, now let’s get back to Unbound–as in being unfettered, untied, unchained, unhindered–and free to move about at will. Would you like to pick the books you’d like to have published? You can at Unbound. Seriously. You might have to forgo some of that instant gratification that characterizes much of modern culture but eventually you can get what you want–as long as some other folks want it too.
Case in point:
Author Paul Kingsnorth is pitching The Wake on Unbound. The Wake is a historical novel about resistance fighters after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. What the novel needs are pledges, supporters, interested potential readers willing to pay for the digital, hardback, or collector’s edition of the novel. There are other perks offered for greater levels of support for Kingsnorth’s novel–such as Dark Mountain’s anthology. The book has garnered 70% of the pledges necessary for publishing via Unbound. Unbound is a bit like Kickstarter for publishing. Sort of. Agents are still part of the publishing mix. View that tidbit as you will.
Read an excerpt from The Wake here –>> http://unbound.co.uk/books/the-wake/
Visit Unbound’s home –>> http://unbound.co.uk/ Yes, you can buy books already published here too. See if what the authors are serving agrees with your reading taste.
Kingsnorth chatting about The Wake:
PS. Some bait to get you to take a gander at all Unbound offers.
A freebie from Unbound for which the clock is ticking now. Click the cover art to get there asap! midnight-Deadline November 30, 2012 at midnight -their midnight I suspect.
Sign in/up at Unbound, it’s absolutely free, to get a digital copy of Evil Machines FREE. Be quick–this offer ends at midnight on Nov. 30, 2012.
November 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm (art, creative writing, culture, education, entertainment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, history, life, literary fiction, poetry, publishing, random, Writing)
Tags: Book, Bryce, Courtenay, culture, death, education, entertainment, gift, history, humor, life, publishing, random, read, The Power of One, Writing
Turning on the computer this morning made this Black Friday actually a day of mourning in the world of readers and writers with the news of Bryce Courtenay’s demise due to stomach cancer. Not going to bother relating all the chatter on the various news threads regarding Courtenay’s passing. But I will say this: The Power of One is a damn fine book. If you’re looking for a great read for a young person–whom you don’t mind repeatedly reading derogatory words about certain chickens–then throw The Power of One at them and see if they can catch it. In my opinion, keep in mind the “my,” this is a great reading gift 365 days year round for any reader–or boxing fan. This is a story of guts, spirit and power. Enough said. Salute the late Bryce Courtenay by reading his books. If you’re already a Courtenay fan please feel free to share your thoughts about any of his books.
Clicking the book cover will take you to a Wikipedia page about Bryce Courtenay.
August 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm (creative writing, culture, education, ethics, fiction, history, life, literary fiction, politics, publishing, random, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: Bettina Restrepo, Book, books, creative writing, culture, Dream Act, education, espanol, family, fiction, illegal, immigration, Katherine Tegen Books, language, Mexico, novel, politics, publishing, random, reading, review, Spanish, Writing, young adult
What would you do if you were a girl seriously wanting your father for your fifteenth birthday, quienceanera, and he’d suddenly gone silent in a strange land called Houston?
Bettina Restrepo’s Illegal places readers smack dab in young Nora’s desperate world of failing grapefruit orchard, dying village and dangerous journey to the not very welcoming land of Texas. In Houston the buildings grow tall while keeping people small and insignificant. Deepening poverty and increasing concern about the silence of Nora’s father from the land of opportunity drive the young girl and her mother into making a desperate search to a place where calling the police to report an assault is not a viable option. No one wants to leave the once thriving village but survival dictates desperate measure for desperate times when the tax man gets impatient.
Love and family values push three generations of Mexican women to leave behind all they know and hold dear to search for the man missing from their daily lives. Deliberately or not, Restrepo presents anew the mythic threesome of the maiden, matron and crone in the forms of Nora, her mother and grandmother as they are forced to confront the reality of the economic and social death of their Mexican village. The grapefruits rotting in the once prosperous orchard reinforce the mythic imagery of a dying land unable to support the people. Even the village bank scarcely has any purpose other than to employ Hector.
Illegal is a dark reality check of a young adult novel that many American adults would benefit from reading. What’s the Dream Act about? Who wants it and why? Well, Nora’s story might provide some clues to the answers. Hungry stomachs often go hand in hand with hungry young minds. The need to make a meaningful life wherever you find your feet planted is real and valid cause for concern. Unless they’ve experienced poverty in America many young readers might have trouble entering Nora’s world where learning to speak English is a vital concern surpassed by the need to help her mother keep it together in a hostile urban jungle where girls beat each other for entrance into gangs.
Restrepo does her best to get readers into and keep them in Nora’s changing world. It’s not an easy task. To help raise cultural awareness she incorporates Espanol into the novel. There’s a decent little glossary at the back for readers who have no idea that cartas means a pack of cards, cabrito is a baby goat, and that a coyote can be something other than an animal–a human smuggler. Illegal is a solid novel which pulls no punches yet works to be accessible to young adult readers who are curious about what’s going with other young people beyond the boundaries of their own private worlds.
Now what would have happened if the Native Americans had thought to demand identity papers and immigration documents for all the white European invaders searching for land and riches in the New World? Imagine that.
Visit Bettina Restrepo at http://bettinarestrepo.com/
Find Illegal and more young adult fiction published by Katherine Tegen Books: http://www.yabookscentral.com/component/jreviews/tag/publisher/katherine-tegen-books/
July 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm (art, creative writing, entertainment, fiction, humor, play, publishing, random, Writing)
Tags: "mystery", Aigner, angels, art, bells, Blue Rider Press, Book, Cathedral, cover, entertainment, fantasy, fiction, Jon, Karine, Lausanne, le guet, links, Marc Rochat, novel, Paradise Lost, photography, publishing, reading, review, Steele, suspence, Switzerland, The Watchers, thriller, Writing
Ahhh, is reading the guiltiest pleasure ever or what? Hmm? Sometimes it’s so enjoyable it’s positively sinful. Jon Steele’s The Watchers reads like a great cup of steaming hot Swiss chocolate on a snowy winter day. YUM! Multiple mysteries move this deftly scored text along to an ending as teasing with potential ‘more’ forthcoming in a future foray into fiction by Jon Steele. Hint! Hint! I am going to try very very hard to glow about The Watchers without tipping Steele’s writing hand–ie, tossing any spoilers. Perhaps it was just a matter of the right book at the right time while in a certain frame of mind desiring a certain sort of meal for the imagination–or perhaps Steele’s first work of fiction is just very damn satisfying. Oh yes, I am a well satisfied reader of The Watchers–all very engaging 574 pages of it from Blue Rider Press, June 2012.
I must confess, and as a visual artist I expect to be absolutely forgiven, for initially being drawn to The Watchers not via any reviews or foreknowledge of the book but by its cover. Yes, the cover art drew my attention like a rich red flower baits and reels in a hummingbird. Light breaking through dark clouds looming over a lighted cityscape complete with pointy towers (photograph “sky” @ Karine Aigner-nicely done, Ms. Aigner). Instead of filling the inner book jacket to overflowing with marketing text Gregg Kulick took the much more enticing text teasing path of less is more.
Click to visit Jon Steele.
O! Let’s go to Switzerland and visit Lausanne Cathedral where we will meet the absolutely adorable le guet Marc Rochat and his Belles. Scramble one Playboy beauty’s brains for sexy appeals and ta da!, Katherine Taylor is just a call away. Where, o where has Jay Harper’s long-term memory gone? Hmm? Perhaps Monsieur Booty knows? I’m not telling. Nope. Not even if interrogated by the Cashmere Copper or those devilishly handsome men who lurk in the shadows. Not a single “mew” will I mew that might spoil the adventure of going up and down and all around Lausanne Cathedral peeking into the crypt, the belfry and the lunchbox.
As a “please, please, surprise me with somethings I can’t predict” sort of reader–I am well pleased with The Watchers. If you enjoy “Could it be this? Or that? Or somethings I’ve not imagined yet, please!?” mysteries then Steele’s tome could answer your prayer for some scrumptious reading fare as delicious as any entrée from Cafe de Grutli. In other words, procure a copy of the damn book and just start reading. Careful when you commence reading the final acts. I stayed up all night, yes ALL night, to complete the adventure.
Jon Steele author-book site treats here —>>> http://www.jonsteele-author.com/
Excerpt, interview, videos, images, twitter, fb and more! All to get you into the beforetimes, nowtimes and tocometimes.Don’t waste any moretime–just cyber surf to Jon Steele’s cafe nowtime! Steele will even take you inside the cathedral to meet the bells. In my opinion, The Watchers is much more fun than Milton’s Paradise Lost–by far. These fallen angels are much more intriguing. I can’t recall the last time literay apple pie tasted sooo sweet! Johnny Milton’s apples tends to leave a sour taste on my tongue. Yes, I know, stop before I get in any deeper.
If you don’t care to take my words for all the reading yum yum, then just ask Mabel at Blue Rider Press. Yep, that’s Mabel wearing the glasses.
Click Mabel to visit Blue Rider Press.
Blog note: There’s supposed to be an image of very smart dog, Mabel, reading The Watchers above. If Mabel is not lounging in my blogcasa, a mystery in itself, just click the window to visit her at home.
July 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm (art, creative writing, culture, entertainment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, life, literary fiction, Native Americans, publishing, random, Writing)
Tags: Arsenal Pulp Press, Book, Canada, creative, drugs, Dunnion, fiction, Finalist, Issues, Kristyn, Lambda, life, love, murder, publisher, punk, random, reading, review, street kids, teenagers, The Dirt Chronicles, Toronto, video, Writing
Click to visit Arsenal Pulp Press
Kristyn Dunnion strikes hard punk gold again in The Dirt Chronicles, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, which is mis-identified as a collection of short stories. I can see how that labeling came about. These can be read as short stories. But, in reality, this is a novel presented from several different characters’ viewpoints and fully individual voices. It’s a little disconcerting unless you’re a fan of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. The story is dark, hard, gritty and it’s all about the lives of several punk street kids in Toronto. It’s not pretty. There’s the corrupt cops, drugs, rape, murder, sexual identity issues and relationship issues galore. This may not be an easy read for some folks. But if you’ve got a rebellious teenager overflowing with angst–you might want to take a hard look at the issues Dunnion deals with head on–from the perspective of the kids instead of the adults they run from. Dunnion’s ability to present convincing male and female voices and perspectives is uncanny. Writing about such subjects with harsh realism is the forte of few. It’s verification of Dunnion’s talent as a writer every time you cringe while discovering the very dark side of street and squat life. Oh and yes, again, this is also a love story (ies). How much does Oreo love Ferret? Enough to leave the entire world behind while pole dancing. What will Eddie do to get back to protecting Ray Ray? Whatever it takes.
Warning: This is not Patsy Cline crooning on this video.
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