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Reading: The Inner Loop Presents This Is What America Looks Like

The Inner Loop is hosting a reading from This Is What America Looks Like, featuring Elizabeth Kadetsky.

Poets include:
Serena Agusto-Cox
Hayes Davis
Kristin Ferragut
Matthew Hohner
Courtney Sexton

Fiction writers include:
Amy Freeman
Melanie Hatter
Len Kruger
Kirsten Porter

I hope you’ll join us at 7:30 p.m. on March 16.

Mailbox Monday #622

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

The Elsewhere: Poems & Poetics by Philip Brady for review.

The Elsewhere is a new book with a long history. In a new arrangement of three books of poetry, a verse memoir, a poetic prose memoir, and essay collections on poetics, as well as new poems, The Elsewhere re-scores a life alert to the workings of line and sentence upon eye, heart, breath, and the world.

 

Usborne Illustrated Originals: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday.

Anne Shirley, a mistakenly adopted orphan falls in love with Green Gables. Despite her hot temper, vivacious imagination, and gift of making amusing bobbles, she slowly wins the hearts of her adoptive parents. In this beautifully written and illustrated book, the reader is sure to be entertained for hours by Anne and her comedic conundrums. This version is complete and unabridged.

Usborne Graphic Classics: The Wizard of Oz by Russell Punter and Simona Bursi, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday.

After Dorothy’s house is carried off by a tornado, she finds herself in the strange and magical Land of Oz. With the help of her new friends the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, she must persuade the Wizard of Oz to help her get back to Kansas. L. Frank Baum’s timeless fantasy is beautifully recreated in this enchanting graphic novel.

Real-Life Mysteries: Can You Explain the Unexplained? by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday.

WINNER OF THE BLUE PETER BOOK AWARD 2018 – Best Book with Facts. Have you ever wondered what exactly does go bump in the night? From mysteries like Shackleton’s ghostly companion to the Loch Ness Monster and friends, read the amazing evidence about these mysterious cases and make up your own mind. Things are not always what they seem – until they are, then you might wish you had never asked!

No Worries! An Activity Book for Young People Who Sometimes Feel Anxious or Stressed by Dr. Sharie Coombes, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday.

No Worries! Mindful Kids: The encouraging and simple activities and exercises tackle anxiety, sadness and stress; children will enjoy using their creativity to combat negative feelings, work out why they feel worried and how to put stress back in its place through writing, colouring, doodling and drawing.

Forensic Science by Alex Frith, Kuo Kang Chen, Lee Montgomery, Stephen Moncrieff, and  Sherwin Schwartzrock, which was a gift for my daughter’s birthday. 

Explains how forensic scientists use different evidence to solve crimes, and presents true-crime cases in comic book format.

Never Get Bored: Draw and Paint, which was another gift for my daughter’s birthday.

Discover how to doodle a sloth, turn pencil shavings into pictures and draw in ways you never imagined. Then try printing, spattering paints and painting with dots. There are ideas for portraits, patterns, optical illusions and more, so you’ll soon have enough artworks for your own exhibition — and this book will show you how to stage one too.

The Mystery of the Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine, which was a gift for my daughter.

The Mystery of the Painted Dragon is the third novel in The Sinclair’s Mysteries book series by British children’s author Katherine Woodfine published by Egmont Publishing. The novel is the third book in a four book mystery-adventure series set in Edwardian England.

History Uncovered: The U.S.A. by Kristine Carlson Asselin, which was a gift for my daughter.

This stylish atlas features key moments of American history in an innovative format, with each die-cut spread building on the last as more states are added to the union, culminating in a modern-day map of America. From the 1700s through today — one layer at a time — it’s filled with dates, facts, and historical figures.

A Life Worth Choosing by Anngela Schroeder, which I won in a giveaway.

“You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.” Reeling from the unexpected rejection of his proposal, Fitzwilliam Darcy prepares to quit Hunsford for London but not before he defends himself against Elizabeth Bennet’s accusations. He cannot forgive her harsh words; her assertion Mr. Wickham would have made a better son has cut him to the core. Suffering an accident while delivering the fated letter, he wakes to a world he does not know—and to those who do not recognize him. With a new life, a different name, and a fresh chance at winning the woman he loves, Darcy must decide which is “A Life Worth Choosing”––the past he remembers or a future he has created for himself.This Regency variation of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by bestselling author Anngela Schroeder, is appropriate for all who wish to lose themselves on another path towards Darcy and Elizabeth’s happily ever after.

What books did you receive?

Book Spotlight: Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans

Normally, I don’t post book spotlights, but I have been looking forward to reading Mans’ collection: Black Girl, Call Home. Stay tuned for my review later this month.

About the collection:

A literary coming-of-age poetry collection, an ode to the places we call home, and a piercingly intimate deconstruction of daughterhood, Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing.

From spoken word poet Jasmine Mans comes an unforgettable poetry collection about race, feminism, and queer identity.

With echoes of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sonia Sanchez, Mans writes to call herself–and us–home. Each poem explores what it means to be a daughter of Newark, and America–and the painful, joyous path to adulthood as a young, queer Black woman.

Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering Black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing.

Aren’t you just riveted? Check out her collection, Black Girl, Call Home, new on the market this month.

Photo Credit: Redens Desrosiers

About the Poet:

Jasmine Mans is a Black American poet, artist from Newark, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison, with a B.A. in African American Studies. Her debut collection of poetry was published in 2012, (Chalk Outlines of Snow Angels). Mans is the resident poet at the Newark Public Library. She was a member of The Strivers Row Collective.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Interrupted Plans: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Brigid Huey

Today Brigid Huey is here to talk about her writing process as it relates to her new book, Interrupted Plans.

Before we hear about her process, check out the book:

Suppose Elizabeth Bennet never visited Pemberley…

It is October of 1812. Elizabeth Bennet and her family have seen dramatic changes in the past few months—none of them welcome. Her sister Jane needs a fresh start, and Elizabeth is no less eager to leave behind the pain and confusion of not accepting Mr. Darcy’s proposal.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has not seen Elizabeth since he offered for her—and she adamantly refused him. When she appears in London, he is determined to gain her friendship and make amends. When a carriage mishap throws them together, Darcy does all he can to demonstrate his changed behavior.

Though their renewed acquaintance seems to be growing into a genuine friendship, a family secret constrains Elizabeth. As she falls deeper in love with the man she rejected, does she dare tell him the truth?

Doesn’t this sound intriguing? I just love the “what if” stories that spur novels in the Jane Austen universe. Please welcome, Brigid:

Thank you so much for hosting me today! I am so pleased to be here at Savvy Verse and Wit.

As a writer, I am always fascinated to hear about other authors’ writing processes and what influences their work. I thought I might share a little bit about my own process today.

The idea for Interrupted Plans came to me in pieces. There were certain elements I knew I wanted to include. I could see Darcy and Elizabeth in a ballroom, and there was definitely an emotional exchange in the snow. As is often the way with me, these scenes came to me on their own and the rest of the story grew up around them.

I write at a local coffee shop every Thursday. It’s my “day off” from my regular life of homeschooling two kids. When working on a story, I usually write out scenes that are playing out in my head. Then I spend several weeks dreaming about the storyline and writing notes as I go so I can remember good ideas!

Once I have a rough outline of the story, I get back to the serious business of writing. I often have to tweak the timeline or add new characters. It’s a very organic process!

The last, and hardest, part of the writing process for me is deciding on a title. I have never been apt at choosing titles, but for whatever reason Interrupted Plans came rather quickly to me. I wish it was always that way!

Thank you for listening to my rambles! I hope you enjoy Interrupted Plans!

Thank you, Brigid, for sharing your process with us. Now for the giveaway

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Brigid Huey’s Interrupted Plans, and the giveaway is international.

ENTER HERE.

About the Author:

Brigid Huey has been in love with Jane Austen since first seeing the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice as a young girl. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids and spends her free time reading and writing. She also has an assortment of birds, including five chickens and too many parakeets. She dreams of living on a farm where she can raise as many chickens, ducks, and goats as she likes and write romance novels in an airy study overlooking the wildflowers. Check out her website; her Facebook Author Page, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Guest Post: Thoughts on ‘The Other Side of the Wire’ by HW Coyle

Today’s guest is author Harold Coyle, who will share some thoughts about survival at any cost in relation to his new novel The Other Side of the Wire. Set during WWII, this is a book that tells a harrowing tale but also delves into what identity means. But first, check out a little bit about the book.

About the Book:

The story of an orphaned Jewish child in 1935 who disguises their identity to escape religious persecution and eventually is adopted by a high-ranking Nazi family. The main character struggles with internal and external acceptance, but ultimately and incredibly acts for herself and for the betterment of the world around her. The author describes the main themes of the book as: “the struggle of a child to belong, the seduction of youth by a corrupt system, and an effort to atone for willful ignorance and the sins of the father.”

Please welcome Harold Coyle:

What would you do in order to survive? It is a question that cannot be answered unless you understand the circumstances you find yourself in and, just as important, what your choices are.

For Solomon Perel, a German Jew born in 1925, the choices he had to make were grim. His story recounted in his book I Was Hitler Youth and depicted in the movie Europa, Europa is a testament to the truism fact is stranger than fiction. It was also the inspiration for The Other Side of the Wire.

A reader will find the story itself well within the boundaries of historical fiction. Events and historical figures touched upon are all drawn from the history of the period. An appendix at the end of the novel expands upon the importance of events and people crucial to the story. It is the manner in which the protagonist seeks to avoid a future without promise and, in doing so, became part of Germany’s resurgence that has proven to be a point of contention with some who were afforded the opportunity to review the book in advance of publication.

Although the story is not about the subject, the issue of sexual reassignment surgery is one of those hot button topics that divide us. Some readers will dismiss The Other Side of the Wire on this basis alone. That is unfortunate, for there were several underlying themes that are touched on that are as relevant today as they were in the 1930s and 1940s.

The first is the ease with which the Nazi leadership seduced the German youth. To me, it is perhaps the most important, one that cannot be ignored, for it is happening again in various guises today.

The second is the influence the state seeks to exert on children, making them useful instruments of the state. All schools, be they public or private, have the task of molding their charges into productive members of the school’s society. Hitler made this point in a speech on November 6, 1933 when he told of a man who informed him he would never support the Nazis; ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’

The final theme, one I came to realize as I was finishing the piece, was the story I was writing was a modern-day journey into a very different Heart of Darkness. Like the fictional journey Joseph Conrad’s protagonist took, Hannah found herself journeying ever close to the evil she, as a child, had thought had not existed. In that story, Marlow is able to regain his sense of humanity by lying to Kurtz’s wife when she asks what her husband’s last words were. Hannah regains her humanity by atoning for the sins of her adopted father and her own failings.

In writing The Other Side of the Wire, I wish to depict things as they were as best I can.

History is what history is. To ignore the lessons of our past is to condemn future generations to the horrors and suffering our forebears endured. To me, that would be a crime that makes what the Nazis did all the more terrible.

Thank you, Harold, for sharing this with us. History needs to be learned so we don’t repeat those atrocities.

Mailbox Monday #621

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Ghost Hour by Laura Cronk for review.

Sometimes compact, sometimes expansive, the poems in Ghost Hour emanate from adolescence and other liminal spaces, considering girlhood and contemporary womanhood―the ways both are fraught with the pleasures and limits of embodiment. As in her previous poetry, Laura Cronk writes personally, intimately, yet never without profound consideration of onslaught of contemporary violence, which we must love in spite of and rage against.

Why I Never Finished My Dissertation by Laura Foley for review with TLC Book Tours.

Foley’s writing may appear sparse and reserved but it harbors a subtle power. The poet’s greatest strength is her acute sense of observation. She possesses the ability to thread sensuousness into the fabric of everyday life. . .This is a dazzling volume of poetry that delights in crisp imagery and tender recollections. —Kirkus Reviews

The quest to discover why this poet does not complete a dissertation, leads to an astonishing read. This collection reveals a wide range of life-changing experiences beginning with a marriage to a hunchback Moroccan, almost twice the writer’s age. Other poems express revelations and observations that arise out of travels, such as a trip to Tehran, where the poet stands on a bullet-riddled balcony watching a hurried crowd “spill Khomeini from his coffin.” The signature poem unveils a suddenly busy domestic life in a second marriage with three young children and puppies. Toward the end readers experience love which results in marriage with a same-sex partner. No matter one’s personal story, what makes a story great is how it is told. —The US Review of Books

Woman Drinking Absinthe by Katherine E. Young, which I purchased.

From the naïve girl who willfully ignores evidence of Bluebeard’s crimes, to Manet’s dispirited barmaid at the Folies-Bergère, to the narrator of the book’s opening sequence, who sacrifices domestic security for a passionate lover who will eventually abuse her, the women of these poems brush abandon convention at their peril, even though convention also imperils their bodies, their spirits, and their art. In this second collection, Young—whose earlier Day of the Border Guards explored Russian history and literature—continues to employ what she’s learned from the great Russian writers she often translates. Like Marina Tsvetaeva, who makes a cameo appearance here, Young finds literary touchstones among sources as varied as German folk tales, Greek drama, and the Old Testament. Whether tracing the elements of Euclidean geometry or the terrain of a Civil War battlefield in Tennessee, these poems ask the hard questions: Why does love fail? How can art come from pain? What heals the soul?

wife|daughter|self: a memoir in essays by Beth Kephart, which I purchased.

Curiously, inventively, Beth Kephart reflects on the iterative, composite self in her new memoir―traveling to lakes and rivers, New Mexico and Mexico, the icy waters of Alaska and a hot-air balloon launch in search of understanding. She is accompanied, often, by her Salvadoran-artist husband. She spends time, a lot of time, with her widowed father. As she looks at them she ponders herself and comes to terms with the person she is still becoming. At once sweeping and intimate, Wife | Daughter | Self is a memoir built of interlocking essays by an acclaimed author, teacher, and critic.

What did you receive?

The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis

Source: Publisher
Hardcover, 384 pgs.
I am an Amazon affiliate

The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis takes another look at Aline Griffith, a small town girl looking for big adventure and to serve her country. Loftis uses source material from the National Archives, Griffith’s own fictionalized accounts of her time as a spy with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and many are source materials to suss out the truth of her time as a spy. Aline was a model who trained to be a spy at The Farm and her own accounts of her exploits are likely to have been embellished because as publishers will do, they want to sell books and car chases, murders, and more sell books. While Aline may have wanted to recount her life honestly, other marketing experts were at play and Loftis strives to piece out what was true from those accounts with secondary sources. I also think some people have a glamorous view of spies and what they do (e.g., James Bond), and the reality is much more mundane and nuanced — it’s about building trust and relationships that can be leveraged for information.

Was Loftis successful in finding the truth? For the most part, he did his best based on what was classified and what isn’t any longer. What I loved about Loftis’ narrative is that it read like historical fiction, and I think with any book based on research there’s a tendency to be too dry in the narrative. Because he chose to narrate it more like a novel, it was easier to eat up the pages and get engrossed in Aline’s story. Her time at The Farm was fascinating, and some may wonder why her family wasn’t in the book and asking about her whereabouts, etc., but I think it’s clear that when you become a spy and have a cover story, the family must accept it as truth and you make sure that they do. Adding those conversations would have bogged down this narrative.

Being part of the OSS coding room in Spain (considered neutral in the war) to send information to the U.S. State Department during WWII is not a glamorous job but no less important than being a spy. She spent much of her career in that room, but she also attended parties, social events, and had a semi-romance with a bullfighter. When she finally became a field agent, it is clear that all those parties and social events she was invited to opened the door for her career because she was in places where she could probe without drawing attention and could overhear conversations that might be of importance with regard to Nazi movements.

Loftis also creates a wider link between espionage and the Spanish bullfights. Like the matador, Aline lures her targets closer to her with the hope that she can evade capture, jail, and death. She’s weaving her spell on the crowd around her and she’s masterfully moving her cape to lure the bulls and create an illusion of a career woman learning about her current home — Spain. It probably helped that she was genuinely captivated by the Spanish culture.

The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis is engaging, thrilling, and insightful, and he provides a great deal of information about the spy business (but I’m not an expert). I do think there are holes and gaps that could be filled, and I would love to know more about her time doing “odd jobs” for the CIA after her marriage and her life in Spain was in full swing, but alas that information is still classified (my guess is it had a lot to do with preventing communism’s spread). Aline Griffith served her country with honesty and dignity, and she enjoyed doing it, even if she was in danger. She clearly was a people person and the relationships she maintained throughout her life are a testament to her personality and care for others. Loftis has humanized a spy who believed her efforts helped the country during WWII, but I’m still curious about some of the characters in her life like Pierre and Ryan (two figures who are much more mysterious — perhaps there’s a fictionalized account of them in Loftis’ future).

RATING: Quatrain

Excerpt, Interview, Giveaway: Came a Flight Gently by Leigh Dreyer, part of the Pride in Flight Series

Leigh Dreyer has published the third book in her Pride in Flight series, inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Came a Flight Gently.

I’ve waited for her to complete this series because I want to read my series back-to-back and not have to wait. I usually wait for at least three books to be published before I start a new series. That’s my quirk.

I’ve been eager to read these because I love war fiction and non-fiction, even if War Through the Generations has gone dormant. Unlike other readers, I do like technical details, etc., but I’m also up for a mostly romance novel with military themes.

I had the pleasure of meeting Leigh in person at the JAFF Writer-Reader Get Together in 2019. Today, I’m happy to welcome her and her three books to the blog today, with an excerpt from Came a Flight Gently. In the new book, Leigh’s father, Paul Trockner, becomes a first time author himself. I was able to ask them what it was like to work on a book together.

About The Best Laid Plans:

In this modern Pride and Prejudice variation, Captain William “Fitz” Darcy has just received a new assignment as an instructor pilot at Meryton Air Force Base. Soon he meets the intrepid 2nd Lieutenant Elizabeth Bennet, a new student at the base that he cannot keep out of his head. Elizabeth, on the other hand, finds Captain Darcy to be arrogant and prideful and attempts to avoid him at every turn. Despite Darcy’s insulting manners, Elizabeth soars her way through pilot training, but can she soar her way into love as well?

About The Flight Path Less Traveled (a title that reminds me of Robert Frost):

In this modern Pride and Prejudice continuation and sequel to The Best Laid Flight Plans, 2nd Lieutenant Elizabeth Bennet and Captain William Darcy are facing trials after the events of Elizabeth’s last flight.

Darcy’s proposal lingers between them as Elizabeth becomes almost single sighted to her rehabilitation and her return to pilot training. A secret is revealed to Elizabeth about Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s past that throws all she has known to be true into a tail spin. The romance between our hero and heroine begins to blossom through military separations, sisterly pranks, and miscommunications. Can Darcy and Elizabeth come together or will flying in the Air Force keep them apart?

About Came a Flight Gently:

In the exciting conclusion of the Pride in Flight Series (The Best Laid Flight Plans and The Flight Path Less Traveled), our dear couple Elizabeth and Darcy have moved to Pemberley to begin their lives together.

An outsider to New York society and the affluent world of Darcy, our heroine uses her characteristic drive and wit to begin her marriage and all that comes with him. Helped along by Mrs. Reynolds and a curmudgeonly airplane mechanic, Elizabeth discovers a new path to the civilian flight world. Darcy, ever the hero, supports her and learns to trust her instincts. Fast-paced and dramatic, Came a Flight Gently soars through love, adventure, and intrigue as it races through Reno to the finish.

Please welcome Leigh Dreyer and Paul Trockner:

How was working together on Came a Flight Gently?

Paul: Working to together for this book started when we went to Reno for research. Leigh had the first two written. At Reno, I helped break the ice with the race pilots, explain what was going on and translated between pilot speak and author speak. So, working came naturally as I enjoy introducing people to flying and talking with other pilots. Working together was not as father/daughter. It was really semi-experienced author, Leigh, teaching or showing me what to do. It was fun collaborating. Just like any joint venture we agreed, disagreed and worked things out. This is Leigh’s story so she got the last word. As a parent it is wonderful to relate to your kids as adults not just the 18 year old that moved out of your house.

Leigh: I really enjoyed working together. Paul had helped me make sure the first two books had realistic flight scenes, radio calls, and helped me connect with some Air Force specific resources. With this book, his 40+ years of flight experience was valuable while looking at types of planes, how planes are modified, and generally helping explain what is going on in various races. I follow pretty well, but he could really get into the nitty gritty and make sure I didn’t make any boneheaded mistakes. Story-wise, it was so nice
to be able to talk to someone about the plot, characters, etc. with someone just as invested as I was.

Why co-author?

Leigh: Well, when I started writing The Best Laid Flight Plans, I had a toddler and a newborn. Then during The Flight Path Less Traveled, I still had the two kids, but I was working from home (I’m a speech pathologist) and during breaks, I took advantage of my daycare situation and got it finished. Then, I had a baby with a really difficult pregnancy, then I moved, then COVID-19 hit so all of my writing time was sacrificed to more important things. I was really working to get Came a Flight Gently out when dad offered to write a scene because he had a good idea. The scene turned out great and we started collaborating more and more. Eventually, I told him I felt like he needed to either have a big acknowledgement or a co-authorship and our writing relationship became more official. It’s been great, honestly.

Paul: For the first two books Leigh wrote I just cleaned up the flying scenes and radio calls. I didn’t have nor wanted story input it was her thing. I was just technical assistant. Along the way at Reno we started talking about where she wanted this story to go. The first book follows Pride and Prejudice, the second resolves Elizabeth’s situation, this book finishes the story and is a completely original story with the characters. It also added characters that I thought I could relate to. So I pitched a couple ideas. Well Leigh, in the mean time, had to move, wrangle two kids while waiting for a third. So I asked if I could write a scene? Leigh said sure, so I did. She liked it so I wrote more. Well as we got going I’d helped with approaching half the book and had input on her scenes as she did mine as well as the direction of the book. As we wrapped up, Leigh asked if I wanted to be coauthor. So after discussion and some soul searching. After all it’s her brain child, I said okay. And that’s how I helped and became a co-author.

About the Authors of Came a Flight Gently:

Leigh Dreyer is a huge fan of Jane Austen variations and the JAFF community. She is blessed to have multi-generational military connections through herself and her husband, who she met in pilot training. She often describes her formative years in this way: “You know the ‘Great Balls of Fire’ scene in Top Gun (Goose, you big stud!) when Goose and Meg Ryan have their kid on the piano? I was that kid.” Leigh lives with her pilot husband, a plane-obsessed son, a daughter who was a pink pilot for Halloween, and a one-year-old son who is so used to F-16 noise, he does not even startle to sonic booms.

Paul Trockner was an Air Force fighter pilot for twenty-eight years. He flew the F-111, T-37, A-10, and T-
38. He currently teaches fighter pilots using simulator instruction. He has been happily married for thirty-six years to his lovely wife Elizabeth. Leigh is the oldest of his five children.

GIVEAWAY:

Leave a comment about why you want to read Leigh Dreyer’s modernized Pride & Prejudice novels by March 9.

Also leave an email where I can reach you, if you win the trio!

Guest Post: Yiddish on the Bayou by Jennifer Anne Moses, Author of The Man Who Loved His Wife

Today, author Jennifer Anne Moses will share with us a guest post about her latest short story collection, The Man Who Loved His Wife.

Book Synopsis:

Jews being Jewish: that’s the subject of Jennifer Anne Moses’s new collection of short stories. Whether in Tel Aviv, suburban New Jersey, or the Deep South, the characters who populate the pages of The Man Who Loved His Wife grapple with God, their loved ones, fate, death, hope, Hitler, transcendence, and the 4000 year old history of Judaism. With a Yiddish sensibility born of passion, an eye for detail, and a deadpan sense of humor reminiscent of Singer, Salinger, and Tillie Olsen, Moses captures singularly Jewish and wholly human characters as they live and breathe through their stories. A secular Israeli loses his son twice, first to ultra-Orthodoxy and then to war. An elderly survivor of Nazism living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, believes his dog to be the reincarnation of his long-dead sister. Meanwhile, in Queens, an adolescent boy mistakes love for magic and brings his family to the brink of catastrophe. Lovely, tender, and hard to put down, these are short stories that leave you yearning for more.

I hope you will enjoy what she has to say. Please give her a warm welcome:

Yiddish on the Bayou

I’m about to publish my seventh book, in this case a collection of short stories about Jews being Jewish, meaning that the book is informed, soaked in, and shot through with Yiddish and Yiddishkeit. The former, Yiddish, is a language that appeared in late Medieval Europe, when Jews from France and Italy moved into what is now Germany, creating a new language comprised of elements from German, French, Hebrew, Aramaic, and the Slavic languages. The word, “Yiddish,” is in fact Yiddish for Jewish.” Thus Yiddish became the everyday vernacular of European Jews living across both linguistic and political borders. The latter—Yiddishkeit—roughly means “Yiddish culture” but expands to include an entire messily discordant and endlessly eclectic Jewish worldview, sensibility, and vibrancy. Nu?

I’m a Jew, so some of the world I write about came to me, along with my brown hair and eyes, at birth. But my family had been in America so long—since around the Civil War on both sides–that by my grandparents’ generation Yiddish was all but forgotten. Also, I grew up fancy, in Virginia, where I knew much more about horses and tennis than anything even vaguely related to Judaism or the Yiddish world that had been wiped out by the Nazi genocide. But then I went to college, where I fell headlong into what became a deep dive into Jewish literature and Hebrew, and there you have it: my muse began to speak to me with a Yiddish accent. The result being my new book, The Man Who Loved His Wife (Mayapple Press, March 1, 2021).

According to my blurbs (thank you givers of blurbs!) I’m a Yiddish writer who just happens to write in English and have even hit the high-water marks of Yiddish literature: humor, grittiness, pathos, passion.

I’m not knocking it—God forbid—but most of my work, until now, has been outside of Jews, Jewishness, and Judaism. In fact, my last book, which was published just a year ago (and in time for the pandemic to shut everything down, including readings) is about the struggles of two orphaned brothers living on the margins of decent society in a small, redneck town in South Louisiana. Twice my short stories have landed in the anthology New Stories from the South: the Year’s Best, and in both cases the stories featured impoverished Black characters in Baton Rouge, and their (largely impoverished) world. And what part of my Yiddisherkop (Jewish head) did this come from? The part that lived in Baton Rouge for thirteen years, where my husband and I raised our (now grown) children, and I volunteered among very poor, very sick full-Gospel African Americans.

According to Google I am a “multi genre” writer–but it’s more than a matter of genre. I’ve internalized many different worlds, and then those worlds show up in my work.

The fact of the matter is that I was raised in Virginia among ur-wasps and spent my entire life on the East Coast until, decades ago, I landed in Louisiana. Now I live in New Jersey—and with relatives living in Jerusalem, I go there, too. And it all seeps in–and eventually finds its way into my work.

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

When my paternal grandmother died, in her mid-nineties, she left behind not only three children (including my father) and eleven grandchildren (including me), but formal portraits of my grandfather’s grandparents, painted in dark oil paint and framed in ornate gilded frames. They were the founding couple of my father’s side of the family, arriving in Baltimore in the mid-19th century from Manchester, England, where there is every reason to think that they spoke to one another in Yiddish. (He was originally from western Germany; her family was from Prussia). All eleven of us grandchildren wanted the portraits, but perhaps because I’d long since put Jewishness and Judaism in the middle of my life, my father got there first and nabbed them for me.

The portraits now hang in my dining room, gazing down on us much like they’d gazed down on my grandparents and before that, my great-grandparents.

I like to think that my great-great grandparents wouldn’t just be moved by the world of The Man Who Loved His Wife, but that the stories themselves would resonate in their souls, and from there, light up their eyes.

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing with my readers your writing process and so much more. I think your grandparents would be proud.

About the Author:

Jennifer Anne Moses is a multi-genre author whose books include Food and Whine, The Book of Joshua, Bagels and Grits, Visiting Hours, Tales from My Closet, and The Art of Dumpster Diving. The Man Who Loved His Wife is her first collection of short stories. Her essays and short stories have been widely published and anthologized. She’s also a painter. She is the mother of three grown children, and lives in Montclair, N.J., with her husband of more than three decades and their two bad dogs. Visit her website.

Mailbox Monday #620

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

frank:sonnets by Diane Seuss from the publisher.

“The sonnet, like poverty, teaches you what you can do / without,” Diane Seuss writes in this brilliant, candid work, her most personal collection to date. These poems tell the story of a life at risk of spilling over the edge of the page, from Seuss’s working-class childhood in rural Michigan to the dangerous allures of New York City and back again. With sheer virtuosity, Seuss moves nimbly across thought and time, poetry and punk, AIDS and addiction, Christ and motherhood, showing us what we can do, what we can do without, and what we offer to one another when we have nothing left to spare. Like a series of cels on a filmstrip, frank: sonnets captures the magnitude of a life lived honestly, a restless search for some kind of “beauty or relief.” Seuss is at the height of her powers, devastatingly astute, austere, and―in a word―frank.

Woman Drinking Absinthe by Katherine E. Young, which I purchased.

The poems in Katherine E. Young’s Woman Drinking Absinthe concern themselves with transgressions. Lust, betrayal, guilt, redemption: Young employs fairy tales, opera, Impressionism, Japonisme, Euclidean geometry, Greek tragedy, wine, figs, and a little black magic to weave a tapestry that’s as old as the hills and as fresh as today’s headlines.

What books did you receive?