A Hero for the People by Arthur Powers

Source: Author and Book Junkie Promotions
Paperback, 190 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

A Hero for the People by Arthur Powers is a quiet collection of short stories about the Brazilian backlands that examine faith and perseverance among people who were downtrodden and beaten down by their richer brethren off and on between 1964 and the early 1990s.  In this crucible, men and women are either made stronger or they are broken by the land, the people, and the government.  Powers uses sparse language and thrusts the reader in the middle of situations, but there is enough background given so that the reader understand each character’s position in the towns they visit — from the Brother sent to help an older priest live out his final years before the parish is closed and finds himself becoming a people’s hero to the young wife and mother who dreams of escaping her life as a wife for a passionate love affair.

“She turned and walked inside.  She would miss this house.  The house where she had grown up had been made of wattle — mud and sticks — plastered over in parts where the plaster hadn’t worn through.  Its floor had been dirt, pressed hard enough so that you could sweep it almost clean, but turning muddy when rain leaked through the old tile roof.  In this house, when water leaked through the tiles in the hard rains, it could be swept off the floor.  And here there was a pump in the kitchen; she didn’t have to walk to the river for water.”  (from “The Moving”, page 96)

While Powers begins his collection with a note about the political and social environment during the time in which these stories are set; it is hardly necessary because it is clear that those factors influenced the lives of his characters.  At the heart of these stories are families trying to make their way in the world and keep what little they have, but there are the missionaries who come from the outside world to help them and there are the wealthy landowners and their gangs who try to take it all.  Powers’ style is reminiscent of the stories told by the fire before televisions were prevalent in homes, and these stories will transport readers outside of their own lives into the lives of these Brazilian farmers and ranchers.  As they struggle, readers will feel the tension grown, and when they fall, they will cheer them onward.

A Hero for the People by Arthur Powers is a powerful look at a less affluent society that is no less worthy of prosperity and happiness than the next.  Hearts will break, families will falter, but in the end faith and love hold them together through the toughest parts of their lives.  Powers has crafted harrowing stories that dig at the root of all human societies when they are beginning anew.

About the Author:

Arthur Powers went to Brazil in 1969 and lived most his adult life there. From 1985 to 1997, he and his wife served with the Franciscan Friars in the Amazon, doing pastoral work and organizing subsistence farmers and rural workers’ unions in a region of violent land conflicts. The Powers currently live in Raleigh North Carolina.

Arthur received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, three annual awards for short fiction from the Catholic Press Association, and 2nd place in the 2008 Tom Howard Fiction Contest. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many magazines & anthologies. He is the author of A Hero For The People: Stories From The Brazilian Backlands (Press 53, 2013) and The Book of Jotham (Tuscany Press, 2013).

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads





55th book for 2014 New Author Reading Challenge.






28th book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #286

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:












1.  My Jane Austen Prize pack, with tote bag, bookplates, etc. from Syrie James’ Facebook giveaway!

2.  Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson for review from Milkweed Editions.

Sara Eliza Johnson’s stunning, deeply visceral first collection, Bone Map (2013 National Poetry Series Winner), pulls shards of tenderness from a world on the verge of collapse, where violence and terror infuse the body, the landscape, and dreams: a handful of blackberries offered from bloodied arms, bee stings likened to pulses of sunlight, a honeycomb of marrow exposed. “All moments will shine if you cut them open. / Will glisten like entrails in the sun.” With figurative language that makes long, associative leaps, and with metaphors and images that continually resurrect themselves across poems, the collection builds and transforms its world through a locomotive echo—a regenerative force—that comes to parallel the psychic quest for redemption that unfolds in its second half. The result is a deeply affecting composition that will establish the already decorated young author as an important and vital new voice in American poetry.

3.  The Fever by Megan Abbott on audio from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher and the father of two teens: Eli, a hocky star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school, and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families, and the town s fragile idea of security.

4.  Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta on audio from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

When thirteen-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity, and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains.

The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.

5.  The Last Mile by Blair Richmond for review from Ashland Creek Press in October.

In the final book in the acclaimed Lithia Trilogy, Kat has new losses to mourn but also new reasons to live. On the brink of new beginnings, she is back together with Roman, their relationship deepening more and more even as she wonders whether she may still harbor feelings for Alex.

Yet Kat finds it difficult to focus on such things as college and romance, with terror still haunting the hills of Lithia and threatening the entire town. As several recent earthquakes baffle scientists and put residents on edge, it seems that something more dangerous may be looming in Lithia’s future.

6.  The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg for review from TLC Book Tours in October.

Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up among her eccentric relatives in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, a once-opulent relic given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British.

Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, surviving on her grandfather’s pension and the meager income they receive from a varied cast of boarders. As outside forces conspire to steal the palace out from under them, Agnes struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in the most unexpected places. The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters set against the backdrop of dazzling 1920s Singapore.


7.  Madame X by William Logan purchased from Novel Books.

One of the most technically gifted poets of his generation, William Logan here presents four sequences, each of which is haunted by the battered history of the enchanted city of Venice: two refugees from Nazi Germany replay a version of the Aeneid that shadows their lives in and out of Venice; the comedy of Tiepolo’s Punchinello drawings are given mocking narrative; a modern traveler finds in Venice’s insects, birds, and fish a nature that endures within an unnatural city; and, in a formal sequence reminiscent of W. H. Auden’s “The Sea and the Mirror,” King James commissions a revision of Macbeth in order to impress the chief magistrate. These new poems showcase Logan’s trademark refinement and erudition.

The poems here delve into what William Logan calls the “ill-lit kingdom of the past.” The book is haunted by the dead but equally penitent toward the rich insinuations of the living: the lost floral paradise of the Florida outlands, the steamy Gatsby summers of a Long Island childhood, the frozen stones of a colonial burying ground. This new collection of seventy-two poems will allow readers to delight in the richness of Logan’s language and the boldness of his vision.

8.  A Hero for the People by Arthur Powers for review for Book Junkie Promotions in September.

“Set in the vast and sometimes violent landscape of contemporary Brazil, this is a gorgeous collection of stories-wise, hopeful, and forgiving, but clear-eyed in its exploration of the toll taken on the human heart by greed, malice, and the lust for land.” -Debra Murphy, Publisher of Idyll’s Press, Founder of CatholicFiction.net



9.  Crow-Work by Eric Pankey for review from Milkweed Editions.

“What is a song but a snare to capture the moment?” Eric Pankey asks in his new collection, Crow-Work. This central question drives Pankey’s ekphrastic exploration of the moment where emotion and energy flood a work of art. Through subjects as diverse as Brueghel’s Procession to Calvary, Anish Kapoor’s Healing of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio’s series of severed heads, and James Turrell’s experimentation with light and color, the author travels to an impossible past, despite being firmly rooted in the present, to seek out “the songbird in every thorn thicket” of the artist’s work. Short bursts of lyrical beauty burn away “like coils of incense ash,” bodies in the light of a cave flicker, coalesce and disappear. By capturing the ephemeral beauty of life in these poems, Crow-Work seeks not only to explain great art, but also to embody it.

What did you receive?