Headlights’ warmth chases
winter’s chill, erases shadows
fleeting night blazes
- The Bench Poems, by Mary Clark
Hello, fellow bloggers and readers. I’ve been busy on two books for a few months (or many). Some of you know, as you have read at least one of them. Thank you! Every writer needs readers that will tell them when they’re on track and when they’ve sped off into the wilderness.
The first project was a revisit to Community, a memoir released last year. The revised version will be available soon. In it I venture to “wax poetic” now and then just to brighten the tone of the story. I like sunsets, but the rosy dawn is also beautiful.
The second project is the book I was working on last year: Passages. It’s been through several reincarnations. Hopefully, it will be ready for prime time in the near future – though I harbor hope for a publisher, and so time will tell.
Reading has taken a lot of my time as well. Among the books I enjoyed and – or would recommend:
Horse, by Geraldine Brooks.
She shows the way thoroughbred racing is intertwined with American history, specifically, with racism. The use of black grooms and trainers, many enslaved, to care for these horses, and their depictions in paintings of the pre-Civil War era, is told so well I felt I knew the men and the artists. Our current history appears in a parallel story. She is deft at describing the changes in thought and language that accompany the honest examination of racism in the U.S. And when stereotypes can surprise us, whether white or black. The horses are characters with personalities, too. The central horse, Lexington, is gifted and used to enrich his owners, while also rising above them to become a legend.
Angel Landing, by Alice Hoffman.
When I was reading this, I asked myself, when is this? No one had cell phones. People were collecting change for the bus. It’s old times, but I realized, within my lifetime. I can remember (dimly) those days. The book was published in 1980. That doesn’t mean it’s not relevant. Because it is, very. The story takes place in a small village on Long Island, once a hopping seaside town and now forgotten as people moved to the trendier places. Another reason it’s not a big draw is the large nuclear power plant, Angel Landing, clearly visible on a point of land nearby. A young woman, Natalie, returns to her aunt Minnie’s (Minnie is a live wire) boarding house (now empty) in the town, with her activist upper-crust boyfriend bunking in an office where he can work on his anti-nuclear cause nonstop. As she sits in her aunt’s house she notices the sky turning color. Later, an explosion. There’s been an accident at the plant. I won’t say more, but this story is an oddly surreal, moody, wandering journey to self-realization. While it’s set in the “old times,” it’s modern in many ways. Now I find it lingers in my memory.
Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng.
As we face potential conflict with China, this book takes on the issues of nationalism, fear-mongering, “patriot laws,” family separation, and the ease with which a democratic republic can become a dystopian society. A pandemic followed by economic hardship and riots is blamed on China, and all Chinese people in the U.S. are suspect. Books are banned, protests quashed, laws are passed limiting Chinese-American freedoms (education, employment, travel), and ultimately, the government reaches into family life, taking children from parents who might taint them with un-American ideas. A mixed couple find themselves caught up in the hysteria. This book raises vital questions about the direction of our country, and any country that still calls itself a democarcy.