This seems to be my month for reading new-old books. “S” by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams looks precisely like a 1949 well-worn library book and is filled with… well we don’t have time for that now. I’m setting it aside for the time being in favor of a new old favorite.
The end of the world is coming—ack, it’s here, and Jeannine Hall Gailey wants to help us find our way, via what looks to be a well-worn atomic age textbooky field guide.
Field Guide to the End of the World is Ms. Gailey’s fifth poetry book. I have read The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and thought I knew what I was getting into with her newest (oldest?) book. Ah, but while there are similarities, the author has let her playful side out to romp through the debris of our final days.
The book sorts poems into groupings, which is nice for slipping into a frame of mind and lingering there a while. My favorite section, and I am pretty sure many readers will agree with this, is “Cultural Anthropology”. It’s a bit like reading the literary version of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, while watching the Food Channel on the side and sneaking peeks over to Netflix. The name that pops out of the poetry listings immediately, is, of course, Wile E. Coyote (super genius), who’s been living in a post-apocalypse world since most of us wore footed jammies. Who better to enlist than this ill-fed quasi-predator to be one of the guides on our journey? As it turns out, that guide is as lost as the rest of us, but we can take comfort in wandering in circles together.
My personal favorite is “Letter to John Cusack, Piloting a Plane in an Apocalypse Movie”. Take some time to linger on each phrase, and remember. As the saying goes, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it will become a part of you. Actually, it already was, you just needed open eyes to see it.
But I didn’t simply hunker down (though hunkering down during the end days certainly has its merit) in the ‘funny’ chapter. Emotionally, I am still returning often to the “End Times Eschatology” chapter to re-read and re-experience how the end of the world will feel for others. The practical ones, the romantics, the selfless and the selfish, the god-fearers, mistake makers, job hunters. As humanity shares a singular ultimate fate, we approach it from so many diverse roads. There are as many ways to face the end as there are quirks and differences between one person and the next.
As a kid growing up on the outskirts of Los Angeles, I can’t say I ever watched wrestling, but I also didn’t *not* watch wrestling. It was often part of the background of my life, along with golf and roller derby.
I’d chosen to listen to the audio version of The Opening Bell, the first book in J.B. Garner’s “Three Seconds To Legend” series. I thought it would be a good companion for my 20 minutes of commuting twice a day to and from work. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure how well I’d resonate with a story set in the world of wrestling, but it didn’t take me very long to immerse. When I realized I was actually looking forward to my drives, I knew just why.
There’s plenty of action, of course, but it doesn’t take the place of a solid storyline with compelling, engaging characters. Leilani, our protagonist, must cope with being a rookie in the sport she loves, while dealing with co-worker rivalries, workplace politics, and multi-generational family situations. Is it all too much for the ‘Girl Hercules’ to handle?
James Garner weaves the elements of the story together, taking these disparate elements of Leilani’s world in hand, first as loose strands, but deftly, over the course of the story, weaving them together into a tightly told tale.
Mindy Grall was ideal as the story’s narrator, as she smoothly moved between character’s accents, as well as doing a fine job with male characters. She brought us venerable old men and teenage boys with apparent ease. A slight tough edge to her voice during fight scene exposition felt right.
And, by the end of the book, I realized Garner wasn’t going to let *me* off the hook without a fight. Those last few pages sealed the deal. I can’t help thinking that reading just one book in a J. B. Garner series is like eating *just one* potato chip!
Indie writer J.B. Garner writes about superheroes, but he is a bit of a superhero himself. In his blog, Musings of a Starving Author, he not only talks about his own books, but frequently turns the spotlight on other indie writers, through interviews and book reviews.
J.B. Garner pays it forward. I believe it’s time the readers pay it forward to J.B. Garner. “How can I do that?” you may ask. Good question! It’s easy and fun.
STEP THREE: Enjoy the book!
STEP FOUR: Post a review at Amazon and Goodreads. No, you don’t have to write a huge, brilliant manifesto. Write a sentence or two from the heart, and give it some stars. Done and done – you’ve been entertained AND you’ve made a difference. You’ve paid it forward.
Need a teaser for Indomitable? Sure, we can do that!
Irene Roman never wanted to be a hero. She was a scientist living an otherwise normal life and that was enough. One fateful evening, though, Irene discovers a betrayal that undermines everything. One event that, in a literal blink of an eye, changes not only her life, but the future of the entire planet.
Now the world is inhabited by people with powers and abilities far above those of mortal men and women. The repercussions of superhuman battles on the Earth are great and terrible as lives are shattered, communities destroyed, and mankind’s destiny is plucked from its grasp. At the center of it all is Irene, who not only is one of two people on the planet who knows the cause of this unbelievable change, but is one of the few people who may be able to stop it. The only problem is the only other person who does know will do anything in his vast power to keep the world in its terrible altered state.
Who dares to claim the right to choose humanity’s fate? What price will Irene pay to be the hero she never wanted to be? In the end, will Earth return to the safety of the mundane or will it remain in the chaos of the superhuman and supernatural?
I have to admit that I first became interested in The Book Of Speculation after learning from Goodreads about her over-the-top method of submitting her debut manuscript to publishers.
As if writing a book isn’t daunting enough, learning that she handcrafted aged pages and hand-bound enough ‘old’ books to submit to various publishers… well, I was impressed with her tenacity and absurdity.
Author Erika Swyler explains her method at her Tumblr site in “Adventures in making a fake old book”.
The plot hinges on the idea that a particular old book is such a fascinating object that it could consume someone’s life. It felt very important to create that experience for a person reading my manuscript. It was a simple thought: if they connected with the manuscript as an object, it would pave the way for connecting with the story. I had next to zero experience in bookmaking when I decided to bind and age the manuscripts. I might have balked if I’d known from the start how much of my life the project would devour. — Erika Swyler in an interview with Shelf Awareness
When an author is invested in her work to that level, I have to believe she’s given her all to writing the story, too. At least, I hoped so. And the synopsis promised me mermaids and carnivals. She’d landed a publisher with her unconventional methods, and so I decided to give her story a chance. I’m glad I did.
The story is really two tales, one set in the distant past (and written in past tense), and one set in present day (written in first person). The stories are connected, and as I read, the connections between the two became clear. I could attempt to describe the plot in some clever words, but I feel the story really should speak for itself. You can read an excerpt at Tor.com, and if the words intrigue you, perhaps you should allow a new-old book into your life—just as a librarian named Simon Watson did.