Category Archives: nonfiction

Author of the Week, Susan Cheever, August 30

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK  August 30

Susan Cheever

(Fiction, Memoir, Biography, American History)

“I believe that the memoir is the novel of the 21st century; it’s an amazing form that we haven’t even begun to tap…we’re just getting started figuring out what the rules are.”

“What makes someone want to be a writer? Clearly, one thing this dream requires is a ferocious hunger, a hunger for recognition, a yearning to be heard that roars through the soul with a sound so great that the stories often feel as if they are discovered rather than invented.”

“Obsession is so extreme and so hard to imagine with the rational mind that it has a science-fiction-like quality to it—it’s almost as if the obsessed one has been taken over by a replica, a pod, a facsimile of the rational person. When one is in the grip of an obsession, everything else—children, regular meals, sleep, work—is swept away.”

 

 

Susan Cheever (born 1943), an American author is the recipient of the PEN New England Award. She is daughter of novelist John Cheever. She is best known for Home Before Dark, a memoir about her father, John Cheever, and American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work. Cheever’s most recent book is Drinking in America: Our Secret History. The book chronicles how alcohol has influenced the history of the United States. Her biographies of Louisa May Alcott and E.E. Cummings are critically acclaimed. Her novels are Doctors and Women, The Cage, A Handsome Man, and Looking for Work. One of her favorite books is Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. She grew up in Tarrytown, NY.

Susan Cheever at New York State Writers Institute (4 minutes):

 

Susan Cheever discusses how she resists “memoir shame” and addresses readers curiosity.

Visit Susan Cheever’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Cheever/e/B001IQZHTY

 

 

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at

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Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story

by contemporary and classic authors.

 

COMMENTS  ARE WELCOME!

 

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Author of the Week, Jeff VanderMeer, July 19

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   July 19

 

Jeff  VanderMeer

(Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Weird Fiction, Novels and Short Stories, Literary Critic, Editor, Publisher)

 

“Imbuing fiction with a life that extends beyond the last word is in some ways the goal: the ending that goes beyond the ending in the reader’s mind, so invested are they in the story.”

“A dream inspiring a story is different than placing a description of a dream in a story. When you describe a character’s dream, it has to be sharper than reality in some way, and more meaningful. It has to somehow speak to plot, character, and all the rest. If you’re writing something fantastical, it can be a really deadly choice because your story already has elements that can seem dreamlike.”

“Trust your imagination. Don’t be afraid to fail. Write. Revise. Revise. Revise.”

“It is the nature of the writer to question the validity of his world and yet rely on his senses to describe it. From what other tension can great literature be born?”

“Fiction is in constant conversation with itself.”

Jeff  VanderMeer (born  1968) is an American author, NYT bestselling writer, called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues. Initially associated with the New Weird literary genre, VanderMeer crossed over into mainstream success with his bestselling Southern Reach trilogy. He also wrote the world’s first fully illustrated creative-writing guide, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction.  Among VanderMeer’s  novels are Shriek: An Afterword and Borne. He has also edited with his wife Ann VanderMeer such influential and award-winning anthologies as The New Weird, The Weird, and The Big Book of Science Fiction. His nonfiction appears in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic.com.

Interview with Jeff VanderMeeer (7 minutes):

 

 

The Fictive Imagination in the Dusk of the Anthropocene. Sonic Arts Festival:

 

 

Detective John Finch is about to come face-to-face with a series of mysteries that will change him and Ambergris forever. Why does one of the victims most resemble a man thought to have been dead for a hundred years? What is the murders’ connection to an attempted genocide nearly six hundred years ago? And just what is the secret purpose of the occupiers’ tower? A three-book series.

Visit VanderMeer’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Jeff-VanderMeer/e/B000APJW4U

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on

Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, May Sarton, May 17

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   May 17

May Sarton

(Novelist, Memoirist, Poet)

“I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room.”

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”

“I suppose I have written novels to find out what I thought about something and poems to find out what I felt about something.”

“I feel happy to be keeping a journal again. I’ve missed it, missed naming things as they appear, missed the half hour when I push all duties aside and savour the experience of being alive in this beautiful place.”

 

May Sarton (1912—1995)  is the pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton.  Her first volume of poetry, Encounters in April, was published in 1937 and her first novel, The Single Hound, in 1938.

Her memoir, best-selling Journal of a Solitude, 1973, was an account of her experiences as a female artist, and is still read today, praised as “rich in the love of nature and the love of solitude … a beautiful book, wise and warm within its solitude,” by Eugenia Thornton. Sarton became acquainted with many literary figures, including Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen. She taught at both Harvard and Wellesley; her books are a part of  college courses throughout the country. 

May Sarton died of breast cancer  in 1995, at the age of 83. She said of her work: “It is my hope that all the novels, the poems, and the autobiographical books may come to be seen as a whole, the communication of a vision of life.” She has an extensive and impressive legacy’ with over 50 published works.

[Note: I have a long-lasting love of May Sarton’s journals and fiction. I probably own 30+ of her 50 works, and often reread her journals, especially House by the Sea, my favorite. She falls deeply in love with nature, flowers, gardens, land, sea and sky, and her writing. She writes her best in this book, just luminous! A book to keep by your bed and savor before turning out the light, taking May’s wise thinking into your subconscious. If you read only one book by May, House by the Sea will capture your heart, imagination, and soul. Sarton is an inspiration.]

 

Interview (30-minute film) with May Sarton hosted by Karen Saum. Sarton speaks about poetry and her writing. This vimeo is followed by another of Sarton’s events “May Sarton: Writing in the Upward Years” (1988).


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/15202922″>May Sarton She knew a Phoenix</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user3645923″>Belfast Community Media</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

Sarton’s Novels:

 

May Sarton’s Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/May-Sarton/e/B000AQ48TS/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

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BOOK REVIEW: Breaking Hate by Christian Picciolini

Book Review

Breaking Hate  by Christian Picciolini

 

After reading Breaking Hate (220 pages) in one day (it was that compelling), I found a far wider understanding of this white supremacy movement going on in America. I really didn’t fully see that the MAGA (Make America Great Again) campaign was, at its core, an effort to make American white again, essentially to make America hate again. Picciolini says that “America was primed for the fires of violent extremism to ignite—and Donald Trump’s incendiary “America First” platform lit the fuse.” It’s easy now to see how true this is. “Trump’s polemics against undocumented immigrants and minority groups fanned the flames of racist vitriol.”

Picciolini points out that extremists “feast on frenzy and polarization,” with fear acting as the primary sustenance. Extremists use deceptive online marketing tactics, fake crime data, false news/information, and conspiracy theories to lure fresh recruits into their ideology. Hyperbole, paranoia, fear, personal wounds, and the need to fulfill an Identity, belong to a Community, and dedicate to a great Purpose (ICP) all play a role in persuading people to join their cause of racial prejudice. That cause being the protection of the white race as supreme by stopping diversity, mixed-race families, high nonwhite birthrates, and mass migration. “White-genocide” was a new term for me (a wild and false notion that the white race will die because of multiculturalism).

I held my breath a lot during the reading of these real-life events. Picciolini writes with skill and a deep sense of honesty. Kassandra’s story made me cry. Koval’s story made me shudder. The eye-opening information here is shocking as it is heart-wrenching, and more timely today, post-election, than when the book was published in Feb. 2020. By the end, Picciolini shows us that there is hope. His own personal experience and his first-hand experiences with other now ex-extremists (he’s helped over 100 people leave extremists groups) proves that hate can be “unlearned.” Picciolini has a hefty toolbox containing empathy, compassion, self-reflection, and love. But there is one more remarkable instrument that brings these extremists out of their darkness and into the light. It has the initials STC, NTM, but for the full explanation, I encourage you to read this astonishing book.

If you really want insights into the current dangers that threaten humanity, our moral values, our world communities, and America—especially after the January 6 attack on our Capitol—this is the book to read for 2021. A must-read for every American and every parent.

 

On Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Hate-Confronting-Culture-Extremism/dp/0316522937

On Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43209293-breaking-hate

On Barnes & Noble  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breaking-hate-christian-picciolini/1129965185

 

Read more about Christian Picciolini here at AUTHOR OF THE WEEK,  Jan. 25, 2021.

 

 

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Author of the Week, Christian Picciolini, Jan. 25

 

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK    January 25, 2021

 

Christian Picciolini

 

 

 

“I am a former violent extremist, who as a young man spent almost a decade during the 1980s and ‘90s as a leader in the American white-supremacist movement. Since denouncing racism, I have dedicated my life to ensuring others don’t tread the same dark path I once held.”

 

“It was those people who chose to treat me with compassion, when I least deserved it, that had the most powerful transformative effect on me. Meeting on a fundamental human level is still the most powerful thing that I’ve seen break hate.”

 

Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, peace advocate, and a former violent extremist. After leaving the hate movement he helped create during his youth in the 1980s and ’90s, he began the painstaking process of making amends and rebuilding his life. Christian went on to earn a degree in international relations from DePaul University and launched Goldmill Group, a counter-extremism consulting and digital media firm. In 2016, he won an Emmy Award for producing an anti-hate advertising campaign aimed at helping people disengage from extremism. Christian’s life since leaving the white-power movement over two decades ago has been dedicated to helping others overcome their own hate. He now leads the Free Radicals Project, a global extremism prevention and disengagement network.  Hachette Books.

 

Ted Talk

 

Read the interview at The Atlantic 2019  “A Reformed White Nationalist Says the Worst Is Yet to Come.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/08/conversation-christian-picciolini/595543/

 

NPR’s interview with Picciolini “Reformed Neo-Nazi Discusses President Trump’s Controversial Shared Retweet.”

“I think what President Trump is, is a megaphone,” Picciolini said. “It’s as if Trump kicked over a bucket of gasoline on all of those small fires that have existed for 400 years and created one large forest fire.”

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-protests-for-racial-justice/2020/07/02/886487184/reformed-nazi-discusses-president-trumps-controversial-shared-tweet 

 

Book Review from James Clapper, former US Director of National Intelligence, of Breaking Hate: “This riveting narrative portrays on an intensely personal level the impacts of extremism. Encouragingly, it also identifies a method for recovery. Picciolini’s experience and practice reinforce the truism that hate is a learned behavior, and it can be unlearned. Breaking Hate should be required reading for all citizens who care about dangerous behavior, want to understand it, and are committed to reducing it.”

 

NOTE: After reading Breaking Hate  (220 pages) in one day (it was that compelling), I found a far wider understanding of this white supremacy movement going on in America. I really didn’t fully see that the MAGA (Make America Great Again) campaign was, at the core, an effort to make America white again, essentially make America hate again. Picciolini says that “America was primed for the fires of violent extremism to ignite—and Donald Trump’s incendiary “American First” platform lit the fuse.”  There is a lot in this book to absorb and a lot to learn about WHY and HOW this is happening and what can be done to stop it. I am posting a full book review on Amazon, Goodreads, and separately here on this blog. If you really want  insights into the current racist dangers that threaten America, humanity, our democratic and moral values—especially after the January 6 attack on our Capitol—this is the book to read for 2021. A must-read for every American and every parent.

 

 

 

Join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! And browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

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