My Rebel GIrl quilt came home from the long arm quilter. I am binding it off in black. I enjoyed using to many large scale prints for this pattern. Many of the fabrics were vintage. I thought they were suggestive of songs or musical genres.
Book mail keeps pouring in!
On National Book Lover’s Day, A. A. Knopf sent me surprise book mail–Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I have been hearing so much about this book. And, I loved Nathan Hill’s blurb.
Also from A. A. Knopf, last week Harrow by Joy Williams came in.
From Algonquin Books I will be participating in their paperback blog tour with
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay which sounds very uplifting
Pump: A Natural History of the Heart by Bill Schutt
The Archer by Shruti Swamy, a wonderful coming of age novel
The University of Chicago Press offers a free ebook of the month. This month is it Ground Truth: A Guide to Tracking Climate Change at Home by Mark L. Hineline. Last month it was The Way of Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds by Gavin Van Horn
We visited our son and Ellie this last weekend. Ellie has been super vigilant watching the yard as a nasty bunny rabbit moved in under the deck.
My newly retired brother shared the hood ornament his new truck acquired. I haven’t seen a praying mantis since retiring, but my brother lives on a canal to a lake and there is a lot of marshland around him.
And, kayaking he rescued a pigeon from a river. It was cold and exhausted. He left it on a warm rock near the shoreline, hoping it would revive and be able to fly to land.
After days of rain and record heat, it’s turned cooler and lovely. I hope its lovely where you are, too.
Her ancestors were healers. Mysterious, wise, noble. They championed their ideals and frequently stood accused for them. Some were legends. She doubted such people still existed in 1917.
from Winter’s Reckoning by Adele Holmes, M.D.
Set in Southern Appalachia in 1917, Winter’s Reckoning is about Maddie, descended from generations of women who were healers. With progressive ideals, living in a community mired in prejudice, Maddie stands up to a con-man posing as a pastor and to the Klan.
Maddie mentors the young African American Ren in the arts of healing. It’s a stressed friendship, their relationship outlawed, and Ren bristling against Maddie’s assumed superiority. Ren is groomed and embarks on a secret affair.
Maddie is initiating her granddaughter into the healing arts.
The new pastor riles up prejudice as a way of asserting power, riling up the Klan against Ren’s family. Maddie is accused of witchcraft. All the women’s lives are in danger from multiple sides. Together they face the threats.
Maddie is a strong character, capable, open minded, and courageous. The young Ren willfully insists on taking responsibility for herself, but naively is manipulated by an unscrupulous con man. Hannah, Maddie’s granddaughter, is fascinated by the family history she eagerly embraces.
At the climax, Maddie, Ren, and Hannah face threats from nature, society, health crises, and their enemies. Storywise, I would have been happy to have several of those threats removed as unnecessary; misogamy and racism are large enough monsters to carry the story. The women’s friendships and mutual support give them the strength they need to overcome adversity.
The novel won honorable mention in the 2021 William Faulkner Literary Competition. Holmes’ debut novel will appeal to readers who love strong female characters, a vivid setting, and historical fiction that reflects ongoing societal issues.
I received an ARC. My review is fair and unbiased.
WInter’s Reckoning by Adele Holmes, MD She Writes Press Pub Date August 9, 2022
from the publisher
Forty-six-year-old Madeline Fairbanks has no use for ideas like “separation of the races” or “men as the superior sex.” There are many in her dying Southern Appalachian town who are upset by her socially progressive views, but for years—partly due to her late husband’s still-powerful influence, and partly due to her skill as a healer in a remote town with no doctor of its own—folks have been willing to turn a blind eye to her “transgressions.” Even Maddie’s decision to take on a Black apprentice, Ren Morgan, goes largely unchallenged by her white neighbors, though it’s certainly grumbled about. But when a charismatic and power-hungry new reverend blows into town in 1917 and begins to preach about the importance of racial segregation, the long-idle local KKK chapter fires back into action—and places Maddie and her friends in Jamesville’s Black community squarely in their sights. Maddie had better stop intermingling with Black folks, discontinue her herbalistic “witchcraft,” and leave town immediately, they threaten, or they’ll lynch Ren’s father, Daniel. Faced with this decision, Maddie is terrified . . . and torn. Will she bow to their demands and walk away—or will she fight to keep the home she’s built in Jamesville and protect the future of the people she loves, both Black and white?
about the author
Adele Holmes graduated from medical school in 1993. After twenty-plus years in private practice pediatrics, her unquenchable desire to wander the world, write, and give back to the community led her to retire from medicine. Her fun-loving family includes a rollicking crew of her husband Chris, two adult children and their spouses, five grandchildren of diverse ages and talents, a horse, and a Bernedoodle. Winter’s Reckoning, Adele’s debut novel, won Honorable Mention in the 2021 William Faulkner Literary Competition and is on the short list for the 2021 Chanticleer International Book Award-Goethe Award. She is currently at work on her second in her resident town of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Fifty-four years ago on a May morning, I arrived at my high school to be waylaid by friends. They told me a boy of our acquaintance had had an “accident.” Shortly afterward, another friend told me that he was found dead the previous evening, in his family home’s garage, the car running and the doors closed.
Spring of 1968 had seen the deaths of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. And now, this boy, the step-son of my favorite teacher, a boy I admired, was dead. Add to this mix my mother’s entering the hospital, and finding her medications were harming her, she was taken off them, resulting in illness, weight loss, hair loss. Summer found me depressed.
Some years later I realized that every spring I was haunted by those deaths and near deaths. And in 1986, I wrote a poem about this boy become a ghost, “who could not rest nor resurrect,” rising each spring to “melt my fortress forgetfulness.”
such an act will always remain…up to the ones left behind to…yet the hauntings…could be prevented in the first place. XXXIII
Every April, a requiem, a re-awakening of dawn, the same chorus & players. The garage door sealed, gas turned on & the girl… XXXV
from Asylum by Jill Bialosky
Jill Bialosky’s poems deeply affected me. The loss of her younger sister to suicide permeates these poems.
“Why couldn’t I save her,” she asks in CII. As I had wondered about this boy, who would come into the school newspaper room and argue and talk with our teacher, holding his camera. He was older, smarter, outgoing. A friend asked him if he would date me, and he said he would consider it if he didn’t have a girlfriend. Could I have saved him if we were together? Two years later I had another class with his stepfather, a brilliant, progressive teacher. I could not connect the suicide with this man. I had heard that the boy and his dad argued. Could my teacher have prevented his death?
XXXII Like just awaking drenched, they persist, ghosts in our poems, ghosts in our imaginations, ghosts in our waking hours, ghosts who elude philosophers, poets, scientists, psychiatrists, therapists & doctors, ghosts who perpetuate, who guileless, will not keep quiet, who preside over the populace, & unknowingly rob the living, ghosts, who made their own house their gallows, Dante says, will never rest.
Asylum by Jill Bialosky
I left my ghost behind after naming it. Then, I hardly knew that boy. Bialosky lost a sister. They shared a life. Her ghost remains. “What if it is those who survive who never rest?” she asks in LXII.
Other ghosts haunt her. Those lost in the Holocaust. George Floyd. The immigrant children in pens, those seeking asylum and safety finding cages and no sanctuary. Winters become a memory. A baby dies in a fire. The virus and quarantine.
And yet life persists. Pollen thickening the air. The diseased tree cut down sends up sprouts. “things hidden from us,” to which “we mist surrender our trust, the flap of a butterfly wing, for instance, could change the balance of the universe.” (X)
IXX describes listening to a concert that included Johann Strauss II’s waltz Artist’s Life, “composed after Austria’s defeat in battle,/the melody meant to infuse breath into bleakness, elegy into declaration/creation into harmony,/even in a time of ravage & war.”
I listened to Artist’s Life, the hesitation and flowering into happiness and joy, the drama of it, the pure joy of it.
There is pain in these lines. “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” stands at the gates of Dante’s hell, but could also refer to being alive. And yet…life persists, and that alone gives us hope.
I received a free book from the publisher. My review is fair and unbiased.
Asylum by Jill Bialosky AA Knopf Pub Date August 4, 2020 ISBN0525657096 (ISBN13: 978052565709
from the publisher
This book-length sequence by the critically acclaimed poet is a seeker’s story, revealing personal and historical traumas and how we search for understanding and meaning in their wake.
In Asylum, poet Jill Bialosky embarks on a Virgilian journey, building a narrative sequence from 103 elegant poems and prose sections that cohere in their intensity and their need to explore darkness and sustenance both.
Taken together, these piercing pieces–about her nascent calling as a writer; her sister’s suicide and its still unfolding aftermath; the horror unleashed by World War II; the life cycle of the monarch butterfly; and the woods where she seeks asylum–form a moving story, powerfully braiding despair, survival, and hope. Bialosky considers the oppositions that govern us: our reason and unreason, our need to preserve and destruct. What are words when they meet the action of what they attempt to modify? she asks, exploring the possible salve of language in the face of pain and grief.
What Asylum delivers is a form of hard-won grace and an awareness of the cost of extreme violence, inexplicable loss, and the miraculous cycles of life, in work that carries Bialosky’s art to a new level of urgency and achievement.
I am still working on the smaller blocks for the Poppy’s Polka Dot Garden quilt. The machine quilting is done on my Rebel quilt and I will bind it off this week.
It’s been a good few weeks for book mail!
I received Annie Proulx’s Fen, Bog, Swamp from Scribner. Southeast Michigan was all swampland, a legacy of the glaciers that covered the state and melted, leaving us the Great Lakes and Ohio’s Black Swamp. Our little city was a swamp. My husband’s people came over from Canada to farm in reclaimed swamp land. The loss of these wetlands have a huge impact on the environment, as demonstrated when toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie shutting down city’s intake of drink water demonstrates. Wetlands would filter the farmland runoff.
From AA Knopf came Asylum by Jill Bialosky.
Egypt’s Golden Couple: How Akhenaten and Nefertiti Became Gods on Earth by John Darnell and Colleen Darnell arrived from St. Martin’s Press. I have been reading about ancient Egypt since girlhood.
I purchased a signed copy of Mercury Pictures Presents for my collection of signed books. I talked to Shawn the Book Maniac about it for his podcast Bite Sized Book Chats, which you can see at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zn2H4ppED2s
From Caitlin Hamilton Marketing arrived I Meant to Tell You by Fran Hawthorne, from She Writes Press.
New books on my NetGalley shelf include:
Starry Night: Van Gogh in the Asylum by Martin Bailey. I read the authors book on Van Gogh’s Finale. In October, the Detroit Institute of Art has an exhibit of 70 Van Gogh works in celebration of their purchased of his self portrait 100 years ago, the first American museum to include a Van Gogh.
Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell
The Hyacinth Girl: T.S. Eliot’s Hidden Muse by Lyndall Gordon
Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light: Fifty Poems for Fifty Years by Joy Harjo
This month the library book club is reading Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey by Kathleen Rooney.
After a long drought, we have had days of heavy rains. Our son’s water feature was filled again. One day he heard a ‘plop’ and discovered frogs had moved in!
My brother is now retired. He rose before dawn one morning and kayaked around Cass Lake, catching photos of the wildlife and the sunrise.
I am still recovering from a torn ligament in my leg and have PT scheduled beginning in a few weeks. I am eager to be able to walk in the neighborhood again!