Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Book Beginning: Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



I first met the individual described herein as Arturo Chan when we work together at Highway 9 Casino in Lake Stevens, Washington. He was a pit dealer and I a part-time poker dealer, working nights to supplement in meager graduate student stipend.

-- Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum, published by Forest Avenue Press. What a great beginning! I immediately want to read more with an enticing set up like that.

Queen of Spades is a debut novel that retells Pushkin's short story of the same name, but sets it in a Washington state casino in the 1980s. I love the cover, designed by Portland artist Gigi Little.



Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING











Happy Thanksgiving!




Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Burdens by Water by Alan Rifkin



To draw one more creative breath, writers always have to be falling in love with something or someone new. And spouses and friends heat us for that, even for confessing to our foolishness as if we secretly admire it.

From "The Los Angeles Writing Club" in Burdens by Water: An Unintended Memoir by Alan Rifkin, published by Brown Paper Press.

Rifkin's collected essays about life in Southern California will suck you along page by page, whether he's writing about pool cleaners, the Los Angeles of Evelyn Waugh days, or his Jewish roots on a drive through the San Fernando Valley.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Book Beginning: Burdens by Water by Alan Rifkin

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



Somewhere toward the end of the year long struggle to quiet our upstairs neighbor, the lead singer of The Nymphs, my then-girlfriend brought home an electronic noise-buster.

From "Wave Theory: A Prologue" to Burdens by Water: An Unintended Memoir by Alan Rifkin, published by Brown Paper Press.

Once I started reading this collection of essays about life in Southern California, I couldn't stop, and I have no connection with or affinity for Southern California. I'm just entranced by Rifkin's stories.




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING





Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Bitter is the Wind by Jim McDermott



George Sr. bought a new 1978, gray Ford Pinto late that winter. None of his previous vehicles had been so luxuriously appointed.

Bitter is the Wind by Jim McDermott. It's hard to imagine the Pinto being the luxury model. That it is gives you the flavor of this story about a father and son struggling through some rough times. While set in the 1970s in upstate New York, Bitter is the Wind feels very relevant today.




Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.




Sunday, November 12, 2017

Author Interview: Peter Gajdics


Peter Gajdics is the author of a new memoir, The Inheritance of Shame, published by Brown Paper Press. He is an award-winning writer whose essays and poetry have been published in, among others, The Advocate, New York Tyrant, The Gay and Lesbian Review / Worldwide, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Opium.




Peter recently answered questions for Rose City Reader about his writing, books, and his memoir, which documents his six-year journey through, and eventually out of, a particularly bizarre sort of therapy; the legal battle with his former psychiatrist; his complicated family history; and his attempts to reclaim his self-identity and his own story.


The Inheritance of Shame is largely about the six years you spent in “conversion therapy” to try to “cure” yourself of being gay. How did you come to write this book?

First, just a word of clarification. I think it’s important to understand that what happened to me was psychotherapeutic abuse; it was torture, not simply “conversion therapy.” My book is a cautionary tale—certainly for LGBTQ people, but for others as well, because first and foremost it’s a story about unethical medical / therapeutic practices, and severe boundary violation, a physician’s flagrant misuse of prescription medication to fulfill his own agenda, and the kind of loss of agency, even a lack of consent, that can arise when someone is in deep emotional or psychic duress. Anybody is vulnerable to that.

In terms of the book – for the first two years after leaving this “therapy” in 1995, I was in the throws of post-traumatic stress (anticipatory anxiety, flashbacks to the therapy, insomnia, nightmares, depression). It’s not so much that I wanted to kill myself as I thought I was already dead. As soon as I was strong enough to file the ethics complaint against my former psychiatrist in 1997, I knew I had to at least try and write some kind of book about what had happened during these six years, since the history of it all was just too bizarre and unjust, foul, not to be documented. As I eventually learned, there was also a history of these kinds of events happening to LGBT people that I felt strongly needed to end. My hope was that by telling my story I might help prevent the recurrence of similar forms of abuse in the future, especially for young people.

Initially, my main goal was to document objective facts and chronology, such as dates of treatment, dosages of medications and their side effects, details about other patients I met along the way, etc. I also transcribed as much factual dialogue as possible (between the doctor and me, and other people in the therapy), which I drew from my own personal diaries that I wrote while in treatment, taped therapy sessions (which the doctor had insisted I record), witness accounts, even my own memory, since much of it was all still fresh in my mind. I felt a real sense of urgency to get all of this “down on paper,” because I did not want the passage of time to erase my memory of events. I really did believe that remembering my past, and speaking my truth, rather than doing as so many people told me at that time and “forgetting” and “moving on,” would help me heal. The book changed over time as I changed: the facts of the story remained unaltered, of course, but the meaning behind my experiences developed and deepened as I became more willing and able to face my own history, and continued to heal from trauma.

Your memoir is intensely personal – did you have any qualms about sharing so much?

The moment I sat down to write this book I pasted the quote “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” above my laptop. After years of lies and half-truths from my youth and in the therapy, even throughout the ethics complaint and much of the lawsuit where it seemed to me that medical and legal authorities did not really want to hear the truth—I was desperate to be “intensely personal,” to dig down deep and to write from the “bone,” so to speak. And so, no—I’ve never felt any qualms about sharing so much of my life, about being “intensely personal.” After all, writing this book wasn’t only a literary endeavor, but a means toward honestly looking at my life, what brought me to this “therapy,” why I stayed, and how it’s continued to impact me. It’s now a truism to say “the truth shall set you free,” but truth isn’t always so easy to come by. It can require years of hard work, including really uncomfortable honesty, especially with oneself. I knew that I’d never be able to do any of that and still hide in half-truths.

Did you consider turning your own experience into fiction and writing the book as a novel? Would your story make a good movie?

I never considered turning my experiences into fiction, since my intension had always been to say “this happened,” that it was all factual, and that if it can happen to one person it can happen to many people. I knew that writing a novel would never carry the same warning, or weight. Early on, and specifically because of my family’s objections, I did consider publishing under a pseudonym, but even there I quickly abandoned that idea because I knew my surname, Gajdics, would be crucial to the story I needed to tell. Besides, what sort of message would I have relayed if a book about truth had been published under a false identity? After years of pitching the book to literary agents, at one point I did revise my query letter and I called the book a “novel.” I never changed any of the writing in the actual book, but after the James Frey fiasco, and other memoirs were revealed to be lies, many agents had expressed great reluctance to take on a memoir like mine with such egregious content—constantly questioning the book’s veracity, as if it were all just too horrendous to be true. The funny thing is, the first agent to respond to my revised query said that he thought the book read like a memoir, not a novel; he suspected it was all true. I quickly abandoned the idea of trying to sell it as a novel.

I’m obviously biased when I say I do think the book would make a great film. My main caution about any kind of adaptation, however, is that so many films nowadays seem to reduce storylines down to their barest elements, as if filmmakers no longer trust an audience’s intelligence. For example, I’d feel great reluctant to turn this book into a film solely “about” conversion therapy. Besides, conversion therapy itself is a complex issue, not at all as black and white as some might make it out to be. The book is as much about the dangers of primal therapy as it is about “changing” sexual orientation. But it’s also about childhood sexual abuse and its impact on sexuality; intergenerational trauma; vulnerable people in search of some kind of communal utopia, and cultic abuse; loss of agency; the power of love, and forgiveness; and the difficult journey of carrying on in the face of no easy reconciliation. I don’t see that reflected very often in films about LGBT people—the tension of opposites in actually sustaining familial relationships while being confronted with ongoing conflict, sometimes even outward homophobia. What’s more common is either the gay person cuts their family out of their life (or the other way around—families tragically cut their gay child out of their lives), or the parents join PFLAG. Redemption doesn’t always come in the form of easy resolutions. That’s also a significant part of this book, as it has been in my life.

Who is your intended audience and what do you hope your readers will gain from your book?

The Inheritance of Shame clearly has an LGBTQ audience in mind, but I also wouldn’t want to pigeonhole the book into “only” being about queer issues; I’d hope it could also find a broad readership, since many of its themes transcend gender and sexuality—for example, I think the book might also appeal to anyone interested in familial conflicts, trauma and its aftermath and recovery, current politics, psychology, cults, even European history. In terms of what I hope readers might “gain” from the book—perhaps a sense of solidarity. None of us are ever really alone in our journeys, even as we separate ourselves with labels like LGBTQ. As I said at the start, terminology like “conversion therapy” can be misleading, since it seems to weed out as many or even more people from that experience as it tends to include. But beneath all of these labels and terms I think the themes of my book are universal, because we all have families, we’re all dealing with some kind of trauma, or past hurt, and confusion over how to forgive and move on in life. We’re all searching for answers.

Can you recommend any other LGBQT memoirs that deal with major life issues with the kind of heart and honesty you put into yours?

Everyone has their own limitations in terms of how “honest” they can be on the page, let alone in life, so I wouldn’t want to judge others’ ability in this way; that said, I just finished Roxanne Gay’s Hunger, which was gut wrenching and definitely queer focused. Garrard Conley’s Boy Erased, about his own experiences in a religious form of “ex-gay” therapy, was compelling, as was Steven Gaines’ One of These Things First. Of course, no list like this is complete without mentioning Augusten Burroughs’ Running With Scissors. I read a lot of memoirs while writing my own, not all of them LGBTQ focused, but some of my favorites were Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights, Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Alice Sebold’s Lucky, Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted, Sonallah Ibrahim’s That Smell and Notes from Prison, Paul Aster’s The Invention of Solitude, Mira Bartok’s The Memory Palace, and Karti Marton’s Enemies of the People.

What did you learn from writing your book—either about the subject of the book or the writing process—that most surprised you?

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I learned a great deal about the actual craft of writing and editing, and then the business of publishing, as a direct result of writing this book. I touched on some of these “lessons learned” in a recent blog post. But the one thing that “most surprised” me would have to be related to my parents’ histories in Europe, their own past traumas, and how to a large degree they had affected and influenced my own choices in life, right down to entering this “therapy.” Throughout the whole time I wrote the book my mother talked to me about her years in the concentration camp in Yugoslavia, and I was always struck by the similarities between our own life trajectories; sometimes even the language she used about being in the camp, and her subsequent recovery, resonated with my own history of being in this therapeutic cult, as well as my recovery.
Toward the end of the writing, though as a direct result of it, my father also revealed events and insights from his own childhood as an orphan in Hungary, and there again, almost more than with my mother, his choice of words were almost exactly as I had always qualified my own childhood, in terms of my sense of isolation and displacement. How is that even possible?

There seemed to be almost a mystical quality to this unfolding of events, not just the trajectory of my parents’ lives through my own, but the way they revealed themselves to me as I wrote this book. The notion of “intergenerational trauma” took on a whole new meaning for me that was very real, not at all theoretical. I was constantly peeling back layers to underlying truths, while confronting fears, and shame, and forgiveness, and then needing to decide how much of what I was discovering should be included in the book. Sometimes, in the course of writing, I had to even double back and update an early part of the book that I thought I’d finished, specifically because I would learn something from my parents that I knew would help to clarify a detail near the beginning. It was all quite amazing to me.

In addition to writing your memoir, have you found other ways to help you heal from the trauma of this “therapy”?

Healing has occurred in stages, over many years, and continues in various ways to this day. Initially, after I left treatment, it was important for me to find a safe home, to withdraw from all the medications and regain the natural rhythms of sleep, to eat well, even to exercise, or at least to move my body and not to sink back into depression, which was always a danger. Reading and writing helped because I needed to educate myself about what had happened to me, to put it in its proper historical context, and then to separate lies from truth. Sharing my story with good friends, and then with a new counselor I could trust, was enormously healing. I’d recommend Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery to any survivor who’s now searching for a “safe” therapist. Some people might feel safer in a group setting, but the point is that sharing one’s story to someone, or to a group, is vital, as long as it’s in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

Quieting my mind became important as I moved past the acute phase of recovery, since I still had many intruding thoughts and internalized judgments. Meditating or contemplating, even just sitting quietly and breathing deeply and feeling my body again while distancing myself from the constant barrage of internal “tapes” is an ongoing necessity. Many survivors of these kinds of treatments, or from any trauma, live for years in a constant state of dissociation, as did I, and so at some point it’s important to reconnect with one’s body, to return “home,” so to speak.

As I said, all of these steps toward recovery continue for me even today. Something from the outside world sometimes still triggers a memory—all the current media around “conversion therapy,” for example, even conversations with family members—and it’s like the “therapy” happened just yesterday and I still feel so much outrage and betrayal, even self-loathing about what I did to myself. Forgiving others is never easy, but forgiving myself, I’ve found, can be the most difficult. Practicing empathy toward myself, and actively contradicting the internal “critic,” as I said, is an ongoing challenge, but it’s crucial.

Almost more important than anything—one of the greatest forms of healing for me was to develop intimate relationships with other men; to have sex with other men free from shame or guilt, or even thoughts of any kind of moral failing or “abnormality”; to actually love another man. When conversion therapies fail at actually “changing” a person’s sexual orientation (as they always do), they at least try and prevent same-sex relationships from occurring (often on religious grounds). Our greatest victory over any of these acts of hatred and intolerance is to live life lovingly, and that includes sustaining meaningful same-sex relationships.

What kind of books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

My reading tastes can be quite diverse, from literary fiction like Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name, or Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things (three I just read), to a wide variety of non-fiction, such as memoirs or books about psychology or trauma, and even some academia or scholarly books, such as those about gender and sexuality. I recently finished Bessel Van Der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score, about how trauma is stored in the body, and the ways in which survivors can actually help themselves heal, largely away from the disease model of “mental illness” and psychopharmacology. Currently, I’m reading Diana Athill’s Stet, about the famed editor’s life in the book publishing business starting in around post World War II England. Depending on my mood, I’m also switching back and forth between Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist (which appeals to my queer sensibilities) and Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe (which appeals to my interest in Cold War politics).

Do you have any events coming up to promote your book?

I’ll be at the Dog Eared Bookstore, Castro, San Francisco, tomorrow, November 13, along with authors Julia Serano and Lucy Jane Bledsoe, for a short talk and reading from the book. The only other planned event at this moment is the 15th Annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans, on March 23-25, 2018. I hope to fill this gap with other events, and all of them will be listed on the event page on the book website.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

Years ago I did read some advice, though it wasn’t given to me personally, in one of Larry Kramer’s books, I think Reports from The Holocaust, where he said something to the effect that no matter what anyone thinks or says, there will always be someone else who agrees and also disagrees with it, so we might as well go ahead and say what it is we want to say. It seems so basic, but it really did help me through many years of writing, because there were times I honestly did not know if what I needed to write would resonate with another living soul. It’s a leap of faith for anyone.

Any tips or hints for authors considering writing a memoir?

I can’t overstate the importance of editing as a separate process from actually writing, and not only copyediting or proofreading, but developmental editing. I also used index cards early on, pasting them to my wall and moving them around depending on how I wanted to tell the story. One other thing that helped near the end (which of course would have helped at the start) was writing a chapter-by-chapter outline of the whole book. Changing the order of chronology can drastically alter the feel and meaning of a book, so visualizing my story in these ways really helped me conceptualize the overall narrative.

Some very famous memoirists seem to shy away from addressing how to write about one’s life while including aspects from one’s family’s lives, at times even saying that authors should still always give their manuscripts to their family before publication, I suppose to ask for “permission.” Unfortunately, for many memoirists, especially for anyone writing about some kind of personal or familial trauma, I just don’t think this is always plausible, or possible, even advisable; in some cases, I think it could even add to the trauma. What this means for the writer is that they are often faced with confronting a lot of very difficult questions themselves, such as around motivation, and levels of healing, even ethical and moral issues about the nature of memoir writing, like when is it appropriate to include aspects of someone else’s life without their actual consent or knowledge. Just because someone says or believes they don’t want you to include aspects from their life in a book you’re writing about your own doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still do it—but “how” to do it, and “why” it should still be done, can get sticky. I struggled with all of this while writing my book. The payoff, I really do believe, can result in a better final product, because the process can only ever help us grow, and become better writers, more humane.

What’s next? What are you working on now?

I’m working on a piece of fiction—saying it’s a “novel” sort of freaks me out, so for now I like to stick to the words “a piece of fiction.” I’m careful not to burst the creative bubble by saying too much about it, except that I can see how my history still greatly influences me in terms of the kinds of stories and characters that interest me. Maybe this is true for all novelists; I don’t know. The subject of memory also fascinates me—specifically, how memory of past events seems to change over the course of one’s life, depending on who we are or what we’ve learned or forgiven at any given time. But honestly, I’m jumping back and forth between the new writing project, and ongoing marketing and work around The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir. All of it keeps me hopping, and I love that.


THANK YOU, PETER!

THE INHERITANCE OF SHAME IS AVAILABLE ON LINE OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT!


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Book Beginning: Bitter is the Wind by Jim McDermott

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



During his first suspension from Netherwood Junior High School in rural upstate New York for throwing ice cubes down a girl's shirt, George Johnson Jr. passed the time at home by himself.

Bitter is the Wind by Jim McDermott. That is just the kind of opening sentence I like, one that introduces the book and lets me know that there is going to be an actual story here, not just pretty writing. We already know the setting and the main character, and that "Jr." in his name tells us his dad is involved, somehow.

And, sure enough, this debut novel is a father/son story that follows the family from blue collar upstate New York in the 1970s to Wall Street in the 1980s, and feels perfect for right now. It's getting good reviews, like this one in the San Francisco Book Review that described it as "a fascinating character study and slice of life novel."



Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




Monday, November 6, 2017

Mailbox Monday: Stanley Middleton

A matching vintage set of Stanley Middleton books came my way. What books came into your house last week?


Changes and Chances

Valley of Decision

Entry into Jerusalem

Stanley Middleton won the 1974 Booker Prize for Holiday and wrote a total of 44 novels. I found these three on the Friends of the Library sale shelf when I was in Missoula for work.



Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach.




Thursday, November 2, 2017

Book Beginning: The Glorious Heresies

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



He left the boy outside its own front door.

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. Winner of the 2016 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. So far, I am loving this rollicking story about Irish street life, although drugs, prostitution, and murder are not my usual cup of tea.

I'm probably feeling feisty because I just today settled a huge sex abuse case in Montana against the Boy Scouts involving girls abused in Explorer Scouts in the 1970s.

So apologies for the  somewhat late post -- my team has been out celebrating!




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING






Monday, October 30, 2017

Mailbox Monday: Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum

One new book came to me last week How about you?



Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum. This debut novel re-imagines Pushkin's fable of the same name, but set in a Washington state casino in the 1980s. Forest Ave. Press puts out terrific books with eye popping covers, many of them like this one designed by Portland artist Gigi Little.




Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach.




Thursday, October 26, 2017

Book Beginning: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



The boulevard du Cange was a broad, quiet street that marked the eastern flank of the city of Amiens.

It took a long work trip to get me to finally read Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.

I know everyone seems to love Birdsong, but I’ve had my fill of WWI books. That’s why it took me so long to get around to this one. There are only so many descriptions of trench warfare I can read. I'm now halfway through and I'll finish it, but I can't say it's doing all that much for me. And I find this blurry cover insipid. Thoughts?



Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.





MY ORIGINAL POST THIS WEEK:

PLEASE JOIN ME FOR BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS!

Pardon this makeshift version. I’m in the Missoula, Montana airport, trying to get this post up. My flight was delayed two hours and I am without laptop.

I’ll fix this in the morning. For now, please leave your Book Beginning link here:



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: I'm Dyin' Here by Tim Grobaty




The newspaper never closed. . . . The thundering presses in the basement worked without rest, churning out five editions each day to meet the needs of readers' varied preferences and habits.

-- I'm Dyin' Here: A Life in the Paper by Tim Grobaty, published by Brown Paper Press.

Grobary's lighthearted essays look back at his life as a newspaper columnist, contemplating whether he will die at his desk or the industry will die around him.




Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mailbox Monday

Two new books came into my house last week. How about you?



Bitter is the Wind by Jim McDermott. This coming-of-age, father/son novel is described as a "deft and timely deconstruction of the American dream." It's getting good reviews, like this one on Huffington Post.



Legends of the Northern Paiute, as told by Wilson Wewa, compiled and edited by James A. Gardner, published by OSU Press. This is the culmination of a cool project to preserve the previously unrecorded Northern Paiute legends. The picture on the cover is Monkey Face Rock in central Oregon.





Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach.



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book Beginning: I'm Dyin Here by Tim Grobaty

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



I am. I'm dying here. Ask my doctor.

-- I'm Dyin' Here: A Life in the Paper by Tim Grobaty. This collection of essays looks at newspaper life, contemplating that, as the newspaper industry dies around him, this longtime columnist might just die at his job.



Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl



The physical act of cooking gives me enormous pleasure, but I also like watching what it does for others. Even the angriest person is soothed by the scent of soup simmering on the stove.

-- My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl. When Gourmet magazine abruptly shut down in the fall of 2009, its Editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, "disappeared into the kitchen" to figure out how what to do with herself. At 61, she was not ready to retire, but had no plans for what to do next.

Reichl reads the audiobook herself, which I love for nonfiction books.




Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Book Beginning: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

Sorry for not posting last night -- my work day got away from me! I don't usually write here about my work, but the news about the Boy Scouts letting girls has my head spinning.

As a lawyer who has represented over 100 adults who were sexually abused as kids in Scouts, I have big reservations about letting more girls in. Girls have been in Explorer Scouts since 1971. I currently represent six women who were sexually molested by the leader of their coed Explorer post when they were as young as 11. I really think the BSA needs to offer full transparency about its history of sexual abuse before inviting more, and younger, girls to join.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING



One upon a time, there was a man named Jack Gilbert, who was not related to me -- unfortunately for me.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am getting a lot out of this short book. It is aimed at artists or writers, but her thoughts are applicable to anyone who wants to think more creatively about a career or enthusiasm.




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING






Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Teaser Tueday: The Inheritance of Shame by Peter Gajdics



The political history of Europe, which both of my parents discussed without hesitation, interested me far less than their personal experiences of war, which neither would even mention. I could never ask them anything about their "emotional lives" in Europe, that much I knew.

-- The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir by Peter Gajdics, published by Brown Paper Press.

Gajdics grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, raised by Eastern European parents who struggled with trauma from their own pasts.

His new memoir explores his struggle of growing up gay, spending years in "conversion therapy" trying not to be, suing his psychiatrist, and finally reclaiming his life on his own terms.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mailbox Monday: Malcolm Bradbury


Eating People is Wrong has always been my favorite book title, and I love campus novels, but I’ve never read Malcolm Bradbury’s books. So I went on a mini-binge and got these four from Book Depository because I love the covers.

Eating People is Wrong

The History Man

Rates of Exchange

To the Hermitage

Any Malcolm Bradbury fans?

Unfortunately, there are two others from the same re-issued editions that are not available. I would love to have a complete set!



Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach.




Thursday, October 5, 2017

Book Beginning: The Inheritance of Shame by Peter Gajdics


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



By the third time the car had circled the block, I knew the man was interested.

-- The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir by Peter Gajdics, published by Brown Paper Press.

Gajdics grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, raised by Eastern European parents who struggled with their own tormented histories. His new book tells the story of growing up gay, spending six years in "conversion therapy" trying not to be, suing his psychiatrist, and finally attempting to reclaim his life, his family, and his truth.



Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: My Father's Ledger by Mary Mills



“I would like to begin today by saying that I don’t have any expectations for either of you to make any kind of statement or apology to me. In fact, I would almost prefer that you didn’t try to say anything to appease me.”

-- My Father's Ledger: Sex Abuse by a Catholic Priest - A Family's Story of Grace Survival and Healing by Mary Mills, from Chapter One, "Grace: At the Table With the Priests."

Mary Mills' memoir tells the story of how her Catholic family was torn apart when their priest seduced the mother and later sexually abused her younger sister. But she goes further and explains how they were able to come together again as adults.

This book touches me personally because I was one of the attorneys who represented the sister in her claim against the Jesuits. The scene above is from the meeting between our client and the perpetrator priest and a representative from the Jesuits, which we negotiated as part of the resolution of her claim so she could speak her piece.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mailbox Monday: Brown Paper Press

I'm excited about these three books from Brown Paper Press! Two are essay collections, one is a memoir.



Burdens by Water: An Unintended Memoir by Alan Rifkin. A collection of essays about life in Southern California.



I'm Dyin' Here: A Life in the Paper by Tim Grobaty. In this collection of essays, the author contemplates life as a newspaper columnist, including the ideas that he might die at his job and that the newspaper industry is dying around him.



The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir by Peter Gajdics. The author spent six years in a cult-like version of conversion therapy that attempted to “cure” him of his homosexuality.

A little backstory: My parents turned me on to Brown Paper Press. My folks have been good friends since the 1950s with the parents of founder Wendy Thomas Russell. When our parents were visiting this summer, they put it together that I have a book blog and Wendy is a book publisher, so they hooked us up. Good connection! I think the last time we saw each other, I was maybe in first grade and Wendy was in a stroller!




Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach.




Thursday, September 28, 2017

Book Beginning: My Father's Ledger by Mary Mills

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



Roseanne slowly maneuvered her Volkswagen Passat toward downtown, her fingers drumming an impatient rhythm on the steering wheel.

-- My Father's Ledger: Sex Abuse by a Catholic Priest - A Family's Story of Grace Survival and Healing by Mary Mills, from Chapter One, "Grace: At the Table With the Priests."

This powerful new memoir tells how the betrayal of trust can change a family forever. It doesn't give too much away to explain that the family priest seduced the mother and later sexually abused the author's younger sister.

This book touches me personally because I was one of the attorneys who represented the sister in her claim against the Jesuits. The story of the family's survival is inspiring.




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




Monday, September 25, 2017

Mailbox Monday

I got two new books last week while we were driving through the Poconos and stopped to explore Jim Thorpe, a historic mining town. The adorable Dimmick Memorial Library had a pretty good Friends sale shelf.

What books came into your house last week?



The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost



Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark by Jane Fletcher Geniesse





Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach.




Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Begining: Any Woman's Blues by Erica Jong

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



How I came to edit this curious manuscript -- and how indeed Isadora Wing came to write it -- are two of the many bizarre stories the ensuing pages have to tell.

-- "Foreword" to Any Woman's Blues by Erica Jong.

I love the gusto of Erica Jong's books. This one is the supposed posthumous, unfinished novel by Jong's alter-ego heroine, Isadora Wing, about a successful artist obsessed with a younger man.





Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING






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