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NO LONGER AND NOT YET: Stories ~Joanna Clapps Herman

“Death, when you weren’t actually faced with it, was something like that.  A small boat in a large body of water going toward a vague line that never came any closer-death always the same safe distance from your boat.  No matter how long you moved toward it, it continued to move off ahead of you.  Then when someone you knew died, death appeared in your boat, and you were supposed to contend with its abrupt, confusing arrival, for which you had no talent, no gift.  It was never as if you came to believe it.  You were just very confused.  Full of refusal.  After a time of stunned confusion it moved back out there far away where it belonged.  And wasn’t considered again until it had to be again.  The horizon what is not yet.”  (Page 102)


NO LONGER AND NOT YET is a collection of 26 stories which are all connected to the Upper Westside of New York City. As of late, I have been reading a number of books that for varied reasons keep me reading long into the night and wanting to savor and finish them right away.  As much as I love short stories and like to read one a day when partaking, this was an exception to my rule for the fact that I have a fixed review date and because the stories touched each other in ways that made the reader want to know.

Tess, Max and eventually Paul were the thread that held the weave of the stories together.  Tess has a wealth of friends right in the neighborhood and they then became their own stories and found connection back to Tess for advice and support.  Tess told the stories of living and what she is aware of and then interpreted these ideas to the reader to get the whole picture.  Her best friend Naomi lived in a building on Riverside Street and the residents within added the breadth of the friendships. The reader is able to get a clear picture and attend to the day’s experience.

It made a section of NYC cozy and connecting and the writing and details brought clarity with the exquisite use of words. The reader is connected and feels present; for me particularly about the “mother thoughts” going on inside each woman during her day or excerpt.  The problems seemed normal and not overblown and were infused with moments of wine, a sigh of relief and laughter.

These are everyday stories which make sense in our everyday and yet we are privy to the thinking and the actions in a way which reminds us that we are not alone.  There are others living plain lives and having questions and concerns just like ours and yet they are drawn together because of their communications and sharing.  The words tighten the threads of connection and understanding.  There are two thinking about the crazy flower woman in the park and two attempting to help the box man not freeze to death on a rare cold snowy night.  Can you imagine being the only mother and son playing in a NYC park – no one else on the swings?  Is the teacher always right or does she say the wrong things to your child?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it was so wonderful to have a summer rainy day to wander and walk through years with these delightful characters into their lives and resolutions.  NO LONGER AND NOT YET is a 5 star read.

tlc logo  TLC online book tours  sent me a copy of NO LONGER AND NOT YET for review and it was a pleasure to share this book with you

“Joanna Clapps Herman teaches creative writing in the MFA Graduate Program at Manhattanville College and at the Center for Worker Education, a division of City College of New York, CUNY.  She is the author of THE ANARCHIST BASTARD:GROWING UP ITALIAN IN AMERICA, also published by SUNY Press; coeditor (with Carol Bonomo Albright) of Wild Dreams: The best of Italian Americana; and coeditor(with Lee Gutkind) of OUR ROOTs ARE DEEP WITH PASSION: Creative Nonfiction Collect New Essays by Italian-American Writers.  She lives in New Your City.” (Cover)

Joanna Clapps Herman Online 
Joanna Clapps Herman on Facebook

I am counting on folks sharing this review – please share and like – Thank you – Sharing is a good thing to do.

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THE NEW MEN: Making the Men Who Made America ~Jon Enfield

“A profit-sharer had to be at least twenty-two years of age, or married, or the sole support of a close relative.  He had to be sober, saving, clean-living, and decently housed.  And he had to let Sociological investigators confirm his being all those things.”


It is early in the Twentieth Century and immigrants are pouring into the new industrializing America to avoid death and the conflicts in their birth countries.  The Ford Motor Company is gearing up to make 300 vehicles a day to supply the needs and wants of a nation; the new workers are not trained in being citizens or assembly line workers and so Mr. Ford sets out to do just that – train the NEW MEN who will make America’s future.

Jon Enfield, the author, found all sorts of records about what was occurring during this time period as he was working on his Doctorate in English and the material fascinated him.  Some of the people in this story are real people who took notes and kept records of the events and the process.  Most of the characters are fictional and represent the people who lived these events and were trained by the Ford Company including learning English, finding affordable housing, healthcare and working up to profit-sharing and being a Five Dollar a Day Man.  Ford was offering a make a living wage with investigators checking up on the individual’s situation and keeping the men honest and moving up the pay scale.

The story focuses on an Italian (Ghilaraza) family who after father has been arrested and jailed for political reasons in Italy decides to move his family to the United States. The Gramazio Family becomes the Gram Family as they arrive in the new land and Antonio Gram the narrator of the story receives much needed surgery to repair the twist of his spine and problem with his leg.  Tony still has a hunched back and pain, but he can go to school full time and this helps his family very much over time.   The eldest son remains in Italy and become a police/ military man and he writes about all the changes in the country and all the arrests and killings as WWI heats up in Europe.

Tony is hired to be an investigator in the Five Dollar a Day school in the Detroit Ford Motor Company.  There he studies the good school programs and works with families to achieve the profit-sharing plan.  The stories of the families he meets and questions are very interesting and of course, they represent the different countries and the problems, including racism, they are having.  He also is required to remove people from the process and from the work experiences who do not follow the protocol.  His friend Ross, who is a reporter, helps pull the threads of the story together and give the reader a larger overview.

THE NEW MEN is very well written, and I believe the writer captured lots of the feelings people were experiencing when they make such a big move.  It was very poignant in the moments that they gave their sons to Europe’s War and to the beginnings of the Union movement.  Were police to be trusted, who was swindling whom, prohibition or not, and what were the politicians really doing?

Negros were also entering the work force in rapid numbers and wanting to earn a living wage and support their families.  Jewish families were finding oppression, suspicion and aggression surrounding them and their highly educated children.  Women were pushing for better healthcare and the Vote.  What an amazing time period to be a part of and living within, and the author has mixed the facts and the fiction in just the right portions to tell a terrific story.  I could not put the book down.  After the first hours read, I was hooked and so did the next read in 6 hours straight into the next day!   THE NEW MEN is that good.

tlc logo  TLC Online Booktours and Wayzgoose Press sent me an e-copy of this book for review and I give it an enthusiastic yes and Thanks.

Jon Enfield received his Ph.D.  in English from the University of Chicago, was the former fiction editor of the Chicago Review, and taught writing at the University of Southern California.  He is quite intrigued with the early twentieth century in America and how it influenced the fundamental realities of America today.

Jon Enfield Online / THE NEW MEN

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THE DRAGON’S PAWN: The Canaanshades Journey Book 2 ~Mitchell S. Karnes


THE DRAGON’S PAWN is the second book in Mitchell Karnes 4 part series.  TLC Online Book Tours sent me a copy of THE PACT to review previously.   I was working with a fine fellow named Travis with reading, and we immediately opened the book and worked our way through the story.  Travis does not pay Warriors and Thieves but does play numerous computer strategy games.  He so enjoyed the book and we shared that with Mr. Karnes and he graciously sent signed copies of THE DRAGON’S PAWN to Travis and me.  Travis read this book by himself and just thought it was wonderful and is now hopeful for the arrival of the third book in the series.

THE DRAGON’S PAWN seemed a bit of a more difficult read and more grown up themes and I thought I would get a different opinion from my 12 year old neighbor and avid reader Nya.  I offered her an opportunity to publish her review, she accepted the assignment. Mitchell Karnes also sent her a signed copy of THE PACT and THE DRAGON’s PAWN.   So in her own words Nya wrote:

The Dragons Pawn ~A book review by Nya Uberman

The Dragon’s Pawn, by Mitchel S. Karnes is the second book in the four-part Canaanshade Journeys. In the first book, The Pact, four friends make two pacts, the first that they would always be friends and the second that they will always play Warriors and Thieves. Now, twenty-four years later, both pacts have been broken. Out of the four friends only Chris still plays Warriors and Thieves; he is dying of cancer.

After Luke thinks he sees his Warriors and Thieves character Bentheos telling him to set up one last game between the four friends, and Chris starts a new cancer treatment called hypnosensory therapy where he can mentally go into and move about a forest; helping with steady breathing patterns and (hopefully) healing him, Luke convinces the others to play again. Chris decides to hold the game in the hypnosensory center, so that way they can experience the game as if they were really in it.

The four men gather together to play their game in the hypnosensory world of Canaanshade. At first it seems wonderful. They are finally in the world of their childhood game, but when their human consciences start slipping away and threatening to leave them entirely, without a clue about who they really are, the game takes a downward turn.

Bentheos takes over Luke’s mind and attempting to wage war on the rest of Canaanshade’s inhabitants and become king of the entire world of Canaanshade. All seems lost for Luke as Bentheos tries to assassinate his friend’s characters in the hope that that will bring him complete control. Killing the characters could also kill the real players.

Meanwhile, along with Scott’s character, Garrett’s wife – Lea, the three other friend’s characters head away from the elf kingdom to slay a red and black dragon whose destruction is the goal of the game and must be destroyed before they can will themselves out of the game. Little do they know, however, a friend has already ‘sold them out’ to the dragon and the game becomes more deadly and dangerous.

Steve, the man who is serving as game master for this game has been disguised as a stumpy old wizard known as a Gnorf whose job it is to track each player, arrange the game, and serve as a sort of god for the world of Canaanshade. He has been captured by Bentheos who thinks that having a game master under his control will make him even more powerful and fit to rule than before.

Without a game master to monitor the game it gets more deadly than before. Because, little do they know, another force is also trying to get them killed and therefore keep another set of promises and deals. When Chris is almost killed by two of the dragon’s demonic servants and is brought back to life by a divine force he realizes that although the dragon’s pawn is powerful, hope is not lost and with the help of Steve, he and Scott can turn the tide and leave the game with Paul and Luke before it is too late.

The Dragons Pawn, by Mitchell S. Karnes was not the kind of book that I normally read. I personally found it slightly confusing but I think this might be because I don’t know anything about the game Warriors and Thieves and you kind of need to understand the game to get the book.  But, although I didn’t enjoy it very much and couldn’t relate to the characters, the writing was good and it might appeal more to somebody who plays Warriors and Thieves or some other related game.

~

I thought Nya did an excellent job and I too was confused because I do not play these types of games.   I might suggest that the author write a short companion book of the description and rules of the game.   The book continued with some excellent communication skills and techniques which were begun in the original story when the characters were in middle school.  That the adults were heavy with adult problems and not so emotionally mature when in crisis mode in the second story was not so troubling once they entered into the game.

I look forward to reading books three and four in the series.  Thank you so much Mitchell Karnes for keeping the story moving along and expanding.

READING:
The Pact
The Quick
The Lady’s Maid
The Best of Daughters
Mitchell S. Karnes

NOTE:  From Wikipedia, there is a game called Dungeons and Dragons and reading a bit about the gameplay was helpful for me

CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDENCEY: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You ~Darlene Lancer

“SHAME. The torment you feel when you’re exposed, humiliated, or rejected.  The feeling of not being good enough.  It’s a deeply painful, universal emotion, yet is not frequently discussed.  For some shame lurks in the unconscious, undermining self-esteem and destroying confidence, leading to codependency on others.  These codependent relationships – where we overlook our own needs and desires as we try to care for, protect, or please another – are often covering up abuse, addiction, or other harmful behaviors.  Shame and codependency feed off one another, making us feel stuck, never able to let go, move on, and become the true self we were meant to be.”  (From the book cover)


CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDENCY is a good self-help book authored by a family therapist who has years of work in this area of change and development. I liked the style of the writing, it is not preachy or overbearing expertise, rather it is carefully thought out and simply worded so that any reader could find some new knowledge and information about themselves. The demonstrating stories for the steps explored are relevant and understandable; they complete the point and observation.  The format is pleasing with some clear explanation of what might be causing recurring or “stuck” behaviors followed up with some very simple exercises that even young adults can follow and implement without years of therapy or experts.

I believe that CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDENCY could be used in adolescence classrooms as a work book with a teacher attached. Young people a could identify areas where they might be stuck and frustrated in their independence moves and have a resource to remind them when they might need some help in the future.  Shame is also about all those crazy tapes that repeat in the mind, about how foolish one is or how “ugly” they might be, and how we react to those reoccurring mind words.   I have never met a person who has not felt humiliated at some point in their life; it can be reassuring to know one is not alone and have a few tools to change the way one is thinking.

I believe many woman could benefit from owning this resource as so many get isolated at home tasks or taking care of others and may need their thinking refreshed rather than reaching for  a cupcake, glass of wine, or anti-depression medication.  A little mental exercise towards releasing old ideas and maybe deleting despair and moving forward to opening up new ideas and ways to proceed.

The book was a nice refresher course and it helped me dust off some old techniques that I learned over the years.  I was having dental surgery while reading this book, and feeling a big sense of shame over how much my teeth and jaw repair was costing.  My parents were both teachers and proud that my brother and sister had no cavities, whereas they were rather angry about how my pitted teeth dug into the family finances; I just was not taking enough responsibility for their care.  Even though I now save money for healthcare and have dental insurance, when I heard how much my recent co-pay would be all those old messages of failure came up to play a tune – I had failed to do enough! CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDANCY just might be a great companion to keep on your shelf or nearby for relief.   It could be a great sleep aid for those who worry all night long – have a glass of water and do an exercise from the book and get some rest.

The eight steps:

  1. Find Your True Self
  2. Uncover Your Shame
  3. Find Your Shame’s Roots
  4. Disarm Your Shame
  5. Confront Your Shame
  6. Share Your Shame
  7. Build Your Self-Esteem
  8. Love Yourself

tlc logo  TLC Online Book Tours  and HAZELDEN Press sent me an unproofed copy for review and I am very happy to have been on this tour and enjoyed reading this book

“Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT is a licensed family therapist with over twenty years of experience working with individuals and couples.  She regularly lectures on self-esteem, codependency, and addiction.  Author of Codependency for Dummies and 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, she has also published numerous articles.“

Darlene Lancer Blog 

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