Home Recommended Reading Workshops About RSS

Posts Tagged ‘alcohol’

GYPSY MOTH SUMMER: A Novel ~Julia Fierro

Monday, June 26th, 2017

GYPSY MOTH SUMMER is being praised as the must read of the summer of 2017.  I have seen lots of promotional material for the book and was looking forward to having an opportunity to read and review this book as presented by TLC Book Tours . The Huffington Post was truly wrapping lots of energy around this highly anticipated book.

I jumped right into the read and it compelled me to stick with the book from cover to cover.  I just knew that somehow this story was not going to end well, and then again maybe I was hoping that it was not going to end well for the people on Avalon Island – the wealthy and the poor.  The story is a tragedy.

I knew many of these character types and I lived through this period of time with great awareness and a budding interest in ecological studies.  I was beginning to understand pollution and how cycles of problems exist and I lived through several Tent Caterpillar infestations and could hear the squish, crackle of walking on the creatures under my feet and know the sticky goo that stuck to everything; really creepy was the critters falling onto your hair and body.

I need to back up here and outline the story of the island people and their sordid, limited view of the world.  Many characters were introduced and before and after each chapter there was information about the Gypsy Moth’s life cycle and years of infestation.  How they marked the world in a very disgusting and filthy pattern.  Because the island was experiencing an infestation throughout the story, which paralleled the slimy behaviors of the community, I did not enjoy the read as much as I thought I would.

About THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER:

“The summer the Gypsy Moths descended, an even more toxic pest was spreading its way through the people of Avalon. East Avalon is the upper crust, built with generations of military engineers who had exchanged their Navy whites and blues for suits and offices, while West Avalon families hailed from generations of factory workers.

In the summer of 1992, Maddie LaRosa tries to figure out how to survive high school and its queen bee, Bitsy, and worries about maintaining her East Avalon persona and picture-perfect family life. Meanwhile, Leslie Day Marshall, daughter of Avalon Island’s most established wasp-y monarch, has just moved back home with her husband, Jules, who is black, and their kids. Their move from a one bedroom apartment in “the City” to “The Castle” isn’t as big as the change from the melting pot of New York City to the homogeneity of East Avalon. Jules and Leslie’s presence triggers tensions, romances, and unusual alliances that simmer all summer and lead to violence that leaves the community atomized forever.

Diving deep into research on gypsy moths, Fierro was inspired by her own childhood on Long Island, and the tensions that exist in a community where there are two economically different sides of town. Also included in her acute observations are the political tensions of 1992 during a different Clinton campaign and the rise in cancer rates due to the community’s water pollution. Grounded in real events, Fierro’s writes an intense and engrossing story that will stick with you long after the tragic ending.”    (From the promotional materials)

The teenagers in the story were the same unhappy, drunken, drugging, sniffing, nasty behavior laden kids I knew back then and tried to stay away.  They felt so entitled and are still acting entitled as they move into the Medicare years.  They still deny climate problems and toxic waste sites.  They feel they can just purchase their way out of everything.  Fierro wrote about them with brilliance and they were awful in the story as they were in person.  The sad thing is that they have been trying to lead the world now and be the leaders because they are “rich” and they are just as awful to encounter today as they were.  I still attempt to stay away but they keep trying to damage health care, public schools, and destroy social programs – they want to make money from schools and prisons and they truly do not care about human beings.

The story is very bright and capable and does keenly capture a segment of our community and wrap them in Moth slime tying them up smartly in a bow.  It was my pleasure to finish reading the book and be done with it.  GYPSY MOTH SUMMER left me wondering how to help people change and want to live by kindness.  There was no attempt to illuminate the future in GYPSY MOTH SUMMER.

“Fierro doesn’t just observe, she knows. Like all great novelists, she gives us the world.” – Amy Bloom, bestselling author of Away and Lucky Us

About the Author:

“JULIA FIERRO is the founder of The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, a creative home to more than 4,000 writers in New York City, Los Angeles and online. Her first novel CUTTING TEETH, was praised by The Boston Globe (“at once modern and timeless”) and The New Yorker (“a comically energetic début”).

Related:
Natchez Burning
The Secrets of Worry Dolls
A Tale for the Time Being

REMEMBER MY BEAUTIES: A Novel ~Lynne Hugo

Monday, July 25th, 2016

TLC Book Tours   sent me this e book for review. It was an advanced readers copy and as I have read another of Lynne Hugo’s books and I know they were well edited, I believe this copy needs some more editing; not the usual for this author who truly does her research and homework.  The story is good and interesting and the two awkward jumps in the story were disconcerting.

So many stories of drug and alcohol problems are centered on the middle class and educated families.  This story was center on a southern rural family on the lower edge of the middle class and rough around the edges. Their language skills were so poor they could not articulate or move their problems forward and they became stuck in a cycle of blame and negativity – a rather vicious barrier.  The middle child Jewel is their only asset and she is working herself to the bone trying to keep her house, get her child off drugs and into the future, keep her blind father and ill mother clean and cared for and work her own job.   Jewel is verbally abused by her family and is exhausted and not appreciated by her husband or his teenage children. Life is too much.  Her older alcoholic, druggie brother drifts home and Jewel goes on strike.

What keeps Jewel functioning and holding on is her horse and her father’s three horses.  She sneaks onto the property to care for her Beauties and exercise them. The several sections of the story that are the horses’ thoughts are quite wonderful. The horses are the key to reconciliation and to the family’s future.  There is hope and there is a possibility to teach new tricks and ideas, when Jewel takes her firm stand.

People don’t know what they don’t know.  They did not understand other options and truly needed the wisdom of teachers and counselors with a bigger worldview and an ability to problem-solve.  There appears to be many, many people like this in the southern regions of the USA, but also in the rural regions of many states.  If it were not for the horses and their love the cycle would not have been broken.  It was not a very wide rift, the family would need more tears in the fabric of their lives in order to fully communicate and see the need for more language skills to create a more solid future.  This story emphasizes the ways people are isolated, separated and forgotten in our society.  An interesting read overall and needs a good discussion to go with it.

About the author:

“Lynne Hugo has published ten previous books, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her memoir, Where the Trail Grows Faint, won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize in 2004, and her sixth novel, A Matter of Mercy, was awarded an Independent Publisher silver medal for best regional fiction in 2014. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she lives in Ohio with her husband and their yellow Labrador retriever” (TLC page)

Lynne Hugo Website
Lynne Hugo Facebook
Lynne Hugo Twitter

Related:
Liar
If You Leave Can I Come With You?
Memory Card Full

DISINTEGRATION: A Windy City Dark Mystery ~Richard Thomas

Monday, June 15th, 2015

This is one of the darkest books I have ever read.  It was so black that I just could not believe that the author was so prized and that folks were praising this story.  The beginning was so confusing and disorienting that the reader knows right away that the main character is either very mentally ill or a drug addicted and is in such tremendous pain it is hard to keep turning the pages and going forward.  It does resolve into a coherent story more that half way through and yet I did not find this reassuring or satisfying.

“A dark existential thriller of unexpected twists, featuring a drowning man determined to pull the rest of the world under with him, Disintegration is a stunning and vital piece of work.”—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting (from Amazon’s book page)

Thomas’ biography on Amazon

BIO: Richard Thomas is the author of seven books: Three novels, Disintegration and The Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections, Tribulations (TBA), Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press), and Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press); as well as one novella of The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 100 stories published, his credits include Cemetery Dance, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers 6. He has won contests at ChiZine, One Buck Horror, and Jotspeak and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of four anthologies: Exigencies and The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk (finalist for the Bram Stoker Award). In his spare time he is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. He has taught at LitReactor, the University of Iowa, StoryStudio Chicago, and in Transylvania. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.

I found the book to be horrifying and hard to read as the underworld and maybe Russian Mafia are exposed for the rest of the world to see and comprehend.   It was so hard to read and I had to keep putting it down and leaving it alone for hours at a time.  I now have it completed and see that it has a huge 5 star rating on Amazon already and the critics are loving how hard hitting it is and surly.  Apparently, I may be the only one who does not like this dark a read.   Maybe I am naïve and just have a high need to ignore this section of our society and pretend it does not exist.   I was so happy when the book was complete, finished and the read done.    I do agree that the book it hard hitting and sticks with the reader long after completion.

So this confusing man is writing the story and sharing with the reader this tough existence he is experiencing.  His assignments are shoved under the door and so he heads out to begin killing people, smoking dope, drinking and drinking and drinking and rarely eating.   He talks about his family being killed in a car accident through listening to his answering machine in little semi – revealing bursts.  Life hardly matters to him he is blind and doped up all the time and full of anger and rage.  Near the end of the book he has figured out what has happened to him and he kills his source.

TLC Book Tours sent me an advanced copy of this book for review and I can honestly say I read it cover to cover.   There are folks really enjoying this dark read and Thomas’s writing but I do not know if I can recommend this book to anyone.

Related:
The Organ Takers  
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

THE DEAD KEY: A Mystery & Thriller Award Winner ~D.M. Pulley

Monday, March 30th, 2015

“ ‘The board of the bank is made up of every old money man in town.  No project gets built in Cleveland without someone from the bank being involved.  Every project that lost money had a board member of First Bank of Cleveland at the helm, but the feds can’t put a case together.  City council won’t provide corroborating witnesses.  Judges won’t grant search warrants.”  He shook his head, exasperated.” (Loc 4599 of 6682)

2014 WINNER – Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – Grand Prize and Mystery & Thriller Fiction Winner.

The DEAD KEY was not a high-speed page-turner, rather the story built upon the measuring tape and efforts of a very young recent engineering graduate and her new job, documenting a very old bank, which had been locked and abandoned in 1978 – December 1978.  The 15 story huge building had captured the interest of some developer and they needed architectural plans for the new designs and expectations.  Iris the recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University is hired to complete the survey and get the plans processed, and then translated to the computer as fast as she is able in the summer of 1998.

I went to High School in Cleveland, moving there from a State of 3 million people to a City of 3 million people when I was 16.  I found the city grey and ugly and so dirty.  My Father was constantly explaining it was Industrial and depressed; the flowers and trees seemed to be depressed and the snow grey and dirty.  I loved sitting in on lectures at Case Western Reserve University and on Saturdays spent the day in the Hough Area working in the Homework club with new readers and later in the day with seniors that needed housekeeping or shopping completed for them.  I learned that the vegetables in the Hough area were not fresh nor- the same price as out in the suburbs. I won a Microwave oven from the Cleveland Illuminating Company with a whole package of new innovations for the kitchen after taking their class.  I gave the package to the Hough Area schools because my high school thought it was demeaning to want to know about these kinds of products.

Why does my story make any difference, because Iris, our main gal in the story is sullen, and bored and trapped in her situation and feels the same as I found people in the late 60s.  Iris is definitely depressed until she starts to use her mind and is scared by the strange things and sounds going on in that old and dark, dank, hidden bank.  Iris feels she is being followed and talked too though the duct work and as though messages are being left for her from Beatrice Baker, a very young secretary in the Audit division of the Bank.  The story begins to build on Beatrice in 1978 and Iris in 1998.  The tension builds with flies and spiders and tunnels and noises and strange and cryptic writing.  I don’t want to leave out the dirty old men and their born to wealth children, the snobbery and the power / control issues all experienced from the secretarial pool and the people working on survival mode.  Lots of womanizing and Mad mannish drinking and roughing /threatening folks who are doing the work.

Cleveland crashed because of the dirty old wealthy men in 1978

I was excited that there was a bit of discussion about Mayor Dennis Kucinich and Nixon’s laws for the white and wealthy, but very little and that made me sad.  Iris and the author keep those discussions small and focus on how they might be reflected on the building and the outcomes for the future.

As Ohio is on the royalty list for voter suppression and economic inequality – especially for women and ethnic groups there is quite an exciting opportunity for more books from this State of Being and such a depressed environment.

About the Author (from the cover)

“D.M. Pulley’s first novel, THE DEAD KEY, was inspired by her work as a structural engineer in Cleveland, Ohio.  During a survey of an abandoned building, she discovered a basement vault full of unclaimed safe-deposit boxes.  The mystery behind the vault haunted her for years, until she put down her calculator and started writing.  THE DEAD KEY as the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Grand Prize Winner.  Pulley continues to work as a private consultant and forensic engineer, investigating building failures and designing renovations.  She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband and two children and is currently at work on her second novel.  Visit her website at www.dmpulley.com

TLC Book Tours  sent me an un-proofed/uncorrected digital copy for review.  Digital copies are being offered for free on Amazon on the first few days of the book tour.

Related:
In Doubt 
Accidents of Marriage
The Fixer
Duke City Hit