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THE SILENCE OF MORNING: A Memoir of the Time Undone ~D.A. Hickman

Monday, April 11th, 2016

“Despite a crushing loss…here we have a warmth of spirit, understanding and compassion in a distancing world.”  (Madeline Sharples – from cover)

I believe that there is a need within each of us to read this book.  Yes, it is a well written memoir with lovely poetic sentences and descriptions, it is a poignant telling of a son’s life, it is a sociologic study of our society and culture, and most of all it is an amazing tribute to  a mother’s grief and the deepening of a spiritual journey into an awakening.  THE SILENCE OF MORNING is a book we need.

Suicide is a difficult end to a life and even with a note; there is rarely a possibility of verifiable understanding.   What was the truth of this life or this moment, which made the decision possible?   What enabled suicide’s success?  How will a Mother/ Parents and family create the mythology to answer all the questions or create the story that will bring release to the grief and sorrow?  Dare I intimate that there might be a letting go of the life and only memory left?

We are also drawn into a study with all the pomp and considerations of a master research paper.  We are invited to take a look at schools now and then.  We can observe the role of teachers and philosophy of schools and how the child will react or would have been received differently now.  Hickman catches the restlessness of a generation and the incredible work an educational system must engage in to meet the needs of children and get the “job done” for a future of usefulness and output with reward.   The study looks at the War on Drugs and how the need for entertainment grows and grows along with the lure of the “high” and the demands of addiction.  How does a society remedy this dis-ease and free the individual caught within its seductive nets?  Have we learned and do we know how to stop the progression?  Are we as a people all addicted to something?

There are nearly perfect descriptions in this telling of landscape and interactions and just beautiful memories of family – breathtaking.  There is a poetry of words and pivotal theological quotes and explanations.  Reading can free tears.

This is memoir which asks the tough questions, puts words to grief and opens the heart to an exploration of the depth and width of personal growth and spiritual path-finding and it is “Holy and beautiful and heartbreaking.” (Cover quote)

In the author’s own words:  “How do we better understand the human condition, the quest for inner peace?  How do we tap into the deeper mysteries, embracing challenge and loss as we go? How do we distance ourselves from a malcontent culture focused on excitement, escape, and excess?  And despite it all, how do we deepen our perspective…commit to sustained personal growth?”

“I will always be a dedicated student of society looking for the essential story, the universal message: a path with less suffering, deeper awareness.  Everything we experience is a reflection of the human struggle to somehow right itself against the rocky waves of time.  So on and on we walk…always into a deeper version of ourselves.”

Hickman’s Blog:  SunnyRoomStudio.com
Hickman’s Facebook

THE SILENCE OF MORNING is a part of my personal library and I am delighted to be sharing it with you.  I think we all need to read this memoir.

Shadows in the Sun
The Myths of Happiness
NEW: Understanding our need for Novelty and Change
Now Everyone Will Know

FIVE NIGHT STAND: A Novel ~Richard J. Alley

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

“Do we not owe it to those gone, to those still with us, to ourselves, to live to the fullest of our capabilities? To the extent of our passion?”  (location 86%)

I was excited to receive the un-proofed, uncorrected advanced copy of FIVE NIGHT STAND from TLC Book Tours for review.  It was a story about music and story about change and it seemed like a refreshing change of pace from the last few reads.  I was trying to get it read before I went to the hospital for a surgery, but I did not achieve that goal.   FIVE NIGHT STAND went with me and I read it between therapy and healing sleep in the rehabilitation center.  It was good company.

Oliver Pleasant is a renown jazz piano player.  He is in New York City and going to play 5 nights at a famous jazz club as his retirement.  At 85 he needs to leave NYC and move to Memphis to live with his youngest sister.  Alley takes us through Pleasant’s life and all his concert tours and years of playing, how he learned and who took him under their wing.  We are also invited into his married life and how his wife and children influenced his career.  The five nights of playing are packed full of the fans and stories of those who come to honor and hear the musician.

Agnes is a 20 something musician who has come to NYC for some medical tests and to hear the concerts of her  inspiration Oliver Pleasant.  She comes from New Orleans where she plays in the clubs and is originally from Memphis.  Her story is an interesting addition to the concerts and she ends up meeting Pleasant and playing his music for him, with her added touch and devotion.  The two have an interesting connection and this story line adds a creative dynamic to the story’s unfolding. FIVE NIGHT STAND is genuinely motivated by the passion.

Frank a third character from Memphis pulls the story into a relationship study.  He is a journalist recently unemployed who sees the Concert by Pleasant as an opportunity for writing a big story about the musician’s career and his trip home at the end of his public life.  Frank is struggling with his own life and his passions and his love for his wife and hoped for child to come.  The story connects the three and the passions into some fine resolutions and outcomes.

The writing made the story a fine part of my healing experience and a good read.  There were moments of music in the words and the telling of these character’s lives.

Richard J. Alley is an award-winning reporter, columnist, and editor from Memphis, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and four children.

Please visit Recommended Reading to discover all the book that have been reviewed on this.

FLINGS: Stories ~Justin Taylor

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

“And it’s true that the only thing the kids remember about most of this stuff is buying it: the jolt of commercial desire followed by the soft shock of success as the parental wallet opened – and then the getting bored.”  (page 94 ‘Mike’s Song’ of an uncorrected proof copy of the book)

We’ve got a dozen stories by a good writer in FLINGS and I very much enjoy short stories these days and I would call it a good read and an interesting experience.   FLINGS was just right for the business of my life in the autumn harvest and before the winter big read season.

The reader experiences an excerpt of the whole life story of a great many characters in FLINGS.  Although one character from a story as a secondary pivot character, finds his own chapter later on, this is not a group of connected stories like OLIVE KITTERIDGE  or WHAT THE ZHANG BOYS KNOW. What the characters have as a common thread is that they have left some place or state of being and are now trying to identify their next move and forward motion.  The characters all seemed like New Yorkers though much of the action took place in other locations such as Hong Kong, Portland,Oregon, Ohio, Canada and Tennessee.   I don’t know if I can say this but as the characters wander about in search of their new states of being, the writing has a driven aspect that keeps the reader moving page after page.

Lots of themes about academia, music and writing with an overall literary quality; fascinating to read about what young men think about women and college girls these days.  The movies too reveal a lot of just random sex, and never much about the meaning of life or the depth of communication or relationship possibilities.  Maybe they will just wander into the right place or the right person for them while trying on 6 or 7 at a time.   Life as performance art and auditions.   I lost interest in several stories because of this lack and actually several books recently because of this current writing trend.

Several of the characters are well developed because of the fine writing; there was a searching quality to many of the stories which left me sometimes searching myself, wanting more so I would create what I thought would happen next.  Limbo?  Younger writers like this wanting feeling, I do not want it in all twelve stories.  I had to dig to find humor even though several reviewers found it very fun.  We all search for connection and our spot in life just maybe we do not find it until as the Baptist’s in my town say: “He’s been called home.”

Justin Taylor is the author of the story collection Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever and the novel The Gospel of Anarchy.  He lives, writes and teaches in New York City.

Harper Collins site for Taylor
Taylor’s Website
TLC book tours

It was a pleasure to read FLINGS and I am thankful for the opportunity.

“Every choice makes us and remakes us.  What’s incredible, Danielle thought, is not that we might have been somebody else, or nobody, but rather that despite everything we are somehow still ourselves.” (Page 207 of uncorrected copy.)

Olive Kitteridge
What the Zhang Boys Know
Half as Happy 
No Longer and Not Yet 

THE SENSE OF TOUCH: Stories by Ron Parsons

Monday, February 24th, 2014

THE SENSE OF TOUCH is a collection of eight short stories and if you like the short story genre this is one you will truly enjoy.  These days I often find the short story to be a real workout, often filled with extreme problems only slightly resolved.  As a reader, I am often left with an unpleasant taste in my mouth and heaviness in my heart; hoping that at least one character between the covers will be able to find a resolution of sorts that does not leave me puzzling.

THE SENSE OF TOUCH throws a number of problems at people and some are fairly horrendous and yet there is a touch of whimsy, humor and inventive plot twists that can really touch the reader and lighten the burdens or the sadness within the story.  I found myself compelled to read the next story, though I disciplined the read to one per day.  The characters were interesting and certainly demonstrated how we all wish to be in touch and how often we are not.

Although I received a print copy of this book, I found it interesting that I could check out a free copy on my Kindle, which I think I will the next time I am on a trip and need to find a short story collection to take a long for the ride.

The gifted Bangladeshi student story was almost theater of the absurd and yet I could understand the disconnect which could be experienced by an immigrant to the Midwestern regions of the USA.  Midnight Bowling certainly peeled to the obvious the need for connection and finding one’s direction.  The stories connect the icy, snowy cold and the pleasures of spring emergence like a fresh new sunrise and the fatigue at day’s end.   There is a touch of love as sometimes words connect and reveal.  There is the slow, deliberate pacing of the stories and the reader has to wait for IT; yes wait for IT!

Michael Martone on the cover says:

“These tales are the winsome hissing of busy signals lisping in the icy nicely nice neighborhoods of the missing Midwest at the intersection of polite delight and absolute zero at the bone? “

I am insisting my partner read this book, I think he will enjoy reading THE SENSE OF TOUCH and you will too!

Ron Parsons Online
Ron Parsons On Facebook

tlc logo I received a copy of this book from TLC online books tours and the author Ron Parsons.  This book was a lovely read and I thank them for the opportunity.  THE SENSE OF TOUCH.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Thank you

Related Reading:
Our Love Could Light the World 
What the Zhang Boys Know 
Half As Happy
Olive Kitteridge