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FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT: A Novel ~Michaela Carter

Monday, August 18th, 2014

“As if wisdom could arrive cleanly as mail, or the newspaper on one’s doorstep.  As if wisdom didn’t come from getting dirt under one’s nails.” (Page 11)
“ __ how small she wished she could become.  So she could hide from even herself” (page 77)
“If things weren’t hard, something was wrong.” (page189)
“After all, she was the one with the key.” (page226)

FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT is a fictional story about a week in 1992 in Los Angeles.  After receiving the early uncorrected proof copy from TLC online book tours for review, I immediately read the cover and was thrilled to be reading a work by such an amazing poet and writer – Michaela Carter.  Several of her poems have been included in our poetry study group over the years.


The cover said, “Combining poetry and sensuality with an edgy urban sensibility Further Out Than You Thought is a celebration of life and a haunting story of love, friendship, and one woman’s quest for redemption.”

Gwen is a doctoral candidate in poetry, working as a nude dancer in a strip club in L.A.  She is our confused and sorting heroine of the story.  She also pays the way for the others to live and rationalize their lives.  Valiant is an older lounge singer who is suffering in the last days of AIDS, who is smoking himself and possible drinking himself to death while living in Gwen’s apartment building.  Len is Gwen’s boyfriend and a musician who attempts to sell his CDs on the street corner dressed in a revolutionary period costume.  I would have to say that cockroaches are high up on the character list along with dirty dishes, disorder, and dysfunctional actions.  Nothing resolves until the Rodney King Riots began and the whole city was shut down to control looting; the city was permeated with smoke from the burning fires.  Everyone was stuck at home, with no view or running out of distractions.

Almost every chapter of FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT had a theme song and shared lyrics and poetry.  When I had finished the book, I went back and noted the metaphor or concept these words entered into the theme of the story. It was not a very fruitful exercise and I was left with tons of metaphors that seemed to overwhelm the story. Red, red, red, water, water, water, smoke, smoke, smoke, drinking, drinking, drinking, drugs, drugs, drugs, dance, dance, dance, dark, dark, dark; the list is even longer and  I personally found it exhausting to read and attempt to figure out.  Too much poetry?

The backstories of the three friends were well done and kept the story moving forward for me.  I so felt a sense of release when the trio decided to head to Tijuana to escape the riots and curfews and the ocean air allowed for clarity of thought to arise.  I was happy dancing when Gwen found the Grandmotherly Mexican Psychic and she believed the reading of the cards.  Whew! It was relief for the reader also.

Several days after finishing this book, I went for a walk to think about Robin William’s death and review all that I know about suicide, pain and healing.  It struck me that the erotic parts of Further Out Than You Thought are all based on the American addiction to violence and how it permeates our lives and is so common it is out of the awareness. Violence is common as dirt.  In this story, it is the riptide and strong undercurrent in the search for meaning and happiness.  The strawberries are blood red and release juicy, sweet joy.

“Michaela Carter is an award-winning poet and writer.  She studied theater at UCLA and holds a MFA in creative writing, and her poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, won the Poetry Society of American Los Angeles New Poets Contest, and appeared in numerous journals.  Recently she cofounded the Peregrine Book Company, an independent bookstore in Prescott, Arizona, where she works as a book buyer and story-teller. She lives in Prescott with her partner and two inscrutable children and teaches creative writing at Yavapai College.  This is her first novel.”

Michaela Carter Online
Michaela Carter Facebook
Michaela Carter Peregrine Book Company 

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LEMONADE REVEALED: A Philosophical Novel ~Will Chluho

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

“A boy is swept ashore on a faraway island into the embrace of three powerful Men: A priest, a Warrior, and a Trader.  Estranged, and tossing about in the undercurrents of abandonment, abuse, and betrayal, He finds sense in life, still.”  Book Jacket


I just knew I was going to like LEMONADE REVEALED from the very first moment of its arrival.  I pulled open the mailer and contained within was this bright yellow small book; 4.5” x 7” x 1.5”.   I knew this was not going to be an ordinary read.  It fit with a perfection into my hand and just summoned me to open and begin reading.   The problem was I had 15 books ahead of it to read and review.  So I put it on the shelf as a prize to come and I contemplated what it might be.

If life gives you lemons make lemonade?

The author studied philosophy in Rome; now studies philosophy in London.  Was this a clue? Would I want to read the whole thing?  Would it hold me in its grasp?  It was about a boy on the shore, would it be a hero’s journey or a coming of age story? Would the females in the story be violent or just beautiful?  Monsters and vampires galore? Would it be another Catholic digression into manhood’s verve and destiny?  Will it be a mystery package left at the door?  I had to wait.

A very interesting read and it did contain so many of the elements of good cerebral play and a good mystery story.  I did read it out in the sunshine after the marine air lifted and removed.  It contained an explorer, caves, tree houses, vampires (bats!) 3 sturdy fellows, a ship wreck, food, clothing, shelter, tattoos, a skinhead (not of the kind I know) and lots of ocean and questions.  ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What happened to me?’ – not the least.  LEMONADE REVEALED was the tart and sweet of this kind of pursuit, and it was clever and creative and “bright”.

I stuck lots of little slips of colored paper into the book so I could go back and read some pages again and again.  There were well placed words which were like small beams of light.  I am sure I will read it several more times before I pass it on or recommend to a book group.  I would definitely want to lead a discussion on this book or give a lecture about philosophical stories in general.

“Paddle with all your heart, but it is the horizon which comes to you.”

The writing in LEMONADE REVEALED was kind of stream of consciousness with an ascribed time line and directional map. I do not think the author’s first language was American English, but am not certain about this; I do know that many folks do not like to read unusual  syntax.

I thought about Dave Eggers several times and also Paulo Coelho’s Warrior of the Light: A Manual.

Will Chluho on Facebook 

tlc logoI am once again indebted to TLC Online Book Tours for sharing a copy of this book for me to review. Please read with a twinkle in your eye and dance steps in your heart – LEMONADE REVEALED.

“LEMONADE REVEALED offers philosophical contemplation on a sunny island.” – Indie Reader

Another review source in neat linear composition

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Wild Heart Painting Workshop – Gifts of Change

Monday, December 10th, 2012
Intuitive painting fir cone

Intuitive painting fir cone

“Paint like you are in first grade and in silence.  Look at other’s work but do not talk or evaluate,”  were the last words of instruction spoken by Chris Zydel at our Workshop.   I took her at her word and felt the excitement as I filled my tray with paints and hung a clean sheet of paper onto the easel board.  I had chosen 3 brushes and found a smock.

I placed the widest brush into the paint well and touched the paper to begin.  A large drip of blue paint chose gravity as its guide.  Just like in first grade, I did not know how to control the paint or the brush.  Oh well, we were to be directed by our intuition and I decided to turn my paper 90’ and make that blue line into a swirl of waves on the beach.  I began painting the Pacific Ocean of our drive the 2,000 miles down the coast to this workshop adventure.  It was the story of our trip, just like in first grade.  The wind swept trees along the bluffs looked like a row of green hearts and that looked too contrived to me.  I needed to learn more about mixing the colors and how the brush would connect to the paper; I began hiking into the experience.

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So Do It.” ~Kurt Vonnegut Via Chris Zydel

The brush made a nice dob of paint and if I pulled it down slightly I could get a wonderful shape which made the rain clouds explode across the top of the paper.  The tiny brush connected the millions of Redwood needles that were beside the roadway and stuck to the bottoms of our shoes; still stuck in the floor mats of the car.   I found satisfaction in the dob-pull stroke of the brush and changed to mix a pleasing purple tone that captured the rain to ocean sky.  Chris came by to see how I was doing, and I said I was exploring the brush and color and finding a nice petal shape that was pleasing me, but I was done with this sheet of paper, I wanted to use this knowledge to start something new.

A pink petal shape emerged first but this was not the right color and I tried to make it more mauve.  No, what was touching me was the purple color in the petal shape.  It was lightening my spirit and I was as focused as in meditation, I reapplied the color and began again.   I still wanted for a wee bit of green; thus achieved.  I stood back and a fir tree cone was there before my eyes.   Royal.  Regal. And just what I wanted to say. Cones often are grown when the tree is dying or in distress; a signal of the creation of something new.    Then I thought that brush stroke would make a fuchsia bloom and that appeared next.  I could not figure out how to make the dancer’s skirt of the blossom, so I just kept painting fuchsias and cones.  I needed yellow to add the pollen at the end of the stamen so added that to my tray. The warmth of the yellow flooded over me and into me, and yet, the picture was not complete until I added the dots of Redwood needles.  I was happy and filled with joy.  I knew my painting was about the seeds of change – as graceful and elegant as petals.   Yes!  I was calm, unburdened, happy, and filled with joy.  It was enough.

“Every painting is a self-portrait” ~Chris Zydel

I am making so much change happen in my life; I can testify that doing something completely different to the usual can truly make the change happen.  It was immersion into the self.  A deep gift that I remember in the all of me.

What gift are you giving yourself this year?  Will you hear your soul? Your heart voice?  How will it touch you?

Fushia

Fushia

Chris Zydel’s Creative Juices Arts Studio is located in Oakland, California

Wild Heart Painting or Intuitive Painting Workshops are full of wonder and exploration and Chris shares lots of the work and words on Facebook.

The blog: http://creativejuicesarts.com/blog/  

If you would like to see my partner’s painting experiences you can find them on the Biking Architect.

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

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