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THE SKIN ABOVE MY KNEE: A Memoir ~Marcia Butler

Monday, January 1st, 2018

THE SKIN ABOVE MY KNEE is a very satisfying read, full of poetic, musical language, inspiration, abandonment, abuse, lyrical recovery and phrasing.  It is an autobiography and an etude of how to use music to balance and center the self while finding home.  “Music aficionados will find an extraordinarily kindred spirit here, and lovers of memoir will find this a sensationally satisfying one.” (-Booklist)

Marcia Butler is a professional oboist who does freelance work primarily in New York.  Her story is about a child who falls in love with Wagner Opera at age 4 and demonstrates unusual talent to her teachers at school.  These teachers encourage her talent and find lessons for her to advance.  Butler drives her self to be the best she can be and falls into the music and the praise.  She resides in a love-starved environment and has to lap dance for her father to avoid the beatings he administers to her sister.  Music is the escape and she practices 3 hours a day.

Her parents drive her sister out of the house.  Butler uses music scholarships and part time jobs to leave home and begin her career.  Her playing is exceptional and awarded.  Her love relationships are monstrous and difficult.  Her parents only hear her play 2 times in her career.  She is always searching for love and support.  The reader wants to hear her play and wants to hold her up and let her lean their way, holding on to her words and hoping to protect.   One gets lost in the music that we are not actuality hearing but rather are reading from the page.  Gorgeous and courageous, sparse and passionate the reader journeys into the self-destructive youth and it’s darkness only to emerge with a full life of sound and beauty.

The chapter of how the author makes her reeds is just amazing.  How to get the wood cuts perfect to produce the perfect outcome and resonance.  Bravo!

“In her debut memoir, THE SKIN ABOVE MY KNEE, Marcia Butler shows us how music – listening to it, playing it, losing it, and rediscovering it – can save us.  With bravery and honesty, she unflinchingly tells her story.”  (-Ann Hood, author of THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST)

Marcia Butler was a professional oboist for twenty-five years, until her retirement from music in 2008.  During her musical career, she performed as a principal oboist and soloist on the most renowned of New York and international stages, with many high-profile musicians and orchestras – including pianist Andre’ Watts, composer and pianist Keith Jarrett, and soprano Dawn Upshaw. (cover)

marciabutlerauthor.com
Twitter @MarciaAButler
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I loved reading this book it is a favorite in 2017 for me and the Washington Post!

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FOLLOW THE RIVER HOME: A Novel ~Corran Harrington

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

“Daniel Arroyo has suffered a lifetime of guilt over the sudden death of his infant sister, who died when he was eight years old.  He now lives his middle years between that guilt and worsening episodes of PTSD from a Vietnam he left thirty years ago.  When a violent encounter on a dusty highway forces Daniel to face what haunts him, he finds himself pulled back to the neighborhood of his youth. Where old houses hold tired secrets.  What really happened on that steamy August afternoon?  The answer comes spilling from the old neighborhood, and Daniel begins to find his way home.  Corran Harrington takes the reader along the Rio Grande, from its headwaters to the sea.” (Cover)

Each chapter of this book flowed a segment of Daniel’s life and each was a collection of tight, incredible, descriptive words, which just held the readers attention.  One knew the wild asparagus and the movement of water in the irrigation ditch.  This was the place where Daniel value programmed, of his best friend, of his siblings and parents.  There are roots here – deep roots.  Wild roses tapped the window and the basketball bounced on the court, it was supposed to be safe.  I think on purpose the next chapter did not flow from the last, rather it was a jump into another memory and experience and at first I found this disconcerting until I began to expect it.  I think this was to show the confusion in Daniel’s mind and it succeeded.  The psychological dimensions of the story were revealed and explained out of sequence and made the reader work a bit to integrate the life being told.

By coming back home, drawn in by the wonderful next-door neighbor, Daniel is able to find himself and his own truth and it will free his life and propel him forward.

FOLLOW THE RIVER HOME is quite the read and I think I will keep my advanced reading copy on my shelf for a future read.  At this time in my life the “death” theme was a bit tough to take and I felt sadness as I read – a loneliness that made finishing the story a release.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review.  If you go to the link you can see all the other reader’s reviews of this book.

From the Cover:

“Corran Harrington is a Pushcart Prize nominee, a Santa Fe Writing Project finalist, a Hidden River Arts Eludia Award finalist, a Bosque Fiction contest finalist, and a New Millennium Writings award semi-finalist who short fiction (written also as Connie Harrington) has appeared in number literary journals.  A former lawyer, Harrington also has a background in cultural and linguistic anthropology.  She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

NOTE: This review is several days late, I am so sorry I had a sudden illness and could not get to my computer to get the post into the schedule.  I hope this will prove to be a fine posting and not cause problems for TLC or the author.

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WE’RE ALL DAMAGED: A Novel ~Matthew Norman

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Have you ever hoped that someone who hurt you would find a bit of punishment? Maybe not really full on retribution or revenge, but a bit of pain or struggle – just enough?  WE’RE ALL DAMAGED is about recovery from a big hurt except the struggle keeps arriving at the door step of the victim and in quite funny ways.

Andy has escaped from his hurt self /life in Omaha, Nebraska to land in NYC and become a bartender.  Karen, his now ex-wife just announced at Applebee’s one night that she was done with the marriage and Andy.  Our hero is very sensitive and is left in pain, needs release from his job and to find new turf in hopes of recovery.  A year into his new surroundings he is still obsessed by his ex when he gets the call that his Grandfather is dying in Omaha and he needs to come “home.”  On the way to his apartment, Andy is hit by a bicyclist and suffers a bruised face and black eye; he will decide to head to Omaha anyway since his mother has purchased a ticket.

WE’RE All DAMAGED continues with proving this title to be true as Andy reconnects with his family, his former in-laws and is able visit his Grandfather in hospice.  Mom is a conservative radio talk show host who is opposed to Marriage Equality.  Dad is a retired accountant; brother Jim is a workaholic with two young children. The parents have moved to a new mansion of a house where Dad tries to shoot the squirrels in his bird feeders with a paint ball gun and Mom is working to get a contract with Fox News.  An interesting young woman and a senior in a blue bathrobe with matching slippers enhance the story and give it some bazaar twists and turns.

I had several laugh out loud moments reading this story and was so happy TLC Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com/2016/02/matthew-norman-author-of-were-all-damaged-on-tour-june-2016/ sent me a copy for review.  It was satisfying, humorous, and very entertaining.

From the Cover:

“Matthew Norman lives in Baltimore with his wife and their two daughters.  His writing has appeared on SALON, the GOOD MEN PROJECT, and the WEEKLINGS.  His first novel, DOMESTIC VIOLETS, was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in Best Humor.”

Matthew Norman BLOG
Matthew Norman TWITTER: @TheNormanNation

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DERANGED: 3 Stories ~Nora L. Jamieson

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The reader is privileged to enter the thinking world of 3 women all of the same location but in different stages of their lives.  The stories are separate and yet inter lap, as stories are want to do.  Each woman is of a different age and journey point but there is a common theme and they dovetail into the body message of DERANGED of how to be a woman and how to survive acknowledging the route and the ancestors.

Editorial Reviews From the Back Cover:

“In this terrible, gleaming, penetrating work, we learn what it is to be animal again, and so to be fully human. Nora Jamieson’s true and remarkable voice is so old and so aligned with the old, old ways, it is startlingly new. This is a Literature of Restoration. This is the way of sacred language. This is prayer manifesting in blood, bone, terror, and beauty. This is the language of Creation. These words recreate the holy world and offer it from a fierce heart. Who would have dared to imagine that The Cailleach might be among us again” Deena Metzger, author, Ruin and Beauty and La Negra y Blanca: Fugue and Commentary

“Like myths, Nora Jamieson’s wild, beautiful, and holy stories resonate with truths from a time when nature and all living things were inseparable. Feeling ‘deranged’ in the modern world, her characters struggle against the forces that separate humans from each other, from the other animals, from the natural world, from the sacred. While the narrative voices bristle with unflinching honesty, they offer solace with the possibility of redemption.”  Anne Batterson, author, The Black Swan “
“The Inuit say that every story has a yua, a spirit, its person.  Through the stories of Anna, Sophie and Louise, Deranged honors the Spirit of grief, redemption, restoration, and the invisible realm”    (all from Amazon’s page)

The writing of these stories is poetic and lush, drawing the reader into the presence of the story and the thoughts and ideas expressed by each mind provoked by their circumstance.  We follow coyote, woods, rivers and footfalls of those who walk the earth seeing and hearing.  There is a silence in the women’s lives and we are privy to their interpretations of all that is part of their world.  We stand on the rock and catch fish; we leave the body when the pain is too great.

Anna’s story is called: Reckoning
Sophie’s story is called: The Looking Back Woman of Scantic Gap
Louise’s story is called: The Taxidermists’ Daughter

Fathers are extremely important within these three stories and they shape and change the women until the child stands on its own; guided but not controlled and they each see clearly the man.

I started reading these stories at my usual pace, thinking I could do one a day and write this review.  They were each about 50 pages long and yet I found myself right away longing to read them again and again – so I did.   I read each story 3 times before I moved to the next.  The stories were calming and I got cold when it snowed, which very much surprised me.  I loved the words and the flow of the writing and enjoyed reading all the acknowledgements from the author at the end of the read.  I sighed and let go with each turn of the page and I am going to purchase a number of copies of this book to say thank you to the wonderful women who have cared for me post surgery and into recovery.  It is the best “thing” I can imagine to share.

Mr. Gabriel Constans of Constans & Blumeneau sent me a PDF copy for review and I am so happy that he did.  He has sent along several other books for me to review, all with special voices.   It is a 5 star + Dr. Constans   Thank you for thinking of me.

About the Author:

“Nora L. Jamieson lives in northwestern Connecticut where she writes, counsels women, and unsuccessfully tracks coyote. She lives with her spouse, Allan G. Johnson, their soulful dog, Roxie, and the sorrowful and joyful memory of four beloved goats and three dogs.”Visit her website at www.norajamieson.com.” (from the book cover)

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