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The Passage: A Novel ~Michael Hurley

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Give a middle aged American Irishman a bar fight, put him on his sailboat headed to Ireland to find the true taste of Guinness and an amazing story emerges from Hurley’s imagination.   I could not put this book down, I was possessed by the story and the frame and range of the surface right to the depth the heart can reach.

I am so very happy Mr. Hurley asked me if I wanted to read it and that he sent me a PDF copy.  WOW.  Lucky ME!

I even read THE PASSAGE on two 4-hour car rides.  I could totally identify with the main character’s life – “Fitz” was just right and complete and steadfast and I just wanted to know how he was fairing on his path to salvation, redemption and his progress to shore up his self-worth.  The tragedies and mistakes were sublime and the droplets of humor and descriptions just tickled and delighted my imagination – holding my attention steadfastly.

Several years ago I reviewed another of Hurley’s books – THE VINEYARD.  The story was interesting and well written, but I could not identify with any of the 3 women characters.  None of them became real.  The book went on to win awards and I just thought “Oh well, we all have different tastes in reading.”

The twists and turns in the writing of this novel, were remarkably paced and just slid into this readers psyche with sometimes a sigh, a laugh or a didn’t see that coming.  It is so like life – no matter the taste of Guinness – no matter where.

“Do you believe in everlasting Love?”

My favorite quote came at PDF page 146: “Genre fiction uses plot to tell you a story about someone else’s life.  Classic fiction uses characterizations to tell you a story about yourself.”

What is holding onto you?  What is making you define yourself incorrectly?  How do you care and like yourself?  What pieces/peaces are you missing in your own journey?  What are the meanings you hold dear? And are those things, which you value – programed at age 10 true or false?

Life is definitely a journey and a process and so many of us have a middle-aged change of heart and endeavor.  It would be hard not to relate to this character and his story.  Irish magic just short of leprechauns and fairies adds just the right leverage to this tale.  I am passing this on to several friends for sure.

A remarkable read and I would give it a “10” and hope that it might reach the award phase and become a best seller.

About the Author (from book cover)

“Michael Hurley is the author of three novels and several works of nonfiction.  His debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, won the Chanticleer Reviews Grand Prize for Book of the Year in 2013.  This second novel, THE VINEYARD, won the 2015 Eric Hoffer Award for General Fiction.  A memoir, ONCE UPON A GYPSY MOM, was published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.  His essay collection, LETTERS FROM THE WOODS, was shortlisted for Book of the Year in 2005 by ForeWard Reviews.  Between 1995 and 2003, he published a quarterly literary journal on wilderness canoeing, now collected in single hardcover volume entitled HURLEY’S JOURNAL.  He wrote THE PASSAGE while living in England and Wales.  He keeps a journal and stays in touch with readers on his website, www.mchurley.com

Related:
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Becalmed
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

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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The Qualities of Wood
Outside In

Water and the Body: Sharing Some More Fun Facts

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

drinking_the_hard_wayI recently did a write up of a collection of fun facts that arrived in my email inbox during 2011.  Lots of folks came by to read, commented and shared how much they enjoyed the list.  I thought I would explore this kind of fun once again.

As lots of areas in the United States are suffering from drought in 2012, we should not include our bodies in this dehydration – so here goes with a collection of fun facts.

One of the first signs that the body is dehydrated is a headache.  Headaches are also a sign that you have consumed too much water.  A dry or parched mouth is a good sign for needing a drink; many people have trained themselves to ignore this indicator.

Most medications need a full glass of water (8 oz.) to accompany ingestion for them to work properly and not cause stomach lining irritation and damage (acetaminophen box under directions).

Coffee , Tea and Juices do not replace the need for water; they may increase the need.

Every Body has a minimum level of water need in order to flush toxins from the system; usual recommendation is 8 – 8 oz. glasses of water for adults and 6 – 8 oz. glasses of water for kids per day. Water composes 72% of the brain, 83% of blood, 22% of bones, and 75% of muscle. Water regulates the body’s temperature, removes waste, cushions joints and vital organs, converts food into energy, maintains oxygen for breathing, and carries nutrients to our cells.

When you get a “Charlie Horse” which wakes you up at night, it is your leg muscles seeking hydration so water at bedtime is helpful (also a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar can quickly relieve leg cramps).  For people who suffer GOUT water at bedtime is also pain relieving.

Drinking water at certain times of the day maximizes its effectiveness on the body:

  • 2 glasses of water after waking up – helps activate internal organs
  • 1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal helps digestion
  • 1 glass of water before taking a bath helps to lower blood pressure
  • 1 glass of water before going to bed avoids stroke or heart attack ~(from chart in my doctor’s office)

Rinsing the nose and sinuses with a Neti Pot and saline solution or saline rinse bottle can relieve an allergy attack without medication (Dr. OZ) Just plain water can do the job too. We do this at our house – truly cuts down on the nose blowing and snoring.

Can you ever get too much water in your system?

A young woman died recently after a water drinking contest, to know more here is an article by Dr. Ben Kim.

  1. Ingesting more water than you need can increase your total blood volume. And since your blood volume exists within a closed system (your circulatory system), needlessly increasing your blood volume on a regular basis puts unnecessary burden on your heart and blood vessels.
  2. Your kidneys must work overtime to filter excess water out of your circulatory system. Your kidneys are not the equivalent of a pair of plumbing pipes whereby the more water you flush through your kidneys, the cleaner they become; rather, the filtration system that exists in your kidneys is composed in part by a series of specialized capillary beds called glomeruli. Your glomeruli can get damaged by unnecessary wear and tear over time, and drowning your system with large amounts of water is one of many potential causes of said damage.

Why do so many of us get up all night to urinate?

Cardiologist = Gravity holds water in the lower part of your body when you are upright (the legs swell).  When you lie down, the lower body seeks level with the kidneys and it is then that the kidneys remove the water because it is easier.

How many plastic water bottles are thrown away each day?

60 million per day in the United States and about 22 billion each year (read more).

Do you like collecting fun facts and sharing them with others?  Do you have good habits when it comes to water drinking?

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