Monthly Archives: March 2014

Pen-New England Award for Literary Excellence in Nonfiction goes to Douglas Bauer

What Happens Next

What is life about but the continuous posing of the questions: what happens next, and what do we make of it when it arrives? In these highly evocative personal essays, Douglas Bauer weaves together the stories of his own and his parents’ lives, the meals they ate, the work and rewards and regrets that defined them, and the inevitable betrayal by their bodies as they aged.

His collection features at its center a long and memory-rich piece seasoned with sensory descriptions of the midday dinners his mother cooked for her farmer husband and father-in-law every noon for many years. It’s this memoir in miniature that sets the table for the other stories that surround it—of love and bitterness, of hungers served and denied. Good food and marvelous meals would take on other revelatory meanings for Bauer as a young man, when he met, became lifelong friends with, and was tutored in the pleasures of an appetite for life by M. F. K. Fisher, the century’s finest writer in English on “the art of eating,” to borrow one of her titles.

The unavoidable companion of the sensual joys of food and friendship is the fragility and ultimately the mortality of the body. As a teenager, Bauer courted sports injuries to impress others, sometimes with his toughness and other times with his vulnerability. And as happens to all of us, eventually his body began to show the common signs of wear—cataracts, an irregular heartbeat, an arthritic knee. That these events might mark the arc of his life became clear when his mother, a few months shy of eighty-seven, slipped on some ice and injured herself.

In these clear-eyed, wry and graceful essays, Douglas Bauer presents with candor and humor the dual calendars of his own mortality and that of his aging parents, evoking the regrets and affirmations inherent in being human.

You can read about the award HERE and pick up your copy HERE.

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If you like “True Detective” you’ll love Toyland

AVAILABLE NOW

exclusively on Kindle

toyland05

Mark Smith’s brilliant first novel is an exciting tour de force which explores startling new dimensions of innocence and dread, destruction and redemption, guilt and responsibility through the lives of its two protagonists, Pehr and Jensen. They are middle-aged, intelligent, alienated from the flesh-and-blood world that has broken them. Their profession is killing for hire. Jensen, a soulless and crafty assassin, amuses himself by the intermittent mental torture of his partner Pehr, equally depraved but with power left to perceive his own depravity.

At the request of a rich and malevolent eccentric, the two men have undertaken the murder of two small children: the boy Poor and his sister Iselin. It is early spring; the children, already captives, are in the front seat of the car; their suitcases and stuffed animals are in the trunk; Pehr is driving and playing whimsical games with the children, while in the back seat, Jensen is deliberating the details of the children’s deaths.

As Pehr drives the car toward a tautly awaited climax deep in the Michigan woods, the satanic inner mechanisms of the murderers reveal themselves through Pehr’s dreams, déjà vues, frozen moment and flashbacks. Their perversity and evil and their struggle against it take many forms–ranging from outright terror to a bizarre humor verging on slapstick–which ultimately reflect a fatalistic but compassionate human condition that all of us share by the very fact of our existence.

With its evocative landscapes and atmospheric descriptions, its unique portrayal of the introspective criminal, and its subtle, probing language, TOYLAND alternates between the real and the phantasmagoric–between modern metaphysical thought and folk themes older than Grimm.

 

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