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“Kerry Madden-Lunsford’s fresh, often hilarious, novel presents a bittersweet and unforgettable view of adolescence. The heroine is young Liz Donegal, the oldest daughter in an Irish Catholic family, who must endure the injustices of growing up misunderstood. When she’s not busy transforming herself into Helen Keller or Anne Frank, Liz is falling in love, making new friends, and learning that life has some painful lessons.” —Mademoiselle
“[Toyland is] a brilliantly-told brutal fairy tale. Sure to evoke varied responses among readers, the story effectively explores evil and the condition of man, through horrible fantasies and explorations of characters lead to an intensely-awaited climax.” —Boston Globe
“[Chehak's] ambitiously imaginative novel questions the very nature of reality… [a] diverting exploration of metaphysical concepts. Winsome and smartly playful.” —Kirkus Reviews
The Mantz Trilogy, particularly The Road Returns, documents a time of great change in America. During this period, young people began to move away from farming as a life choice. The once rare automobile could be found—in almost every barn. The boom and bust of the economy as a result of the war and advances in automation forever changed our way of life.
Yet, when we read the story of the Mantz family of almost a century ago, we can find many things to identify with—the nasty and manipulative neighbor who has his own sorrows, the joys and heartaches of raising children, the economic and political factors whose impact on our lives seem out of our control, right down to the drunk driving accident, unplanned pregnancy, and even suicide.
We hope you enjoy this second volume of Paul Corey’s The Mantz Trilogy for what it is: a story primarily of the trials and tribulations that come of the interaction and interconnection of a few families at a pivotal time in our collective history.
Author Paul Corey was born and raised on a 160 acre farm in western Iowa. He was the youngest of seven children. His father died when Paul was not yet two years old, leaving older brothers and sisters to carry on with the farm work until the place was sold in 1917, at which point the Corey’s moved to Atlantic. This family history would become the autobiographical basis for the Mantz trilogy, the chronicle of one family and their neighbors on a journey through the nation’s tumultuous agricultural history.
A startling tale of illicit passion, transgression, and retribution, set in the very heart of middle America. “A deeply chilling, disturbing, beautifully written novel. Shocking, stunningly written… Faulkner himself would have admired and respected [DANCING ON GLASS]… Its events should linger in the reader’s mind long after it has been read.” –Los Angeles Daily News
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.
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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.
Susan Taylor Chehak writes:
I celebrated a birthday on February 16th.
If you already know me, then you already know:
I live an insanely blessed life, filled with dear friends and beloved family, dogs and cats, a highly stimulating career, absorbing hobbies, travel,beauty, warmth, good health and (at least many moments of) inner peace.
I want you to also know: I’m deeply grateful for every little bit of it.
Around this time of year fifteen years ago, I’d published five novels and I was ready to write a new one. As is my habit, I went searching for a story to get me started. What I found was an unsolved murder, the death of a lovely girl, who I’d known only vaguely when I was in high school.
1970. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I remembered the story, but I wanted to know more.
So I wrote a letter and made an appointment and talked a judge into signing an order, effecting the release to me of a photocopy of the entire police file on the case. I remember thinking when I opened it and began to read: I have found my life’s work.
And so it has become.
At the time of her death in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, during the summer of 1970, eighteen-year-old Paula Oberbroeckling was a beautiful leggy blonde who dreamed of becoming a model. She disappeared in the early morning hours of July 11th, after she’d borrowed her roommate’s car to go off on an unspecified errand. She was barefoot and dressed in a light blue nightgown with matching panties. The next morning, the roommate’s car was found parked in a red zone near a grocery store, and Paula was gone. Four months later, two young brothers who were on a hike along the railroad tracks down by the Cedar River came upon some human remains and homicide detectives were called in. While rumors flew, the ensuing police investigation brought no conclusive answer to what had happened to Paula.
Although theories have been put forth, still all these many years later, the case remains unsolved.
In 2008, I brought a crew to Cedar Rapids with a plan to make a documentary film about Paula and my ongoing independent murder investigation. In the process I conducted interviews with Paula’s family and friends, as well as two homicide detectives who were on the case in 1970, the doctor who was coroner at that time, and others who had been mentioned in the file.
In 2010, I conducted further interviews with several more people who were involved, including the roommate and the man who was believed to have dumped Paula’s body in the woods.
In 2012, in an effort to raise the stakes by crowdsourcing further investigation, I published a website and posted there the entire police file, obituary, FBI reports and other documents, as well as news articles, photographs, and my own transcribed interviews, inviting readers to comment and consult. I also built a Facebook page, where we’ve posted updates and tributes and ongoing group conversations as well.
Next Monday, February 25th, would have been Paula’s 62nd birthday, and now, on that day, in honor and memory of her, Foreverland Press will publish an e-book revealing what has come of my 15 years of research into the circumstances of her untimely death.
What Happened to Paula: The Anatomy of a True Crime doesn’t mark the end of my investigation. It doesn’t offer a solution to the case. It’s neither a conventional novelization nor a nonfiction narrative rendering of what went down. Rather, it’s a compilation of raw data, presented in such a way that it tells Paula Oberbroeckling’s story, reveals the socio-political realities of that time and place, and invites you, the reader, to follow the threads, make the connections, imagine the scenarios, come to your own conclusions, and in so doing, join me and other readers in this murder investigation.
The e-book will be available in the Amazon Kindle store on February 25th, and it will be continually updated as additional data is added and new information comes to light. (Readers will be able to sign up for alerts to these updates as they’re made.)
All proceeds will go toward funding what promises to become a powerful collaborative effort to discover and reveal, at last, what happened to Paula.
Together we’ll come to the truth. Solve the crime. Close the case.
Let the girl rest in peace
A NEW NOVEL BY
“This character Martha is so genuine. Every thought and every spoken word rings true.” —Shelley Ettinger, whose work has been published in Newtown Literary, Mississippi Review, Blithe House Quarterly, Lodestar Quarterly Snow Monkey and many other places.
“Love Palace made me realize that a good novel opens like life—with innumerable paths spread out before you….and the reader is eager to follow Martha’s.” —Rebecca Kavaler, award winning author of the Further Adventures of Brunhild, Tigers in the Wood, and Next of Kin.
The narrator of Meredith Sue Willis’s engaging new novel has just turned forty, quit her job, been jilted by her live-in boyfriend and suspended by her therapist for nonpayment. Martha plunges into a personal meltdown the way some people plunge into a bag of doughnuts. Against her better judgment, she takes a job at a settlement house known as “Love Palace” in a run-down community that is about to be razed for urban renewal.
There Martha discovers that she has a talent for managing the dysfunctional institution and its staff of young runaways. She is attracted by the charismatic reverend who oversees Love Palace as well as by Robby, one of the staff members, who is rich, handsome, recently released from a hospital after a suicide attempt, and intensely ambivalent about his sexuality.
Along with the Love Palace crew of runaways, derelicts, struggling blue collar workers, a former Black Panther, and many others, Martha has to deal with her ex-hillbilly mother, who favors shoulder pads and big hair; her sister the big-shot lawyer; and her dying Jewish grandmother.
At first Martha views Love Palace as a kind of theater arranged for her personal amusement, but she finds herself increasingly concerned about the people and the neighborhood. Then she discovers that someone is stealing money, and that there are perhaps other betrayals underway as well.
There is a wedding in the middle and a funeral at the end.