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Running Smack into General Sherman: Stories from North Carolina to London (And Back Again) by Jeffrey T. Kiser-Paradi

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
$11.99, paperback; $2.97, e-book
ISBN: 978-1539450771
November, 2016
Fiction: Short Stories
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

In Jeffrey T. Kiser-Paradi's distinctive collection of short stories, we find ourselves on a bit of a disjointed and oftentimes comic journey. Part fiction, part autobiography and family history, we are offered a glimpse into an odd, incongruous world where the past of the American South, rife with “the War” and fragrant great-aunts, comes crashing into the concrete and glass and “Mind the Closing Doors” existence of modern life.

This is a place where individuals attempt to shake off their past, moving house and changing continents along the way, all the while awakening to the reality that long ago accidents of human folly, such as war and death, can still hold sway in the present. The events of 1863 can indeed diagram the outcomes of 1903, 1937, and 2004.

It is a world where the material objects that comprise our everyday life are empowered with the ability to move and shake our destiny. A bed, a piano, a Christmas ornament, and an antique cupboard can not only remind us of just where it is we stand in the order of the universe, but can deliver a well-placed smack on the head as well.

The stories range in date and setting from early twentieth-century Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, to late twentieth-century New York City, to modern day London, with subjects touching on the awakening of childhood consciousness, racism, suicide, midlife ennui, mourning and guilt, class and snobbery, and the capability of the past to colour, affect, and even determine one’s present.

For example, "August 1903" explores the imagined internal breakdown of the author's great-grandfather before his sudden death in 1903. "The Healer" moves ahead thirty years to observe one of the effects of that death on the author's grandfather, who is considered to possess special healing powers on account of his never having seen his own father. "The Photograph," taking place in the late 1990s, finds the author's grandmother still reacting to this loss, by her inexplicable editing of an old family photograph. The final story, “Running Smack into General Sherman,” is an account of a North Carolinian living in London, who is confronted, tangibly, with his family’s past in the form of a treasured heirloom getting stuck in a Council block stairwell.

Jeffrey T Kiser-Paradi was born in Charlotte, where he was fortunate to come of age among the fallow cotton fields and falling-down barns of his grandparents’ farm in rural Mecklenburg County. His fascination with history, antiques, genealogy, and the past in general, showed up early and inexplicably in his life, with his parents being rather stumped as to where the interest came from. He lived in Greensboro and New York City before moving to London in 1998, where he makes his home with Tibor, his husband of nine years.

He still longs for livermush.

 

Tuning by Kathryn Beam Troxler

Bookbaby
$12.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-48358-101-9
October, 2016
Poetry
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"More than a poetry collection, Kathryn Beam Troxler’s Tuning offers us a book-length meditation on what it means to be human in poems that are sensitive, nuanced, and unpretentious in their learning. Ranging easily from consideration of ancient Chinese sages, Renaissance masters, or distant foreign lands to the humblest and nearest-home of everyday activities—tending the garden, visiting a friend in a nursing home, pinching clay into shape—Troxler’s poetry ably engages intellect and sensibility in affecting language that will resonate with all her readers."
—Mark Smith-Soto, Associate Editor, International Poetry Review and Professor Emeritus, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

"Tuning is a title most apt for Kathryn Beam Troxler's collection of contemplative poems. As we readers tune in to the lines, we tune out the distractions that assault us. . .Sometimes in these stanzas there is 'perfect attunement' that allows harmonic tones to be heard, even as, like the sounds of Tibetan bells, they shimmer into silence. 'Be still/focus/wait/Be,' the poet advises. It is as if her poems listened and took her advice. . .The last lines of the volume may be the best last lines of any poetry book I can recall."
—Fred Chappell, NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and former NC poet laureate

"Kathryn Troxler's poems move easily through a wide variety of scenes and situations.  Her gentle wit often brings amusement to serious subjects and can give a metaphysical twist to situations that would have gone unnoticed by less penetrating eyes. . . I've been reading her poetry for several years and always find her lyric voice distinctive."
—James B. Gutsell, Professor Emeritus of English Literature, Guilford College

Tuning is a contemplative collection of poetry which reflects the author's love of Nature, the beauty and music of language, the resonance of one art form with another, the leit motifs within her own life and community. Her wide-ranging themes deal with what sustains and restores us as we live and age today. She explores relationships, community, spirituality, sickness and health, the interface between art and experience, the factors that challenge and illumine our lives as manifested in her own life.

Kathryn Beam Troxler is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Clinical hypnotherapist residing in Greensboro. A poet, singer, and painter, she has shown and performed in those three genres in Greensboro and in the San Francisco Bay Area where she grew up. Her poetry has been published in several books and magazines, including A Turn in Time, Piedmont Writers at the Millenium, and Lines from a Near Country, a collection of poems by the New Garden Poetry Group, which she co-edited.

 
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