The Long Ride Home

Maybe it is because I’m a high school teacher and spend my days surrounded by actual young adults that my standards for YA literature are so high. My favorite books for readers in their teens are full of characters facing real life problems with no clear solutions. The dialogue needs to sound like something an actual kid would say, or else I’m gone. No messages, please. No lessons to learn that could also be imparted in a thirty minute sitcom. No morals to the story allowed. Ever. If I’m going to recommend a book to anyone to read it has…

The Ghost Daughter 

My housemate from college, Laura Alvarez, is an important artist and she and her husband will always be in the acknowledgements of every book I ever write because their approach to life and art is an astonishment that never ceases to inspire me. I swear sometimes I don’t know if I’d even be a writer today if it weren’t for their encouragement. Well, Laura loved my novel The Ghost Daughter, and really got what I was trying to do there which is an amazing feeling that truly hardly ever happens. She wrote about it on her amazing fashion, art, and inspiration…

5 Brief Book Reviews

The Infinite Tides by Christian Kiefer The Infinite Tides is a story about a grieving astronaut that is relentless in its integrity. I always appreciate the rare author who can plumb great emotional depths without a hint of sentimentality or a single false note. I read this novel as instructive in craft, as well as a meditative study of grief and mid-life spiritual growth. Indeed, there is a complex spiritual truth woven throughout this narrative about nothing less than what human beings are essentially for. The Infinite Tides is impeccably and beautifully written. This is painfully honest work about grief, manhood, relationship,…

Refund by Karen E. Bender: A Book Review

I just finished reading Refund, a collection of short stories written by author Karen E. Bender and published by Counterpoint Press. All of the stories center around the question of money in a post 9/11 economy for characters who are used to being able to make a living. With an eye that is beyond observant and almost prescient, Ms. Bender reveals exactly what is at stake when people’s livelihoods are threatened. Her characters scramble for dignity, survival, and a sense of selfhood while the systems that are supposed to sustain them crumble away. For me, reading this collection of stories was an…