Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Last Call

By way of common experience, we don’t usually tend to stay motionless in a seat or else we may feel numb. Discomfort causes motion and only when we start shifting sides within the confines of a seat do we realize that arriving at a balance of ease is not a promised lot. Similar is the case of the protagonists of Blair Oliver’s book Last Call (World Audience Inc., New York, 2007) who are all men, mostly in their thirties, shifting ‘sides’ in the ‘seat of relationship’. The nine short stories included in Blair’s book picture a movement in the psychosocial co-ordinates of relationship, self-image, and responsibility.

Last Call intelligently portrays the disappointments and disillusionments that characterize the dynamics of social life and, particularly in Blair’s stories, family life. The book’s representative hero is a man with a troubled marriage, who must seek the least unacceptable way of losing himself to familial obligations, past grievances, and the fragility of circumstances. Movement is his necessity while caution serves as a learned signal of security against the odds of messing things up for himself but also for his ‘extended self’. The point of the matter is that you can’t be sure what the attempt of movement toward comfort will bring-a little ease or a debilitating fall.

The situations in Last Call pertain well to our modern urban culture where, as Michael Gilbert put it in his recent book The Disposable Male, man is increasingly being cornered as something good for a short-term use. There were times when women would give their soul to save their marriages but things have moved on since then. It is men’s turn now to resume the balance of family life by giving part of their authority and thus-paradoxically-gain control of their lives. Fatherhood and spousehood need to be reconsidered in a new social context. This is a challenge one can hardly obviate and the first thought of it may be the last call that can save our men from ultimate disposability.

Blair Oliver’s stories are fresh, concentrated in mood and feel, subtly revealing, and genuinely correcting. There is humor at places where the situations spontaneously call for it. Last Call is a book for all lovers of literary fiction, a must read for all men, and only the first in a potentially long list of quality fiction from this talented American teacher and writer.

ISBN: 978-1934209745




Introductory Video


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Let Us Share

Reading Lou Dunn Diekemper’s latest book Let Us Share: A Conversation on Growing Older (Synergy Books, Texas, 2007) rolls your fear of aging one-eighty degrees to bring the bright side of aging to the attention of your thought. And thinking is what her viewpoint underscores: ‘introspection can increase our victories.’ Admit it or not, we are in constant fear of aging and death, suppressed consciously or unconsciously to some dark corner of our mind whence it pokes at our ease off and on. But Let Us Share is a book, by a 78 year old lady, that shows us how we can easily transform our fear of old age into enjoyment and peace.

Diekemper’s book is very different from the many self-help books where an author assumes authority over a particular sphere of life and starts casting pearls of wisdom. Let Us Share is what its name reveals: sharing with a senior friend whose number of years of life has not marred her love and enjoyment of it. By simply thinking over our life’s experiences in a new optimistic light, we can take pride and happiness in each day added to our age. In 180 pages of Let Us Share, Lou Dunn Diekemper shows us the beauty of aging and you realize, for the first time perhaps, how evanescent and unnecessary was our fear of getting older.

ISBN: 1-933538-76-7



Friday, February 15, 2008

Good-bye, Baby Max

Many children books are printed each month to amuse kids of varying ages. This colorful, hardcover children’s title Good-bye, Baby Max (Bridgeway Books, Texas, 2007) by Diane Cantrell & Heather Castles is special in its purpose of teaching an invaluable lesson: that of properly saying the final farewell to a loved one who is no more. The book tells the story of the unfortunate baby chick Max who doesn’t make it into life while his twins Dora and Spiderman appear healthy out of their shells. The kids, eagerly awaiting the birth of the chicks, are heartbroken over the death of Baby Max and so their teacher uses her wisdom and care to lead them toward the appropriate way of showing their love and expressing their grief.

The importance of involving children in mourning is increasingly being acknowledged by developmental psychologists since children do sense the loss no matter how much they are coaxed into believing that ‘everything is ok.’ By being left out with the ‘mystery’, their wee minds are inclined to conclude that something terribly wrong has happened; something that is not worth speaking. This sows the seeds of fear and detachment in their mental development. Being a Licensed Professional Counselor and former KG teacher, Diane Cantrell has created a very purposeful book for children-one that is at once a story, a poem, and a healthy course of helping children get over grief. The book’s illustrations by Heather Castles are very appealing to a child’s imagination. There is a good deal here in Good-bye, Baby Max to learn for children ages 4 to 8 years and the 32-pages book is a must read for all kids of this age category.

ISBN-10: 1933538953
ISBN-13: 978-1933538952

Book Details and Availability

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Literal Translations: Issue 8

Litmocracy’s quarterly literary supplement Literal Translations’ 8th issue is out with the 13 finest entries to the site printed in a mini paperback form. Including mostly short stories and poems, Literal Translations gives voice to the ‘personal’ in the world of amateur literary expression. From the provocative to inspirational and nostalgic to inquisitive, these literary tidbits make a great reading for a couple of hours.

This latest issue of Literal Translations includes vibrant shorts like Maureen Wilkinson’s Recreational Sex, Brian Brown’s Dinner Alone, Dave Scotese’s Befriending Dead Uncle Joe, Les Dalgliesh’s The Farmer Cut the Rye, Robin Reed’s The Ultimate Cell Phone, and more. Each page is a unique experience with thoughtfully created characters and questions that tend to stay with the reader after he/she is through the edition’s 50 pages. Brief bios of the author are included at the issue’s end.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Disposable Male

Compared with medieval, Victorian, and early-20th-century times, women today enjoy an awesome degree of freedom with work, relationship, and individual life choices. Or is it an awful and undue burdening of the female members of society at the expense of men? In the context of evolutionary biology, Michael Gilbert, of the University of Southern California, presents some seriously challenging questions to modern men and women of urban societies. In his book The Disposable Male: Sex, Love, and Money (The Hunter Press, Atlanta, 2006), he defies the prevailing hard-shelled feminist attitudes that are confusing gender roles and subjecting both sexes, especially the male, to a dysfunctional status in both individual and social lives.

Michael Gilbert is concerned with the imbalance of gender-based responsibilities for which both sexes are biologically and socially yet unprepared: women suffering from multiple duties at work and family while most men having little to do while biologically though equipped for doing a lot. Adding to this is the Second Wave’s feminist aggression that has supported an invasion of the formerly male spheres of activity by women while providing no alternative to positively channelize the masculine energy. Hence the disposable male!

Mr. Gilbert’s writing style is hip and absorbing; making an enjoyable story of the early beginnings of life on our planet and its evolution to the modern human form. At times, while touching on feminist attitudes, the author’s tone does assume a slightly bitter feel. The book also challenges the rooted beliefs of a divine origin of life and the various conventions that attribute existence to supernatural forces. To the author, life and humanity are natural, not divine, and in their naturalness lies their great appeal to respect and conservation.

After a thorough discussion of the gender-based problem, very little of which is uninteresting, the book lists some remedial measures for a more peaceable and stable social life in modern urban settings. This calls for a greater understanding between both sexes, a careful consideration of the existing needs and sources of living, and mutual cooperation of both genders for meeting the inescapable demands of their evolutionary heritage.

The Disposable Male is targeted at any educated reader who likes to appreciate the flip side of gender issues and for all those who are interested in human sociobiology, current events, and relationships at large.

ISBN-10: 0977655237
ISBN-13: 978-0977655236



Book Details and Discussion