“In August 1973, three weeks past my seventeenth birthday, I packed my clothes in three hand-me-down Samsonite suitcases and left the only place I had ever called home.”
Anita Hill looks at the meaning of home in this series of stories that trace a journey from her family’s move to the “promised land” of Oklahoma to today’s sub-prime mortgage crisis. In Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race and Finding Home, Hill demonstrates how this search for a better place—a place to call home—has been stymied for far too long for many of our citizens by “institutional incentives that encourage separation.”
The search for home, of course, goes beyond the four walls—to the neighborhood, the community, and even the nation where we feel we belong. Our search begins with ourselves and our own family history:
When I began to explore my family history, I was in search of the perfect past. What I found were surprises and a messy, complicated reality that forced me to abandon the myths that filled my head about family, progress, and success.”
Hill discovers that the system established following slavery, to correct slavery’s depravities, had failed her ancestors. And yet, Hill’s ancestors “dared to imagine” a better place for themselves and their children.
This need for home runs deep in the American soul. From the first Euro-American settlers, to Abigail Adam’s arguments for women’s legal protections in their own homes, to commerce secretary Herbert Hoover’s Own Your Own Home campaign, to the twentieth century migration of blacks to the North, to George W. Bush’s Ownership Society, it is a need that has framed our national conversation.
Hill’s stories synthesize this history and conversation with personal reflections from herself and others, race and gender issues, government policies, and our enduring dreams for a better life.
After establishing the links among home, belonging, achievement and success, Hill calls for a new vision amidst the current housing crisis that has brought a great nation to its knees. This vision can take inspiration from the social networking communities that are being embraced, especially by younger citizens, as well as the story of President Obama, who’s “fervent search for home brought him to the presidency…”
The vision? “…not of movement, but one of place; not one of tolerance, but one of belonging; not just of rights, but also of community—a community of equals” Such a vision, Hill argues, could make an inclusive American Democracy where all of us feel at home.
This is a beautifully written, hopeful book.
I always say I don’t like short stories, but maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, Wetzel’s stories took my breath away. Marlene Reed Wetzel was the winner of the PEN/Amazon.com Short Story Award for ‘A Map of Tripoli, 1967′. Fortunately this story is included in the anthology I’m reviewing, Strangers & Exiles. You can find quite a bit about her award winning story but very little else out on the Internet. It looks like the big bookstores don’t carry this book but you should be able to find it in a local book store or from the publisher.
Back to what I was going to say about the book. Strangers & Exiles tells the story of women inhabiting a world where they survive as strangers to their families, to their land, to their husbands and even to their bodies. Men come and go like desert mirages.
“There are only two kinds of men in the world,” Mantini says. “Men who pretend to love women before they marry, who actually love only themselves.” “The other,” he says, “never forgets from where he came.”
From childhood bullies, to abandonment abroad, the women survive, sifting through debris left by careless relationships and tragic circumstances. They are exiled to foreign countries and exiled at home. The stories provide an interesting introduction to the Middle East (Before Gadhafi) where the people are always on the verge of change, yet cling to an ancient way of life. I disagree with the quotes on the back cover. I don’t think of her women as “risk-takers” but rather women thrown into the quagmire and hanging on for dear life. Wetzel’s writing leaves you craving a new page, a new story. Images remain long after the final page.
Read this book by Oklahoma author Marlene Reed Wetzel, make yourself a believer in the power of short stories.
*Only negative, Out on a Limb Publishing allowed many careless publication errors. Wish publishers would do a final read before sending it to print.
The great astrophysicist Stephen Hawking warns us that contact with alien life may not be in our best interest. After all, human history shows all too well how indigenous peoples suffer at the hands of a more technologically-advanced society.
The laws of space and time suggest that such visitations are probably not in our future. Still, if we were to awake one morning to find mother ships overhead, I suspect that a nervous Earth might hear our visitors say something like the following. (Note: just replace “Indians” with “Earthlings”):
“The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed.”
—[Secton 14, Article 3, Northwest Ordinance of U.S. Congress, July 13, 1787
This quote introduces Chapter 5—“What’s mine is mine. What’s yours is mine!”—of Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia by vehoae. In the author’s first book, she illustrates, through exhaustive research, how the perspectives and motivations of the European invaders and their progeny influenced the rhetoric, politics, and decision-making of the day regarding the continent’s Indian Nations.
Beyond the dishonest diplomacy practiced with the tribes, we are treated to the views and arguments of political and religious leaders as they sought a solution to the Indian problem. Such quotes and primary document details trace the discussions of extermination, assimilation and segregation of the tribes from early European settlement to the days of the Indian Boarding Schools.
It’s an uncomfortable history, of course. Reading about the worse angels of our nature (if I may twist the resurrected Lincoln quote) should make us feel uncomfortable. Seeing an unflattering side of American statesmen like Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson strikes at our patriotic heart.
We know this truth about our past, but some Americans would just like us to forget about it. But vehoae says, “No, look. This is what we did. Here is the proof.” Her appendix, exhibits, bibliography and end note citations take up a third of the book. (I wasn’t kidding about exhaustive research.)
While at the University of Oklahoma in the late 70s, I was lucky enough to have a class with Dr. Jerry Steffen, who warned us about condemning past generations. The future will laugh at us, and condemn us, too, he said. He reminded us to always consider past history in light of the times. This did not mean we should not pass judgements on cruelties of the past. It meant that by understanding the period of history, we could understand why such cruelties happened.
There is no advantage to ignoring our history, but there is much to gain by confronting painful truths. For what better way will we truly find the better angels of our nature?
Visit vehoae’s website to find out more about the author, her interests and her work.
Read an interview with the author, where she discusses her book and the writers that inspired her. Plus, she provides a host of research tips for non-fiction writers!
One of the great things about working with librarians is meeting local authors. I’ve met a slew, and I can tell you that Oklahoma authors are really good folk! One of my author friends has released a new book, and I’m here to tell you about it…
When Molly debuted her web page, it described her as an “Oklahoma award winning children’s author.” These days, the page says she writes for “adults and young readers.” Molly is indeed branching out with this new novel aimed at adult readers, but she continues to write about subjects that are deeply personal for her.
For example, her wish to educate and enlighten today’s children about the watershed World War II era in America led to a trilogy of children’s books. Two of them won Oklahoma Book Awards for childrens/young adult literature: The Rachel Resistance and Simon Says. Her love for a friend named Billie Letts led to the publication of You’ve Got Mail, Billie Letts.
Molly has recently experienced the deaths and illnesses of loved ones—a strange affair we must all traverse unless we check out of this life early—and these experiences have inspired Marilyn and Me, a road-trip novel unlike any other road-trip novel you may have come across.
When Lydia Patterson and her best friend Marilyn both lose their husbands in the same week, Lydia is suddenly thrust into the role of only caregiver for Marilyn, who is in stage four of early-onset Alzheimer’s. At the same time, the rattling of chain bookstores forces the closing of the independent Book Nook where Lydia has worked for most of her adult life. Her judgment impaired by grief, Lydia decides to fulfill a promise made long ago to take Marilyn on a road trip. On the first day out, a blind cat who also turns out to be pregnant crawls into Marilyn’s lap and heart causing her to speak for the first time in two years and leaving Lydia with some tough choices.
If you know Molly, you know how important family and friends are to her. You also know she can be nostalgic and sentimental, but that any potential sappiness is more than sufficiently tempered with an enthusiasm for life and discovery. She writes like she lives, with an observant eye that can’t help but focus on the rewards of this spiritual and bodily journey we are on.
Molly knows it’s the journey that’s important. And what you discover along the way.
Indie Bound is very cool and has let me create a book widget for new Oklahoma Author titles.
I love gadgets on the web.
Let me know what you think.. And check out the titles while you are here.
Oklahoma author Michael Wallis has penned a new book on the life and times of Davy Crockett. Dispelling myths, finding the truth and examing the remarkable life of an American giant, amid the backdrop of frontier expansion.
(Booklist.) Wallis’ examination of the man behind the myth is both well written and engrossing.
Of course, Oklahomans know Wallis is a born storyteller and a good one. So it’s no surprise he is able to masterfully tell the true story behind the legendary figure, David Crockett, American frontiersman and icon.
And since we’re on the subject of Tulsa authors, James Patrick Hunt has a new Evan Maitland book, Get Maitland. So right under our nose is a prolific mystery writer with three series characters and plenty of good summer reading.
George Hastings is a St. Louis (Missouri) Homicide Detective.
Evan Maitland is a former Chicago cop who owns an antique business.
Daniel Bridger is a thief who works high dollar scores.*Crime Novelists
I’ve gotten a variety of options for the Okie Reader this month.
First, take the wild ride with storm chaser, Reed Timmer, from the Discovery Channel. Apparently he’s getting his PhD in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma. Check out tornado footage at his tornadovideos.net site. His new book is Into the Storm, published by Dutton, 282 pages, and some spectacular photographs. He’s spent a lot of time in Oklahoma ,so for all you Okie weather enthusiasts this one’s for you.
From the Chickasaw Press, we have Chickasaw Removal by Amanda L. Paige, Fuller L. Bumpers, and Daniel F. Littlefield Jr. All the authors are well known in their field and highly regarded historians.
Description Straight from OU Press…..”A uniquely detailed account of the removal of the Chickasaw Nation from their original homelands to Indian Territory
In the early nineteenth century, the Chickasaw Indians were a beleaguered people. Anglo-American settlers were streaming illegally into their homelands east of the Mississippi River. Then, in 1830, the Indian Removal Act forced the Chickasaw Nation, along with other eastern tribes, to remove to Indian Territory, in present-day Oklahoma. This book provides the most detailed account to date of the Chickasaw removal, from their harrowing journey west to their first difficult years in an unfamiliar land.
The Chickasaw removal began in 1837, a few years after the departures of the Choctaws and Creeks. In their gripping account of the Chickasaws’ forced trek, authors Amanda L. Paige, Fuller L. Bumpers, and Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., describe the array of characters the Chickasaws came across, including missionaries, whiskey peddlers, profiteering government agents, and contractors, some of whom purchased and distributed rations they knew would go rancid before the removing parties passed by their way stations.
Although several histories have spotlighted the politics and events of the Removal Era, this book is a unique illumination of the “whole business” of removal, including details of the places where the Chickasaws camped, bought supplies, sought medical attention, and buried their dead. The story continues into Indian Territory, where the Chickasaws faced a new set of obstacles but eventually persevered to become the strong and successful nation they are today.”
And for all the Gena Showalter “Lords of the Underworld” fans, there’s Darkest Whisper or just in time for cold weather, Deep Kiss of Winter written with Kresley Cole.
Breathtaking tale of vampire love. So pull up a chair with your favorite immortal.
What’s new on the Okie Bookshelf ?
Kate Buford has just written what is being called “the first comprehensive biography” of Jim Thorpe. It’s thick with 479 pages, well documented with plenty of footnotes, and getting substantially good reviews. Oklahoma Native American writer, N. Scott Momaday has the following comments on the Thorpe biography, ” As an athlete, Jim Thorpe was a force of nature. His achievements, across the board, remain unsurpassed. For many years we have needed a fair and comprehensive story of his life. Now we have it. Kate Buford’s biography of Thorpe is a first-rate example of the genre. She has written–with clarity, insight, objectivity, and inspiration–a definitive work. Here is an evocation of triumph and tragedy, and a uniquely American story.”
Tweeted Kate and found out that there’s an exhibit at the Muskogee Public Library on Native American sports figures from Oklahoma.
Another woman writing on Oklahoma sports legends is Jane Leavy in her new book The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood. It just became a finalist for the 2010 CASEY Award for the Best Baseball Book of the Year.
“Meticulously reported and elegantly written, The Last Boy is a baseball tapestry that weaves together episodes from the author’s weekend with The Mick in Atlantic City, where she interviewed her hero in 1983, after he was banned from baseball, with reminiscences from friends and family of the boy from Commerce, Oklahoma, who would lead the Yankees to seven world championships, be voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player three times, win the Triple Crown in 1956, and duel teammate Roger Maris for Babe Ruth’s home run crown in the summer of 1961—the same boy who would never grow up.”—Harper Collins Publisher
Two Oklahoma sports legends who embodied everything that is great in sports, and everything that can be lost. Sports biographers, Buford and Leavy don’t stop with the stats and the accolades, they give us the real people behind the numbers.
Two “new” (copyright 2009) Young Adult books have popped up on the Okie Bookshelf. Here’s a promo directed by Anna Myers daugther to get you excited about “Time of the Witches” .
Anna Myers is a very successful and highly regarded Oklahoma book author, so you can’t go wrong picking up one of her titles for your teen reader.
Next Paris Pan takes the Dare by Cynthea Liu. The cover is charming, and it’s fun to know Cynthea grew up in this part of the country especially since her book is set in Nowheresville, Oklahoma. We’ve all been there. Amazon readers seem to give it a BIG thumbs up. It looks like Cynthea is very socially networked, so follow her on Twitter if you Dare! @cynthea
Now for a little adult fiction with Pirates and Chocolate. JoAnna Carl has a new one in the Chocoholic Mystery Series. Pirates have landed in Warner Pier, and all is amusing with our buccaneers until a dead body turns up. And if you didn’t already know, JoAnna is our very own Eve Sandstrom.
Start Monday off with some teen reads and chocolate without the calories.
New from the Okie Bookshelf.
War Party in Blue: Pawnee Scouts in the U.S. Army by Mark van de Logt.
A history of the Pawnee Scouts, from their perspective Between 1864 and 1877, during the height of the Plains Indian wars, Pawnee Indian scouts rendered invaluable service to the United States Army. They led missions deep into contested territory, tracked resisting bands, spearheaded attacks against enemy camps, and on more than one occasion saved American troops from disaster on the field of battle. In War Party in Blue, Mark van de Logt tells the story of the Pawnee scouts from their perspective, detailing the battles in which they served and recounting hitherto neglected episodes.
Employing military records, archival sources, and contemporary interviews with current Pawnee tribal members—some of them descendants of the scouts—Van de Logt presents the Pawnee scouts as central players in some of the army’s most notable campaigns. He argues that military service allowed the Pawnees to fight their tribal enemies with weapons furnished by the United States as well as to resist pressures from the federal government to assimilate them into white society.
According to the author, it was the tribe’s martial traditions, deeply embedded in their culture, that made them successful and allowed them to retain these time-honored traditions. The Pawnee style of warfare, based on stealth and surprise, was so effective that the scouts’ commanding officers did little to discourage their methods. Although the scouts proudly wore the blue uniform of the U.S. Cavalry, they never ceased to be Pawnees. The Pawnee Battalion was truly a war party in blue. —Excerpted from the University of Oklahoma Press website.
Facts: Pub. Date: September 2010
Publisher: FaithWords. Format: Hardcover, 272p.
- ISBN-13: 9780446580366
- ISBN: 0446580368
From Publishers’ Weekly :
Bestselling author and TV preacher Meyer takes a step beyond her bestseller Battlefield of the Mind. She offers a 12-step program to help readers conquer the negativity that naturally plagues the mind, leaving readers free to enjoy life and pursue their goals. Using themes from other books in her ample catalogue–worry, perseverance, managing emotions–Meyer breaks her suggestions into several digestible lists, backed by a “Power Pack” of Bible verses at the end of each chapter. She offers enthusiastic encouragement, but also requires action, here in the form of practice, discipline, and continual meditation on the 12 motivational thoughts. Critics of the positive thinking movement (Meyer obliquely acknowledges a debt to the pioneering Norman Vincent Peale) will continue to find downsides in this book, among them failure to sufficiently acknowledge the pain of suffering and an ignorance of intractable mental illness. Critics of Meyer will say she sounds like an infomercial (“You will see amazing results”). Yet her many fans will continue to appreciate her upbeat attitude and her ability to offer practical tips on the toughest topics. (Sept.)
ISBN: 9780061474149; ISBN10: 0061474142; Publisher: Avon ;
Format: Mass Market PB; Pages: 384; $7.99
Inside the book it says the fourth in the Sweet Justice series, but I think it is the third, with the fourth one, Reckoning for the Dead not out yet.
The man she’d trust with her heart could sabotage everything…
When terrorists attack a Haitian missionary school, brutally killing their hostages and posting videos of the senseless murders online, time is running out. Sentinels’ agent Alexa Marlowe is forced into an unlikely alliance with a relentless mercenary. But he is no stranger.
Jackson Kinkaid witnessed the raid, and only he can track the killers to their mountain stronghold. Guarding a dark secret, rumored to sell his services to the highest bidder, Jackson is not the same man Alexa once knew. And although he can lead her to the terrorist leader she’s been ordered to take alive, how can she be sure he won’t sabotage her mission to save the one person who got him through the worst nightmare of his life?
—-excerpted from the Jordan Dane website.
Comment: She’s a good author to read for suspense with a romantic twist.