December 6, 2014

“War and Peace” Reading Group is Now Reading!

On October 27, we posted a message about starting a Goodreads group to read a book few, if any, would undertake without some external motivation: War and Peace  by Leo Tolstoy [The Louise and Aylmer Maude translation]. My friend David Bond suggested creating a Goodreads group to read it together, and I heartily joined in sponsorship and the read. [I think my copy has been sitting on my bookshelves for about 40 years.] We’re proud to announce our group of eight people officially began reading December 1. One of us was so excited he finished in 24 days, in November. You can be sure we’re going to have questions for him! Few would dispute this is a masterpiece, and many believe it to be the greatest novel ever written. Others suggest it represented a major shift in…

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November 3, 2014

“Jenny’s Revenge,” a Novel by James D. Best

“Jenny’s Revenge,” a Novel by James D. Best

    Here is an excerpt from James D. Best’s fifth Steve Dancy novel, Jenny’s Revenge, which was published February 2, 2015.  Best’s westerns are written in the spirit of Zane Gray and, to quote Larry Winget, writing in True West Magazine, March, 2012,”The James Best books…are about the best new Western series to come along since Larry McMurtry.” All five Steve Dancy novels are available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.  — Editors     Introduction After securing a license to use Thomas Edison’s inventions for mining, Steve and his friends return to Denver to pick up belongings they left behind on their way to New York. Steve and Virginia plan to marry, and Captain McAllen retires from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to start a horse ranch. Eager to begin new lives, everyone…

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November 2, 2014

The Sensuous Poetry of Michael Larrain

  One of the beautiful things about artists is the unexpected ways in which we encounter them. I went to college in Sonoma County, California, and make an annual pilgrimage back there. I usually stay with my long-time friends, Larry and Laurie. Last year I came upon a man selling blissed-out flowers from the back of his Jeep about two blocks east of downtown Cotati. Well, this year he was there, in the same spot again, and we got to talking about life, the universe, and how everything and everybody is sometimes discernibly connected and as it went we suddenly discovered we’re both writers. Michael told me about his novel, Movies on the Sails, and I told him about mine, featuring a character named Flowers. I asked him to submit some of his poetry for Fictional Cafe, and here it…

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October 27, 2014

“War and Peace” Reading Group – You’re Invited!

Leo Tolstoy wrote one of the world’s greatest novels, War and Peace, between 1861-63. The backstory goes like this: He toyed with several versions [with pen and paper – remember, no computers back then!] until 1866. He began a massive revision he did not complete until 1869, when it was finally published. It is at once a story of an aristocratic family, the invasion of Russia by Napoleon, a romance, a tragedy, an attempt by a novelist to set history right. In short, it’s one of the world’s great stories, fiction or nonfiction. You love to read. We love to read. This is a great book, but one you might not tackle on your own. Let’s read it together. Just in case you’re on the fence about reading a novel over 1,200 pages in length, check…

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October 5, 2014

David Bond: A Sailor’s Photography

David Bond is a multi-talented man who loves to work with wood, machines, systems. He restored his 37-foot Egg Harbor wooden cabin cruiser, which he named Blues Breaker, pretty much from the keel up. He’s sailed his craft all over the Northern and Southern Atlantic waters from his home port in Wickford, Rhode Island. He spent seven solo months on the Intracoastal Waterway, sailing south all the way to the Florida Keys and back. Over the course of the past ten years, David has snapped around 11,000 photographs, a sampling of which we reproduce here accompanied by David’s commentary. Please click on the images for a larger view. * * * * * “We were sailing south through the Bermuda Triangle, about 800 miles from land, when this incredible sight occurred. “Looking east we saw the sun rising [photo…

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October 3, 2014

Daughter of Fire, a Novel by Dory Fiamingo

Helen of Agralee is a fierce warrior who wants nothing to do with her family’s legacy of being the Guardian, protector of the people of Davosad. Trained since childhood in the fighting arts and the only woman in the country of Cruinn allowed to fight, Helen has grown arrogant and selfish. To remedy this her father, Kurel, the current Guardian, sends her to Tieton Abbey to learn humility. She rebels, but her desires matter little. Vulcan of Norlad quickly becomes her enemy while Galen, High Prince of Cruinn, and Brother Patrick, an ex-mercenary posing as a monk, become her allies. When Kurel is murdered by Demion, insect, bat, and wolf-like creatures led by Mallus, who seeks the Guardian’s sword, the power seeks out Helen. It burns its way through her body, forever changing her—and the…

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October 1, 2014

Jack Kerouac: “The road is life”

I have a photograph of Jack Kerouac typing his famous piano-roll manuscript of On the Road hanging on my study wall. I saw the scroll when I visited the museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was amazing to see it stretched out. Jack wrote it in a three-day, hyper-caffeinated marathon in his mother’s apartment. She made the coffee and taped the pieces of paper together. Three days. Then he revised it for three years. You could sum up his philosophy in the four words quoted above: “The road is life.” Lowell has honored its once-maligned author by giving him a new headstone at his grave site. You can read about it here. If you’d like to know a bit more about Kerouac, here is a fine essay about him and his writing. The photo of the…

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September 9, 2014

Portrait of Ignatius Jones, a Novel by Peter David Shapiro

Editor’s Note: Herewith, Chapters 1 and 2 of Portrait of Ignatius Jones, Peter David Shapiro’s third novel, now published. Capitalizing on the late-19th-century fascination with psychics and confidence games, with a dash of The Picture of Dorian Gray, the novel takes the reader from Victorian Boston to the Peaceable Kingdom of Vermont, where things are not as peaceful as one might think. Chapter One September 12, 1896 Testimony of Mrs. Eugenia Stephenson concerning a Meeting at the Boston Spiritualist Lyceum I WAS SEATED AMONGST THIRTY others in the audience in a meeting hall of the Boston Spiritualist Lyceum on Tremont Street when Ignatius Jones entered, accompanied by Mr. William Price following several steps behind. Ignatius Jones sat behind a table at the front of the room. To be sure, I’d heard the whispers emanating from…

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September 9, 2014

“Carpe Diem,” A Poem by Catherine Dougherty

“Carpe Diem,” A Poem by Catherine Dougherty

  Watching the world go by; Seeing it pass before my eyes. Bearing witness to another day’s dawn, Preluding, yet, another day’s song. Funny, how it all seems to slip away; Nothing is ever meant to stay. * Still, I can remember, Ah yes, oh so well, Rising from what seemed like hell, Grasping the day and making it mine, Simply living my life And feeling so fine. * But, now I’m old, My time here almost gone. If my life was a battle, I would say that I’ve won. So I have no regrets of what’s come and passed, Always remembering, nothing’s meant to last. * I’m just watching the world go by; Savoring the moments before I die; Thankful and rich for what I’ve done, Where I’ve been, how far I’ve come. Knowing…

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September 9, 2014

Estelle and David by D.K. Lubarsky

  Editor’s Note: This is a chapter from Dante’s Angels, a novel in progress. David’s hands were shaking as he steered the 1996 blue Chevy into the hotel’s circular driveway. He mopped his forehead with a plaid handkerchief and stuffed it back in his shirt pocket. “See. No problem getting here. I told you so.” Estelle kept her mouth shut. The ninety-minute trip from Beaverton to Cannon Beach had taken three hours. The line of cars behind them often extended into the horizon. Estelle looked around. She could see the water, and the top of Haystack Rock. “I can’t believe we’re really doing this.” “Why not? Everyone else goes on vacation. Getting away for a long weekend is just what we needed. I just hope you packed everything this time. Did you remember my pajamas?”…

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