Saturday, December 12, 2009

Now Hear This: Jessica Kane's "Straining to Parallel Park in an Open Field"

Those of you who are acquainted with Jessica Kane and her varied artistic talents have been eagerly awaiting release of her four-disc CD of readings from her written works, "Straining to Parallel Park in an Open Field." The rest of you will want to find out what you're missing.

Jessica Kane seizes not only the day, she seizes each nanosecond of the day. And then she writes about it.

While most writers focus on the big things in life, like birth, death, war and peace, Jessica pulls out her rippled-glass magnifier and inspects and muses about life's odd and infinitesimally small happenings, such as the fortuitous finding of a parking space on a busy street; mundane conversations in an airport; a visit to an animal shelter; a chance encounter with the mom of a childhood friend; or the love/hate feelings toward a jelly-dribbling spouse. These seemingly trivial events, rendered in exquisite detail, serve as springboards into the inner workings of Jessica Kane. Her mind-meanderings about these events, about life and about her own place in life evoke reactions ranging from giggles to guffaws and misty eyes to tears.

Jessica's content is remarkable in its unremarkable-ness. Her style is inimitable, and her language, albeit earthy, is delightful. Sample a few bits of Jessica's readings at, where you may order the four-disc set. If you live in the Warrensburg, NY, area, you can catch her at Willows Bistro on Thursday, January 14th at 2 p.m. She'll be one of four readers, joining Doug Deneen, Pat Leonard and Susan Jefts. You'll have a great time.

"Adirondack Guest Informer" - Reading at Christmastime and All Year Long

And now, Gentle Reader (I've always wanted to write that -- "Gentle Reader." What's the alternative, "Rough Reader"?)

Well, anyhow, I'm back, and so are you, and I want to tell you a little bit about our upcoming Winter issue of Adirondack Guest Informer and give you the final installment of our list of featured books. My own historical novels are there, too, but since they are shown on the right side of this blog page, I've eliminated them from the following list.

The Winter issue will inform and entertain with stories by Glenn Pearsall ("How Did Wevertown Get Its Name?"), Anne White ("Murder on a Cold Winter Night"), Christine Auclair ("Exploring the Adirondacks on Snowshoes"), Miroslav Ivkovic (about a bigfoot sighting) and my own piece about maple sugaring ("Sweet Adirondack Spring"). Be sure to visit the magazine online, or, if you are traveling in the Adirondacks, ask your hotel for a copy.

If you still have gifts to purchase, here are our last suggestions for book purchases.

You Can’t Find a Rainbow in the House!
by Christine Auclair. Written to inspire children to become more aware of their outdoor world and the amazing gifts of beauty that nature offers. A blend of the author’s vivid photography along with her great-niece’s brilliant illustrations bring the pages to life! A portion of the proceeds from each sale benefit The Magic Foundation, a non-profit organization that assists children with rare diseases.
Available at

The Adirondacks that are the Other Half of Me, by Mary Amelia Paladin This book is humorous and heartwarming, yet not indulgent. The author writes about the Adirondacks as a place that provides the feeling of home, a place that brings forth an emotion that burrows deep within and never leaves. Anyone who lives in, loves, and visits the Adirondacks understands what that means. Available: local book/gift stores, , , special order @ Barnes & Noble stores nationwide, Borders (NE region) and
ISBN: 978-0-615-29279-3

The Adirondack Guest Informer feature "The North Country Bookstore" will continue in each issue of the magazine. If you have written a book about the Adirondacks, or set in the Adirondacks, and would like to see its cover gracing our pages, please contact me. And that, Gentle Reader, concludes this post, except that I invite you to see my books (yes, I know, crass commercialism) Adirondack Gold and Adirondack Gold II: A Summer of Strangers, at right.

From Authors at "Adirondack Guest Informer" - More Good Reads

I'm so excited about the response to the listing of the Adirondack Guest Informer authors and their books here in my most recent post (see "Good Reads for Christmas Giving.") These are the authors and books featured in the magazine's new feature, "The North Country Bookstore," which we call your way to "Take the Adirondacks home with you." The feature debuts in January. Here are some more titles to tantalize you.

Secrets Dark and Deep, by Anne White
“A lively puzzler. White’s best yet.” Julia Spencer-Fleming: All Mortal Flesh. In this fourth Lake George Mystery, young mayor Loren Graham stumbles on a terrible secret and is forced to confront her greatest fear.
Hilliard and Harris, 2007, Worldwide Mystery 2009
Available: Amazon or your favorite book source
ISBN 1-59133-198-6, 978-1-59133-198- 8

Nature Through the Seasons, by Nancy Wotton Scarzello. Are you interested in barred owls, birch trees and dragonflies? Wild mushrooms, hibernation, ice-out and bears? Discover nature in your own backyard with this collection of essays from the author’s experiences on Lake George and in surrounding fields and forest. Signed copies available: from the author ($13 includes shipping), or 101 Hall Rd., Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Adirondack Mouse and the Perilous Journey, by Irene Uttendorfsky. “Stuart Little meets The Lion and the Mouse in this new tale in which the smallest of heroes overcomes the biggest obstacles.” Liana Mahoney, Teacher and Author. 2006 Best Children’s Book, Adirondack Center for Writing. Young readers will cheer for Adirondack Mouse as they follow him on his Journey, a quest as beautiful and perilous as the Adirondack Mountains themselves. ,
Spruce Gulch Press, 2006
Distributed by North Country Books
Available, local bookstores
ISBN 0-9625714-4-x

Watch my next post for the remaining books featured in the Winter issue of Adirondack Guest Informer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Good Reads for Christmas Giving

If you check on this blog from time to time (bless you if you do!), you know that there are frequent and extended dry spells between posts. You also know that I always have an excuse. Why should this time be any different?

I've been busy with a new project, collaborating with the publisher of Adirondack Guest Informer to beef up the content of his travel magazine. He conceived the notion of creating a new feature called "North Country Bookstore," a page about books set in the Adirondacks. Each of the authors whose works are featured there will write one or more articles for the magazine over the course of the year, adding a new dimension to the publication.

My part of the magazine's growth has been to recruit authors, schedule and edit the articles they will write, and write a little myself. I knew it would be fun, but, even so, I hadn't realized what a wonderful group of people I would meet and come to know in the course of the project--Miroslav Ivkovic, the publisher, and his wife Maria, Nicole Oddy, the designer, Christine Auclair, a new staff writer, and all of the other authors. The books they have written include picture books, history, mystery, nature/environment, memoir and historical fiction. There are books you may want to buy for gifts for others, and some you'll covet for your own snuggle-by-the-fire winter reading. Beginning with this post I'll post information about these books, complete with details about how to acquire them in time for the holiday. Here's the first installment.

Echoes in These Mountains by Glenn L. Pearsall
Recipient of a “Letter of Commendation” by the 35 county Upstate History Alliance, this critically-acclaimed book tells the history of the Adirondacks through an entertaining exploration of 55 historic sites in a small Adirondack town. $23 includes sales tax and postage: Johnsburg Historical Society, PO Box 144, Wevertown, NY 12886

The Diary of a Northern Moon, by Gloria Waldron Hukle. Two friends return to the Adirondacks after World War II. One dies. The other prospers, but for decades carries a secret about his dead friend. A Lake George murder forces confession. Set in North Creek, Lake George and Albany, N.Y. Available: Hoss’s Country Corner, Long Lake, NY, ,, or Toll Free l-888-280-77l5.

Threads - An American Tapestry, by Gloria Waldron Hukle. An l8th century wealthy Native American woman of mixed blood searches for her missing African American slave amidst prejudicial hatred. Available: Hoss’s Country Corner, Long Lake, NY, ,, or Toll Free l-888-280-77l5.

I'll list more from our North Country Bookshelf in a couple of days, so check back. And don't forget to check out Adirondack Guest Informer in January to catch the new author page all of the great articles. Content will change quarterly, so bookmark the site.

A Summer with Charlie, by Richard Edward Noble

In my role as a reviewer for, I recently reviewed Richard Noble's book A Summer with Charlie, which, as he tells it, is fiction, or very creative nonfiction. Whatever. I read it and found it funny and poignant and...well, here's the review:

A Summer with Charlie
By Richard Edward Noble

What do you have when you take a bunch of guys in their late teens and early twenties in the early 1960s, who pride themselves on just “hanging out” on whatever corner they aren’t chased off of in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the hometown of Richard Edward Noble? You’ve got a colorful slice of poor New England mill town Americana—the banter and blue collars, slang and girl-watching, cop-taunting, delis and diners. You have a nostalgic memoir.

Daub onto this palette a splash of craziness, as the gang – sometimes upward of twenty guys—rents a beachside cottage for the summer, with loud parties, lobster bakes, and beer, kitchen sink “fruit punch” and a back porch toilet, something akin to “Animal House.” Then you have a nostalgic, humorous memoir.

Now add in Charlie, an older pal just returned from service in the Navy. Charlie, the boys learn, has come home to die, thanks to extreme radiation exposure. Can you figure out how this affects the story? Neither could the gang. They just kept on keeping on. They pulled Charlie into the fold – the parties, the wild raunchiness, the disrespect, the laughter and crazy fun. The memoir became “A Summer with Charlie,” a nostalgic, humorous and deeply moving story of growing up.

Charlie, in his sweet, innocent way, confided to the guys that he didn’t know how to die. But during the summer he spent at the cottage with them, he showed that he knew, not only how to die, and to do so with grace and courage, but also how to live. He quietly enriched the lives of the boys who shared that time with him and taught them lessons about life and death never to be forgotten.

Noble’s writing is fresh and true. His characters and their dialogue are alive with reality. He resists the temptation to pretty things up, to trim away the ugly parts, and in so doing, creates an unforgettable story about the innocence of youth, about growing up, and about death. The author promises, “A Summer with Charlie will make you laugh. A Summer with Charlie will make you cry.” It does all of that. Moreover, A Summer with Charlie will make you remember. And think.

Fiction by Richard Edward Noble
Noble Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9798085-6-2

Other works by Richard Edward Noble include:
Hobo-ing America
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
The Eastpointer
A Little Something
Noble Notes on Famous Folks

Persis Granger, a reviewer for Book