Kelly Stone Gamble … from the former SNHU MFA graduate: With a finished thesis in hand, I started writing They Call Me Crazy at Mountainview Grand the weekend I was graduating with my MFA. It was a story I had wanted to write for some time, but of course I had been occupied with my thesis, Ragtown, for the previous two years. I started writing at MVG, and 17 days later (or something like that) I had a first draft. They Call Me Crazy is nothing like Ragtown.
I've had three publishing offers for Crazy. The first I ran from, on the advice of several friends who were much more 'in the know' than I was. The second, I walked away from very quickly. I got an agent to help me understand some of this craziness, she queried some of the larger houses, and finally, I was offered a contract through Red Adept Publishing---a good contract, one I am happy with, no, thrilled about.
I have a first draft of They Call Me Chief, a second book that takes place in small town Deacon, Kansas and I continue to rework, rewrite Ragtown.
From Lynn McNamee at Red Adept Publishing: “We feel Kelly Gamble’s book contains a unique storyline, and her writing style makes the characters leap off the page.”
One cool and CRAZY Video …
I (Charlie) originally read this book (They Call Me Crazy) before Kelly took it to market and was awed by the power of the manuscript. I thought it was a winner when I read it and was very happy to learn this past weekend that it has found a home.
Just a month or so after Darren Rome Leo signed with Stark House Press for his debut novel, The Trees Beneath Us … sometimes, amici, MFA’s work out just fine.
And while we’re feeling the heat of SNHU MFA en fuego … here’s one of our MFA mentors …
Richard Adams Carey … Rick was my second semester mentor in the MFA program. He’s probably the kindest guy I’ve ever met. I certainly wanted him for what I was submitting (some personal stuff I hadn’t shared with anyone on paper before), and that proved to be the right choice (I don’t make those often, but when I do (Principessa Ann Marie), they’re usually home runs. Rick was a home run. He also has game (as I learned on Shutter Island—my .5” vertical jump shot just wasn’t enough …
A little about Rick: Richard Adams Carey grew up in Connecticut, studied drama and American literature at Harvard, taught school in several Yupik Eskimo villages of western Alaska, and has lived in New Hampshire since 1984. His essays and short fiction have appeared in a number of journals and magazines. He is the author of three books of narrative nonfiction: Raven’s Children: An Alaskan Culture at Twilight (Houghton Mifflin, 1992); Against the Tide: The Fate of the New England Fisherman (Houghton Mifflin, 1999); and The Philosopher Fish: Sturgeon, Caviar, and the Geography of Desire (Counterpoint Press, 2005). Raven’s Children was chosen as a New York Public Library Book to Remember, and Against the Tide won the 2001 New Hampshire Literary Prize for Nonfiction. He teaches in Southern New Hampshire University’s MFA program in writing and is president ex officio of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project.
From Rick’s FACEBOOK page this past week: I signed contracts yesterday with the University Press of New England, who will publish “Their Town,” my story of a 1997 New Hampshire gun rampage. It'll have a different and better title, though “Their Town” served me well as the story's working title. I announce this with deep gratitude to all who have listened to me read from the manuscript over the years, and who helped to keep me going. Whew.
I was fortunate enough to have heard Rick read from this tragic story a few times at MFA residencies. It is chilling and poignant and absolutely brilliant. It’s this story, as covered in the NY Times:
Excerpt here: A 67-year-old gunman apparently intent on settling a grudge killed four people in a remote northern New Hampshire town today and wounded four law-enforcement officials, the authorities said. He then led the police on a chase that ended when he was killed in a shootout with about 20 officers.
Witnesses said the man, Carl Drega, began the violence this afternoon at a supermarket in Colebrook, N.H., a town of about 2,000 that is on the Vermont border and near Canada. Colebrook residents described Mr. Drega as militantly anti-government.
Armed with a semiautomatic weapon, Mr. Drega shot a state trooper at the supermarket, the authorities said, then killed a highway inspector in a nearby field and set off in a stolen police cruiser to the office of the local newspaper, The News and Sentinel.
The newspaper shared its building with Vickie Bunnel, a lawyer, associate judge and selectman who had angered Mr. Drega with a property tax ruling several years ago. Ms. Bunnel had feared Mr. Drega so much since then that she had carried a handgun and kept her dog with her at the office, acquaintances said.
Down in the River, Ryan Blacketter … a debut novel with punch, Down in the River is the story of a family shredded by religion, mental illness, drugs and death. Lyle is a kid caught in the crazy maze of his overzealously religious brother and mother. He also has issues of his own that require medication. His twin, Lila, committed suicide at fifteen, but was a crack addict often restrained with rope by Craig (his brother), who believed she was possessed. Her body was found in the river, the same place Lyle is sure Craig unceremoniously tossed her ashes. The family was temporarily excommunicated from the church/town and were forced to move.
Lyle has issues and is often numbed with lithium and Haldol to keep him calm and steady, but he resents the religious persecution his twin sister suffered (what definitely contributed to her drug addiction and suicide). Taking her place in the “devil made me do it” blame game hasn’t been a joy ride, and Lyle resents his mother and brother for their incessant religious fervor. Lyle has a friend (Martin) he’d like to be more like (one who reads and paints and has a challenging vocabulary). He’s also met a girl (Rosa) he’s come to love … but when a mission of best intent finds him in the most macabre of situations, well, that would be spoiling it, and that isn’t going to happen here, amici.
Suffice it to say, there’s a Valjean-Javert theme working behind the scenes here. Imagine the two living under the same roof, with Javert being the much stronger of the two, and ALWAYS having the advantage. You better believe Valjean (Lyle) would flee. The black and white world Lyle’s brother Craig requires has no place for the gray areas of mental illness nor drug addiction. Any deviation is the work of the devil. As Craig tells Lyle (regarding their sister having once read a book on good witches): “That’s the devil talking. Here’s the news. There’s good,” he said, and held a stiff hand near his chest, “and there’s evil,” and he moved his hand at a distance from himself. “It’s that simple. God and the devil. That’s it.”
I’ve been on a religious crusade of sorts myself of late (recently having purchased Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great) for the sake of something I’m writing with a religious theme. That aspect of Down in the River remains especially interesting. How do people fall into that kind (the repressive, Evangelical extremist kind) of a religious trap? Not that Catholics or Muslims take a back seat when it comes to extremism, but it seems to me the born again crowd has discovered how the power of politics in America, especially when pursued with such fierce determination, often yields Taliban-like results (restricting freedoms during one’s time on earth and then condemning blasphemers to eternal damnation).
Lyle doesn’t get it either … nor is he willing to take it.
“You’re like some kind of protector,” she (Rosa) said.
Lyle is a protector, but he couldn’t protect his twin sister, Lila, from the insanity of his brother’s religious zeal. Protection, doing the right thing, and compassion are what Lyle desires and strives to accomplish, whether it has to do with a dead Jewish girl’s final resting place, a wounded goose he finds at the end of a bridge, or the injustice of religious bullies driving people to suicide.
Justice is another Valjean-Javert motif in this fine novel. Seeking and understanding justice is an undercurrent theme for Lyle as he innocently, albeit naively, pursues righting what he believes has been a wrong. Toward the end of the journey, in the town that forced his family to leave, Lyle spots something he’d long admired—the statue of a cowboy. From a thousand angles, over many years, Lyle had seen the giant man. Even as a small boy he liked the toughness in his stone face. The cowboy’s mouth was open and one shoulder was raised. There was justice in him.
In the midst of an outlaw scramble, Rosa tells Lyle what the reader already knows, “You’re a good person.”
Down in the River is a compelling read that kept me glued to its pages for two days (restricting my time-out reads between hockey periods for the first of the three Deutscher Trotsky biographies, The Prophet Armed). Down in the River was recommended by my first MFA mentor, Mitch Wieland (who also turned this neophyte reader onto Richard Bausch and Frederick Busch, amongst others). When Mitch makes a suggestion, Charlie takes heed … and he’s glad he did so again with this wonderful debut novel by Ryan Blacketter. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Girl on a Bicycle … A silly, but fun movie that takes place (mostly) in Paris … an eye-talian tour bus operator in Paris and German stewardess are in love. He’s proposing and she’s catching extra marital advances from a French pilot friend to offset a potential infidelity by her fiancé … the bus drive sees a pretty woman on a bicycle and is temporarily thunderstruck (the lightning bolt is much more obvious) … Paulo (the bus driver) has a British friend he depends on for pretty much everything … and when the bus driver runs over the Girl on the Bicycle, Madonna mia, the silliness is heartwarming … watch the movie, it’s fun. A good one when you need it.
It’s almost playoff time … and the much maligned (here at TK and throughout Casa Stella) trade between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers, sending the heart and soul, 28-year-old mucker/Olympian, Ryan Callahan, to Tampa for the 38-year-old, future hall-of-famer, Martin St. Louis … and this is what my granddaughter thinks of the travesty.
So far the stats speak for themselves … thus far Callahan has 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in 16 games … Martin St. Louis has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) … in 17 games. No wonder Evelyn Amelia Stella (my granddaughter) was shocked!
Remember those $20.00 NJPAC tickets (anywhere you wanted to sit) for a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute Overture, Beethoven’s Symphony #6 (Pastoral) and Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto #3. The daughter, son-in-law, wife and the ugly Knuckster (moi) will be going this Sunday …