The Execution of Willie Francis, Gilbert King … a wonderfully written book about one of the more embarrassing moments in American history (not just the south because this was a case that could’ve been overturned). Willie Francis, wrongfully accused and convicted and then sentenced to death twice, as it turned out, was 15 years old at the time of his arrest, 16 when he was sentenced. Without going into the details of how this poor kid was railroaded by the criminals wearing badges and sitting on benches (judges) in Louisiana in 1946 (you’ll have to read the book), Willie Francis was electrocuted during his first execution, but survived because of the chair’s failure to exact the necessary amount of electricity (faulty wiring, maybe?) to kill. Instead, he suffered electrocution just short of death and was re-sentenced to go through the same ordeal 6 days later. The book tells the tales of the battles of two lawyers working the same side of the tracks, but from different angles (an NAACP lawyer attempting to appeal on the law, and a local lawyer from the town of St. Martinsville (where Willie lived) shooting for an emotional appeal to the judges (one of which was the judge who heard Willie's case). This is a heartbreaking tale, but one that should be required reading for those in high schools across this country. The Trayvon Martin murder two years ago (I still consider it a murder), especially the law that allowed a grown man to shoot and kill a 17 year old because the grown man was losing a fight he’d instigated, is not so far removed from a state execution wherein the arrest, trial and sentence are all rigged in advance, and the result is the same thing—a dead black kid.
And remember, Gilbert King’s last book won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction. Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America.
Read the New York Times review here:
Gilbert and I shared the best editor in the world, Peter Skutches (the Maestro).
ALL OF GILBERT’S BOOKS COME VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Get THE EXECUTION OF WILLIE FRANCIES here:
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson … Your born, you die, your born again, you die again, and so on. And all the people and circumstances in life that occur between life and death (like whacking Adolf Hitler before he becomes Der Fuehrer) can alter all what might happen before your next death (in the case mentioned above, not very long as some of the future SS exacts immediate revenge). Confusing? It can be, but really isn’t once you’re into this novel about a girl/woman Ursula and her family as the forever changing tides of life ebb and flow, ultimately leading to a darkness none of us can escape. An interesting read that will leave the reader asking “what if” questions. What if there was never a village? After all, we are not born alone to die alone. Be prepared to feel stumped from time to time, at least until you get used to Ursula (and some of her family) dying off and returning with other chances at the same situations.
Recommended reading for the especially curious.
Get it here:
Next week’s book reviews include Steve Weddle’s Country Hardball and Christian Winn’s Naked Me, two short story collections.
SNHU MFA’ers kicking ass and taking names …
Kelly Stone Gamble continues on her tear through the literary world as The Choosing Game, is published in the Red Earth Review. Kelly Stone Gamble already has a couple of novels she’s shopping and one under contract. They Call Me Crazy is under contract with Red Adept Publishing. Currently in content editing, no release date yet.
Kelly Stone Gamble has a Bachelor of Arts in the Integrated Studies of History and Business Administration from Nevada State College, a Master of Arts in Humanities from California State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Not too shabby, amici.
Check out the Red Earth Review publication here:
Kelly’s website is here:
Mike Hancock … The release of his debut novel, Fallen, happened yesterday. Mike is a graduate of the SNHU MFA program and has an incredible story behind this wonderful book. Check it out by clicking on the link.
Mike Hancock is a former wilderness guide and commercial fisherman, having spent seven years working in the mountains of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Prior to that, he spent two seasons as a deckhand on board a factory trawler in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Now living in South Padre Island, Texas, he is an Adjunct Professor of English and freelance writer. He holds a B.A. in English Literature, and a M.F.A. in Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Fallen has been edited by noted fiction and non-fiction writers Richard Adams Carey, Diane Les Becquets, Merle Drown, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes.
Susan Kennedy … editor of two books released this week.
In Susan’s words: On Tuesday, July 22, my client Bishop O'Connell's debut novel, titled The Stolen, was released in ebook format by Harper Voyager Impulse. It is an urban fantasy that dares to wonder would happen if an ordinary person were thrown into a world of magic that she thought existed only in children's stories. That person is single mother Caitlin Brady, and she's thrown into that world by the kidnapping of her young daughter by dark faeries. She finds that determination alone is not enough to rescue her daughter and must accept help from three unlikely allies: a Fian warrior, a mysterious elf, and her closest friend--who is actually a novice wizard, but that is something he has never told her. Through the suburbs of Manchester, New Hampshire, and down the busy streets of Boston, Massachusetts, to the fabled land of Tir na nOg, the quartet race against time to unravel the faeries' plans and rescue Caitlin's daughter.
HarperCollins, the parent company of Harper Voyager Impulse, has made a sizable sample of the book available here:
The Qwillery, a popular science fiction and fantasy book blog, published an interview with Bishop, which is a great introduction to him, his writing, and what he has planned next:
You can also learn more about Bishop at his blog, A Quiet Pint:
The Stolen will be available in paperback on August 5th. It is the first book in the An American Faerie Tale Series. The second book, titled The Forgotten, will be published in 2015.
Mike Hancock (Fallen) and I were classmates at Southern New Hampshire University's MFA Program (class of 2008, the MFA's inaugural class) and he was my first freelance client.
I'm thrilled that both of these books have been published. They're both great stories, compelling in their individual ways, and it was a privilege to work with both Mike and Bishop. I know they both have bright literary careers ahead of them.
Susan has worked as the Editorial Assistant of NH Writer at New Hampshire Writers' Project, Membership and Publications Coordinator at New Hampshire Writers' Project and a Graduate Assistant at Southern New Hampshire University
All THREE ABOVE, KELLY, MIKE AND SUSAN ARE GRADUATES OF THE SNHU MFA PROGRAM … PRETTY COOL, AMICI … PRETTY DAMN COOL.
Tony Dungy … I don’t think anybody has anything bad to say about Mr. Dungy. I doubt his comments about the Michael Sam situation bore any malicious intent (to his mind). They were a bit offensive, as one person (a woman) wrote on a twitter to ESPN (I don’t have the quote exactly), but paraphrasing it here, it’s a pretty good knockdown. Dungy said he wouldn’t have drafted Sam because of the distractions it would cause (at some point) during a football season. As a coach, he represents the owners and all the owners (the vast majority, at least) want is to win. It’s a business based comment with the heightened awareness that NFL players come from mostly homophobic environments. Like I said, Dungy wasn’t being malicious (to his mind). What the woman wrote to ESPN went something like this: “And what about the rapists, murderers, wife-beaters, drug addicts, DWI’s? Aren’t they distractions, or is the NFL happy to look the other way because the players involved in such criminal behavior are superstars?”
I’m not sure she added that last line, but her point was well-made.
To the woman who tweeted: Women beating must not be a distraction in the NFL.
Maybe it’s his faith based world view that prompted Dungy’s comments. Maybe it was just what he considered the business of winning in the NFL. The bottom line is the woman made a much more valid point than did Dungy. Does that make him a bad person? I don’t think so, but I don’t like the implications of his comments one way or the other (i.e., his opinion isn’t digesting well). It’s a shame Michael Sam has to be scrutinized the way he is because of his sexual orientation, but this is an America that for many the teachings of their Jesus’ (or whatever other God they worship) are ignored for the most part. Look to the border situation and these days and listen to some of the protesters … and then look at these Bible passages:
Leviticus 19:33-34 … “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Matthew 25:35 … “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me …”
Exodus 22:21 … “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
Then there’s our own Knucks and his quote of the day: “Every single non-Native American in this country is here without an open invitation. Get over it border protesters and do the right thing.”
Eloquent, SOB, that Knucks fella, huh?
The above six are available right now for $.99 ... oy vey, what a deal!
Hey, there’s a new deal by this Stella guy during his race to lose the first 100 pounds … you can get any of his first six crime novels for just .99 on kindle. From now -74 pounds, until he hits the big century mark -100 (estimated time is sometime in October) … so don’t run over to the kindle without making sure the kids roller skates (or are they blades now) are on the floor … don’t trip. Take your time and take a look-see right here (click on this link) …They are live now!
A Jesus debate … it’s a short one … the guy was explaining to me how we were all intended to be eternal (i.e., in God’s image) and I asked: “Then what was/is the point of life? If God is all knowing, omnipotent, and so on, why didn’t he just make us eternal? Why the big test? Why see if we’re subservient enough during a lifetime? Isn’t that a bit cruel? I mean, it’s like we’re taking this high school test for something that God already knows some of us won’t pass.” And the Jesus freak said, “God didn’t go to no stupid human high school.”
And I say: “Okay, but does He at least like pastrami?”