Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Buzzy Jackson, Shaking The Family Tree

During this year's Humanities Montana Festival of the Book, The Write Question producer Chérie Newman will moderate a panel that includes Laura Munson, Ruth McLaughlin, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, and the intrepid Buzzy Jackson.

The memoir panel begins at one o'clock on Friday, October 29.

Here's a video that shows why Buzzy decided to write Shaking The Family Tree, as well as highlights from a few of her adventures.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Program Schedule and Reading List

Coming up on The Write Question during the next few weeks:

Frances McCue, Thomas McGuane, Dan O'Brien, and Mary Zeiss Stange

Chérie's been reading:

Nowhere To Run, a new Joe Pickett novel by C.J. Box
Hiroshima In The Morning, memoir by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
Ghosts Of Wyoming, a collection of short stories by Alyson Hagy
Bound Like Grass, memoir by Mary McLaughlin
Faithful, a young adult novel by Janet Fox 
Beautiful Country, a new poetry collection by Robert Wrigley
Shaking The Family Tree, memoir by Buzzy Jackson
Growing A Garden City, nonfiction by Jeremy N. Smith
Fairview Felines, a mystery for ages 9-12 by Michele Corriel
Hard Grass, memoir by Mary Zeiss Stange

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hiroshima in the Morning, by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

“Many writers write to find out who they are, and what they think, and where they fit into the world,” said Rahna Reiko Rizzuto to an audience at the Hiroshima YMCA. Exactly.

Although Rizzuto went to Hiroshima to do research for a novel, her seven months in Japan yielded much more: an in-depth and personal exploration of her family relationships as she interviewed survivors of the first atomic bombing during the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Her new memoir, Hiroshima in the Morning, tells that complicated story.

But wait a minute.

Q:  Why is information about a memoir set in Japan and written by a Brooklyn author featured on a blog about western literature?

A:  Because Rizzuto turns the universal themes of motherhood, war, resilience, and identity into graceful, searing prose.

Shortly after she arrives in Hiroshima to interview survivors of the atomic bombing, Rizzuto experiences an unexpected transformation. “Now that I’m in Japan,” she writes, “I’m beginning to sense this mechanism in myself: there’s a distance, a small gap, between the neat labels I present on the outside, and the more turbulent urges I’m finding inside … Am I changing, or was I never that person in the first place?”

Hiroshima in the Morning chronicles Rizzuto’s transformation with painfully honest observations (“I never wanted to be a mother”) and heartbreaking anecdotes (“ …they brought her home, lying on a door. Her clothes were tattered and stuck to her skin. She died the next night, calling, ‘Mother, help me, please.’”).

And what Rizzuto learns about herself applies to us all.

“How we tell our stories makes all the difference. They are where we store our tears, where the eventual healing lies. If ‘we’ are talking, then we are safe in our group perspective; we do not have to own our experience alone, nor do we have to feel it … As scary, and painful, as it is to claim our pronouns, ‘we’ cannot inhabit our own lives until ‘I’ begins to speak.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Virginia Tranel writes her childhood friend's story

Benita Kane was the pretty one, the talented one, the girl all the other girls wanted to be. And no one knew she had a terrible secret.

Then, decades after she and Benita graduated from college together, Virginia Tranel began to hear rumors circulating in her hometown of Dubuque, Iowa: Benita was accusing Father Dunkel, the man who became their parish priest when they were young girls, of sexual abuse. Tranel re-established her relationship with Kane and eventually decided to write her story.

BENITA: prey for him is the true story of a bright, vivacious girl and the Catholic priest who lured her from childhood into a disastrous 20-year entanglement that changed the course of her life.
Hear Virginia Tranel talk with TWQ producer Chérie Newman Thursday evening at 6:30 on Yellowstone Public Radio) or at 7:30 on Montana Public Radio.

Find out more about Virginia Tranel and LISTEN ONLINE.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Christy Leskovar, Finding the Bad Inn

In her first book, One Night In A Bad Inn (the book she quit her successful career as an engineer to write), Christy Leskovar tells a whopping tale of family intrigue and mayhem.  That book was chosen as a 2007 High Plains Best Book Award finalist.

Now she's written the story behind the story. Finding The Bad Inn chronicles the adventures, joys, and challenges Leskovar encountered during her globe-trotting expeditions to find information about her family and write One Night In A Bad Inn.

Here's an excerpt:

Chapter One

While pondering the murder mystery at the beginning of my book One Night in a Bad Inn, and wondering whether my great-grandmother Sarah was complicit in the fire and that dead body turning up on the ranch, I wrote that how I found out what happened was "enough to fill a volume all its own, and perhaps one day it will."

And now it has.

This is the story of how I found out who started the fire, and how the body got there, and what really happened when my grandfather saved that man in the war, and why my grandmother was sent to an orphanage when she wasn’t an orphan, and so much more, and how I took those answers and wrote them into a book. It turned into quite a detective hunt, an adventure that took me across the globe, including a few misadventures I could have done without. As I discovered clues, pursued leads, followed threads, and was repeatedly dumbfounded by what I unearthed about my own relatives, I felt as if I were living in a novel. Though I had no idea what I would find when I began, I knew from the start that amid the scandals there stood at least one person of impeccable character and tremendous fortitude, an element of redemption giving me a positive reason to venture out into those uncharted waters. Otherwise, I never would have done it.

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Find out more about Christy Leskovar, her writing, and her current book tour at her Web site.