Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Matt Pavelich, author of 'The Other Shoe'

Henry Brusett is the only one who can explain the mysterious death of Calvin Teague. He’s the only one who truly knows how the young man came to be bloodied and lifeless on his land in Montana’s vast backcountry. But Henry won’t say anything. His silence and its ripple across his small community form the heart of Matt Pavelich’s engrossing second novel, The Other Shoe.

Henry never wanted much more than a family and his days spent as a sawyer deep in the wilderness. But by middle-age Henry is divorced, disabled, and isolated on a remote plot of land in Montana. After years of self-imposed loneliness, Henry meets Karen, who’s half his age and knows nothing but her own willful solitude. Their union is the unlikeliest of bonds, a mix of comfort and guilt for Henry who believes he’s too old for Karen. But it’s also the spark of his undoing, a decision that leads him toward one of his greatest regrets.

As members of Henry and Karen’s small town try to both uncover and cover-up the truth surrounding Calvin Teague’s untimely death, The Other Shoe moves toward the inescapable and shines in the rarity of Pavelich’s assured and haunting style.

From Publisher's Weekly:

"Pavelich’s haunting, beautifully observed second novel opens with Calvin Teague, an Iowan drifter, at the mercy of the harsh elements of the Montana open road. Teague is discovered exhausted, dehydrated, and missing a shoe by Karen Brusett, who takes him to her remote trailer, where the two get close. But when Teague winds up bludgeoned to death, possibly with a cane belonging to Karen’s arthritic husband, it stirs up all kinds of suspicion and unrest in small-town Montana, the novel’s evocatively desolate backdrop. As Pavelich unfurls his characters’ histories, the plot oscillates between alternating perspectives in a clever crime drama."

During this week's program, Matt Pavelich talks about small-town justice and reads from The Other Shoe.

You can hear the program on the radio or online:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Poems: "Summer Solstice" -- by Stacie Cassarino

I wanted to see where beauty comes from
without you in the world, hauling my heart
across sixty acres of northeast meadow,
my pockets filling with flowers.
Then I remembered,
it’s you I miss in the brightness
and body of every living name:
rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.
You are the green wonder of June,
root and quasar, the thirst for salt.
When I finally understand that people fail
at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,
the paper wings of the dragonfly
aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?
If I get the story right, desire is continuous,
equatorial. There is still so much
I want to know: what you believe
can never be removed from us,
what you dreamed on Walnut Street
in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,
learning pleasure on your own.
Tell me our story: are we impetuous,
are we kind to each other, do we surrender
to what the mind cannot think past?
Where is the evidence I will learn
to be good at loving?
The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond
for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.
There are violet hills,
there is the covenant of duskbirds.
The moon comes over the mountain
like a big peach, and I want to tell you
what I couldn’t say the night we rushed
North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers
and the way you go into yourself,
calling my half-name like a secret.
I stand between taproot and treespire.
Here is the compass rose
to help me live through this.
Here are twelve ways of knowing
what blooms even in the blindness
of such longing. Yellow oxeye,
viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms
pleading do not forget me.
We hunger for eloquence.
We measure the isopleths.
I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.
The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.
Fireflies turn on their electric wills:
an effulgence. Let me come back
whole, let me remember how to touch you
before it is too late.

*     *     *     *     *

Poet Stacie Cassarino has won the "Discovery"/The Nation Joan Leiman Jacobson Poetry Prize and received an award from the Astraea Foundation Writer's Fund. Her work has also been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. The above poem is printed in her 2009 collection Zero at the Bone, which won the 2010 Lambda prize for Lesbian poetry.

Cassarino has taught at the University of Washington, the Pratt Institute of Art and Middlebury College. She lives in Los Angeles.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Keith McCafferty, author of 'The Royal Wulff Murders'

A clever and fast-paced murder mystery full of wit, suspense, and fly fishing.

When a fishing guide reels in the body of a young man on the Madison, the Holy Grail of Montana trout rivers, Sheriff Martha Ettinger suspects foul play. It’s not just the stick jammed into the man’s eye that draws her attention; it’s the Royal Wulff trout fly stuck in his bloated lower lip. Following her instincts, Ettinger soon finds herself crossing paths with Montana newcomer Sean Stranahan.

Fly fisher, painter, and has-been private detective, Stranahan left a failed marriage and lackluster career to drive to Montana, where he lives in an art studio decorated with fly-tying feathers and mouse droppings. With more luck catching fish than clients, Stranahan is completely captivated when Southern siren Velvet Lafayette walks into his life, intent on hiring his services to find her missing brother. The clues lead Stranahan and Ettinger back to Montana’s Big Business: fly fishing. Where there’s money, there’s bound to be crime.

During this week's program, Keith McCafferty will talk about his decision to get this novel written during a night he spent buried in a "debris hut," in November, in the mountains of Montana. He'll also read from The Royal Wulff Murders.

You can hear the program on the radio or online:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Poems: "Cool Dust" -- by Aaron Shurin

A heave of afternoon light pulls a tulip from the turf, a bower for locusts, a cup of shells. The farmhouse tilts, a bent shadow on wheels. In cedar rooms a family is molded, silent, wrapped in the wire of steel eyes and stopped voice, romantic ash. This is not my house, my ghost, my uninvited guest, my lost labor of love, my thicket or grease, my JPEG gessoed or rawhide suit. The yellow light throbs like an internal organ — soft body of an overture to insect sounds — sapling of a new world — whose future awaits me at the tilting window of my own domestic hut. Perhaps this is my mesh of hours, my muscular ache, my guardian sash, twist of rope carved around an old maple trunk, my rod of power red with anticipatory friction at the edge of an emerging set of planetary rings. Stained ochre by the air I pitch forward, a vanilla-scented pear that floats or falls. In the rattan chair on the front porch by the blistered boards of the front door a figure of tar watches. Cool dust sparkles and settles. Shadows have made me visible. An empty wagon flares on the hillside.

* * * * *
Essayist and poet Aaron Shurin directs the MFA program at the University of San Francisco. He has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gerbode Foundation and others. He has published more than a dozen books, including The Paradise of Forms (1999) and Citizen (2012), in which the above poem appears.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Maile Meloy talks about 'The Apothecary'

Even if you are not attracted to the fantasy genre, you may be happily surprised  by Maile Meloy's latest book. In a review of The Apothecary for the New York Times, (skeptic) Krystyna Poray Goddu wrote: "...the book, with its intricately constructed plot, well-paced suspense, credibly rendered fantastical elements, thoughtfully drawn characters and authentically detailed settings, satisfies on all levels. Even for a reader predisposed against the genre."

The story begins in Los Angeles, in 1952, when 14-year-old Janie Scott moves with her parents to London, England. There, she meets a mysterious apothecary and becomes fascinated by his son, Benjamin Burrows -- a 14-year-old boy who isn't afraid to stand up to authority and who dreams of becoming a spy.

Just before Benjamin's father is kidnapped, he gives Janie and Benjamin an ancient book, The Pharmacopoeia, insisting that they must keep it safe -- no matter what. It turns out that Russian spies want the book and will do anything to get it. Using the recipes for transformative elixirs they find in the book's pages, Janie and Benjamin stay one step ahead of the bad guys as they embark on a dangerous mission to save the apothecary and prevent impending nuclear disaster.

During this week's program, Maile Meloy will talk about where she got the idea for The Apothecary, her first novel for middle readers (she's the author of two adult novels and two story collections). She'll also read from the book and talk a little about her writing process.

You can hear the program on the radio or online:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Poems: "Haiku Ambulance" -- by Richard Brautigan

A piece of green pepper   
off the wooden salad bowl:   
   so what?  

*     *     *     *     *
Richard Brautigan was a poet, novelist and short story writer. His works include Trout Fishing in America, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar. He lived in the northwest U.S., mostly California, until his death in 1984.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jim Robbins, author of 'The Man Who Planted Trees'

Twenty years ago, David Milarch, a northern Michigan nurseryman with a penchant for hard living, had a vision: angels came to tell him that the earth was in trouble. Its trees were dying, and without them, human life was in jeopardy. The solution, they told him, was to clone the champion trees of the world — the largest, the hardiest, the ones that had survived millennia and were most resilient to climate change—and create a kind of Noah’s ark of tree genetics. Without knowing if the message had any basis in science, or why he’d been chosen for this task, Milarch began his mission of cloning the world’s great trees. Many scientists and tree experts told him it couldn’t be done, but, twenty years later, his team has successfully cloned some of the world’s oldest trees—among them giant redwoods and sequoias. They have also grown seedlings from the oldest tree in the world, the bristlecone pine Methuselah.

When New York Times journalist Jim Robbins came upon Milarch’s story, he was fascinated but had his doubts. Yet over several years, listening to Milarch and talking to scientists, he came to realize that there is so much we do not yet know about trees: how they die, how they communicate, the myriad crucial ways they filter water and air and otherwise support life on Earth. It became clear that as the planet changes, trees and forest are essential to assuring its survival. The Man Who Planted Trees is both a fascinating investigation into the world of trees and the inspiring story of one man’s quest to help save the planet. This book’s hopeful message of what one man can accomplish against all odds is also a lesson about how each of us has the ability to make a difference.

Find out more about Jim Robbins and listen to the program, on the radio or online.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Monday Poems: "Of What is Real" -- by Richard Tagett

I like to lie with you wordless
on black cloud rooft beach
in late june 5 o’clock tempest
on clump weed bed with sand
fitting your contours like tailor made

and I like to wash my summer brown face
in north cold hudson rapids
with octagon soap
  knees niched in steamy rocks
  where last night’s frog stared
  at our buddhist sleep

but most of all I like to see
the morning happen . . .

I like to go down vertical mountains
where lanny goshkitch
  crashing poplars
  sap sticky arms flailing
  as thermosed green tea
  anoints sneakers
  and blood soakt brow I taste and love
  myself a split second

and I like to feel my own full scrotum
as I horizon the whole crisp linen earth
in my beatitude waiting miguel-like
in maskt fantasy for christ-like
whoever you are

but most of all I like to see
the morning happen . . .

I like to look at books howl
haikus of the seasons
of the mind
that I might know the knowing
and the simplest to think of all of us
taking turns at catching each other
in the rye

and I like to taste cold absinthe
on hot hung sunday mornings
discussing orgies symposiums
and sounds with hoary headed poets
in upstairs jazz club
in Japan

but most of all I like to see
the morning happen when k and ike still sleep
and only the denver night riders hum contrasts
to orient jazzy feather beasts
in the dewy garden of real earth
where I can sink my naked feet

*     *     *     *     *

Richard Tagett has published three books of poetry—Breaking the Silence (2005), What Were Yards (2008) and Demodulating Angel (2011), in which the above poem is printed. He lives in San Francisco.