Friday, April 21, 2017

Come, We're Visiting Cadillac, Oklahoma with Louise Farmer Smith

Voice of Experience
Sloane Isaac Willard
1948
Sally arrived in our town the summer I turned seventeen, and that three-month stretch of heat burned up what was left of my childhood. She had that kind of wrecked voice that made her sound like a pack-a-day smoker, a woman with a story to tell in what my granddad Sloane Benjamin Willard, who'd been to France in WWI, called a whiskey voice. She looked to me like she might be as old as twenty-five, the perfect older woman to train me for what I hoped would be a lifetime of pleasing women...
~~~

That night, as the news of Peanuts Murphy's grisly death swirled through the town, Wynona's mind fled to the town green in Concord, Massachusetts. Louise May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne had lived in Concord. Wynona herself had been an English teacher. She belonged there where everything was leafy and literary, moist and mossy. She had visited the authors' graves and identified in herself a feeling of kinship.
Though she never got back East, through the years she fed her visions of a town green for Cadillac, and after seeing the movie, The Music Man, she added a bandstand to the picture. Her bank was going to provide the financing, and more important, it was her good taste that would guide the whole project. She had already found the little marble-top tables and the twisted wrought iron "ice cream" chairs in a catalog.
But now things could not have turned out worse, and she couldn't sleep. That tranquil green would have allowed her to be a better, more beautiful person, a woman who read more books and recalled what she'd learned in college and contemplated all this sitting under shade trees. That vision had been making her desperate for this project to succeed, but now, what happened to Peanuts was keeping her awake at night...
~~~


I am finding in my years of retirement that I knew very little about the people in my small home town... Now those stories are second-handed tales that may or may not be true, some of them, hoping they definitely are not true...

So it was that I quickly began to experience the fictional town of Cadillac, Oklahoma, during the year of 1948 when a young Sloane Willard decided to try courting an older woman who had just come to town! She had started working for Reverend Morgan's church and he was a delivery book that summer for McCall's Grocery... and so, of course, Sloane started going to the Methodist Church...


But now, it was 2012, and we're stopping in at a funeral. We meet Phoebe who was eleven that winter and she sat next to her Great Uncle, Sloane Willard...

It was an easy funeral. Nobody had to come too far or cry too hard, though I did feel Uncle Sloane sighing and swallowing during the service. It was his half-brother who had died.
And that's when it began... You know, the usual and disturbing discussion by remaining relatives about who was going to get what from the deceased's estate. Never have understood this; never will! As it happens sometimes, a secret life also is discovered which upsets the plans for that estate... In this case, Wendell had left his estate to a certain female friend who was supporting two young kids, and who needed what he could provide for them... Of course, Marvella Ketcham, his most vocal relative, did not yet know this--she'd been the one who'd started asking about the will...

Then the following year, Wynona Blosser decided that the town needed some leadership, taking on the Chamber of Commerce. Her idea--to create a central town green--was certainly good; especially since the property had run-down buildings that really needed to be dealt with... Except the land was owned, and the owner wasn't interested in selling...at least not for the price the town would offer...

But nobody expected to find the owner' body at the bottom of a ravine...

It seems Cadillac has all the drama that could be found in one town...and then some... Readers will find an underlying touch of humor throughout that will lighten some of the other more serious stories that will be shared...What I've mentioned are just a few of those to be told about the people who have lived or come to Cadillac...

You know, it seems everywhere we go, we'll find those who add "color" to the town... Some have gained respect through many years of service to the community like Sloane Willard who was still called on to give his advice on many matters. And then there was the Sheriff, who tried to deal with all the issues that occurred... But there are also the town residents who want to gain respectability through contributions and power within that same community. And, sometimes, someone will take action to gain whatever it is they want, no matter who is hurt...

So now, in Cadillac, Oklahoma, a murder must be solved... Did that death end the conflict? Let's just say that the town was slowly losing its appeal... Because more was coming...

And one new town reporter on the Courier was trying to make a place, and, hopefully, a career...

Readers begin to see the changes that were happening and before it started to get better, it got worse... But then Hillary O'Brien started to involve the town people, by creating a contributing editorial column... Newspaper sales started going up... People were more interested and involved... These little articles split up the narrative and became a special addition to the book itself. One of them even explained that the sands of Oklahoma once caused Woodie Guthrie, who thought he was about to meet his Maker trying to find his way through the sand wrote... "So Long, It's Been Good to Know you..."


In one way, you might call this an anthology; however, by having each story about some facet, person, or event in Cadillac, it feels much like a novel since the community environment is so much a part of the stories... I was thoroughly enjoying each and every story...until the last one...

I was stunned...and immediately, I had a question for the author. What was the message that you wanted your readers to receive? Perhaps I knew why, but I was not satisfied... I'm asking, Louise Farmer Smith, Why did you finish your book as you did? 

And yet I realized...this was America, in 2013 or any year thereafter... I don't want it that way, but...as a common saying we've been using recently, "It Is, What It Is...

But does it have to be? Here is our reality. It's heartwarming, It's devastating. It's where each of us can see parts of our lives and remember... What we choose to do with the future can only be decided by each reader... Thank you Louise Farmer Smith for a remarkable revealing look at  Everytown, USA...


GABixlerReviews


LOUISE FARMER SMITH, descendant of pioneer dugout-dwellers and chip-gatherers, grew up in Oklahoma. A former high school and college English teacher, she trained as a family therapist in the children's division of New Hampshire State hospital, and later served on a U.S. congressman's staff. She was a PEN/New England Discovery and her short stories have appeared in literary journals including VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEW, NORTH DAKOTA REVIEW, THE SOUTHEAST REVIEW; and online in NARRATIVE and PERSIMMON TREE, both online. Her latest publication, "Summons to Tulsa," appeared in the August 1 issue of the broadsheet, THIS LAND, from This Land Press.

BELLEVUE LITERARY REVIEW nominated "Return to Lincoln" for a Pushcart Prize. That story and five others make up ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MARRIAGE, A Novel in Stories, her first collection. An extensive and helpful review is available at http://starr-review.blogspot.com. Scroll down to June 3, 2012.

Her memoir pieces have been anthologized in I'VE ALWAYS MEANT TO TELL YOU (Pocket Book) and TO FATHERS, (Story Line Press), and her fiction has appeared in DOTS ON A MAP and COMING HOME, both from Main Street Rag Press. An essay, "On Betraying Family," will appear in the October 2012 GLIMMER TRAIN newsletter.

Smith’s next book, WEDDING STORIES, is a delicious mix of ceremonies and acrimonies, set between the 1920’s and 2013, each story devoted to one participant: the bride, the mother-of-the-groom, the florist, the limo driver, etc. 

She may be contacted through her website, louisefarmersmith.com. Smith lives with her husband on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, always a good source of material.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Poet Adolfo Caso Presents "White Cliffs" During National Poetry Month!


White Cliffs


The speaker's voice
a solo
above the crowd's whispering--
nonsense
a different levels
both, or all
telling
what has and needs be done,
while below
at the edge of the cliff
the water keeps on rolling in,
forming waves
                               older
than human consciusness.


The speaker's voice
a solo
above the whispers

The sea gulls fly by the window
dipping through the air
scanning waves
that bear the fruit;
and I wonder
whether it be better
to be a man
                              capable
of seeking food
and still be starved
or
the sea gull scanning the waves
and catch its fish.







Shared by Adolph (Adolfo) Caso

From



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Vector Red: Gene Therapy Blessing or Curse - Latest Brilliant Novel by Lawrence W. Gold, M.D.

Author's Note: Some years ago in a speech on health policy, President George W. Bush issued this warning: "The powers of science are morally neutral, and we can use them for good or bad." In the excitement of discovery, he said, "We must never forget that mankind is defined not by intelligence alone, but by conscience." He went on to say that, "Even the most noble ends do not justify every means."
Science gives us the opportunity to remake the natural world, but does mankind have the ability to decide how best to do it?
Do we want to do good, or do we choose to do what can be done?
The evolution of CRISPR/Cas9 technology with its vast potential to do good or evil, will come with a price. We will need the wisdom to define its use in all biological systems, but particularly in humans.
Altering a person's cells can change today, altering germ cells will change the future of mankind.

The bacterium, Serratia used in this novel, is one of many common and benign environmental bacteria. Some strains carry reddish-orange color pigment. When colonies of these strains are grown in the laboratory, the pigment is apparent within a day and breaks down in light. The red pigment is responsible for many reports from antiquity onward of the sudden appearance of blood or blood on food, fabric, or inanimate objects. Many "miracles" from the Middle Ages on were the result of the growth of Serratia being interpreted as the blood of Christ.
~~~


Choosing to read a novel by Lawrence W. Gold, M.D. promises an excellent medical thriller, normally about something that is timely, and about which we will see an ethical evaluation of that issue, mostly provided through the beloved main character, Dr. Jacob Weizman, who at age 88 looked much like Sigmund Freud, with thick gray hair and matching full beard, and spoke with a soft, Austrian accent. His wife Lola, a psychologist, is also a series lead character, who just happens to look like... Dr. Ruth!

The Brier Hospital Series is the best long-standing medical thriller series I've read. Dr. Gold practiced internal medicine and nephrology (diseases of the kidney) but he was also an active participant in the hospital's quality assurance program... I would imagine that the latter brought him into discussions on the many medical issues that are in the news today. As the Author's Note indicated, anything that is discovered through scientific study can be used for good or bad. I praise the author for continuing to illustratively share these issues through fictional tales that normally set a "what-if" situation for readers to ponder along with the suspenseful stories. For this novel, I was also amazed to learn about Serratia and its appearance having been interpreted as miracles... While not discounting that miracles do occur, it was nevertheless illuminating to learn that some of those events where it was assumed that sudden blood appearing represented Christ's blood, could actually have been common bacteria.  Another thing to ponder as we learn more about the natural world around us...

Vector Red delves into Gene Therapy, raising the question whether it is a Blessing or Curse? I have never doubted that it is right to scientifically advance anything that can help improve human life. The problem is, as we well know, not everybody uses those discoveries for that purpose.

And that's how the latest story began... After a brief prologue in which we learn of the outbreak of something not known by those at the Brier Hospital, the book is divided into two parts and 470 pages! The first, sharing the story of the research scientists involved with the development/creation of what has turned into a serious, unknown outbreak... 

The first part of the book shares the lives of two geniuses who were close friends and who had known each other since they were kids...But they had moved in different scientific directions although later in life had both wound up at Fort Detrick. 

Without telling any of what led to that crisis situation, I do want to say that it began as a means to seek revenge, but also had been made worse by accident, which is even scarier! In this case, the only salvation, was that two of the researchers, who were also involved in studying biological weapons, had seen the need to also study what could be done to prevent death from bioweapons... Thankfully...


The second part covers the family interaction with the medical staff who are trying to save their two daughters from something unknown that has already killed. Jacob had been the family doctor for many years and he acts as liaison between them and the team working to discover what it is that has placed their daughters near death...

It was during a time when three young missionaries were visiting a native tribe and having returned home, one was brought to Brier Hospital with a rash and low-grade fever. (It was later discovered that many at the Indian reservation also developed the rash...)

Then the rash erupted into skin lesions! Sara, the patient, went into shock... And none of the medical staff had any idea was it was they were facing. Sara was immediately rushed into ICU isolation.

In the meantime, another of the team members had died and Sara's sister, who had went on a trip with her fiancee did not immediately show the signs of the rash, but was brought in soon...

Without telling any of what led to that crisis situation, I do want to say that it began as a means to seek revenge, but also had been made worse by a chemical accident. In this case, the only salvation, was that two of the researchers, who were also involved in studying biological weapons, had seen the need to also study what could be done to prevent death from such bioweapons... Thankfully...

While there is intense discussions about the scientific activities behind the story, I found, as I often do, the character development mainly drew my attention. The range of personal emotions and negative reactions of a few intimately involved in the emergency situation versus the majority of those who were doing everything possible to identify and move toward a solution revealed the dedication of those who routinely serve to help save human lives. It is heart-warming for readers to see how medical specialists work together in today's crazy world where just a few can potentially cause such devastation.

Another brilliant, remarkable, true-to-life, fascinating story by Lawrence W. Gold, M.D. set as a Medical Thriller... Highly recommended!


GABixlerReviews



I was born in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, moved to Queens, and then, as New Yorkers say, we ascended to the Island.
After graduating from Valley Stream Central High School, I went to Adelphi, a college then, a university now, and then to medical school in Chicago.
The war in Vietnam interrupted my postgraduate training with a year in Colorado Springs and another as a Battalion Surgeon in Vietnam. I spent seven months in the Central Highlands with the 4th Infantry and five months in an evacuation hospital in Long Binh outside Saigon where I ran the emergency room.
I returned intact in 1968 to complete my training in internal medicine and diseases of the kidney, nephrology.
I worked for twenty-three years in Berkeley, California in a hospital-based practice caring for patients with complicated illnesses often in ICU and served as Chief of Medicine.
My wife Dorlis and I retired in October 1995 and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge for a life at sea in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Four years later, exhausted from repairing everything on board, (often many times) we sold the sailboat and within a year took the lazy man's out; we bought a Nordic Tug, a trawler. We motored around Florida, the Bahamas, the entire East Coast and completed two 'Circle trips' to Canada and back, eight months, the first time, five months, the second.
I wrote professionally as a physician to inform but rarely to entertain, at least not on purpose.
First, Do No Harm was published in April 2007. No Cure for Murder was released in August 2011. For the Love of God was published in January 2012 and The Sixth Sense in July 2012.
In the last two years, I've written three screenplays based on my novels and hope to see one or more produced for the screen. I submitted my screenplay, Rage to the 80th Annual Writer's Digest contest and won honorable mention (57 out of 11,000).
We live in beautiful Grass Valley with 13 year old Mike, a terrier mix and Bennie, a 7 year old purebred though enormous Yorkie.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Biker's Funeral from the Novel, Running With Wild Blood By Gerrie Ferris Finger and more...




I’m easily amused. Lake circled the rental car around Palms Garden Cemetery. A spiked, wrought iron fence kept the dead in, otherwise, who knew? They might run out and vote. I didn’t say that to Lake for fear of an unappreciative groan. 


At the white stone gates, at intervals , the uniformed cop held up a hand to allow other boulevard traffic to flow past the line of bikes and cars waiting to enter the city of the
dead.
My skin started to hum. The voltage in the atmosphere was amped to the max despite the fanning palms doing their damndest to make this day a celebration of the dead. “Don’t anyone light a match,” Lake said.

Riley "Big Red" O'Rourke












We weaved and shouldered our way through throngs of bikers, some startled at seeing three people not wearing cut, sleeveless denim, or leather, or visible tattoos— until they caught the badges. They growled and spit, then went back to their conversations. Lots of fucks and fuckers being said, Lake noted . They were paired with all the adverbs and adjectives known in the English language. The last of the attendees were in place at O’Rourke’s grave. On the gold-draped stand stood an obviously hand-painted casket with the motorcycle club’s colors and a patch on the foot. I spotted Rassler and the Chattanooga brothers milling around the head of the coffin. The Raleigh boys were at the sides and the Birmingham chapter at the foot. I wondered if there was some kind of strategy in the stations of those nearest the bier. I looked behind me. Pressing forward was so much human flesh in leather, cattle pens must have been emptied to supply the hides. The crowd quieted. The service was to begin.

Holding a microphone, the preacher began the service with a prayer, and those bikers in front of me removed whatever head gear they wore except those with do-rags. Bad hankie hair maybe. The silence quivered with tension and I was glad for the “Amen.” Immediately, Rush’s “Ghost Rider” flared from speakers hidden in palms. I thought it an apt song. When Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist for Rush, lost his daughter and wife, he went on a motorcycle journey across America, and then wrote the song.



When the track ended, the preacher did the “we are gathered together” thing. The preacher paused, stepped back and Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” erupted from the speakers. The crowd let out a collective yelp. 

...the preacher read a passage from the Bible. It rang out in enunciated tones through the speakers , as if the preacher wanted everyone to hear and believe. “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable , and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Halfway through that passage from Corinthians I had my doubts about it being right for a biker funeral, but when the preacher said “Amen” a collective , testosterone-laden “whoop” blew through the air. Into the whoop came the Eagles, “Life in the Fast Lane.”


I swear every biker sang. They must have been nipping from flasks... Once the song ended and voices settled, the preacher read from another Bible passage: “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die . . . A time to kill, And a time to heal . . . A time to weep, And a time to laugh, A time to mourn, And a time to dance . . . A time to lose; A time to keep . . . A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.” 
As expected, the blaster fired up another motorcycle song, this time Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” I’m thinking funeral as an excuse for a heavy metal concert. Certainly the crowd was much less restive than they had been before the music.

Next up, The Doors, “Riders on the Storm.” I’ve always loved that song, the thunder and rain effects. It was inspired, they say, by “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” a cowboy song. I reasoned that biker music must be standard at funerals. It certainly had a calming effect on the crowd, but I stayed alert, wary.






The music died and the preacher said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Amen.” He held up a cross. “Go with God and our Lord Jesus Christ brother Riley O’Rourke.” After a quiet interval, the casket was lowered into the ground by some automatic button. Shovels began to fly; their blades had the club’s patch painted on it. The Raleigh club was literally burying their dead. I got a good look at Rassler who worked his shovel demonically, his face red with sweat. The silent crowd was rapt with awe. It was then I sensed something in the air, a quiet determination. At the same time, something moved rapidly to my left. A man rushed forward, passing not six feet from me, weaving through the biker fraternity intent on seeing their brother buried. They’d let down their guard.
The would-be shooter and I were leaving a commotion in our wake . The grave shovelers halted. Rassler turned. Switch— on the other side of the coffin—paused. The shooter raised his gun hand. I aimed low in case I was jostled into an errant shot. Two shots rang through the air, cold and sharp. Mine got him in the buttocks. 


His bullet went into the palms. He faltered a step forward, then went to his knees. I felt the stampede then the pause of movement. At least fifteen bikers jumped the prone, injured man and began stomping him. Grady spoke rapidly into a police radio. Lake stared at me. Rassler portaged around the carnage. Parting the crowd, he came up at the same time Grady arrived with his FBI contingent, the ATF and the police. The cops waded into the men bent on murdering the gunman. Lake stood next to me. He didn’t say anything, but his eyes were narrow with anger. Rassler said, “You saved my life.” Switch came up and raised his fist in salute.
I couldn’t respond for the hollowness in my chest. It was like someone or something had pulled a plug and drained away my core. I feared what lay ahead, what Lake’s expression was telling me. I simply could not speak for fear my body, its organs, would shut down. The faraway voice was Rassler’s. “You okay, girl?” He gave me a side hug.
I think I nodded and watched six burly cops pry bikers off the body of the would-be assassin. I didn’t look down, though I knew he was dead. “Come with us,” Grady said gently, taking my gun and my elbow. As we left the O’Rourke family plot, I heard a murmur, and then a rousing number sprang from the speakers: “Bat out of Hell” by Meatloaf. 



Lake walked behind us, jaws locked, eyes like hard brown granite. Better if they played AC/ DC’s “Highway to Hell” for me.





This was totally unplanned for today. I've been slowly moving all book-related material from my other blog to provide equal visibility for all. As I was finishing up this article, I began to think about today being Good Friday... the day Jesus died for all of us...

I began to consider this elaborate funeral for a biker... I wondered, what would a funeral be like if today was the day Jesus died?
Would you be attending?
I think a lot about His place in today's world, especially around those holidays set in memory of Him...
Crowds gather for big game days...
Crowds gather for rock concerts...
Crowds even gather for a popular biker...
Now, Easter is many times just about Easter eggs and bunnies...
Tell me, have you ever thought about the fact that  every holiday that celebrates Jesus now has another different type of celebration...
And it's bigger, better, and costs lost of money?
I think about those types of things...It saddens me...




Thursday, April 13, 2017

Experience Natural Enemies, Latest by Warren Adler!

Medicine Bow,
Routt National Forest
Even before George realized that the beige Ford van was following them, he had felt a sense of growing anxiety. He did not like to drive in the dark, especially along strange roads. His calculations had not allowed for the fact that the sun would dip behind the high Western peaks at least an hour or so before the published time of the Colorado sunset. He did not like human error, and that included his own. “Getting darker,” he mumbled between clenched teeth, glancing, with some guilt, at his wristwatch. Birdie smiled, amused by his irritation. “Poor baby. Lost without your computers,” she teased, digging her fingers into the funnybone above his knee. 
He had agreed to drive west from Denver only if he did not have to drive in the dark. “Cut it out,” he snapped with mock waspishness. But her gesture had cheered him. “You couldn’t foresee that the plane would be an hour late or that it would take nearly an hour to rent the car or that those peaks would be so high. Really, George, you can’t control everything.” She rubbed her thin white hands along his thigh to placate him.
Placing his hand over hers, he squeezed. “We could have stayed on the outskirts of Denver,” he said. But the girl at the Hertz desk had suggested the scenic route, old number 40 to 125, through the Arapaho and Routt national forests, then up to Rand. They had a Holiday Inn reservation near Rand. Tomorrow they would drive through the Arapaho wildlife refuge, then double back to 40 via Route 14. 
“It’s like a foreign land,” Birdie said, settling back to watch the spreading shadows along the timbered mountains, the play of odd light effects, especially above the timberline, where snow coated the peaks like heavy white paste. 
“We were supposed to relax. And already it’s not relaxing.”
“Go with the flow. That’s what the Doc said,” Birdie replied. She was always amused by his carping. It gave her a chance to tease. Besides, it was the freedom of breaking routine, of doing the opposite thing, that made this Western vacation romantic, she thought. Something completely different, as the comedian had said on the Monty Python Show. Different from Manhattan. Different from their jobs. Different from the routine of city life. And they had never seen the West. 
He pulled the car over near the road’s shoulder. Taking the map from the glove compartment, he studied it while Birdie traced the red Magic Marker line with a slender finger. Designating their path, it arced imperfectly between the major interstates from Route 70 to Route 80. 
“It’ll get dark just when we’re in the middle of the forest. Nothing is scenic in the dark.”
“Except you,” she said gaily, snuggling up to him. “If you like we could sleep in the car.” She kissed his ear. “You’re being L and L.” It was one of their many little code expressions. “L and L” meant lecherous and lustful. 
“The height,” she agreed. 
He put the map in the glove compartment and gunned the motor. It was then he noted that the beige van, which he had observed only peripherally, had stopped a few hundred feet behind him. When he started his car, it started. Coincidence, he decided, pushing the idea from his mind. Because the road wound in sharp hairpin curves as it climbed, he guided the car carefully up the sloping terrain. City living had made his driving rusty and the tires squeaked as he wrestled the wheel on the sharp turns. The van, he noted, was more stable in its maneuvers, indicating a more experienced driver. 
“Hard to believe,” Birdie said, admiring the passing slopes. “Don’t you look!” she cried, as the tires squeaked on a curve. “Don’t worry about that,” he said with annoyance. The road dipped and climbed, following the harsh contours. He had also not made allowances for this obstacle course. On either side now was solid forest with barely a break in the treeline. Occasionally even the peaks disappeared and he seemed to be navigating in an impenetrable sea of timber. As they climbed, the sporadic traffic thinned and there was only their little rented Plymouth Fury and the beige van on the road. 
“Damn,” he cried, as the car made too wide a swath rounding a curve. He had been looking into the rearview mirror, and hadn’t seen the curve come at them so swiftly. “If there was a car coming from the other direction— zap, splat!” He wasn’t really good at hiding his anxieties. 
She looked at him curiously and noted his eyes shifting between the review mirror and the windshield. Turning in the seat, she looked back...
~~~


Imagine the experience of days and days with nothing around you but woods...
~~~


As many of you know, I live, alone, in a log cabin surrounded by acres of trees...except I have a road in front of my cabin, and neighbors... Still, I have been snowed in many times, unable to get from the door of my cabin to the road which has been cleared...

In the woods, the sounds are either of silence or of nature surrounding me... I have wind chimes on my porch and they ring loudly as the wind blows against the cabin walls, trying to find any method of seeping into my home... Thunder and Lightning is so much louder and brighter in the country than if I were still living in the town where I worked before retirement.

Deer, coons, 'possums, wild turkeys are normal neighbors for me... I tell you all this because as I read Warren Adler's latest novel, there was no way that I did not begin to actually experience the story. It's an exhilarating, raw, adventure that, for me, pulled me in right from the beginning... And the silence of facing the unknown day after day is...terrifying...This reader felt quite grateful reading about it rather than the potential reality of it that we all know has happened! And yet, I just couldn't stop reading...

Especially because the author begins with a first-chapter which readers will consider as what will be happening in the book... Then we immediately switch to meeting the two main characters--a young married couple who are, I must spotlight, very much in love. 

George is a VP at a city bank and works entirely with computers. He has had a good life, with loving parents who totally supported him whenever possible. 

On the other hand, Birdie, who goes by a nickname that was given years ago, is a graphic artist who works from home. Her family background was not a happy one. Her father left the family, unable to live with his wife, and Birdie was left with a bitter, vengeful mother who derided the father she loved, as well as did little to keep the family going. Birdie was left to take care of her mother, the house, and anything her father would have contributed. She learned early how to use tools to repair and/or create useful items to respond to needs...

Their two backgrounds had created a relationship of two people who were almost opposites in personalities and abilities. In the marriage, they complemented each other, with George doing the cooking and Birdie doing most everything around the house.

But they had come to a problem when George began to make it clear that he wanted children, while Birdie wasn't enthused, given her background as a child. She was willing to try but they had been unsuccessful. With counseling, it was suggested they go on a vacation together. Their travel agent gave them the "scenic route..."

And when they got on that scenic route, with nothing surrounding them but deep forest, they began a cat and mouse chase with two men in a large vehicle...who were out, for whatever reason, to place the couple in dangerous situations...

When they succeeded...those characters are never seen again.

George and Birdie were left with no vehicle, in a deep wooded forest, with only their clothes and what few things they carried with them... and lost 

George and Birdie had been fairly certain what they would face if the two men had reached them...


They had no idea that their greatest...natural enemies...were the land, the trees, the weather, and all that lived and surrounded them there... especially at night...

No matter what the story, Adler has the ability to pull readers into the book itself. This book, however, went beyond that for me... I felt like I was in the midst of that forest, experiencing what was happening as this couple searched for water, first, and what they might be able to eat. They quickly learned how and where NOT to set up camp, as one night they built on an ant hill and woke with ants everywhere... Fortunately that time there had been a stream nearby and they leaped in to wash the insects off their bodies! The other enemies they were to meet were not so easily dealt with... The adventure is  highly tense as they seemed to be facing formidable enemies with whom they'd had no experience. They were citified, yes, but one of them had never known fear, until now... That was when Birdie was at her best...

The tension started to build between the couple. Feelings of insecurity, loss of confidence, blame, guilt and more were brought out unintentionally, hurting the other when it was done, only to go through apologies and making up. For me, it was the emotional trauma, the inner introspective of each individual as they faced the unknown... Yet, no matter what came up, they were able to handle it because of the other.

For those who love romantic suspense and thrillers, I believe you may find this book one like no other--it certainly was for me. This is not so much a page-turner, as an impossible story to leave until you know the ending. Even then, the ending was somewhat anti-climatic, but, yet, so satisfactory that anything else would have seemed inappropriate. Kudos to the author!

For those who love action and adventure and books pitting individuals against nature, this I must say is better than any I've read, which includes Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon, forest ranger, best-selling series and others in that genre. The reason is that Adler has pitted his characters against one calamity after another. There's no room to take a breath before they must face rain, floods, snow avalanche, wild animals, lack of food, water, and being physically hurt in one or more of these situations.

Then Adler adds some comic relief, as they meet their first person who critically asks why they are wearing bear skin clothes... Ahhhh, back to the world of human enemies who speak before they think... You know, in a way, I'm curious as to how these two adjusted to being back in "civilization..." But that's maybe another book... But I surely loved this one, and easily added it to my personal favorites for 2017...


GABixlerReviews



Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. In addition to the success of the stage adaptation of his iconic novel on the perils of divorce, Adler has optioned and sold film rights to more than a dozen of his novels and short stories to Hollywood and major television networks. Random Hearts (starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas), The Sunset Gang (starring Jerry Stiller, Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Doris Roberts), Private Lies, Funny Boys, Madeline’s Miracles, Trans-Siberian Express and his Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series are only a few titles that have forever left Adler’s mark on contemporary American authorship from page to stage to screen. Learn more about Warren Adler at www.warrenadler.com.