Posts Tagged ‘California Transit’

Now I’m a Snowflake

July 6, 2016

Today I’m happy to share a link to the site Snowflakes in a Blizzard where journalist and author Darrell Laurant surprised me by choosing to feature my 2007 short story collection, California Transit. His site is dedicated to bringing renewed attention to books that came out some years ago and can be lost from view in the blizzard of millions upon millions of published pages.

Darrell is the author of a novel, The Kudzu Kid, and another work I’ve just finished reading: Inspiration Street, a nonfiction work of local (Lynchburg, Virginia) history. We’ve never met but since he contacted me I’ve gotten to know him a bit via email and through Inspiration Street.

Till now, I thought Lynchburg was notable only as the home of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Unlike me, Darrell has (in his capacity as a journalist) actually met Falwell, and he told me that while he disagreed with much of what the man had to say, he also recognized what was good in him. From that and other email exchanges, what comes through to me is that Darrell is the kind of person who believes in mutual support and cooperation rather than competition or antagonism. So I can see why the history of two blocks – the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Pierce Street – appealed to him. The African American residents of those city streets didn’t accept messages that said people like you don’t, people like you can’t. Without much fuss, they just went ahead and they did and they could. Anne Spencer and her son Chauncey, Dr. Walter Johnson, and Clarence W. Seay (to name just four) may not be widely known in the US, but the impact of their lives, work and influence resonated far beyond Lynchburg. The people living on two short blocks in an often overlooked city brought change that affected us all.

Maybe that’s something for writers – for everyone – to remember: fame is not, after all, the measure of our lives.

PS: This is the cover image I wanted to use!

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First review of Confessions of a Carnivore

April 20, 2015

When you admire someone’s fiction and his politics, it can be nerve-wracking to know he’s going to review your novel. So I can only breathe a sigh of grateful relief and say thank you to JJ Amaworo Wilson.

Confessions of a Carnivore – by Diane Lefer

Posted on April 16, 2015 by JJ Wilson

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Wow. Diane Lefer’s new novel is one wild ride. With all the animals involved, I mean that literally. She somehow mixes activism, alcoholism, protest theater, cat-love, animal observation in L.A. Zoo, and race politics in one story and comes out the other end smelling of roses.

This novel is about all of those things and about none of them. It’s all about the voice. The narrator talks directly to us and it soon becomes clear she’s not all there. She’s half-dead with grief, reeling from the fallout of a failed marriage to an alcoholic and now unable to love anything or anyone beyond her cat. She gets mixed up in a protest theater group (based on Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed) and then involved in a series of increasingly bizarre incidents.

The novel is by turns hilarious and tragic. A lobotomized woman lives, barely, among hundreds of cats; the theater group lurches from daft stunt to even dafter stunt; and the ‘baddie’, it turns out, is just a naive fool on the wrong side of the political tracks.

To try to summarize the plot would be a fool’s errand, but I found this book terrifically entertaining in an absurd, where’s-she-going-to-take-us-next? kind of way. And just when we’re waiting for the next laugh, the novel surprises us by becoming something altogether more moving.

As a follow-up to the shimmering, award-winning California Transit, Confessions of a Carnivore doesn’t disappoint. It’s full of wild ideas and crazy conceits, and still manages to warm the heart.

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More info and to order.

Today, Live in The Nervous Breakdown

June 6, 2012

Thank you, Gina Frangello and Leah Tallon for featuring me and an excerpt from Nobody Wakes Up Pretty. Here’s the link