Especially when the October wind
(Some let me make you of autumnal spells,
The spider-tongued, and the loud hill of Wales)
With fists of turnips punishes the land,
Some let me make you of the heartless words.
The heart is drained that, spelling in the scurry
Of chemic blood, warned of the coming fury.
By the sea’s side hear the dark-vowelled birds.
October is my favorite month. Halloween is my favorite holiday. And reading is my favorite pastime. So let’s get started.
GIRL WAITS WITH GUN by Amy Stewart
Through the true story of the Kopp sisters, Stewart visits New Jersey as it was 100 years ago. The industrial radius around New York City was still in its adolescence. Not far from the loud and dusty mills one could find rural, working farms. The Kopp sisters — Constance, Norma and Fleurette — lived on a farm and mostly kept to themselves. They are forced to leave their simple idyll when a drunk and boisterous mill owner drives his car into their horse and carriage.
The collision of two separate modes of transportation becomes the opening act in a struggle with modernity. Constance Kopp, narrator and the most headstrong of the three, decides to bill the offending driver for the damages. When he refuses to pay up, she sues him. Instead of paying his fines and returning to life as a wealthy factory owner, he decides to begin a campaign of terror against the girls. He and his cronies send threatening letters, stalk their farm, throw bricks through their windows and, eventually, bullets.
The Kopp sisters enlist the help of the Bergen County sheriff, who takes up their case with surprising enthusiasm. He even teaches the girls how to shoot.
And that’s how we came to be standing in a meadow on a bracingly cold November night, struggling to see out fence-post targets against the gathering dark, taking one shot after another as a sheriff braced us by the shoulders and spoke steadily in our ears, slipping the revolvers our of our pale and frozen hands to reload them so that we could fire again and again and again at the menace that waited somewhere out there beyond the creek bed. ~Loc 3315
In an era when women couldn’t vote or be seen wearing pants, the Kopp sisters lived alone, managed a farm and fought off a corrupt system.
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the e-galley.
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (September 1, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
DEAR MISTER ESSAY WRITER GUY by Dinty W. Moore
Essayist Moore invites his fellow writers to send in their questions about writing. They range from the amusing to the absurd to the insightful. His answers are equally varied. He often references the acknowledged progenitor of the form, Michel de Montaigne.
The father of the essay, it seems, lacked a simple notebook and pencil . This, as a matter of fact, is why we know have university degrees focused on the writing of nonfiction, so that such catastrophic oversights never occur again. ~Loc. 441
Moore answers each question and then follows it with an essay demonstrating the principle. The result is a schizophrenic yet illuminating collection of writings. He explored various styles and structures to great effect.
In “Pulling Teeth, or Twenty Reasons Why My Daughter’s Turning Twenty Can’t Come Soon Enough,” Moore both laments and celebrates a child’s growing up.
- Here’s an interesting fact: homo erectus, our 1.5-million-year old evolutionary antecedent, skipped right over the teenage years, proceeding directly from cave kid to cave adult.
- Researchers figured this out by taking cross-sections of fossilized teeth. Marking on tooth enamel, it seems, are much like tree rings. … ~Loc. 647
It makes one want to work on an essay or two.
Thank you Ten Speed Press for the e-galley.
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press (August 18, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.3 inches
WHEN CLOWNS ATTACK by Chuck Sambuchino
Fear of clowns — coulrophobia — is real the entire year but it is certainly exacerbated during the Halloween season. And with creepy clown sightings on the rise around the world, you can never be too careful. This tongue-in-cheek book will act as a guide to get you through the worst clown encounters.
The first struggle is to confirm the presence of a clown. The book lists clues such as:
THEIR HAIR: Never a natural color, shape, or size. More often than not, it’s a clown-fro that looks like a pom-pom stolen from a local high school cheerleader — the same cheerleader who brought a clown to prom and had been missing for a few months now. ~Loc. 94
Secondly, you need to know where you are likely to run into a clown.
CLOSED AMUSEMENT PARKS: While you will certainly run into a clown every now and then in an open, functioning amusement park, it is the closed run-down parks that hold the stuff of nightmares. This is where whacked-out truly unhinged jokes hang out and permanently live. “Not only to homeless, crazy clowns live at abandoned theme parks, it’s also rumored that clowns bury their dead at amusement parks that have shuttered their doors,” says Johann Bertlesdorf, author of The Scariest Places On Earth. “The last place you want to be standing is on a clown burial ground among clown gravesites. If you are discovered, clown protocol requires that they try to kill you to ensure no loose ends. ~Loc. 398
In truth, this book is very funny. It uses quick wit and snappy style to tease those of us who have an irrational yet very real uncomfortable relationship with clowns.
My thanks to Ten Speed Press for the e-galley.
Hardcover: 136 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press (September 29, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches