Marko Otten is a historian and a former college administrator & principal. He lives in Arnhem, the Netherlands and sometimes at Pandora Ponds, Trentham (Victoria, Aus) or Avinguda Diagonal, Barcelona (Es). https://www.hetboekenschap.nl/product/provo/?v=7516fd43adaa
The poetry of Michele Belluomini, Gareth Culshaw, Marko Otten and Jefferson Holdridge.
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Reviewed by Lynette G. Esposito
In Wolf Season, published by Bellevue Literary Press, New York, 2017, Helen Benedict reveals lessons in interpersonal relationships of average people who have survived horrific war experiences. Benedict addresses both the psychological and physical damages as well as changes inflicted on the survivors whose stories stay with you after you have finished reading the book.
Juney, veteran, Rin’s nine-year-old blind daughter, Tariq, son of Naema, the widow of an Iraqi war interpreter, and Flanner, son of a deployed marine, represent the innocent sufferers of wars from which their parents try to keep them safe. Beth, Rin, Naema, Todd, and Louis represent the damaged adults who try to protect the children from the aftermath reality of their complicated war experiences. All the characters are well drawn and believable. To accomplish this, Benedict follows the characters’ every-day activities of normal American living and their sometimes extreme reactions to seemingly simple things.
Rin, a widowed war veteran, tries to fulfill her husband’s dream of raising wolves in the woods outside of fictional Huntsville, New York. Her PTSD and flashbacks from being raped by her comrades contribute to her paranoia and prevent her from normal interactions with other humans. Naema, a doctor from Iraqi, tries to adjust to American life with her son who has lost his leg to a bomb in Iraq. Beth, Flanner’s mother, suffers the loneliness of a deployed husband who comes back so changed, she believes he is two people—the before and after. When a hurricane hits this small community, these characters are whirled in to a crazy soup that only mother nature can cook up.
The novel is divided into four parts each with a title that suggests the focus in each section. The wolves and other animals in the book provide a symbolic backdrop of interdependency on each other and the humans who love them. Benedict’s use of nature and natural instincts gives readers a deep sense of what it takes to survive and the terrible toll war and loneliness extracts not only on those who go to war but also those waiting at home.
It is a good read and engaging on many levels. It has a light touch of politics as all war stories do, but the focus is on the consequences to people and their stories of coping when back at home.
Benedict is a professor at Columbia University and is the author of seven novels. She has also written nonfiction and a play. She currently lives in New York. For more information, visit www.helenbenedict.com .
You can find the book here: http://blpress.org/books/wolf-season/
Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.
By Stephen Page
With Home of the Brave, editor Jeffery Hess puts together a collection of short stories about people in the U.S. military. The period covered is from World War II to the present. Although many of the stories refer to war, very few depict actual battles.
Let me reiterate that these are stories about people—humane stories, humanistic statements, reports about humanity.
This book will appeal to almost every reader, civilian and military alike. Jeffery Hess does a fine job in choosing stories that have empathetic characters, hard-hitting human drama, and convincing plots. The tales stick with you, the reader, long after you read them. Some of these stories will shock you; some will hit you right where you live.
A portion of proceeds from each book sold is donated to USA Cares.
Read more about the book here: Home of the Brave
Read interviews with the editor: Mary Akers Blog
This book may be purchased here: Amazon
Stephen Page is the author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at
Review by g emil reutter
The Doll’s Alphabet by Camilla Grudova begins with the short story Unstiching. Grudova lures the reader in with a line of normalcy, One afternoon, after finishing a cup of coffee in her living room, Greta discovered how to unstitch herself. However, there is nothing normal in this collection of 13 short stories that stay with the reader long after finishing the book. There is a haunting darkness in all of the stories and a cast of characters set into miserable conditions. Characters transform in startling ways. Grudova’s Waxy is a perfect example. It is a story set in the future or perhaps in the past. Women are subjected to training for factory work, supporting men, working jobs that scar them. They are used for money and sex, easily discarded. The value of human life is non-existent as babies are disposed of in casual and disrespectful ways. Everyone has to be registered with the government and if you leave your job or living arrangement they will track you down. A woman without a man is considered an outcast.
Throughout the stories the characters eat tinned food, have body disorders such as incontinence and anorexia. Most of the male characters have no loyalty abandoning family at will. The character, Paul, in the story, Mouse Queen, is such a fella. He is a philosopher of sorts and prior to his wife giving birth to twins, he takes off. The wife abandoned turns into a wolf, raids local stores and once when returning home realized her babies were gone. Had Paul returned to take them or did the wolf eat them? There is a weirdness to each story, a surrealism that is haunting, grotesque.
The subject matter of this collection is thwarting yet Grudova writes surrealism well; in fact is a master of it. She has created a world no one would want to live in yet when one begins the book it is difficult to put down. It is not a book for the faint of heart for in its surrealism Grudova writes of the decay of society. I could not read the book straight through as I often do for after each story I had to ask myself: What just happened? It is a challenging read. Do you dare?
You can find the book here: http://coffeehousepress.org/shop/the-dolls-alphabet/
g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter