New Title: ‘Parables Ironic and Grotesque’

Oblique Voices Press of Portland, Oregon has released a selection of dark satire stories by author and George Fox University Professor Emeritus Douglas G. Campbell, Parables Ironic and Grotesque

From the Publisher

Irony reigns in these biting and ofttimes darkly humorous tales. Campbell invites us to ponder upon the common follies of his fellow man, highlighting such weaknesses as pride, selfishness, fear, and greed, and pointing out the further foolishness of ignoring such shortcomings. Allegorical in nature, this body of work challenges the reader to a closer look into their own frailties and deficiencies and invites him to a healthy dose of quiet introspection.

From the Foreword by Jay Beaman, PhD

The irony of this artifact, this book, is the irony of how we communicate with each other in post-speak society. In the cyber-world, I can send off a message, and a few seconds later someone else speaks back to me or at me with a tweet, but usually there is a time interval between parts of the same message. Alexander Graham Bell’s first message on the telephone, “Mr. Watson –come here- I want to see you,” was instantaneous and continuous. Cyber-communication is discontinuous, disjunctive, and in that sense ironic. Here we are just now getting around to reading a book by Doug Campbell, written when he was a great speaker, when his voice was in the moment, some years ago before his stroke. Given his current difficulty in saying words, it is ironic to read such prescient work written about our society. I hope to have lunch with Doug again in days, and our conversation will be halting, frustrating, even primitive. But here I read him with such thoughtful and deft clarity. Doug loves puns, like his painting of a frog workshop, titled “toad’s tools.” This book is filled with puns. I hope Doug will forgive me for my pun, quite in bad taste, but written with deepest empathy, I weep as I write it, that this book reads like “a stroke of genius.”

I won’t commit the faux pax of reviewing my brother’s book, though I have to say, I love puns, satire, and irony and find this collection (in those terms) a comforting read.

Malcolm

 

Briefly Noted: “Turning Radius’ by Douglas G. Campbell

Reader reviews and editorial book reviews written by husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, colleagues and next door neighbors are quite rightfully looked upon with a jaundiced and cynical eye by prospective readers. So, I cannot review my brother’s book of poems Turning Radius (Oblique Voices Press: March 2017). Nor can I rate it with stars on Amazon or GoodReads.

I can tell you that it exists.

From the PublisherA book of 100 poems written during the years before the author’s stroke in 2012. Rather than organizing the poetry as a volume with a single formal or thematic focus, this book’s seven sections coalesce as something more like an omnibus, or, on closer reading, like a jewel with seven facets, each of which displays a different aspect of the author’s rigorously lived inner life.

The book’s seven sections are Lemonade Days, Canticles of Humanness, Turning Radius, Spirits of the Earth, Nature’s Continuum, Listen to the Earth, and War and Art. In his foreword, William Jolliff writes that these sections suggest “an unsettling consistency, and that consistency is discovered as a complex of attributes that have characterized all of Campbell’s artistic work: an attention to everyday details, startling in its intricacy; a sense of irony that laughs and rages but is slow to anger; a knowledge of natural phenomena that attests to many hours in the wilderness as well as in the studio; and a practiced craft that inevitably chooses the perfect form for the message conveyed.”

From “Dark Canticle”When I should be resting/vast empty spaces of the earth/ swallow my heart.

From “Carnival”Embrace your wrinkled exteriors/for they are your salvation;/in this nation of smooth talkers/they are a testimony/bearing witness to truth.

From “Turning Around”Too many times/I have not stopped/to turn around/to stoop/to bring into focus/some curiosity/clinging/to the edge of sight.

The book is available in paperback. I enjoyed reading it from cover to cover: I think I can tell you that.

Malcolm

 

A combination of incongruous things

“pot·pour·ri n. pl. pot·pour·ris – 1. A combination of incongruous things: “In the minds of many, the real and imagined causes for Russia’s defeats quickly mingled into a potpourri of terrible fears” (W. Bruce Lincoln). 2. A miscellaneous anthology or collection: a potpourri of short stories and humorous verse. 3. A mixture of dried flower petals and spices used to scent the air.” – The Free Dictionary

  1. I’ve about finished reading An Uncertain Age by Ulrica Hume. That means you’ll be seeing a review of the novel here soon. According to the publisher (Blue Circle Press), Justine’s life is uncertain when she meets Miles Peabody on the Eurostar. She has lost her job, her fiance, everything except her dream of becoming an artist. Miles Peabody, a retired librarian and beekeeper, has always led a cautious, philosophical life. Now, faced with his mortality, he needs a miracle. Drawn inexplicably to each other, their relationship is tested when Miles invites Justine to join him on a Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage. But before she can answer, Miles goes missing. Desperate to find him, and nudged by the French police, Justine slips into a dark night of the soul. A fascinating theme!
  2. I you keep up with publishing news, you know that the Independent Publishers Group and Amazon could not agree on Amazon’s slice of the pie. Consequently, Amazon turned off the buy buttons for the 4,000 e-books from the author’s IPG represents. In a post called “What Should an E-book Cost?,” IPG compares print and e-book pricing. Not being one to keep quiet about such issues, I posted “The low prices of e-books are bad for writers” on my Sun Singer’s Travels blog.
  3. While I’m happy that The Artist, Meryl Streep and Christopher Plummer won Oscars last night, I’m also happy that I only watched the last 15-20 minutes of the event on TV. It was long, ending a little after 11:30 p.m. (Eastern), but not as long as it has been before.  Had I watched all of it, I think I would have agreed with Andrew O’Hehir’s assessment in a piece he wrote for Salon: “From Billy Crystal’s cringe-worthy act to the obvious winners, the Academy Awards felt old, tired and out-of-touch.”
  4. My brother Douglas has entered the world of fiction writing with a fantasy/allegory called Parktails. The novel tells the story of a massive forest fire in a national park from the animals’ point of view. In many ways, Parktails is a quest story; the animals are seeking answers and inspiration and must travel many miles to learn how to keep their community together. Doug teaches art at George Fox University in Oregon. He is also the author of Seeing: When Art and Faith Intersect,  published in 2002.
  5. I have been updating my website to better display my books. Among other things, I needed to add my recently-released free e-book Celebrate Glacier National Park. The 48-page PDF about Glacier’s history, personalities, facilities, plants and animals can be downloaded from the Vanilla Heart Publishing page at Payloadz. In addition to the website, you can learn more about my 2011 contemporary fantasy novel Sarabande on my Sarabande’s Journey weblog where my most recent post was “Check your imagination at the door.” If your book group or class is planning to read and discuss the novel, you”ll find a list of sample discussion questions here.
  6. If you’re an author and/or an avid reader, I invite you to stop by my daily list of links for book reviews, book news, contests and writing tips called Book Bits. It’s usually posted in time for your lunch-time web surfing. Tomorrow’s edition will include a feature for writers called “Know Your Competition” and a review of Kate Alcott’s The Dressmaker.
  7. You can still download Vanilla Heart Publishing’s free, Valentine’s Day e-book called A Gift for You. The book, which features fiction, nonfiction and poetry focused on love, includes my short story “Those Women” as well as work from authors S.R.Claridge, Janet Lane Walters, Anne K. Albert, Chelle Cordero, Marilyn Celeste Morris, Collin Kelley, Melinda Clayton, Charmaine Gordon, Smoky Trudeau Zeidel and Joice Overton.
  8. Even though it’s not yet spring, I’ve already had the lawn mower out once to trim the front yard. I’m always somewhat surprised when it starts right up without a lot of tinkering, oil changes, or a trip over to the auto parts store for a new spark plug. The yard looks better now and even somewhat green due to our recent thunderstorms. We’ll have to decide soon whether to clean out the garden in the back yard and then fight with the deer all spring and summer over our vegetables. Oddly enough, they seem to be drawn to the hot peppers–I thought they would leave those alone.

Wherever you live, I hope you’re seeing signs of spring.

Malcolm

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