Confronting sociopolitical denial

“It’s fine–I’m fine–everything’s fine,” says Theo parodically (Theo is the hero in Cuaron’s politically brilliant film Children of Men), whenever something particularly terrible occurs. For indeed isn’t “Everything’s fine” the claim of power, stupidity, and/or denial through the years?

This comes to mind, this late-March 2014, as we read of the county officials ignoring hydrologists’ and army engineers’ warnings of the deadly hillside that fell, 4 days ago, on the town of Oso, WA. I am reminded of it, too, by the county officials and new neighbor here who continue to ignore concerns that the neighbor’s excavations may harm my easement and home. I am reminded further when I consider the “deaf ear” turned to the dangers of noise (such as constant television noise in hospitals or apartment buildings) just as, for decades, the dangers of air-particle pollution were denied.

Above all, I am reminded of the Cold War years, not only the crazed denial that more nukes would bring more security, but, worse, the all-permeating claim–enforced especially through “freudian” psychology and its popularizers (including the too beautifully made but inimical films The Snakepit and The Goddess, and that worst-of-the-worst pop-psych books, Generation of Vipers)–that, especially for women, blacks, and the powerless, If You Think Something’s Wrong, It Means That Something’s Wrong in You.

The greatest internal liberation of the 1960s, for many of us, and of the early 1970s for many women, was to see that No It Isn’t Wrong in Us–We Are Whole and the Problem Is the System.

Yes, the problems, as we learned, were and are in our political-social system(s). Part of what we–as persons, as writers, as woman or man or trans or other, and of any age–continue to learn, and each generation learns anew, is what–and how pervasive, and at how many levels–these systems are.

 

Copyright 2014 by Paula Friedman. All rights reserved.

Remembering November 3rd

Very strangely, it was only after I got back in touch with an old boyfriend and friend from my pre-Jurassic college days that I learned, from one of his chance comments, that the “possibly correct” account my brother once told me of my cousin’s ex-husband’s death was true.

I was very moved by this, both because I do care for these persons, and because in a strange way the tale parallels part of the plot of my recent The Rescuer’s Path novel–the part about the murder of a radical activist.

You may have guessed by now, this being a November 3–the real event, the killing, to which I refer tonight is what is now known as the Greensboro Massacre, and my cousin had been, at the time, for some years divorced from the by-then remarried doctor who was one of two doctors shot to death by the Ku Klux Klan, that November 3, 1971, while organizing textile workers, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Why do I recount this now? Because this is our heritage. The Struggle is yours too, if you will join in it.

In these struggles, we have, so many, loved, lived, fought for justice and peace, felt empathy for one another; too many have died. La lutte continue, as we say, like so much else in life. Remember.

Finding oneself in the late-1960s antiwar movement

With the Occupies and the growing third-party movements as elections near, this year, we are reminded of the days of hope, the time we call “the Sixties.” For many of us, this time was primarily, or crescendoed in, 1965 to 1969 or so. My essay “God’s Eyes,” originally published in 1994 in Viet Nam Generation under the title “You asked ‘What was happening then?'” received a Pushcart Prize nomination and, in 1996, honorable mention for the first New Millenium Writings nonfiction award. “God’s Eyes” is written as if speaking to my first child, given up for adoption and who had, as an adult in the early 1990s found me. “God’s Eyes” tells of discovering, through love, pregnancy, and a nonviolent demonstration in the antiwar movement, my self–my depths, and that I loved, and that we can each love and struggle for a more loving society.

“God’sEyes” tells us that we found, in those days of hope, ways to recognize the love in everyone, in self and others, and to reach through to this love to create a better society. We still can, really.

Find it here– http://www.highlightscommunications.com/gods_eyes_sample.htm

In recent novel, young antiwar lovers flee police to wilderness

The recent page-turning novel The Rescuer’s Path recounts a tale of lovers struggling against an unjust, war-making society.

The Rescuer’s Path is the tale of a Holocaust survivor’s young daughter who, in Nixon-era Washington DC, discovers and aids a wounded fugitive, a half-Arab antiwar activist suspected of the lethal bombing of a US Army truck. Overcoming their fear and distrust, the two young people become friends and  flee cross-country, pursued by an implacable FBI. In the Rocky Mountain wilderness, they learn each other’s depths of love and  courage. But their pursuers close in, in tragic confrontation.

Three decades later, in the shades of 9/11, the young couple’s daughter, raised adopted, seeks out the truth of her origins.

Ursula K. Le Guin calls The Rescuer’s Path “Exciting, physically vivid, and romantic.” Small Press Review terms this novel “Lyrically written, the characters vividly drawn, the story captivating.” Flannery O’Connor Award–winning author Carole L. Glickfeld says “I could not stop reading this novel–I loved it.” Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Torch, notes, “Vivid, humane, and wise, The Rescuer’s Path held me from its first page to its last.” “A story of what it means to do the right thing,” says novelist Heather Sharfeddin; “These characters will break your heart and put it back together again.”

The Rescuer’s Path (2012, Plain View Press, trade pb., 200pp., $15.95) is available through http://www.amazon.com, http://www.plainviewpress.net, and many online bookstores, and by order through your local bookstore (distributed by Ingram).

Contact paula@paula-friedman.com to arrange a reading and/or signing for your reading group or organization.

Deering the Unknown, Blogging the Books

After reading at the warm and wondrous Wy’East Book Shoppe in Welches (Oregon) on Mount Hood last weekend, I started driving home in the dusk and hit a deer. I am fine, the car will be fine, and the deer–? Dunno; it’s mountain lion territory there. Meanwhile, today the elegant Indies Unlimited brought out its sneak peek of The Rescuer’s Path, my recent novel that recounts both the 1971 love affair between a Holocaust survivor’s daughter and a fugitive Arab-American antiwar activist suspected of the bombing of an army truck, and the 2001 search of their birth daughter for the truth of her origins–  http://wp.me/p1WnN1-4Yc

Reading and Booksigning in Welches, on Mount Hood, June 15

Come join us for my reading from The Rescuer’s Path in Welches, OR, June 15, 2012, 7:30 pm, Wy’East Book Shoppe and Art Gallery, in the woodsy mall at Highway 26 one block west of the Welches traffic light.

This is a wonderful, friendly, welcoming, and well-stocked bookstore that also often features superb pieces by local arts and crafts persons.

The Rescuer’s Path is the tale of a Holocaust survivor’s daughter who, in Nixon-era Washington DC, finds, aids, and comes to love a half-Arab antiwar leader suspected by the FBI in a lethal truck-bombing. It is the story of their tragic love and of the search by their birth daughter, amid the shadows of 9/11, for the truth of her origins.

Ursula K. Le Guin calls this novel “exciting, physically vivid, and romantic.” Acclaimed novelist Cheryl Strayed says “The Rescuer’s Path held me from the first page to the last.” Flannery O’Connor Award–winner Carole L. Glickfeld says “I could not stop reading this novel–I love it.” Small Press Review says “The writing is lyrical and poetic, the characters vivid, and the story captivating.” FirstMotherForum calls The Rescuer’s Path “a compelling story with universal themes of love and loss, separation and reconciliation.”

“These characters will break your heart and put it back together again,” notes Portland author Heather Sharfeddin. Berkeley activist/songwriter Carol Denney says “This is the book you can’t put down, the people you will remember, the vibrant story we all share.”  This novel demands we ask, notes the Jewish Transcript (JT) News, “How do we make peace, in ourselves and in the world?”

Come hear the reading, ask questions of the author, and perhaps purchase a signed copy of The Rescuer’s Path (2012, Plain View, $15.95).

Questions about this event? For more information: http://www.wyeastonline.com/event/meet-author-book-signing-paula-freidman-author-rescuers-path

Authors among Us–Reading in White Salmon, WA, May 12

Authors among Us

A reading and booksigning by authors Paula Friedman, Miralee Ferrell, and Sheila Simonson
May 12, 2012, 2 pm, White Salmon Valley Community Library, 77 NE Wauna Avenue, White Salmon, WA

Come listen and enjoy! I’ll be reading from my new novel The Rescuer’s Path, about the tragic love between a young Jewish woman and an Arab-American peace activist pursued by the FBI. Sheila and Miralee will read from their books, too. Plenty of time for Q&A and discussion afterward, and signed book copies will be available–all in the library’s beautiful Sprint/Baker Gallery. Come spend a great afternoon in the scenic Columbia River Gorge region east of Portland, OR.

‘unwed mothers’ and other outlaws: April 28 reading/discussion at Portland’s In Other Words feminist community center

I’m excited to be reading from my novel The Rescuer’s Path and leading a very related discussion, “‘Unwed mothers’ and other outlaws: Nonconforming mothers, single pregnancy, social activism–then and now,” at the newly revamped In Other Words Feminist Community Center, 14 NE Killingsworth, Portland, Oregon, on April 28, 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Never solely a bookstore, and now more than ever a center for community activities, In Other Words is a most inviting place for this reading and discussion of issues ranging from the social pressures on “unwed mothers” pre-Roe to the hardships confronted by impoverished single-parent families today, from the risks confronting antiwar and civil rights activists of “the Sixties” to the dangers, present and to come, for Occupiers and others who confront today’s militarized police, privatized prisons, and dismantling of basic Constitutional protections.

Ursula Le Guin calls The Rescuer’s Path “exciting, physically vivid, and romantic,” and Small Press Review says “the writing is lyrical and poetic, the characters vividly drawn, and the story captivating.” “I could not top reading this novel,” notes Flannery O’Connor Award winner Carole Glickfeld, and acclaimed Portland author Cheryl Strayed says The Rescuer’s Path “held me from the first page to the last.”

In The Rescuer’s Path, a Holocaust survivor’s young daughter finds and aids a wounded fugitive, the half-Arab antiwar leader suspected of a lethal truck bombing. The two become friends, then lovers, and eventually flee the FBI to seeming refuge in the Colorado Rockies. But, after a brief idyll, pursuit closes in and leads to tragedy. In the aftermath, the couple’s baby daughter is yielded at birth for adoption; thirty years later, in the shadows of 9/11, this grown daughter seeks the truth about her heritage.

With flashbacks to Holocaust rescue, scenes from a 1980s-1990s Berkeley marriage, refugee family tales, and basic issues of mortality and of righteous living, The Rescuer’s Path provides lively meat for reading and discussion.

The occupation of authors

The Amazon.com price for my debut novel, The Rescuer’s Path (pub. Jan. 1, 2012, Plain View Press), list price $15,95, is now between $8 and $9. This means no net profit or royalties for either myself or the publisher.

This means neither authors or publishers can earn back any financial investment in a book’s production and publicity. But books, which generally are produced print on demand through Ligthtning Source, at this point one of two only major sources of short-run print jobs, are mostly distributed through Ingram, the main distribution channel of (physical, hardcopy, real) books in this country (and in others, I suppose). Ingram automatically markets those books through online “stores” including, when it chooses (always), Amazon.

So, basically, anyone not using a “major” publisher—i.e., one of the 5 or 6 owned by one of the international megaconglomerates that control the U.S. “majors” along with more profitable, and thus more favored, industries, and that run these “publishing” companies, necessarily, based on profit-making blockbusters—must be wealthy enough to either write for a hobby only (or to lose money) or else publish only in ebook form. And guess who owns and controls the major ebook readers? One is Barnesannoble with its Nook readers—and its price reductions for print books that often or usually lowball even Amazon’s; the other, of course, with its Kindle, is, once more, Amazon.

In high school many years ago, we learned of “vertical” corporation control of industries; this was supposedly stopped by the reforms of—oh my—the very early 20th century.

Okay. Occupy.

Unless one belongs to the 1 percent who can afford to spend years writing books for a hobby. And buying publicity for $million$.