She’s Going Bananas Over the News

“Mommy, I have a joke.”

Her jokes were clever. Her jokes were also endless, so I suggested my eight-year-old send in her list of terrific riddles to Highlights magazine. I also suggested that some time away from her screens, particularly Minecraft, would lead to more impressive feats in life. Well, she did. Her messy letter scrawled in her second-grade hand was adorable. Selected or not, I was just proud that she did it.

Then, about six months later, a more official-looking letter arrived. It was no joke and she was ecstatic.

Look for Lauren’s joke amid the impressive young reader publications in the August 2018 issue of Highlights magazine. Don’t stop encouraging the littles to be their fabulous selves everyday!

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Is There Room on that Bench for Me?

Years ago I had a captivating and eerie dream.  I reluctantly left the scene in my mind as dawn aroused me from sleep. The particulars, however, stayed with me.

A black vehicle had rolled to a stop under gnarled live oaks growing along a centuries-old iron fence. A girl with long, sandy blonde hair who was in her late teens or early twenties sat in the back of the upscale sedan with disinterested parents at the helm. Were they eager to drop her off and move on? She was apathetic. Alone with her suitcases, she had entered the distinct New Orleans house.

Inside, the girl encountered an intruder. A young man about her age who brandished a gun. In my dream, it was clear he meant no harm, despite being up to no good. He was as intriguing as she.

This girl became Faith and the boy, Patrick. Unable to forget them and always wondering what happened, these characters ultimately shared their story with me in what became A Gathering of Appearances. 

Faith and Patrick had made a pact to meet on the bench by the cannons overlooking St. Louis Cathedral. Years after I finished the novel, I was in New Orleans once more and made a point to visit that bench where Faith and Patrick sat side by side. Revisiting this spirited city post-A Gathering of Appearances was utterly haunting; a blurred line betwixt reality and what had become real to me.  Fitting for a ghostly city that is the perfect backdrop for a dash of noir fiction.

Sitting on that bench with them was nice, but sharing at Pimm’s Cup at Napolean House with Faith was even better. I had to leave them all in The Big Easy.  I can’t wait to return.

 

 

 

Travels With Charley : In Search of America (by John Steinbeck)

 

5-Star Review

Finding myself without a new book to read one evening, I started to read this classic a second time. To my surprise, I found I couldn’t put it down – again. Steinbeck’s time in his cozy camper parked along seemingly picturesque creek banks throughout America’s back country roads about sixty years ago is a trip I gladly rejoined him on. Isn’t that the beauty of a book? The beauty of this book is not only in the setting details, but also in Steinbeck’s musings. One of those rare novels you get the urge to highlight and underline as you read. Quite often, he makes points about the country, society, people, and politics that you emphatically relate to and it is then that you realize the more things change, the more they stay the same. Throughout the novel the reader is invited for civilized conversation over a good cup of coffee in that little camper with Mr. Steinbeck, Charley the sophisticated Poodle and a random guest and it is a delight.

There is a mystery to this novel, as well. It has been suggested that Mr. Steinbeck was not completely honest with us. Some suggest that upon making it to his boyhood home in California he hightailed it home to Long Island. He did mention more than once that he did not care to complete the southern part of his proposed trip. One reason he states is that his wife being from Texas has taken him there on multiple occasions and he had one too many contacts there to keep that portion of the trip authentic. The other reason being he was not keen on the idea of traveling through parts of the south dealing with heated segregation debates and riots and where his northern license plate and pro-desegregation views would not be welcome in such places like Alabama and Louisiana.

I have to agree that I, too, have my suspicions. The post-California portion of the log is just painfully different and more vague than the beginning parts of the book. It lacks the intimacy that was so endearing about the first half to three-quarters of the novel. Still, this book remains one of my favorites in spite of the questionable authenticity. Perhaps I enjoy it even more because of that uncertainty. It gives the reader even more to gnaw on long after devouring John Steinbeck’s intellectual prose.

Connect with me on Goodreads to swap reviews and recommendations:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14121908.Dana_Thomas_Weber

 

Thank You

What a fantastic time at the Foxburg Fall Festival over the weekend. Is there a better place to celebrate autumn’s arrival? Lacey Williams would approve of this forested storybook village along the river. I was humbled by the support and happy to have made some new friends. We did sell out of books and were able to make a donation from the sales to the Foxburg Free Library. Thank you and to all the new readers out there, let me know what you think of the book!

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