Tag Archives: climatechange

Honoring Black History Month

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Here at Green Writers Press, we are busy planning our Spring Book launch set for April 24th at 3:00 PM at Next Stage Arts in Putney. We are also busy celebrating all things African-American and honoring our newest authors who write so eloquently about race and the struggle for equality. We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

We’d like to tell you about a few books that we are honored to publish—one is just out this past year, and the other forthcoming in 2016!

9780996135771-PerfecBandCt.inddBlackberries and Cream is the compassionate and insightful story of a young white girl balancing her love for her African-American caregiver and her depressed mother in 1960s Alabama. Full of Southern charm and subtle wisdom, this novel explores the meanings of love, family, and courage in a heartfelt coming-of-age tale that will resonate with children and adults alike. This novel comes at a poignant moment in our society when racial prejudices still linger and the challenges to diversity in children’s literature remain difficult to confront. Blackberries and Cream is perfectly suited to help cultivate awareness about these issues, inspiring meaningful reflection and discussion in young readers. It is 210 pages long and can be considered children’s fiction (middle grade to young adult readers) and historical fiction. We are hoping readers will spread the word. 

Vermont author Leslie Rivver and her best friend, growing up, Ida Bell in Alabama 20 years ago.

Vermont author Leslie Rivver and her best friend, growing up, Ida Bell, in Alabama 20 years ago.

This photo is from twenty years ago, of the author Leslie Rivver and her caregiver Ida Bell, who are the main characters in this semi-autobiographical novel we are promoting during Black History Month. ‪#‎BlackHistoryMonth‬

PRAISE
“Brimming with wisdom and mischief, this tender, heartfelt celebration of an abiding friendship between a white girl and her black caregiver in 1960s Alabama reminds us that the love we experience in childhood has the power to sustain us through a lifetime of change.”
–Irene Latham, author of Leaving Gee’s Bend

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The cover painting is by Clarence Major, entitled “Lady,” 60 x 36 inches; acrylic on canvas.

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We are also thrilled to announce the upcoming story collection by Clarence Major. Chicago Heat and Other Stories employs a gorgeous purity and simplicity of language in a series of masterful analyses examining human interaction. Each narrative voice comes forward all at once, individual and complete, without obstacle or complication, enabling the reader to see the characters and feel their emotions. Major does not shy away from the bitter or the harsh; we get to hear it all. Like paint on an easel he blends lyricality with moxie and the blunt with the beautiful. The characters come together as easily as they part; people leaving, coming back, going, staying—it all sticks and fades like heat on your skin. The imagery is completely accessible and generously given. Toni Morrison comes to mind. His work is like jewels.

Clarence Major’s list of works and achievements is an impressive one. From awards like the Pushcart Prize and National Book Award to fellowships like the Fulbright Fellowship and National Council for the Arts Fellowship, Clarence Major has established himself as a prominent literary figure. Having written more than eight novels, including My Amputations and Dirty Bird Blues, alongside a dozen books of poetry, Chicago Heat and Other Stories is only his second work of short fiction and first book with Green Writers Press.

Clarence Major
CLARENCE MAJOR is a prizewinning short story writer, novelist, poet and painter. As a finalist for the National Book Award he won a Bronze Medal for his book Configurations: New and Selected Poems 1958-1998.  Major was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, The Bay Area Book Reviewers Book Award and The Prix Maurice Coindreau in France. He is the recipient of The Western States Book Award, The National Council on The Arts Award, a New York Cultural Foundation Award, The Stephen Henderson Poetry Award for Outstanding Achievement (African-American Literature and Culture Society of The American Literature Association), the Sister Circle Book Award, two Pushcart prizes, the International Literary Hall of Fame Award (Chicago State University), the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Fine Arts, presented by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and other awards. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Davis.

PRAISE FOR THE WORK OF CLARENCE MAJOR
“Clarence Major has a remarkable mind and the talent to match.”     —Toni Morrison
“A pioneer on the cutting edge of contemporary fiction.” —Charles Johnson
“[Major’s] language is both lyric and precise. His vision is both humorous . . . and serious.
His story is our own.”                  
—National Book Award Finalist/citation for Configurations

“Clarence Major’s… gathering of short stories has extraordinary technical and emotional force, that pushes the form to its contemporary limits without losing contact with its sources in legend, tall-tale, conte, yarn…Major…proves that he is one of only a handful of American writers capable of doing significant work in more than one genre.” —Russell Banks

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Thanks for helping us spread the word about our growing press, especially the authors that help all of us celebrate our freedom and social justice, and foster increased awareness in environmental sustainability. Here is an eloquent quote from Clarence Major in support of our work at the press:

One of the most pressing issues for all of humanity is the environment, namely climate change.  I would like to support efforts to bring about awareness of the problem. We are running out of time. —Clarence Major

 

A Climate Fiction/CliFi “Bromance”

Review of Love in the Time of Climate Change by Brian Adams 

by Sage Kalmus

  

 

Twice while starting Brian Adams’ Love in the Time of Climate Change I had to pause and review the book jacket to make sure it was indeed a work of fiction I was reading. Sure enough, there I saw it each time, on the cover in small print beside the author’s name, the definitive declaration: “a novel.” Yet mine was an easy mistake to make, as the book begins with an expository—if cheeky—primer on what’s later referred to as â€śThe Issue.” Then again, isn’t this how so many novels start: by setting the scene for the tale to come? In this case it just so happens to be the backdrop of global warming.

The true start of the novel opens on Day One of the new semester at a small community college in western Massachusetts, as our narrator, Casey, an environmental studies professor, prepares to greet his new group of students. He begins, he tells the reader, the same as he has every previous semester: by revealing to his class his debilitating illness, Obsessive Climate Disorder (OCD.) Little does our quixotic narrator know that in this particular class is one student with the power to help him, if not cure his disease, then certainly ameliorate its symptoms. And it is these symptoms of Professor Casey’s self-diagnosed OCD that we witness him suffer through as he attempts to win hearts and change minds: one heart and mind, as he’s soon to discover, in particular.

An early clue that this book is more than just a thinly disguised sermon on the mount comes when two of the students in Casey’s extra-curricular group, The Climate Changers, get into an embittered battle over which of them is the more tenacious bicyclist. Clearly saving the world poses the possibly greater threat of ego annihilation (as in annihilating the world with one’s own ego.) It doesn’t take long to realize this story is far more about the struggle an individual goes through to live from day to day in the face of a damning reality than it is an attempt to educate an audience who likely already knows much of what he speaks. To simply say the author here is preaching to the converted would be disingenuous because he’s not preaching: he’s satirizing. He simply happens to be satirizing his own deeply held beliefs. This makes for some rather bold self-deprecating humor. For example, when a student comes to his office alarmed from her newfound awareness of our true environmental condition, Casey reacts at first  with self-satisfaction, thinking, “Yes! Got ’em!” followed immediately thereafter by, “Of course, what this really means is that they’re now doomed for a lifetime of extreme anxiety, possible depression, constant angst, and a whole host of other intellectual trauma…But hey, such is the price of education. Right?”

In such ways this novel often seems a case study on contradiction, on collateral hypocrisy, on trying to “walk the walk”, to “practice what you preach” in a world that makes such feats prohibitive. Thus we witness Casey forced by circumstance to patronize his Corporate Enemy #1: Walmart, only to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of humiliation while inside. Throughout Casey’s misadventures I was often reminded of the myth of Sisyphus, doomed to forever roll his boulder up a hill only to find that, just when he gets it near the top, it rolls past him all the way to the bottom again.

Likewise love, Casey finds, is not without its Sysiphusian hurdles, in this case that the object of his affections is also a student. Never mind that she is a peer in age, and even a fellow teacher, of youngsters, and at an entirely different school to boot. Casey’s professional moral code is as strict as his climatological one. Of course, all codes are meant to be tested, and indeed it is watching Casey butt up against these imperious standards of his that provides some of this novel’s richest humor—particularly when it’s his lust, second only to morals behind his steering wheel, responsible for such collisions. Case in point: when Casey ruins his chances of a sure-thing with a hot and perfectly available female when her apartment bears the unavoidable evidence of her environmental ignorance. Or when he takes his class on a field trip to an awe-inspiring earth friendly home only to have its message overshadowed when that special student he’s aiming to impress the most gets attacked by geese while he stands there paralyzed to help her. At times one has to wonder if this bumbling narrator can ever overcome his neuroses enough to land any woman, let alone the one of his dreams, and it’s both a torture and a delight to watch him trip over himself as he discovers, time and again, that all the science in the world can’t help him navigate the tides of love.

This novel is at its best, however, when it does precisely what its author seems clearly to have set out to do in devising it: using unexpected moments of mundane life to illuminate yet another way in which climate change affects us without us even knowing it. For example when Casey and the object of his affections visit an apple orchard only to discover the trees completely bare, as the unseasonable return of winter the previous spring killed off all the apple blossoms before they could flower. Or when Casey and his pothead roommate find their own moral boundaries tested in the face of their neighbor’s energy-sucking Halloween yard decor.

In short, Love in the Time of Climate Change is a light-hearted look at a heavy-hearted subject. But the love story embedded within the tale is far more than a literary device to keep readers entertained through the story’s teaching moments. In fact it proves to supply the missing ingredient in an adult child’s delayed maturation into manhood. Without the love story in our life we’re all doomed to the ravages we’ve wrought on ourselves, is the message.

The reference in the novel’s title to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera seems apparent. And while both stories detail an epidemic bound invariably to leave no one in its path unscathed, if I have to confront the imminent end of the world (at least as I know it) I would much rather take that ride with Casey and his manic band of Climate Changers, because with them at least I know I’ll go out laughing.

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Book review by Sage Kalmus

 

Sage Kalmus is a freelance writer and editor since 2004. He earned a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Lesley University where he was honored as student speaker at his graduation. He earned a B.S. in Film & Broadcasting from Boston University. His article “Believe in Magic” appears in the current issue (May 2015) of The Writer magazine. His short stories have appeared in Whisperings magazine, CARNIVAL Magazine, Rose Red Review, and he published an essay in The Hampshire Gazette.