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Sunday, December 15, 2013

First Pre-release Reviews for "Heart Chants," #2 in Mystery Series, Encouragingly Wonderful

This is an apprehensive time. The digital formats for Heart Chants arrived the other day and I sent them to readers who indicated they would be willing to read, and perhaps review, pre-release copies of this novel that is strongly dependent on the Navajo creation story.

Heart Chants is #2 in the Phillip McGuire mystery/suspense series. Tortured Truths, #1 in the series, came out in October.

Phillip is a burnt-out foreign correspondent who, after being kidnapped and tortured by the Hezbollah in Beirut and released, says enough is enough. He quits journalism and returns to his college town of Lawrence, KS to own and run a bar where adventures come his way.

Heart Chants has a major character who is half-Navajo and half-white who believes he is a witch and knows how to create the largest sandpainting every created and do a chant that will reopen the gates to the
Holy People, from whom he can acquire new gifts to deal with the White Man.

Two reviews have come in now, one of them from a direct reservation art dealer with the Navajo since 1985. Here's what Richard Sutton had to say:

Master storyteller Randy Attwood scores again. This time, he’s traced an unexpected, jarring intersection of cultures and bruised mental states that leads the reader into the deepest shadows. Beliefs can sustain a people when all else fails. Sometimes, belief must be tempered with understanding. When that is lacking, evil seeps in. Heart Chants illustrates how even evil done for reasons of restoring harmony is simply, evil. His evocative descriptions of Southwestern vistas and his detail rich research into the Navajo culture, pay back in an absorbing reading experience.

Seattle area author Sean Bennick in a longer review was also very positive. That review can be found on Goodreads here and if you are member of Goodreads or join up for free you can put Heart Chants on your to read list. You'll see a "want to read" button. Last I check 220 people had put Tortured Truths on their to-read list.

You can't pre-order the book, but if you are interested, just email me and I'll send you an alert when the book is available. It should be out early next year.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Paragraphs Reynolds Price Found "Lovely"

I came across those paragraphs that were the only things I had to show the Southern writer Reynolds Price when he came to visit our creative writing class at KU in the late 1960s. He called them "lovely." They actually got  published in that odd yearbook done by KU in 1971. I look at them now, 40-some years after they were written, and think: "Hey, this isn't bad stuff. Rhythms are good. Emotions are honest. What more do you want?"

Weather and Her 
By Randy Attwood
(c) 2013 by Randy Attwood

Soft Rains
When the rains were soft in the fall we would stay in bed, just looking at each other's eyes and listening to the sounds of the drops as they hit the roof and the collecting puddles. Then, there would be the battle of who could tickle the other person out of bed so that one of us would have to go and make the coffee and bring two cups back to bed where we would listen to the rain again.

March Snows
The snows came in March and it was unfair because that same morning there had been the smell of spring in the air. But during the night the snows came, and I awoke when I heard the wind. I got up and parted the curtains and looked out at the street lamp and saw the snow blowing as it collected in drifts around the trees and her car in the driveway. A happiness I did not understand filled me when I looked down at the bed where she slept. I slid down under the covers again and she stirred, her lips slightly parted and her yellow hair everywhere. I pulled her close to me and slowly inhaled our warmth—man warm and woman warm together—as the wind continued to howl.

During those nights, I would hold her as tightly as I could, my lips pressed into her arm as it tightened around my neck in the darkness. If there was anything else anywhere else, it was unnecessary to look for it. The smell of her hair and my nose against her throat and always through to more, always into never ending, stop at never ending and search for more and through and out and into never ending, stopped just before never ending, only close away from never ending, search again for never ending and quick-found oblivion stretching farther, reaching never ending. No thought. Only long and tight-filled ending.

Holding hands, we stood under the protection of the roof of the porch and watched the thunder and the lightning bring the night. It also brought the rains from the east: Enraged hard rains that whipped the ground like a savage madman, raging hell against the earth for being secure, not having to roam the restless skies like they, the rains. They beat and beat and pounded upon the ground–the ground that either soaked the rains or ran them off to the rivers; but the earth remained, infuriating the rain that screamed its hate with wind: A jealous shrieking wind that came down crushing into our faces as we braced against each other on the porch.

The wind blew all that day and it was impossible to be away from it because you could still feel it in your hair when you were inside. The only thing was to hope that it wouldn't last too long. But it stayed through the next two days bringing only heat and exasperation and a feeing of helplessness. It was impossible to concentrate on anything. Even the love-making took on an exasperated feeling, some helpless fight against the wind.
"Why does the wind bother you so?" she asked.
"It's constant sound and feel. It leaves me weak."
"Why weak?"
"I don't know. I'm sorry. Kiss me again and I'll ignore it."

I couldn't ignore it, but it helped to have her weight on top of me, pinning me, and I slept well that way, secure that the wind would not blow me away.