How Quickly She Disappears

            Intrigued by the tales his grandparents told of living in Tanacross, a small Alaskan village back in the late 1930s, Indiana author Raymond Fleischmann has woven a mystery set in that time frame and location.

            “I grew up hearing their stories about Alaska, the cold, the isolation, the long days and the long nights,” says Fleischmann, the author of the just released How Quickly She Disappears.  “So, the setting is very real though my characters are fictional and not based on my grandparents at all who were very much in love and married for over 60 years.”

            That part is probably good as Fleischmann’s novel is about Elisabeth Pfautz who is living in Alaska with her husband and young daughter. The marriage is joyless, but her daughter is her delight and, more forebodingly, a reminder and connection with her twin sister, Jacqueline, who when she was eleven, disappeared. No one has seen or knows what happened to her since then.

              Haunted by her lost sister, experiencing reoccurring dreams of 1921 and the circumstances of the disappearance and saddened by the state of her marriage, Elisabeth is drawn to Alfred, a substitute mail pilot who lands in Tanacross. Elisabeth, who grew up a small German community in Pennsylvania, feels a kinship of sorts with Alfred, who is also of German heritage. But then things turn distinctly weird and terrifying. Albert murders another man, apparently in cold blood. But he also knows, he tells Elisabeth, what happened to her sister, something he will reveal to her at a cost.

            Fleischmann says he’s always been drawn to novels that are propelled by relatively simple, often violent acts, but do so in a way that’s careful, human, and deeply examined. From Alaska in 1941, Fleischmann takes us back to 1921 where we meet Jacqueline as well.

            “I thought it was important for people to know about her as well,” says Fleischmann, who earned an MFA from Ohio State University, “To me, at the time of her disappearance, Jacqueline is a lonely and somewhat stunted child who is having difficulty navigating the transition from adolescent to adult, just like many of us. So is Elisabeth and Jacqueline’s disappearance has left a big void in her life. As an adult she still feels very much alone without her sister and appears to suffer in many dysfunctional ways.”

            All this makes her vulnerable to Alfred’s cat and mouse game as does the voice she seems to hear, that of Jacqueline urging her to “come and find me.”

MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES

Class Mom meets Small Admissions in MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES, a wryly-observed debut about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High–the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle–and the fallout for each of them when that bubble finally bursts.

A former teacher, Kathleen West keeps us amused and amazed in her book about the social stratas on an upper middle class high school where some parents (think Lori Loughlin) will stop at very little to make sure their children achieve what they see as success.

Isobel Johnson can’t stand helicopter parents like Julia Abbott, a stage mom whose world revolves around interfering in her children’s lives. Julia resents teachers like Isobel, who effortlessly bond with students, including Julia’s own teenagers, who’ve been pulling away from her more each year.

Isobel has spent her career in Liston Heights side-stepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a “blatant liberal agenda,” she realizes she’s squarely in the fray. Rather than cowering, Isobel doubles down on her social-justice ideals, teaching queer theory in AP American Lit. Meanwhile, Julia, obsessed with the casting of the winter musical, inadvertently shoves the female lead after sneaking onto the school campus. The damning video goes viral and has far-reaching consequences for Julia and her entire family.

With nothing to unite them beyond the sting of humiliation from public meltdowns, Isobel and Julia will find common ground where they least expect it, confronting a secret Facebook gossip site and a pack of rabid parents in a suburb where appearance is everything.

Perfect for readers who loved the novels of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little LiesThe Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger, Laurie Gelman’s Class Mom and Amy Poeppell’s Small Admissions.

A teacher for twenty years in the Minneapolis school system, West brings her experience to a novel set in a small, privileged suburban high school that explores all sides of the teacher/parent equation: the good, the bad, and the truly outrageous. MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES is a wryly-observed story about two women: Isobel, a beloved teacher whose “unconventional” teaching methods and in-classroom politics ruffles some parents’ feathers and puts her job in serious jeopardy; and Julia, a helicopter parent who becomes the subject of a viral video when she has an altercation with a student on school grounds.  MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES combines heartfelt humor with thoughtful insights into the modern challenges facing students, parents, and teachers.

ifyougo:
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

6:00 PM

Lake Forest Book Store

Talk & Signing

662 N Western Ave.

Lake Forest, IL 60045-1951

Phone: 847-234-4420

Event link: https://www.lakeforestbookstore.com/event/author-kathleen-west-lake-forest-book-store

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

Ronan Farrow’s book reads like a fast-paced mystery/thriller with hired spies, tapped phones, double and triple crosses, stalking by hired thugs and threats.

Scary! Fantastic! Disgusting! Riveting! Hats off to Ronan Farrow for his excellent work, dogged research and risking his own career–and maybe his life– to find out the truth and make it public as he outed predatory behavior at the top of the food chain. A real expose, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators (Little, Brown & Company) chronicles the sexual abuse of women by powerful men and how their companies/corporations enable them to continue on no matter what. The focus of the book is Harvey Weinstein, the famed produced of such award winning films as “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “The Crying Game,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “The King’s Speech” though Farrow also includes several chilling chapters about Matt Lauer, who co-hosted NBC’s Today show from 1997 to 2017, and also was a contributor for Dateline NBC. We see the savage effects on the victims–loss of jobs and financial stability, physical and emotional harm–and how disposable they are to the powerful who then move on to their next victims. Farrow’s book reads like a fast-paced mystery/thriller with hired spies, tapped phones, double and triple crosses, stalking by hired thugs and threats. Sadly, it’s all true.

Ronan Farrow.
Courtesy of the New Yorker.

As he investigated Harvey Weinstein’s “business” practices, Farrow, the son of actress Mia Farrow and director Woody Allen, also had to re-evaluate and come to terms with his thoughts and feelings about his own sister’s alleged abuse when young by her powerful and famous father. Allen later married another one of Ronan’s sisters who he had adopted. At the time, he was 56 and his daughter was 21. Farrow famously tweeted in 2012 “Happy father’s day — or as they call it in my family, happy brother-in-law’s day.” All this adds to the multi-layered account of Farrow’s pursuit of the Harvey Weinstein story and his sympathy and understanding of the traumatized women and their fears of speaking out against the famed producer. Farrow accurately portrays the emotionality and fears even famous actresses such as Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino and Rose McGowan experience as they balance the career-killing aspects of going up against such a powerful man–one who has former Israeli operatives working for him as well as the best of lawyers to counter attack any woman who talks–and the need to tell their stories as well as protect other women by revealing the truth.

Farrow writes about how non-disclosure deals prevent women from talking about their ordeals and protects sexual predators .

Farrow’s list of accomplishments is long and extremely impressive. According to his Amazon biography, he currently is a contributing writer to The New Yorker, where his investigative reporting has won the Pulitzer Prize for public service, the National Magazine Award, and the George Polk Award, among other honors. He previously worked as an anchor and investigative reporter at MSNBC and NBC News–a job he lost because of the network’s pushback against his pursuing the Weinstein story and his print commentary and reporting has appeared in publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.

Before his career in journalism, Farrow served as a State Department official in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence. Farrow has been named one of Time Magazine‘s 100 Most Influential People and one of GQ‘s Men of the Year. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and a member of the New York Bar. He recently completed a Ph.D. in political science at Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He lives in New York.

Catch and Kill has received numerous awards and accolades including Washington Post Best Nonfiction Book of 2019, Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2019, Chicago Tribune Best Book of 2019 and Fortune Best Business Book of 2019.

Old School Love and Why It Works

“We’ve had hard times, but we have resilience and we always knew we wanted to be together,” says Rev Run, front man of Run-DMC about how he and his wife make their marriage work.

              A Hip Hop artist, even one who whose group has sold millions of records globally and was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, isn’t the person we typically turn to when needing relationship advice.

              That is, until, you pick up a copy of Old School Love and Why It Works (Dey St. 2020; $26.99) by Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and his wife, Justine Simmons, long admired by friends for the longevity of their 30 year marriage.  

              “We’ve had hard times, but we have resilience and we always knew we wanted to be together,” says Rev, front man of Run-DMC.

              “Now people come up to us, people who see us on TV or follow us on Instagram,” says Justine about their reality shows—Run’s House, All About the Washingtons and Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers. “They ask us for advice or say we should write a book about how we make our marriage work.”

              You can’t have a marriage without a love story, so let’s start with theirs. They met when Rev Run was just Joey but, still at the age of 15, an up and coming musician. He met Justine when performing at a roller rink. She was 14 but a vision in blue as he remembers. They went out, they liked each other, he wrote her a letter saying, “I will marry you one day.” But though they both lived in New York, the physical distance eventually worked against them. They parted. Joey became Rev Run, front man for the first rap group to earn a Grammy Lifetime Achievement honor. He was on top—fame, gold and platinum records, millions of fans, long days and crazy nights as he recalls. For some that would be all you’d ever need.

But there must have been something missing because years later when his cousin asked him if he remembered a girl named Justine, Rev Run asked him to get her number. He called and just like that the relationship was on again.

  So what makes a marriage last, I ask Rev and he refers me to the chapter he wrote about that very subject. It’s simple but it all makes sense. “If you want to go partying and clubbing and carousing and drinking, here’s a better piece of advice: Do. Not. Get. Married.” Instead just stay single.

              He has more to say.

              “Be selfless, not selfish,” he tells me. “Pay attention, listen to what your spouse is saying, don’t let it be in the background. “If I can see she really wants something or if she doesn’t see my point of view, then I back up.  One of the biggest takeaways I want for this book is that it’s important to listen to the whispers to avoid the screams later.”

              Takeaways are a big component of their book. Each of the chapters, written alternately by Rev and Justine end with a page of “Takeaways” or their advice on nourishing relationships. 

              Here’s a big one from Justine.

              “Both my parents were divorced and remarried,” she says. “If you have children and go into another relationship, make sure that they love your kids like they love you. And make sure you love their kids. If not, then don’t marry that person for your own selfish reasons because your child or their children will suffer.”

              Luckily, when Justine met Rev she loved his three daughters. When the two adopted after the death of their infant daughter, they all blended into one family. Parenting became so important that the couple wrote Take Back Your Parenting: A Challenge to America’s Parents about how to make it all work.

              Which brings us to this. Both Rev and Justine, who are a deacon and deaconess, want to help guide others—whether it’s in parenting or love. Helping is what they are all about.

              One last thought. The letter 15-year-old Rev wrote the note pledging to marry Justine one day—well, she saved it and when they reconnected, she gave it to him.

What: Rev Run and Justine Simmons presentation, Q&A and book signing event.  Old School Love and Why It Works

When: Friday, January 31, 7- 9 pm

Where: Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville, IL

Cost: Each ticket includes a copy of the book and admits one or two people. You will receive your book when you arrive at the event. They will not be available for pick up before that time. Rev Run and Justine will be signing each attendees book and posing for photographs after their presentation.

fyi: For more information and to purchase tickets, 630-355-2665; andersonsbookshop.com

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