Mark Guerin's YOU CAN SEE MORE FROM UP HERE Reviewed by Dr. Holly Fling

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45728378-you-can-see-more-from-up-here

As Mark Guerin shows in YOU CAN SEE MORE FROM UP HERE (Golden Antelope Press, 2019), our past—the secrets we keep, the lies we tell, the hurtful words that escape our mouths during moments of anger, and our social behavior—has the power to haunt us in the present, even when the present takes place decades later. This effect can especially affect our relationships with family and friends. Indeed, Guerin seamlessly weaves past (most of which takes place during the summer of 1974) and present (2004) into a moving narrative about one man’s perceptions of his relationships with his family, best friend, co-workers, and the girl he loved and lost.

Walker Maguire, an experienced journalist in 2004, recreates one week from the past on his laptop while he sits by his dying father’s hospital bed. As he writes about his first week working a summer job at an automotive plant in Belford, Illinois, he begins to perceive the past in a different light. Physically moving about the hospital—to the maternity ward, where he bumps into a woman from his past, and to the emergency room, where a critical encounter had occurred thirty years before—and talking with his sister and his best friend, who are now married as a result of the relationship they formed that same summer, helps Walker to understand that he was only one of many actors during that week. Though the effects of his actions continue to reverberate through time, so do the other characters’ past actions. Walker finally begins to heal with his awareness of these other actions that took place outside of his knowledge and control.

Of course, Walker is not the only character whose control tactics go awry. His father, in pushing him into a blue-collar summer job, is confident that the experience will encourage Walker to work harder in his college science courses. He is confounded, then, when Walker not only fails to perceive himself as above his co-workers but also comes to care deeply about one of these co-worker’s struggle to support a family.

A good read about coming to terms with the past, YOU CAN SEE MORE FROM UP HERE is an exploration of how the past is always present in the present. I was able to relate to the characters and the situations in this novel, because it is not only a narrative of an individual’s experiences. It is a collective story—a story about community, family, and love. It is a story about all of us.

Armenian Mirror Spectator Review of Burger's SHADOWS of 1915

https://mirrorspectator.com/2019/06/06/jerry-m-burgers-new-novel-the-shadows-of-1915/

Jerry M. Burger’s New Novel The Shadows of 1915

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FRESNO, Calif. — Fresno is one of the oldest and most identifiable Armenian-American communities and consequently it has been the setting for the literary efforts of a number of works dealing with Armenian-American life, most famously including the writings of William Saroyan and more recently the novels of Aris Janigian. Dr. Jerry M. Burger, a psychologist who retired last year after some four decades of teaching at Santa Clara University and prolific publishing in his field, has thrown his hat in the ring with his novel The Shadows of 1915, published by Golden Antelope Press this May (https://www.amazon.com/Shadows-1915-Jerry-Burger/dp/1936135728).

Set in 1953, it examines how the legacy of the Armenian Genocide poisons the life of the descendants of the survivors. The hero, Mihran Saropian, however, unlike his brother Arak, manages to struggle to overcome the memories of the past to find grounds for common humanity with contemporary Turks. Burger combines this theme with a love story between an Armenian and a non-Armenian, raising issues of identity and gender roles. There are also questions of the roles of immigrants, as the Saropian family, themselves refugees from another country, run a farm which employs largely Mexican labor, and many moral dilemmas.

Jerry Burger

While initially slow-moving, the interest of patient readers is rewarded in the latter part of the novel, as events move toward their climax. There are a few minor errors an Armenian speaker could have corrected, such as using “myrut” for mother (“mayr/myr”), and using phrases pronounced in Eastern Armenian when in 1953 probably most of the Armenians in Fresno were Western-Armenian speakers.

Burger grew up in Fresno, which provided him some first-hand knowledge for writing the novel. He did not grow up on a farm, but as a teenager, he would make some money by picking grapes at the end of the summer, and even scarred his left hand through a careless accident with a knife once. He also knocked almonds off trees.

Like everyone else growing up in Fresno at that time, he had a Saroyan encounter. Burger said, “He was kind of a local hero when I was growing up. When I was about 10-years-old, I was at a kite flying event. There was a very large kite — everybody made their own kites and they went out to this event — that a smaller kite had gotten tangled up with, so the small kite was being carried around by this larger kite. I was standing next to this man looking at this and the man started talking to me. He started giving human characteristics to the kite, how the large kite had these attributes and was thinking this and the small kite was… I thought the man was kind of crazy, so I went up to my mother later and said, you know, the man up there is kind of crazy and she said, no, no, he is not crazy, he is a writer.” Later, Burger’s cousin worked for Saroyan as a gardener. Burger collected many of Saroyan’s books, and now has around 50 of them.

Burger had many Armenian friends as a boy. There were two things about them that really stood out to him. He said, “The first was that every family, it seems, had a story, a story which of course tied back to the Armenian Genocide, and slowly I would find out that they all had lost relatives and loved ones. I found that fascinating. … The second thing that I learned was that the feelings toward Turks that all of my Armenian friends and every Armenian I encountered had were intense. … That it was a very strong emotional, I don’t know if hatred is the word, but it was in that realm. That fascinated me.”

 

He found the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide to be a compelling topic through which he could explore issues related to family and justice. He said, “I would also add to that—to my way of thinking there is not nearly enough fiction related to the Armenian Genocide. When I tell people about the book, many people I know who are well educated, well informed—they read the newspaper daily, knew nothing about it. … I think this is something that needs more presentation.”

Though Burger is a prolific writer in his own field, this is his first novel. He has written some short stories. He said, “Fiction writing is something that I have always wanted to have the time to do. There probably is a connection to my interests as a psychologist. I went into social psychology because I was always interested in questions of justice and those sorts of things. A lot of my research was focused on why otherwise good people sometimes do very, very horrible things.” He reexamined, for example, Milgram’s research, which was motivated by Milgram’s interest in understanding the Holocaust. However, he has not directly worked on the broader aspects of genocide.

To prepare for writing the novel, Burger did some interviews with Fresno Armenians to get the context right. He said that he avoided modeling characters after specific individuals so that he would not be limited. However, the one exception was a true personal story he attributed to one character in the book. Burger said that his wife was a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News in 1985 and interviewed survivors from the Armenian Genocide for an article. One woman told a story that parallels a lot of what happens in his book, particularly the anecdote about her daughter being ripped from her arms and thrown into a river. Burger said, “It was so haunting that I used that. I thanked her in the acknowledgments in the book, an anonymous individual whom I never met, but my wife taped the interview and I heard it and it was chilling.”

Burger plans to give book talks both on the West and East Coasts, including in Fresno, Glendale and other areas with large Armenian populations.

Please Fall INTO THE CRACKS with Holly Day

 

I have always found comfort in clutter and chaos, especially when it comes to the natural world and its battles with the order imposed by civilization. I delight in seeing spiders run out from underneath the sofa of a perfectly cleaned house, or watching ivy crack its way into a building's facade. For me, the pretense of order, in whatever form it takes, acts as a shield against the unpredictability and lurking chaos of the outside world.

 

That's what Holly Day said to us back in August, 2018, when she first sent samples of her poetry to Golden Antelope.  Since then, we've become more and more impressed with this brave and exacting writer, the one who finds ways to articulate chaos--and order too, when necessary--in poems which cover most all the cracks we humans, especially women, grow out of, fall into. . . .  

 

We're proud to announce that Into the Cracks was released on May 6.  For more, check out the press release under "Authors," or go to Barnes & Noble or Amazon.  And meanwhile, join in this bit of fantasy, the opening stanza of: 

 

"The Needle"

    

if you could play your fingerprints

with a phonograph needle

what do you think your song would be?

is there an SOS of pops and snaps

in the ridges of your thumbs

or is there an overture waiting to be heard

buried in the whorls of your index finger?

 

 

 

Press Release for INTO THE CRACKS

 

 

 

Into the Cracks

Holly Day

Golden Antelope Press

ISBN 978-1-936135-69-1; 64 pp; $14.95; released May 6, 2019

Poetry

 

Synopsis:

 

In 53 tightly-crafted poems, Holly Day creates tiny moments of pain edged with hope--or, if hope is too large a concept, then edged with honesty. Into the Cracks speaks to the dreams, fears, cravings, duties, and disappointments we share. It speaks with the voice of a mother, daughter, lover, housewife, victim, or rebel--in images of concrete boots and dying butterflies, clouds of squid ink and smudged glass in a dusty picture frame. Its language is exquisite.

 

In "Bloodlines," for example, the impulse to create and protect offspring is shared by the narrator and the maple tree which "sends its helicopter seeds across the yard." Does the tree hate the narrator/gardener who clips its seedlings--or does it resign itself to sterility? Will it retaliate, tossing branches at the narrator's children during some future storm? The questions behind such questions are rich, the metaphors inventive, sometimes alarming, often humorous.

 

Other poems re-create the touchy tones of people who can't quite live up to some not-quite-articulated standard. In "Three Screwdriver Hello," we're warned that "I get like a razor when you say/ [you] 'understand.'" In "Bleeding the Brakes Dry," the memory of hearing waves crash on a distant shore can become loud enough to drown out the mutterings of a husband working on a car that will never make it back to that beach.

 

In other poems, we learn to read cracks in pavements and in paintings, cracks made by fingernails running ragged across human skin, cracks in the facade of sanity or sobriety. The book's cover is one of the author's needlepoints--done by carefully, even meditatively, pushing and pulling threads through the interstices of a piece of canvas--using needles made of steel. Holly Day captures chaos in tiny spaces and holds it there for us to see. And hear. And taste and touch and smell.

 

Biography:

 

Holly Day has worked as a freelance writer, indexer, needlepoint artist and editor for more than 25 years. She has had more than a dozen books of fiction and nonfiction published. Into the Cracks is her fifth book of poetry. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she currently develops and teaches courses for writers at The Loft Literary Center.

 

 

We're Uploading Holly Day's Book Today!

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These poems are sometimes terrifyingly raw, sometimes gentle.  Here's a sample from the middle of the book--after we've glimpsed insights into mothering, smothering, and awakening.

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The Daughter Who Left

 

Reconstruct that last day: her, standing in the doorway, suitcase in hand

straining to leave as though strapped to us, always tearful in her memories

reluctant gratitude behind closed eyes, but so anxious to get out.

 

She is everywhere in this house, frozen behind picture frames

trapped in a smile that changes every time the smudged glass is dusted

sometimes, she is happy. Mostly, she is barely tolerant.

 

There are conversations half-remembered that take on new meaning

each time they’re replayed, new depth: wisdom beyond the years

of an unhappy five-year-old, harbinger to the years of dead silence far ahead.

 

 

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Several pages later we find this--and include it here because it helps to explain the book's cover--an almost surreal needlepoint done by the author.  We leave it to you, dear reader, to figure out what degree of control and spontaneity come together in creating edgy poems and in needling a human figure onto canvas.  The thread is there.

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 On the Right Path

 

 In this room written entirely on paper

there is comfort in the nodding and agreeing of flowers; they

tell me that I am not just a crazy woman sitting alone

rambling about dark matter to an invisible audience

sketching out the history of myth in thread and canvas

 

tumbling inward into myself like a monk

quiet, at peace.

 

My daughter says she’s worried about me

being alone all the time, wants to know

what I’ve been writing but I won’t show her.

Someday, I will reveal the secrets

to the future of humanity to her, the origin of snails

the language of pills. But not now.

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 And still later, this tribute to a woman's strength

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The Things that Come in the Mail

 

the flowers come in the mail, with the cards, with the lovely notes

expressing sympathy for our loss. I don’t want to answer the door anymore

want to let the tiny wreaths pile up, wither away.

 

I smile, thank the delivery man for my mail, I smile at my husband

I smile

at everyone. I call relatives to let them know I’m fine, I don’t need

anything. I thank them for their kindness and for the flowers.

my husband compliments me on my strength, I reply with

another smile. my face hurts from smiling so much. at night

 

I find myself talking to the missing baby, holding

my hands over my stomach, protecting nothing. I shuffle through

these days, find comfort in repetitive tasks. I vacuum constantly.

I crochet mittens for everyone. I turn inside myself

 

hold back everything but this smile, the one I show my family

my husband—it’s all I’ve got left.