Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jean, Jean Roses are Red (Crooked Tree Part 2)

We had lots of rosy cheeks from laughter here on Sunday, March 3o, when Jean Feraca honored us with a visit. There were also some visible tears as she related personal stories of the deep love and respect she had for her mother despite the challenges of her mother's bi-polar disease.

My former high-school teacher instinct told me from the start that there would be no daydreaming through this presentation. Jean's congenial manner let everyone know that this would be an entertaining, insightful and relaxed event. She read from her memoir, I Hear Voices, and followed up with Q&A. Most of the questions focused on her radio career, but I bet those people who purchased and read the book as a result of her presentation wish they had another chance to ask questions.

Jean's life has been rich - partially because of the opportunities her job has afforded her, but also, because she has taken the time to find the richness amid the twists and turns of her personal adventures. As far as memoirs go, this has been one of the strongest I have ever read, and I hope that, eventually, it will be recognized in a wider circle than it is presently. She encouraged everyone to write a memoir!

Personally, I was thrilled to see so many people anxious to experience a book event. Sadly, I had to turn some people away due to space restrictions. Jean graciously began with a plug for independent book stores. Honestly, I always worry a little when we host an author. We're small, and certainly not slick, like many of the stores they speak at. I worry about what first time visitors will think when they come in. But, Jean put my mind at ease the moment I met her, and we talked about the fact the Wisconsin has only 75 surviving independent bookstores. I want to ask people who pride themselves on saving a few dollars at Amazon and B&N if those places pay taxes in Manitowoc. Do they contribute a donation when asked to give one to a Lakeshore charity?

If you're travelling, this summer, please stop and patronize these friends of mine who own indy book stores:

  • Steve at PassTimes in Sister Bay

  • Glen at Creekside Books in Cedarburg

  • Michelle at Novel Ideas in Bailey's Harbor

Also check out Readers' Loft in Green Bay, BookHeads in Kiel, and Harry Schwartz all over Milwaukee.
(end of PSA!)

This is Jean Feraca signing our bathroom door. It has become a tradition here for guest authors and performers to sign the "Wall of Fame" before they leave us.


These are my "orphan" books - the ones that I have earmarked to read soon, but keep making their way back to a shelf in my office. Most customers who stop in have a book they suggest for my must-read list. Each month we get 20-30 advance reader copies of books that will be published within the next 3-6 months (and which publishers are hoping we will read and promote!) , my trade associations send books to be read and be reviewed for various publishers and websites, and then there is always the book for our next book discussion meeting. I am still committed to reading the orphans, it's just a matter of when. I bet you bibliophiles are drooling!

The campers in Crooked Tree survived the night! I have mixed feeling about this book. At times the sentence structure is clumsy, and there are logic gaps in the plot progression. Sometimes I have to stop and look back to see where I was given a piece of information, only to find the author expected me to infer a fact without telling me what I needed to do so.

Despite that, this is a page turning thriller. Wilson got me hooked on the characters, and now nothing will stop me from working my way to the end. The section I read this morning included some nice Indian folklore, and every so often, there is a passage that I find deserves extra thought, like this one in which a Native American speaks of respect; "Our grandfathers had a respect for nature. They knew how much greater the forces of nature were than themselves. They saw into the souls of the animals, and they found themselves. They knew the bear as a cousin and paid him the respect saved for elders, knowing that he may very well hold the souls of their grandfathers. They did not hunt for fun, but for food and clothing and housing and tools. And when they killed, they did not cast aside the victuals and cart off the trophy. They offered his spirit appeasement and asked forgiveness for having had to kill him."

I'll keep you posted on this book, but, the closer I get to the end, the less you will be hearing!