Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bone Fire by guest blogger Steven Head

I had just finished World War Z, the science fiction book by Max Brooks, son of Mel, about the world war against Zombies, when Bone Fire by Mark Spragg appeared in the mail. But you need to know the entire story. Last September I was in Wyoming doing research on a writing project and was joined by a college roommate, a great friend who has been encouraging my efforts and providing library assistance. He picked up a copy Bone Fire on the trip, primarily because it was by a Wyoming author and it sounded interesting. He liked the book and sent it on to me.

I am not entirely sure how to categorize Bone Fire. It is a character driven novel with a sheriff, a gruesome death, and a lot more. But it is not a mystery. The lot more is the intertwined lives of folks living in the Big Horn mountains in northern Wyoming. There is Griff, the 19 year old girl, taking care of her almost blind grandfather, her mother who is the alcoholic 2nd wife of the sheriff, the neighbor and his step-son who's mother is the sister of Griff's boyfriend. Like I said, intertwined lives.

The conflicts propelling this novel include the discovery by the sheriff he has ALS like his grandfather, the arrival of Griff's grandfather's sister who is willing to become her brother's caregiver, the struggling romance of Griff and her boyfriend, Griff's scholarship to study ceramics that may be revoked if not used soon, and the solution to who committed the murder.

Although the book is a short 244 pages, by the end I felt like these are people I know. Complex individuals facing everyday problems, disappointments, and regrets. Of course they still have secrets and unseen tendencies, but the thoughts and feelings in realistic settings led me to care about what happens next. And there is some delightful humor to balance the pathos.

So I recommend this book. But let me tell you a little about World War Z. I was having lunch and zombies came up (don't ask), and then the loan of WWZ. This book is told in 'oral history' fashion by the survivors of the world wide conflict between the living and the living dead. Although Brooks is a comedy writer, this is a serious science fiction book. And there are more than enough battles, close calls, and ruthless decisions to give you nightmares.

On one level this book is escapism, unless you believe the dead can be reanimated. The zombies can also symbolize the events we believe won't happen to us. Things like tornadoes, floods, power outages, fires, and epidemics. And the need to be physically and mentally prepared. I am not proposing building bomb shelters and acquiring automatic weapons, but simple things like having enough food and water on hand for a few days and a battery operated radio. Although after finishing WWZ there may be a few other items on your to do list.

See you at the bookstore.

UPDATES! If you have been reading posts by our mystery man, and faithful blogger, Steve, I have a little news item for you. Steve is retiring. I happen to know that he is a painter, and gifted writer, so this will him time for more research and writing. I hope that in the future we will have a Steve book on our shelves.

  • What am I reading? Just finished Hemingway's A Movable Feast, and moved on the The Queen's Babysitter - oops- I mean Governess, by Karen Harper. After closing the cover on a Papa Hemingway memoir, Harper's historical fiction feels lightweight. But, I have dedicated myself to watching BBC America's rerunning of The Tudors mini series, although there is nothing mini about it. The Harper book is filling the void between weekly episodes.

  • Here's a Heart-A-Rama FYI...two HAR workers were recently nominated for a community service award, and both respectfully declined on the basis that said award cannot possible be presented to a single individual. Over 200 individuals who work to make that gig happen. The two nominess would also have been pitted against each other in the process, and that would have been uncomfortable for them...but I guarantee that whoever would have gotten it would have brandished the engraved paperweight frequently and annoyingly, while enjoying bragging rights in the other's presence for years to come.

  • And a bit of news for Harry Potter fans....Daniel Radcliffe had a say in whether an eighth book in the Harry Potter series would be written. According to USA Today, Radcliffe "frantically" fired off a late-night text to J.K. Rowling when he heard rumors about a new Potter book.

    Radcliffe admitted he "was worried!... I said, 'Look, is this true? Are you writing another book?!' She wrote back that she was so pleased with my performance in Harry Potter 7: Part 1 that as a reward, she promised to never write another book about Harry."