An Owl on Every Post
By Sanora Babb
A memoir of literary and historical quality that well deserves this new edition.—from the new Foreword by William Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize Winner
Sanora Babb (1907-2005) experienced pioneer life in a one-room dugout, eye-level with the land that supported, tormented and beguiled her; where her family fought for their lives against drought, crop-failure, starvation, and almost unfathomable loneliness. Learning to read from newspapers that lined the dugout's dirt walls, she grew up to be a journalist, then a writer of unforgettable books about the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. www.sanorababb.com
An unsung masterpiece—I was completely blown away by it—her ageless story deserves a permanent place in our nation's literature.—Arnold Rampersad, English Professor Emeritus, author of Ralph Ellison: A Biography
On a par stylistically and thematically with Willa Cather's My Antonia, this is a classic that deserves to be rediscovered and cherished for years to come.—Linda Miller, Professor of American Literature at Penn State, chairman of the Editorial Advisory Board for The Cambridge Edition of the Letters of Ernest Hemingway.
Acclaim for the original 1970 Edition
Masterly. Hers is a small song, and not grand opera. But hearing it is a significant and salutary experience.—London Times
Sanora Babb, with quiet humor, and a great all-encompassing love for a land and her people, has created a warm hearth indeed in this book. I hold my hands out to it to be warmed.—Ray Bradbury
Thought-provoking description of the mystery, wonder and poetry of growing up in a pioneering environment. A vivid restoration of an important phase of American history.—Ralph Ellison
An enchanting true story of a childhood on the plains. Absolutely great.—William Saroyan
The Lost Traveler
By Sanora Babb
Sanora Babb's novel, long out of print, is almost entirely autobiographical and continues her story begun in her memoir, An Owl on Every Post. The extensive introduction by Douglas Wixson, English Professor Emeritus, provides a great deal of historical information on the author and the literary opportunities that existed in the early 20th century.
Set in Kansas in the early 1930s, it is a rich character study of the classic American individualist, Des Tannehill, and his family. The father, a complex and magnetic man, is portrayed from the perspective of his brave and proud daughter Robin as she seeks autonomy as a young adult. Against the dark background of Des' declining fortunes stand Robin's high spirits and intelligence as she experiences the turbulent emotions of first sexual love and rebels against the circumstances of the gambler's rambling life. The novel's depiction of Depression-era America and its lost families is one that will haunt readers long after the final page.
"There is a good deal of laughter in The Lost Traveler. There is a good deal of tragedy in it, too, for Ms Babb has given us a living and unflinchingly honest picture of a wandering gambler and his family. This is her first novel and she shows herself to be a searching storyteller."— New York Times
"Sanora Babb has done a remarkable job of making the hero, Des Tannehill, sympathetic and understandable in spite of his occupation and occasional brutality. In fact, she has made the whole family come alive, particularly Robin, the older daughter, the only member of the family with fortitude enough to stand up to her father." – Los Angeles Mirror News
"Strongly recommended. A fascinating story of a professional nomadic gambler who starts by being a hero in the eyes of his wife and daughters and ends in lonely disgrace: occasionally embarrassing, frequently funny, and as an account of the development of family relationships good by any standards."—London Sunday Times
Ash On Wind NEW RELEASE
By Sandra Berris
From irreverent titles to couplets swimming down the page to poems that explicitly take off, Ash on Wind is a whirlwind of poems with everything a collection should have and then some. Sandra Berris draws inspiration from relationships' defining moments, breathing new perspective into emotion, and uses language to illuminate truth.
In this first volume of her poems, Berris demonstrates her flexibility with forms ranging from experimental and free verse to the demands of cento, eclogue, paradelle, sestina and haiku. She tailors rhythm and rules for each poem bringing shape as well as voice to her varied subjects. With competent use of metaphor, her poems tell stories of dementia, loss, death, lovers and divorce, yet also surprise with humor and whimsy.
From the opening poem recalling the execution of a mass murderer to a hand that releases "ash to wind," her poems have enough force to push boundaries and startle the reader. A sampling:
They never gave her back the man they took.
She knew that right away. He won't talk
about what he saw, what he did,
but holds it in, knife-painful.
All the shit of war flows through his arteries.
He doesn't want to talk about it, though
once he told about a chicken, the surprise
of silly bird strut across a rice field.
Bar-be-QUE! said a soldier, so
they set down the chopper. His friend
jumped out in comic strut and sprint.
They guys all laughing.
Then they saw chicken and man
blown to bits. Smaller than anything
cut in a Cuisinart. Gone. For a Goddam chicken.
And once he told of a beautiful prostitute.
Long black hair, tiny features, terrific figure.
And her odd webbed feet from always walking
barefoot, toes splayed across the sand.
But that's it. Tiny feathers
still stick to his skin, get up his nose.
Only one woman shares the emergency waiting room with us.
Her gray hair rides like a small animal on her head.
Her eyes do not meet mine. She looks past us
or through us and I study her
in her flowered cotton dress and sensible shoes.
Then a man enters the room and approaches her
speaking in secrets, a whisper of Reverend
reaching my ears. My neck hairs rise.
He guides her out of the waiting room,
her tremulous bulk in a frightening quiver.
Soon it is our turn to pass through the double doors,
talk to the physician treating our daughter's injured leg.
Beyond an open curtain
a young boy, perhaps eight or nine, lies
lifeless on a gurney. Doctors and nurses stand useless.
My whisper what's happened
thunders hushed air.
He has aspirated a red balloon, his favorite color,
from the bag of afternoon amusement,
the simple toy flying inward, flinging
his soul somewhere else,
the tracheotomy bringing forth
only silence, blood-red.
I glimpse the old woman, the grandmother I'm told,
watching the boy while his parents travel abroad.
She is a wattle of arms in a storm. Her whole body
shakes like some great tree giving up precious fruit.
Sociologists say if you know five people
You know everyone in the world.
I haven't met the right five people.
I'm missing whole continents.
A circle looks closed from the outside.
I'll jump in the middle.
Sink to the bottom or rise to the top,
Outside I can only look in.
From THE LOGIC OF SNOW
Two weeks ago, at night, she walked out
Through an emergency exit at the end of a corridor,
An exit where the door clicks shut, for security.
Her knobby arthritic fingers touch metal
Mutton bars on the window, not feeling the cold,
Pushing out her 5'2" frame confident as any.
Her cloudy brain talks to her,
Shall I play golf today? Go the full
18 holes? Yes, I think I can. And she walks
Coatless, oblivious to January temperature,
In blue satin slippers, over ice and snow,
Past thick gray mounds that shovels and plows
Cleared, her brain
Lighting her stroll with sunshine and white roses
And a wide fairway stretching toward the eighteenth green.
A Turn for the Verse: Limericks with a Twist
By Lewis M. Gediman, llustrations by Robert Seaman
Limericks live! You might think that after all this time the venerable verse form would be exhausted. But this original collection of more than 100 limericks breathes new and delightfully quirky life into the classic form. A brief Foreword introduces the reader to some history and varieties of the limerick over time, and notes that this collection, unlike many others, is mostly comprised of "clean" limericks. Ranging from ingenious puns to more inventive flights of creative fancy, and sprinkled throughout with suitably antic illustrations, these humorous verses will have readers smiling, chuckling, and sometimes laughing out loud. For instance:
In his garden, a parson one day
Found that beetles were having their way.
When his wife saw them too And cried "What should we do?",
The parson intoned "Let us spray."
Farsi's a learning excursion,
Best done via total immersion.
A book or CD
Wouldn't do it for me—
I'd rather work Persian to Persian.
Here's something I marvel at still:
How whales get to feed to their fill.
They sweep through the seas
With the greatest of ease,
All the while moving in for the krill.
Master limericist Lewis Gediman is living proof that even clean limericks can ignite endorphins and tickle the funny bone.—Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English
The best collection of clean limericks available today. Gediman's humor is clever and charming and never gets corny or excruciating. He's observant, wise, and does not strain to rhyme. You cannot feel bad while reading this book, and nowhere does it mention Nantucket.—Verified Amazon Purchaser