Out of the Blue Review of Alma Lolloon

A fun and generous review of Alma Lolloon has appeared on Amazon. Here is a link, and I’ve pasted the review below:

by, Rucker Trill


July 4, 2018

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dear Miss Lolloon – You are no doubt by now growing weary of fan mail after the publication of your eponymous novel, Alma Lolloon, but I just finished reading it, so I must write to tell you how much I liked it.

Right off the bat I thought, hmmm, this is new and unusual given the absence of most punctuation not to mention quote marks so that I knew I was in uncharted waters here, or maybe a better metaphor (I learned that word from the book)would be along the line of separating skeins of different colored yarn after the kittens have been in the knitting basket. But soon enough I got my stride and realized that this is the way things happen in real life – there are no quotation marks there, now are there. And it seems like that’s the way this book unrolls, just like life with the unexpected hidden just around the corner, under the everyday. (Though given your five husbands I wonder if anything about your life is “everyday”.)

I’m no writer myself, but one of the things I liked was how you and your friends talk about the book right there in the book while they’re supposedly hearing the book! I mean whoa! What’s that about? It was like falling into a hall of mirrors or something. I asked a professor who lives down the block about it, and she said you were “meta-texting” and after I showed her a few pages she said you were doing it very humorously, and I confess I laughed way more than once. But like I said, I’m no writer, so who knows.

Now, I don’t knit but I’d love to join you and Curly, Hattie, and Rufa some day for coffee and scones and we could talk more about your book. I could even bring the scones. Maybe some time in August? I plan to be up your way then.

Anyway, I’ve run on too long and I know you’re busy on your next book. I hope it’s a mystery, I really like the mystery part of the book with Jack Rack. (I think you should have married him!)

Best regards, Rucker

 

Reviews of Alma Lolloon

Another review of “Alma Lolloon” released into the cybersphere, this one by Ashen Venema, author of “Course of Mirrors” and blogger friend. I paste below, and below that, please see the “TinyLetter” opportunity.

Ashen’s Review:

on December 19, 2017
This is fun. Want to write a book? Forget empowering how-to-do courses. Instead, entertain your knitting circle; guaranteed not to be the silent reading audience an author might fantasise about, for good or bad. More, they’re keen to have their characters included in your story.
Do knitters or writers have a plan before they set out to do their craft? Alma, a waitress, determined to write a book about her five husbands has no plan. She shares the process by reading installments to Hattie, Rufa, Anny and Curly, her knitting friends. The knitters frequently interrupt. Hattie, considered to be a writing expert, spouts her wisdom with relish – a book – ha – what makes you think you can …
Alma is undeterred. The first scenes recount the surreal events following the unplanned pregnancy of an American teen. Story or not, the ladies are hooked. They frequently debate the merits of the story, if it is a story, and what the whole point of it might be.
Grammar, speech marks, arc, none of this matters to Alma as she reads to her listeners. They’re obviously entertained by the occasional odd simile, or they wouldn’t show up at the rotating local venues where they meet. ‘Where’s this going?’ they query. ‘But that’s incredulous,’ they exclaim. Stay silent, burst or share and be crucified. Through the sardonic, provoking and lamenting chapters shines Alma’s need to express her unique truth.
Active listeners can be rough, in the understanding, of course, that it doesn’t pay to tell the truth. There are laugh-out-loud moments. Portland’s American lingo weaves through the themes of existential crisis, lost utility and simmering rage, sprinkled with humour and funny lines. ‘My epiphany slowly crawled up the back of my neck, morphed, split, and then two headed to my ears, one each …’ or ‘Rack stood five feet nine inches, nine inches and a half if he would bother standing up straight. Well, Jack Rack is mistakenly shot and the story moves on …
I enjoyed the hilarious discussions on marriage, and on men as occasional providers.
Could it be said that ‘men’ is a category of books?
And then, Alma finds out, there are those who choose a book for its cover.

~~~

My Weekly Tiny Letters

My this week’s Tiny Letter copied below. Would you like to sign up?

Three reviews of “Alma Lolloon” are now loose in the cybersphere:

Bill Currey bound his review in a tweet, to wit:

Bill Currey @williamcurrey
And here I thought I was going to get a Joycean map with footnotes and all to Linker’s Portland! I stumble blindly onwardly towards, if not to summation, at least to termination.

Joe Linker @JoeLinker
Replying to @williamcurrey @PhilippaRees1 and 2 others
Thanks for the review, Bill. Sounds like something Beckett might have said.

And Dan Hennessy posted a review of “Alma Lolloon” to his “Tangential Meanderings” blog (AKA: itkindofgotawayfromyou). Click here to read Dan’s review.

And if you’ve not read Philippa Rees’s review of “Alma Lolloon,” it’s at Queen Mob’s Tea House. Click here.

Bookmark Giveaway!

We’ll be spending the holidays with the grand girls, and for an art project we’ll be making bookmarks for a Joe Linker book.

The bookmarks use standard, toxic free materials, of paper and fabric, thematically linked to the books with original artwork.

If you’d like to receive a complementary bookmark, please send a reply to this tiny letter telling us what book you’d like the bookmark for (Penina’s Letters; Coconut Oil; Scamble and Cramble: Two Hep Cats and Other Tall Tales; Saltwort; or Alma Lolloon), and also include a snail mail address for us to mail you the bookmark. All bookmarks will be sent out by Dec 31st. If you prefer, we can send you an e-bookmark. Reply the same as above but with an email address. What’s an e-bookmark? Not sure, we’ve not made one yet.

You can view the covers of the five books here.

Thanks for reading, Joe

The Amateur Spirit in Writing – Revisited

As The Coming of the Toads nears its 10th anniversary (our first post was Dec 27, 2007), we reflect on why and wonder what now.

The new book, “Alma Lolloon,” is out (“look inside” here). “Out” may seem hyperbolic – it’s now available. Others trying to write and publish will get the difference.

Most writers, excepting the besttellers, have to self-promote; yes, even when published traditionally by a standard house in the traditional manner.

It is, then, in the interest of shaking the bushes and the amateur spirit of writing, I invite readers of The Toads to subscribe to my TinyLetter notes.

Meantime, the amateur spirit in writing lives on at The Toads:

The amateur spirit in writing

on

We do not have the New Yorker DVD library (though we do have in the basement a stack of paper copies we regularly prune for mold), but we do have E. B. White’s “Writings from the New Yorker, 1927-1976,” edited by Rebecca M. Dale (HarperPerennial paperback edition published 1991).

The “Talk of the Town” pieces these days only occasionally reach White’s wit or brevity. He often captures a moment of his own time while gazing into some distance, foretelling. A case in point, his May 11, 1929 piece, where he writes: “’Writing is not an occupation,’ writes Sherwood Anderson. ‘When it becomes an occupation a certain amateur spirit is gone out of it. Who wants to lose that?’ Nobody does, replies this semi-pro, sitting here straining at his typewriter.”

Yet today, as the reading crisis spreads its tangential wings to include newspapers pruning peripheral departments, some semi-pro and pro writers are forced back into an amateur spirit.

Where will they go? Continued White: “Nobody does, yet few writers have the courage to buy a country newspaper, or even to quit a city writing job for anything at all. What Mr. Anderson says is pretty true. Some of the best writings of writers, it seems to us, were done before they actually thought of themselves as engaged in producing literature.”

Or before, in other words, they thought of themselves as real writers at all. One blogs in the hopes the amateur spirit will prevail, painfully aware that blogging also makes it easier, as White later said, “for persons who are not artists and writers to continue the happy pretence” (May 21, 1938).

But it’s not only to gain even amateur status that we might entertain the doubtful purposes of writing – for self or for others; it’s because even though we know full well we’ll never play right field for the Dodgers, we still enjoy shagging balls in the back-yard; we will still ride a skateboard down the hill, though of course we are no Tony Hawk, as our spouse reminds us, shouting she’s not taking us to emergency when we fall; and though we could never follow “Da Bull” into the big waves, when we’re back in El Porto, we’ll always paddle out for a small one.

Whatever happens to the pros, this amateur writing spirit hopefully encouraged and evidenced in the best blogging, whether pretence or preface, may enable those who agree that writing is learned while writing, and in no other way, to find a subject, knowing that subjects often reveal themselves only once we’ve made the commitment marked by a few hundred words.

Alma Lolloon: 5th Installment of Work in Progress – Epigraphs

The novel “Alma Lolloon” opens with two epigraphs, both of which serve the ordinary purpose of the epigraph but are also part of the fiction being created. In each, the original is given, followed by an “interpretive translation” by the narrator of “Alma Lolloon,” who is Alma Lolloon:

Experience, though noon auctoritee
Were in this world, is right ynogh for me
To speke of wo that is in marriage…
But yet I praye to al this compaignye,
If that I speke after my fantasye,
As taketh not agrief of that I seye,
For myn entente nys but for to pleye.

from Chaucer’s The Prologe
of the Wyves Tale of Bathe

What atrocity this insult of experience
As if somehow right for me and all
Wode talk woe of the marriage camp.
But complain not in present company,
For all tales told in pitiful woe
Tell not a whole story
If want is not to please.

from interpretive translation of Chaucer,
by Alma Lolloon, 1966

Die Erste Elegie

Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich denn aus der Engel Ordnungen? und gesetzt selbst, es nähme einer mich plötzlich ans Herz: ich verginge von seinem stärkeren Dasein.

from Duineser Elegien by Rainer Maria Rilke

The First Elegy

Who, if I cracked my little mouth, would listen to me in the din of rules of angels? And quickly so near his heart home of pounding hammers, sparkling nails, and gargantuan waves, I would fade in the muscle of his gaze, or in the back seat of his dark ride.

from Duino Elegies, interpretive translation of Rilke,
by Alma Lolloon, 1996.

I’m still working on editing and proofing and design.

Alma Lolloon: 4th Installment of Work in Progress

Awaiting new hardcopy to proof. Meantime, here is another installment of the forthcoming novel, Alma Lolloon. (Alma has told her knitting group she is writing a book. The book is to be about her five husbands, and the knitters agree to hear Alma reading from her book in installments at their Saturday knitting sits.)

Well, Hattie, I said, but I was talking to all of them again, of all genres, I like fiction most. What a gas! I like novels for their mystery, the dialogue, the atmosphere, the unfolding of the story, like opening a table cloth and when you get it spread out all across the table there’s a wonderful pattern you had not expected to see. There’s that moment when preparing dinner, not sure how it’s going to come out, and it’s time to set the table, and the cloth is unfurled, and the table and the light in the room is clean and soft and hopeful. This is picking up a book. And around the table sit a dozen characters you don’t recognize chatting away, one prim, another slurping, one passing notes under the table, a couple playing footsie no doubt. I like books you don’t have to necessarily understand to enjoy or comprehend. And it doesn’t bother me when writers split your attention. I like a style that breaks or belies or betrays convention, just wants of some fixed eyeballs you want to push rolling. I like when I see something my eye did not expect to see. I like other kinds of reading as well, books on music and the mind, children’s books, comic books, graphic novels. I like talking about things I like more than talking about things I don’t like. I liked each of my five husbands, each in his own way. What did you expect me to say, I loved them? Please. What is love? Perhaps that will be my argument, Hattie.

Speaking of love, Curly said, what about these raspberry scones Starky has buttered up for us?

Love, love, love! Rufa declared.

I’m taking a couple home for Angel.

 

I come from a long line of circuit riders that ends in the dust bowl years, and we rode as hillbillies and Okies, carnies or enlisted men and women, or kept to the road as musicians and tinkers. My dad was a handyman, a plumber and carpenter and electrician and mechanic, and a sign painter and had a talent with brush painting and wound up out west where he got on with the studios painting backdrops for majestic movie scenes, a kind of scenic artist. He also did sketch portraits. He often spent Sunday afternoons down near the beach on the walkway where he’d set up an easel and for a quarter or fifty cents or a buck would draw character portraits for passing tourists. And of course he was a drunkard and left us early on, came back, and left us again. My mother was one of those wives who seemed like she was just along for the ride while she was really the differential gear. She knew how to do all kinds of things. She could cook, sew, knit, quilt, garden, herbal doctor and nurse, dance, sing, play guitar and piano, work carpentry and plumbing and tinker with cars. I suppose I have kinfolk spread like dandelions and poppies across the countryside and up and down city streets and out in the suburbs and up in the mountains and all around the coastlines, but I don’t know them, or I’m not close to any of them, and I was an only child, my folks are long gone, and I’m pretty much on my own these days but for the three kids left me by my first three husbands, one each, dandelions, all of us. I have grandchildren, and Freddy has a daughter, Marylu, who has a toddler, Molly, and they live nearby and sometimes come over for tea or for me to babysit for a spell and we walk to the park and play in the sun. Freddy was my first child, Mary and Gabriel’s son, my roommate and the boy she met and hooked up with my failed college year.

 

But so you had five husbands, Annie said, what of it? Life with one husband might make an even more gruesome tale.

She didn’t say gruesome, did she? Curly said.

A life with no husband the one I might have wished for to write about, Rufa said, and we all looked at Hattie.

Oh, sorry, Hattie.

And not for the first time we saw Hattie nonplussed by something Rufa said seemed packed full of meaning but no way out.

~~~

Alma Lolloon: 3rd Installment of Work in Progress

I’m still proofing and editing my new novel, Alma Lolloon. I hope to have it out by December. Meantime, I’m posting installments Saturdays here on the blog. Here is the third installment.

(Alma has told her knitting group she is writing a book. The book is to be about her five husbands, and the knitters agree to hear Alma reading from her book in installments at their Saturday knitting sits.)

3rd Installment of Alma Lolloon:

I simply would like to have someone to talk to, someone who actually listens to me. Is that too much to ask? So even though I don’t know you, and you might not be listening anyway, I’m talking to you, and I’m going to share everything. That’s not a trigger warning. Simply a goal. You might safely skip parts, your attention wandering. I’ve already skipped a few beginnings. But I want you to get your money’s worth. Even if you’re reading on-line for free or something, or you picked up this abused paperback copy you’re holding in the neighborhood library box. Go on, take it, read it on the bus. It takes time to read, and most of us value time. The thing is to sit down and relax. Breathe. Smell the paper and the ink, or whatever it is they print words on and with these days. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, a glass of wine, or pop a can of beer, or pour a juice or a clean clear glass of fresh water. Feel my hands kneading your shoulders. You carry tension there. I know. Let it go. Drop the shoulders. I know you have your own story. Let that go, too, for now.

We must have ritual. Ritual is what stops the crazy traffic on the bridge so the tall lovely ship can slip quietly by. Make some space in your day for reading as a kind of ritual. Nothing serious, of course, on the contrary, just a few quiet moments to yourself, for some peace and silence, to get away from your scares for a few moments, those voices in your head that won’t shut the hell up, or to find yourself, or to forget yourself, or to remember something you maybe should have never forgotten and is such a joy to find again. I’m well aware you could be reading something else, something more dramatic, sexy, literary, trashy, or some delightful ichor with goor and geer from some silly battle zone somewhere, or some soapy sap television shows are often stuck together with, if that’s what you like. Sure, and you’ll find soap here. I’ve eaten plenty of soap in my lifetime. My mouth is clean. Or non-fiction, some people prefer because it’s supposedly true. Nothing like getting one’s facts straight. We all need ritual, but we should not consider ritual what is merely compulsive.