Another satisfied reader

A few weeks back I was inspired to have a book giveaway and today another review from that giveaway has appeared.  An excerpt:

Is this a sad novel, given that a few of the stories focus on suicide and many on death?  In some ways, yes.  It’s even deeper than that, though, as it shows us how many people from all different walks of life can feel the exact same thing without realizing it.  That’s where the title comes in; all these people share love without knowing.  I can’t say it made me sad, though.  It made me thoughtful and it astonished me with its power.

I’m crazy happy that the book, despite much of the content being related to loss and absence, did not make this reader feel sad or depressed because of it.  That’s what I was really hoping for.

You can read the whole thing here.

Things Mean A Lot

Updated at bottom

One of my favorite book bloggers is Nymeth, of Things Mean A Lot.  I discovered her blog last year when she reviewed One for Sorrow, and have consistently returned ever since because the way she writes about the books she’s read is really lovely, and almost always spot on when something she’s written has compelled me to seek a book out.  Today she posted a review of The Love We Share Without Knowing, which is, as usual, lovely writing.  Here’s a clip:

This novel is filled with things like shape-shifting foxes, old Japanese curses, ghosts, and blind men regaining their sight. But above all it’s filled with beautiful, melancholy stories about grief and loss, love, longing and loneliness, intimacy and connections or the lack thereof. About being alive and feeling all the things that it implies, or not feeling them and wanting to feel them so desperately. About trying to find a place, real or imaginary, that feels like home.

I don’t even know if I should be trying to pinpoint what The Love We Share Without Knowing is about. It’s just a really beautiful book. It’s so human, so full of warmth, so quietly perceptive. It broke my heart and it put it back together again. Not many books achieve this, but Christopher Barzak has done it twice now. When I finished this book, I wanted to laugh and cry; I was both immensely sad and very glad to be alive.

It’s the sort of thing a writer is pleased to hear from readers, obviously, and I’m grateful that something I’ve made can have this effect on others.  I know how difficult it is to find books that move me in particular ways.  My favorite sort are the kind that do make me want to laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time, a blend of levity and gravity.  In any case, Nymeth has proposed to her readers that she will send them chocolates and bookmarks (and if envelopes could hold puppies, then puppies, too) if they’ll read and blog about The Love We Share Without Knowing in the next couple of months.  She’s giving a free copy away next week, I believe, if I read correctly, and you can enter to win it.

In that same spirit, I’ve decided to offer up some free copies of the book as well.  If you’d be interested in reading The Love We Share Without Knowing and then blogging about it or reviewing it somewhere afterward, drop me a line at the e-mail address listed in the sidebar of this site, and I’ll send the first ten people who do contact me a free copy.  Deal?

Update: The tenth emailer is in and the giveaway over.  Thanks for all the interest.  I look forward to reading all of your reviews of the book, whether it be on your blogs, Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you post your thoughts on books.  Thanks, all.

Back in the day

I’ve been following this fascinating conversation about blogging in the comments thread of a post on my fabulous friend Gwenda Bond’s blog, Shaken and Stirred.  It particularly has to do with authors blogging.  Some authors have dipped into the conversation, and it seems different people blog for different reasons, which is obvious, of course.  Some authors, too, are suspicious of blogging, and see it simply as self-promotion.  There are all sorts of ideas about authors and blogging in this conversation, and some of these ideas are really interesting.  It does seem that many publishers these days encourage authors to keep a blog.  It’s certainly one way to promote one’s work.

Me?  I started my blog (not this one, but one of those on my sidebar links) some years ago.  Back in 2002, I think.  I did it to keep in touch with my writing friends, none of which live anywhere near me (especially back then).  So it was very personal.  And I wasn’t very good at it, to be completely honest (and I don’t think I’m good at blogging now, either, to be completely honest).  But there was a point in my life when blogging became very important: when I lived in Japan.  In that period of my life, it was something I did regularly, and it served both as a typical “journal” would serve anyone–to capture a part of one’s life while they’re living it, because for some reason it feels extremely important to do so–and also it was a way for me to stay in touch with many of my family and friends, rather than to write individual e-mails to every single person I loved.  

About three or four months into writing about my life in Japan, a friend suggested I put a little visitor’s counter on my blog, to see how many people read it each day, and for how long, and where they are located, etc.  I thought this was very silly, because I figured it would show a total of twenty to thirty people as visitors daily.  But I was surprised to learn that in fact, at that time, around 150 people were reading my blog each day.  Sometimes 200.  Every now and then it would spike to 300 visitors in a day.  I was a little taken aback, to be honest.  Who were all these people?  And why did they care about my little blog about living in Japan?  

They were from all over the world, actually.  From a variety of countries.  And that, too, was a real surprise for me.  

But to be honest, yet again, once I came home from Japan, I didn’t feel as much of a need to blog.  For me, it really had been about keeping in touch with loved ones and friends who lived a world away from me.  And once I returned home, even though many of my friends still lived far enough away to continue that purpose, I didn’t feel my life in America was anything to write about in particular, and that need to communicate all that I’d been experiencing in Japan began to evaporate.  

I still blog, but I don’t think I’m very interesting.  My life is busy.  I teach fiction writing full time at the local university.  I’m also taking classes part time to earn another graduate degree.  I’m writing my third novel.  I’m gearing up to throw a party for the release of my second novel, and to go around the region and do readings and signings.  I’m busy.  But my life?  Generally nothing spectacular, at least in my opinion.  I have a lot of good friends, many of which I don’t get to hang out with as much as I’d like to since I started working full time and going to school for another degree full time.  I have a large, loving family, many of which I don’t get to see as often as I like for the same reasons.  Certainly, I could blog about my personal life in detail if I truly wanted to, and I sometimes do, but generally I don’t feel compelled to do so.  I think partially it’s because I’m so busy.  But also I think it’s because I like to keep some things for myself, you know?

In any case, you should read the conversation thread I linked to above.  And if you want to read me blogging at my best, you should click here, and start reading through the two years when I lived in Japan.  That was bloggy me at my best, really.  That was when it felt like an absolutely essential aspect of living for me.

Perspectives on class

A great new website from YSU’s own Sherry Linkon, including this new blog in its contents: Working Class Perspectives. If you’re at all interested in understanding class in America, Sherry Linkon has been one of the leaders in academia on this subject for years now. As the blog editor, she has gathered together an impressive list of contributors.

From a university update I received just today:

The new website, Working–Class Perspectives , will include a blog, links to recent news stories and information on how Center affiliates can help journalists contact real people to get the story right, said Sherry Linkon, co–director of the CWCS.

“With all of the attention focused on the working class in this year’s election, and the complex nature of working–class culture, we knew it was time to join the discussion,” Linkon said.

John Russo, the other co–director of the CWCS, said the Center’s affiliates have been monitoring how the media has been covering the working class. “So much of the coverage of working class reduces these people to little more than a simple phrase. We believe we can help journalists by sharing our insights and by helping reporters find real people to talk to,” Russo said.

The blog, “Working–Class Perspectives,” will feature weekly commentaries about politics, the economy, the media, education and other issues.

The inaugural entry of Working–Class Perspectives finally offers a clear definition of who are the working class today, Linkon said. “It”s not just blue–collar workers,” she said.

Russo said the Center has been engaged in research about working–class voters, labor issues, economic change and a variety of other topics for more than 10 years. “We want to share this expertise,” he said.

The Center for Working–Class Studies at YSU was the first interdisciplinary academic center in the country devoted to understanding and making visible working–class culture. Its 13 faculty affiliates teach, conduct research, and work with community organizations on a wide variety of topics.

Sounds like a necessary contribution to the internet. I myself am looking forward to reading the information and perspectives that the site promises. If any Wiscon readers concerned with class are reading this, you might be too.


I’m off to Florida tomorrow, to attend the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, where I’ll be presented with the Crawford Award.  Very excited, naturally, but it’s been hectic around here lately.  Renovating my office, which has included scraping paint off all the woodwork and sanding and restaining and finishing it, as well as the painting of the walls themselves, and working on final edits to my next novel, which I’ve found out will be released at the end of this coming November, and also I’ve been interviewing for a full time position at my university, and preparing a presentation I need to give in the final round the week after I get back from Florida.  All this and also grading essays and preparing for classes and thinking about the Future, and trying to get in social time with family and friends.  I’m feeling scattered and spread thin, so I’m looking forward to several days in Florida, and being poolside at some point, soaking up light and heat.  This winter has sapped me of much of my energy, and I need a good break to refill.  In any case, I’m off to pack.  Back in a week.


After a night spent reading my journal from when I started it back in 2002 up until I came home from Japan in 2006, I can officially say that a.) I’m glad I’m no longer a twenty-something, b.) I’m SO glad I went to Japan and grew the hell up (well, at least a little) and c.) I miss Japan like a phantom limb.

Okay, I laughed

Hillary Clinton was in Youngstown yesterday, speaking to workers at a nearby GM plant.  One reason why I always love to read local and regional blogs during political periods is to see what the politicians face from the locals, who are not all that impressed and loverly with politicians due to trust issues we have in our history of corruption here.  Here is my laugh for the day, from the My Friend Cleveland Blog:

Hillary Clinton is in Ohio. Yesterday she stopped by the General Motors plant where she held up a pair of boxing gloves to indicate that a fighter was needed in the White House. This was an interesting and useful tactic until Gus Johnson, a 15-year vet of the GM plant, offered to box Clinton so she could prove her fighter status. Needless to say Clinton will probably be sticking with the whole “pen is the mightier than the sword” thing now. Clinton is supposed to be at a Cleveland-area high school today, of course we don’t know which one because Fox hasn’t learned about the 5 Ws and H yet. Also, Chelsea Clinton and Michelle Obama are currently in Ohio, but neither has offered to fight anyone yet either. Watch out for that left hook.

Just a little change

Since I’m rearranging stuff in my house, making it how I want to live in it for a while, I thought I’d make some changes on this website too.  I think I like the look of this one for now, but leave the option open to change however many times I like in the future.  I wish I knew how to build websites.  But if I could, I would probably stop writing and just start designing websites, because it seems like an awfully fun thing to do too.

I ate far too much for Thanksgiving, but it was so, so, so good.  Now I have to figure out how to get my self-discipline back.  Did anyone see where I left it?

Not an invitation for smart-ass comments (that includes you, too, Bowes.) 😉