2014 – December 21 – Cruisin’ on a Sunday Afternoon

On the 21st we’re reading “Cruisin’ on a Sunday Afternoon,” by Mandy Nicol.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper twist:  “Up, Up, and Away…”[/cryout-pullquote]

My heart’s racing, I’m short of breath.

I watch the clouds through the window and wish I could gulp in some fresh air . I imagine I’m walking in the bush with Peregrine who’s racing around barking at startled rabbits and cockatoos and blue tongue lizards. It doesn’t help.

The guy on my right keeps fidgeting and sighing and checking his watch. He’s not helping either.

I didn’t think I’d be like this.

I had no fear of flying.

Pins and Needles is a unique series, in that Continue reading

2014 – December 20 – Feliz Navidad

On the 20th we’re reading “Feliz Navidad” by Sally-Anne Macomber.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist:  “Trudelein, dear, with women like you we don’t need nuclear weapons. Blow up the industry baby!“[/cryout-pullquote]

To: Milton Flaxmill, Red Cow Publishing

From: Trudy Polaris

Date: December 20, 2014 10.19 p.m.

Re: Peek-a-boo

Øslø was a bust! How was I to know they give the Peace Prize in Øslø, and all the other Nobel Prizes in Støckhølm!? So I missed out, completely. Maybe next year will be better for me. I heard on the street and also in the corridors of the King Kristian XVII Hotel and then again on the ferry across the Øslø Continue reading

2014 – December 19 – Families

It’s the 19th, time for “Familes” by Gay Degani.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist:  “At last always beats never.”[/cryout-pullquote]

On the creek side of the Old Road, the sun dips behind the wild growth of the arroyo and hills beyond , cooling the warm California afternoon. Jamie, sitting across from Gus German on the porch of his bungalow, stops shuffling cards, places them on the small table, and zips up her sweatshirt. She glances over at Lily and Collin, her two little kids rolling down the knoll of dirt and weeds where their bungalow used to stand before a giant oak , uprooted by 100 mile an hour winds, smashed Continue reading

2014 – December 18 – Flow

The 18th brings “Flow” by Stephen V. Ramey (reviewed by Andrew Stancek).

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist:  “It will be the year of years.”[/cryout-pullquote]

The room is like a cathedral, dark panels, painted ceilings, brass everywhere. A polished bar runs the back half of one wall, bottles stacked along the mirror behind it. The tap is a glory of levers and logos.

You might wonder how Lanigan’s Irish Pub ended up in a place like New Castle, with its Italian tradition and economic woes. While you’re at it, you might wonder how a 50-something guy who never drank much, never smoked, was reasonably athletic, ended up with aggressive prostate cancer. Continue reading

2014 – December 17 – What it Feels Like to Have Your Friends Dying Around You

It’s the 17th and we’re reading “What it Feels Like to Have Your Friends Dying Around You” by Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper twist: “A speck of sunshine can change our mind about many things.”)[/cryout-pullquote]

Mora makes her way across the parking lot to the front door of Kelly’s, all the while telling herself to go elsewhere. At the threshold, she stops and gives the idea serious consideration.

“But I promised Aaron,” she says aloud, her words a whispered white breath in the cold air.

She pulls the door open.

The Suicide Club reminds me a bit of early Coen Brothers works, in that it knows how to balance light and dark in interesting ways. Dollops of Continue reading

2014 – December 16 – Alive and Kicking

It’s the 16th, and we’re reading “Alive and Kicking” by James Claffey.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Tepper Twist: “The river runs through it.”[/cryout-pullquote]

The Shannon burst its banks a week ago and sheep, cattle and the odd goat float bloated and lost in the middle of Ireland’s great start-up lake. Farmers wring their hands in McKettrick’s snug, drowning their sorrows and totting up the EU compensation they’ll collect in the New Year.

As an engineering student back in the day I learned an enduring lesson. No matter how we gird our creations against it, pressure will always win. We might temporarily hold it at bay, but force steadily applied will eventually Continue reading

2014 – December 15 – Twelfth Inning

It’s the 15th, and we’re reading “Twelfth Inning” by Michael Webb.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Ramey Ramble:  “And you were only hoping for first base.“[/cryout-pullquote]

I drive the babysitter home , drink a diet cola in the kitchen, then sneak upstairs, trying not to wake the kids, padding into the bedroom in socks. Angela is facing away from me, looking at her reflection in a full-length mirror. She is topless, wearing only soft green sleep pants that ride low on her hips. I watch her turning, looking at her body in profile, and then straight, and then turning the opposite way. I stand and watch her. She seems focused on Continue reading

2014 – December 14 – Cracked

On the 14th day, we’re reading “Cracked” by Len Kuntz.

It’s not even dawn. I’m broke, somewhere in the middle of East Jesus, Wyoming, and all the radio will pick up is twangy honkytonk or stations playing rambunctious Mexican music. Not only that, but my gas gauge is leaning its elbow on E.

My Long, Uncertain Search for Myself describes this series pretty darned well. We’ve been through a variety of attempts to fill the void left by his wife’s betrayal, including last month’s bar beat-down. The protagonist has abused and been abused, showed and received kindness, and robbed a fast food joint. All in the name of trying to Continue reading

2014 – December 13 – Dust

It’s the 13th and we’re reading “Dust” by Michelle Elvy.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Ramey Ramble:  “Those aren’t tears; I have dust in my eye.”[/cryout-pullquote]

“That’s us,” says Ellie at the sound of the boarding call. She takes Stevie’s hands and pulls him close.

“Yeah.” Stevie laces her fingers in his. “You take care of Manny, right?”

She smiles. “You know I will.”

They lean their foreheads together. They are exactly the same height and they close their eyes, noses touching. They inhale and exhale and remain this way for a few long moments, each feeling the other’s breath, warm and familiar. He will not feel her breath on his Continue reading

2014 – December 12 – High and Bye

 

The 12th finds us reading “High and Bye” by Shane Simmons.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Ramey Ramble:  “This is where a fake address comes in handy.“[/cryout-pullquote]

“You did what?!” I ask. I’m standing in the doorway, an empty cardboard box in my arms.

Sandra sits there, one hand grasping the obligatory glass of wine, her other arm wrapped up in a sling.

“You heard me,” she says. “I climbed out of the window.”

I walk into the room and pause to look her in the eye, just to see if she’s bullshitting me.

She’s not.

12 Lessons in Love (and Hate) is another series that grew on me as we Continue reading