Our periodic round-up of books by local authors, authors with local connections and books focused on local or regional topics:
On Wings of Wonder
Doug Cosper, illustrated by Anna Cosper
Illumity Media, 266 pages, $15.99
Former Daily Camera writer and Fulbright Scholar Doug Cosper makes good use of his own travels around the world in his new young-adult novel, targeted at middle-grade readers. Case, whose family operates a magical carousel — all resemblances to Nederland’s Carousel of Happiness definitely intentional — and Mira, who survived the massacre of her Rohingya village in Myanmar, meet and travel the world on the backs of Flinder, a blue butterfly, in search of Case’s missing mother.
Flitting from Colorado to Cambodia, Kilimanjaro to the Kalahari, they come to understand how sheer wonder and simple love can be as powerful as hatred and vengeance.
“(J)ust as all Buddhists were not responsible for the oppression of your people, all white and black people are not responsible for what happened to us,” says a young boy they meet in the desert. “But the world doesn’t run on logic, does it? It runs on wonder.”
Anna Cosper’s cover, map and simple interior illustrations subtly amplify both story and message.
Quiet Desperation, Savage Delight
Torrey House, 377 pages, $19.95
It’s been decades since David Gessner lived in Boulder, where he wrote his first book, and published his way to New York Times bestsellerdom. But there’s always been something very “Boulder” about his work, which artfully explores the meaning and power of wilderness through such towering figures as Stegner, Abbey and Teddy Roosevelt, as well as his own experiences.
His latest takes Thoreau — whom he amusingly dubs “America’s original social distancer” — as a guide through his pandemic experience, revisiting the meaning and necessity of loving nature, self-reliance, civil disobedience and more in “Quiet Desperation, Savage Delight: Sheltering with Thoreau in the Age of Crisis.”
Essentially a series of interconnected essays, the book offers everything from a post-apocalyptic reading list to meditations on lost friends and considerations of government power, but always circling back to its inspiration.
“Imagine Thoreau’s reaction to drones. Imagine his reaction to Facebook. It isn’t hard to do,” Gessner writes.
The Silver Pigeons
Cameron & Greys Publishing, 344 pages, $14.99
A hunting accident on the vast plains of eastern Montana catalyzes the action in Colorado author Howe’s (“Into the Roaring Fork”) second novel. Set both in Montana and Savannah, Georgia and nearby sea islands, the fast-moving tale offers plenty of suspense and more than one plot twist.
“I am one big lie,” the narrator confesses, “and I stand there convinced he knows this as much as I know this is far from over. We are positioned face-to-face as members of two nations, adherents to a treaty signed by our ancestors over a hundred years ago. A time when mine had bullets and his had arrows. But now, it’s the Sioux who has a gun strapped to his hip.”
When I Can’t Sleep
Robert Garner McBrearty
Matter Press, 88 pages, $15
Here are 30 quick peeks into the mind of long-time Louisville author McBrearty, “flash fictions” that sometimes arrive in a flash but may take years to come to fruition.
The stories range from a paragraph to several pages long, from bitterly amusing (“Trump Teaches My Writing Workshop”) to poignant.
“They danced in the ballroom. Somewhere there were children. They lived in a country home. They had a white horse. No one rode the horse. But they liked to go out and feed the horse carrots and the horse was always happy to see them,” McBrearty writes in “In the Blackness.” “They walked in the countryside with his arm around her. Sometimes the children were there and sometimes they were not.”
A Town Called Paradox
Miriam Murcutt and Richard Starks
Prestwicke Publishing, 300 pages, $9.99
Former journalists, Boulder authors Murcutt and Starks’ new novel is set in the red-rock country of southern Utah. After her mother’s death, young Corin is taken in by her deeply religious aunt. She hates everything about the arrangement until her imagination is fired by the arrival of Hollywood studios seeking backdrops for the 1950s boom in big-budget Western movies.
Suddenly, a town that was dull as ditchwater becomes unimaginably glamorous. But Corin’s initial fascination will founder in disillusionment, leading her to reconsider and appreciate her roots.
A Beard Cut Short
Earthview Media, 245 pages, $16.95
Former Camera science writer and Colorado Book Award winner (“From Jars to the Stars”) Neff examines the life of his mentor, former University of Michigan Professor John Rubadeau, before plunging in to investigate the unjust #MeToo claims that led to his firing in “A Beard Cut Short: The Life and Times of a Legendary Professor Clipped by a Slip of #MeToo.”
Rubadeau was an old-school writing teacher who fearlessly created room for students to discuss and debate human differences in the classroom, refusing to coddle or protect them, an effort doomed to fail.
“I am here to teach you about the intricacies and nuances of the English language not to coddle you or to support your conviction that you are the next Shakespeare,” Rubadeau informed his students. “If you will be devastated because you receive less than an A in this course, drop this class the first day.”
Using his investigative skills to obtain confidential documents, Neff concludes that his mentor’s firing “came about through a poisonous brew of stubbornness, incompetence, misplaced zealotry, hypersensitivity, blinkered perspective, bad faith, personal friction, professional jealousy, and shoddy investigative work — all of which led to over-reaction and injustice.”
Jeri L. Norgren, with color photographs by John Fielder and paintings by Robert L. Wogrin
John Fielder Publishing, 160 pages, $45
“Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000-Foot Peaks” is the latest treasure from renowned nature photographer that will not languish on coffee tables, at least not in the houses of those drawn to the majesty, mystery and history of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks.
Though long said to number 54 — or perhaps 53; there was a running debate over El Diente Peak — in recent years the standard qualifications for designation as a separate “14er” have been loosened so that the list now includes 58 (full disclosure: reviewer is not a fan).
Whatever their number, this fun and fascinating book is essentially a pocket guide to 14er history, focusing on how they got their names. Mount Sneffels, highest peak in the mighty San Juan Mountains, takes its name from a Jules Verne novel. Mount Evans honors a former Colorado governor now reviled by many for his role in attempting to cover up the horrific Sand Creek Massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho people in 1864. Challenger Point (one of the newcomers not formerly considered a separate 14er) was named to honor those killed in the 1986 space-shuttle disaster.
A great holiday gift for the mountaineer or budding peak-bagger on your list.
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