Sunday, May 22, 2011

When We Danced On Water

A chance encounter at a coffee bar in Tel Aviv rescues two lost souls from the abyss in Evan Fallenberg's (Light Fell) carefully crafted novel, When We Danced on Water. Teo is a hardened and domineering 85 year-old; an aged, influential choreographer whose life is riddled with sadness and sorrow. Vivi, a 40-something waitress with latent, "interdisciplinary" artistic talent, is completely stalled in her life and her work. The nature of art is what brings these lonely, disillusioned souls together, but it is also what will tear them apart. When their paths cross, a transformation is sparked in each of their lives - but not before they are forced to resurrect the past and face down long-repressed demons. When Vivi and Teo slowly start to form a relationship that seeps beyond the boundaries of artistic friendship, the reader is drawn and captivated by their stories from the past. Teo was a dancer with great promise, who forfeited love to pursue his career, only to have it stolen in wartime by a Nazi brute. While Vivi, an Israeli soldier, forsook her family and the traditions of her Jewish faith for a lover who would later betray her. The novel delves into themes surrounding the perils of passion, evil and regret; the transcendent power of art; and the ultimate healing power of love. The sensitivity that Fallenberg brings to the writing devoted to Teo's life as a dancer in the Danish Royal Ballet, while in the wings and on stage, is passionately evocative - as are the terrifying scenes of his captivity during the war. In the end, it is Teo's story that takes center stage and serves to ratchet up the dramatic tension--past and present--for both Vivi and Teo until the plot unravels into a surprising conclusion of forgiveness and rebirth.

When We Danced On Water by Evan Fallenberg
Harper Perennial, 978-0062033321, trade paperback, 272 pages
Publication Date: May 17, 2011
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Please note:  This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness.  To read this review on their website link HERE

The State of Our Libraries

Opinion/Editorial Section (front page)
BY Kathleen Gerard
The Record
To read the op-ed in its entirety, click on the highlighted article title above

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hotel Angeline

What happens when 36 writers, of various genres, come together and work on the same novel at 2-hour live intervals for a period of one week? The Hotel Angeline is what happens...a wonderful new book by an imaginative collective of authors who all reside in and around the Pacific Northwest. The novel, written in chapters penned by each of the 36 participants, tells the story of Alexis, a precocious 14 year-old girl whose life is far from ordinary. She and her gravely ill mother live in (and serve as the landlords for) the Hotel Angeline in Seattle, what was once a mortuary, but has since been converted into apartments - dilapidated, run-down apartments that serve as "home" for a group of eccentric, misfit aging artsy types who smoke pot, detest Fox News and the conventionality of the ordinary. Beyond the liberal leanings of those who populate this insightful, well-rendered novel is a wonderful coming of age tale for fatherless, identity-challenged Alexis. She is faced with extraordinary choices and goes to great, often unexpected, lengths to do right by a mother whom she loves and wishes to honor. The unexpected arc of the plot keeps the reader turning pages as Alexis strives to save the Angeline and the residents therein. There is something for every fan of literature here - adolescent lit, thrillers, mysteries, fans of comic, fantasy, domestic fiction and even graphic novels. Over the course of the story, I marveled at how the voice of Alexis carried through the novel so distinctly and seamlessly, despite the influence of multiple authors who lent their time and talent to this project to benefit Seattle7Writers, a literary nonprofit organization. It was also great fun to read the novel with an eye toward authors whose work I already admire-- Elizabeth George, Garth Stein, Mary Guterson--to read their individual chapter contributions and the way in which their literary choices propelled the story forward with great insight, wit and sensitivity (fascinating!)...and also to discover the work of other voices and talents of which I was not familiar. 

Link HERE for a video about the project and the book.

Hotel Angeline (A Novel in 36 Voices)
Open Road Integrated Media LLC, 978-1453218785, 260 pp.
Publication Date: April 18, 2011
To order this book via link HERE

In order to write this review, a copy of the novel was provided to me via Open Road Integrated Media in conjuction with NetGalley