Songs of Ourselves

I’m pleased to report that Blue Heron Book Works has just published a new anthology, “Songs of Ourselves,” which features a variety of personal writings works by 24 different contributors  — including a collection of essays by me on death, mortality and bygone lives remembered.

My contribution is gleaned from a larger book project, still in the works, titled “Man Has Premonition of Own Death,” a title inspired by a 1920s-vintage newspaper headline describing the death of one my ancestors, 23-year-old Thomas Crooks — my great-uncle on my mother’s side.

Young Thomas had met his fiancée for a picnic lunch, and was returning to his job at the old Alexander Smith carpet mill in Yonkers, New York, my old hometown.  According the newspaper account, “As he was returning to work, he turned to her and said, ‘I am going in. But I shall be carried out.’ ” Within a half-hour, my ancestor had “fallen” into a vat of acid used to cure the fibers used in the carpets. He died soon after at a local hospital in the arm’s of his devastated mother — my maternal great-grandmother.

Two of the essays I contributed to “Songs of Ourselves” contemplate the awful fate of poor Thomas Crooks.

Sounds kind of gloomy for holiday reading? Not really. My contributions to the anthology aren’t grim. They’re sometimes melancholy, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes nostalgic, and mostly a celebration of life — and the fact that I wish it didn’t have to end.  I think it’s a perfect reading material for sitting in a comfortable chair — by a crackling fire, perhaps, or sitting near a window as snowflakes swirl and the winter winds whirl — and thinking long, long thoughts of a long, cold winter night…

And that’s just my contribution! “Songs of Ourselves” features an impressive array of works by 23 other very talented writers representing a variety of voices and experiences that would impress even the good gray “Songs of Myself” bard himself!

Here’s how to order the book from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Songs-Ourselves-Americas-Interior-Landscape/dp/0996817743/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449013561&sr=8-1&keywords=%22Songs+of+Ourselves%22+Mary+Lawlorhttp://www.amazon.com/Songs-Ourselves-Americas-Interior-Landscape/dp/0996817743/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449013561&sr=8-1&keywords=%22Songs+of+Ourselves%22+Mary+Lawlor

 

 

If we never meet again (or the Blue Ridge fare-thee-well blues)

I’ve been in Virginia for more than a week now, working on a couple of short stories and reworking a couple of longer manuscripts —

Here’s a photo of my writing studio, which is set atop a hillside of the peaceful former farm where the Va. Center for the Creative Arts is located.

studio exterior

Here’s a photo taken inside, where I’ve been spending a lot of time writing — and looking out of the window at the sky (which has mostly been blue) and those treetops.

interior of studio

 

Here’s what I see when I get a little stir crazy and go for a little drive (took this  photo yesterday )

blue ridge foothills

And here’s some of the music I’ve been listening to late at night:

Time is a jet plane/It moves too fast…so wrote Bob Dylan…I can’t believe time can pass so quickly in such a slow-moving place, but I’ve been here for ten days already and have just four more to go….I’m going to miss this place, but I’m sure I’ll be back….and until then I’ll just have to listen to lots and lots of old Stanley Brothers songs…

 

 

 

The gift of reading….Kindle edition of “RIP” for just 99 cents!

Rip Van Winkle is stunned by the news that the Kindle edition of "Rip" is being offered for one day only at the amazing price of just 99 cents!
Rip Van Winkle is stunned by the news that the Kindle edition of “Rip” is being offered for one day only at the amazing price of just 99 cents!

Just in time for Christmas – and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River – the Kindle edition of my novella “Rip” is available at a discounted price between now and December 25. On December 19, the e-book version of my modern-day parody of Washington Irving’s classic story will be available for purchase and download for 99 cents! The price goes up to $1.99 the next day, to $2.99 on December 21, to $3.99 on December 22, and to the original Kindle price of $4.99 on Christmas Day.

DiGiovanni Rip bookcover

Of course, if you just have to have an actual book with a front cover and numbered pages and a back cover (which includes a charming author photo), “Rip” is still available via Amazon for $12.99 in paperback.

Merry Christmas!

Portrait of the artist

Portrait of the artist looking for the red EXIT signs?
Portrait of the artist looking for the red EXIT signs?

Had my photo/portrait/post office mugshot taken today as I begin the final week of my three-week stay at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where I’ve done lots of work on a novel — inspired by the life story of the real-life 1920s Italian anarchist with the unlikely name of Severino DiGiovanni — and where they have invited me four times in the last four years to spend time as a fiction-writing fellow because, nearest as I can figure, I’m a fellow who writes fiction.

Anyway, however I got here, I’m very excited about this novel. But I’m wondering about this photo.

A writer friend who’s very smart and very hip and very talented and very published just messaged me to say “Great picture!”

My brother, on the other hand, who I can always count on for his support because he’s blood, emailed back: “You look like a serial killer.”

So, let’s say early reviews are mixed. I myself don’t know what to think.

Do I look like an author? Do I have that intelligent, slightly bohemian, interesting, he’s-a-genius-but-an-approachable-genius look that I suppose all writers — or maybe it’s just me — crave?

Or do I look like I’m lost? Like I’m being interrogated by the NSA and CIA and FBI and KGB all at once in order to save time? Like I have amnesia and I’m wondering why I keep hearing nothing on the radio but country music and fire-and-brimstone preachers? Like I’m doing a screen test for Andy Warhol’s Incredible Plastic Inevitable?

Or like I’m just about finished contemplating and now I’m about to answer a reporter’s question: “What, Mr. DiGiovanni, is the meaning of life?”

Well, if I’m in the mood, and I think you’re all ready to handle it, I’ll answer that question in my next blog post — but in a pre-screened post that will be available only to people who, like my astute writer friend, with declare with great enthusiasm: “Great picture!”

To Be Continued…

Here's a photo -- from the outside looking in -- of To Be Continued Bookstore in Metuchen, N.J., where I'll be reading on Friday, June 28.
Here’s a photo — from the outside looking in — of To Be Continued Bookstore in Metuchen, N.J., where I’ll be reading on Friday, June 28.

I’ll be reading excerpts from my satirical novel “Rip” on Friday, June 28, at To Be Continued Bookstore, 431 Metuchen, N.J., as part of the town’s month-long “Junebug ArtFest.”

coverforamazon

I’ll be appearing with two other authors — I’ll start reading sometime between 6:30 and 7 p.m. Store owners Sergio and Karen have copies of my book for sale — and I’ll happily sign any copies they sell. Admission is free. For more information about the event and/or the bookstore, call 917-686-6056.

coverforamazon

I’m happy to announce that my reading and book-signing at the Holland-Alexandria Free Public Library has been rescheduled. I’ll be appearing there on Saturday, March 16, at 1 p.m. I’m looking forward to returning to my old turf in Hunterdon County in western New Jersey — I lived in Alexandria Township for many years and edited the local weekly paper, the now-defunct Delaware Valley News.

Here’s a photo of me posing with the statue of Rip Van Winkle in Irvington, N.Y.:
me and rip van winkle

Here’s an updated schedule of other scheduled “Rip” readings and book-signings:/em>:

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m., Highland Park Public Library, Highland Park, NJ

Saturday, Feb. 23, 1 p.m., Howland Public Library, Beacon, NY

Thursday, April 4, 5 p.m., Port Jervis Free Public Library, Port Jervis NY

Saturday, April 13, 2 p.m., Hunterdon County Library, Raritan Township, NJ

Monday, April 22, 6 p.m., Somers Public Library, Katonah, NY.

At each venue, I’ll read excerpts from my satirical modern-day “retelling” of “Rip Van Winkle,” talk a little about my longtime affection for the works of Washington Irving, answer questions, and sign copies for people who buy the book, which will be available for purchase after the reading. Admission to all events is free.

“Rip” tide rolls up the Hudson

me and rip van winkle

I’ll be in Peekskill, N.Y., this Saturday afternoon (Jan. 19) for another “Rip” reading and book-signing.

Here’s a link to a write-up in the Peekskill edition of the online news outlet Patch.

As for that photo above — That’s me and Rip Van Winkle…More exactly, that’s me posing with a great statue of Rip Van Winkle on a lawn next to the village hall in Irvington, N.Y., where I gave a “Rip” reading last Saturday.

Irvington — named after the author of the classic story “Rip Van Winkle” — is just a lovely riverside town just south of Tarrytown (former stomping grounds of Washington Irving, the Headless Horseman and the Rip character in my parody of Irving’s classic story — in my book, Rip works as a toll collector on the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown!)

Anyway, try to make it to my reading this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Field Library, 4 Nelson Ave, Peekskill, N.Y.