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BLOOMERS AT LARGE: Family Matters

The leaves are changing, the air is crisping, pumpkin-themed drinks are flooding coffee shops, and themes of gratitude and family will be upon us soon. This month, the topic of family (and the importance thereof) seemed closely linked to much of the bloomer-related content we’ve seen—as inspiration for our favorite bloomer authors, or the subjects of their works themselves.

As we’ve already noted, this fall will be the season for some amazing bloomer-published books. Bill Broun’s Night of the Animals, published in July, took Broun fourteen years to write and centers around a homeless man’s (Cuthbert Handley’s) quest to release all the animals from the London Zoo in the year 2052. A major plot point is Cuthbert’s ability to communicate with animals—a gift his grandmother revealed to him as a young boy. Since then, voices have clouded his mind; sounds of speaking animals desperately trying to talk to him, to tell him that they can help him once again meet his long lost brother.

Emma Donahue’s The Wonder is another favorite fall release. An English nurse meets a girl named Anna, who’s miraculously been living without food for months, claiming instead to be surviving off the manna fed to her by God. The nurse initially believes Anna to be eating in secret, with her family helping to peddle this grand illusion of celestial sustenance. But over time the nurse’s relationship with the girl shifts from one of observation and suspicion to maternal affection and genuine care.

Jayne Benjulian published her poetry collection, Five Sextillion Atoms, this year; her mentee Joanna Chen wrote about her earlier this month. The reviews are in: Benjulian’s words are terse and pointed, all the better to convey the feelings behind them. Themes of family and her relationships with family members are abundant and profound. One poem reflects upon a punishment doled out by her aunt, another copes with the loss of her stepbrother, Steven. You’d be hard pressed to find a more realistic, absolute depiction of what family is. Think insightful handbook about what it means to be family.

As many of these stories have reminded us, sometimes family isn’t so idyllic; rather, kinship is a life-long struggle. Kit de Waal’s new novel My Name is Leon explores the oft-times troubling world of foster care and a family’s years-long effort to reconnect two brothers separated by the system. It’s de Waal’s debut novel and is sure to remind us to hug our families extra tight this Thanksgiving.

Dan Shafer, a retired singer, has been making waves recently with his appearance on NBC’s “The Voice.” At 57 years old, Shafer feels that his voice is better than it’s ever been—and it does sound amazing. While the majority of press has been focused on Shafer’s age (he’s the oldest contestant of this season), what’s even more impressive is his reason for returning to the stage: this talented bloomer (re-bloomer?) is pursuing his dreams after years of working to pay for his son’s treatment for Crohn’s disease, now finally in remission. I bet the lullabies he sang when his son was younger are Grammy-worthy.

Bloomer poet/memoirist Kim Addonizio talked to many a publication about her new memoir Bukowski in a Sundress and her new book of poetry Mortal Trash. If you missed it, you should check out her interview with KPFA radio here.

Independent Booksellers are a family all their own, and it seems they have some extra cash this year to spend on Halloween candy and pumpkin spice lattes. According to a recent study, independent bookstores saw a surge in sales this year, particularly in the summer months, thanks in part to Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. We here at Bloom are huge fans of independent bookstores—especially if they carry our favorite bloomer titles.

In a similar vein, bloomer-poet Mary Jo Bang was recently interviewed by The Tico Times about her time at the International Book Fair in San Jose, Costa Rica. She discussed the community of readers and writers that attended as well as how her writing has changed since her children have grown up.

Katrina Woznicki’s essay on writing later in life is in the new edition of The Scofield. She talks about slowing down her writing process—especially challenging because her husband is also a writer and writes quickly—and the often-frustrating culture of over-praising young talent. It goes without saying, but some of the best writing comes in its own time. We’re right there with you, Katrina!

Make sure you check out all that’s in store for the month of September, and we look forward to keeping you in the loop with all the news, events, interviews, and more coming in October, when fall really comes alive. Grab a nice book (preferably bloomer-penned) and yet another mug of pumpkin-spiced whatever and keep those pages turning!

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George Lubitz is a senior at Skidmore College. His work has been featured in Gravel Magazine, The Adroit Journal, and he is the Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief at The Skidmo’ Daily, Skidmore’s satirical magazine.

 

Homepage photo credit: Joe Diaz via flickr

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