Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spend Veterans Day with some Veterans for Peace

Veterans Reflect on Memorial Day:
Veterans for Peace will Offer an Alternative Commemoration in Poetry, Prose and Song
7 p.m. Monday, May 28, at The Regulator  
In what they call an alternative to the usual “glorification and glamorization” of war often accompanying Memorial Day celebrations, the Eisenhower Chapter of Veterans for Peace (VFP) will offer an evening of reflection in poetry, prose, and song by its members. The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, May 28, at the Regulator Bookshop (720 9th St., Durham) and is free and open to the public.

Five local U.S. veterans of four different wars, from WWII to the present, will read from their published works.

~ Joseph Eger of Durham, 91, who served as a sergeant in the US Air Forces in WW II, will read from EINSTEIN'S VIOLIN: A Conductor's Notes on Music and Social Change. Once hailed as “the greatest horn player alive” by the New York Times, Eger was principal soloist for the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles and National Symphony Orchestras before re-emerging as a world-renowned symphony conductor and social activist.

~ Barry L. Reece of Pittsboro, 77, who served in both the U.S. Army and the National Guard, is a Korean War veteran and poet. The author or co-author of more than 40 textbooks on interpersonal relations, leadership and communications, Reece is Professor Emeritus at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State College, and will read from his second work of collected poems: Lingering Memories – Second Act: New and Selected Poems.

~ Logan Mehl-Laituri of Durham, 30, is a candidate for a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies at Duke Divinity School. A veteran of the War on Iraq, he served in the U.S. Army (Sgt.E5) from Aug. 2000 to Nov. 2006. His book, titled Reborn on the Fourth of July: The Challenge of Faith, Patriotism, & Conscience, will be published this July.

~ Three-tour Iraq War veteran Russell Snyder of Raleigh, 30, will offer excerpts from his book, Hearts and Mines: With the Marines in Al Anbar: A Story of Psychological Warfare in Iraq, published earlier this year. Recently returned from Iraq, where he served as an Army Psychological Operations specialist from 2002 to 2011, Snyder is currently a student at NC State University, pursuing a degree in International Studies with a concentration in International Relations.

~ Also taking part in VFP’s Memorial Day Program will be John Heuer, president of the Eisenhower Chapter, who will read from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation (1961). Chapter member Vicki Ryder, whose husband served in Vietnam, will offer two songs of Memorial Day remembrance.

Founded in 1985 by U.S. military veterans, VFP is a national non-profit organization that works to “heal the wounds of war, expose the true costs of war, and build a culture of peace.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Award for Green Gospel

Durham resident Charles Fiore's debut novel, Green Gospel (Livingston Press, 2011) was just named First Runner-Up in the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards (General Fiction).

The New York Journal of Books called Green Gospel, “…powerful writing…[Fiore is] as skillful as they come at putting a reader in a place and time.” ForeWord Book Reviews said, “From cover to cover, there is not a dull moment in Green accomplished writer has arrived on the scene with a fireball of a novel.” And the Southern Literary Review said, “The novel contains hauntingly beautiful passages that read like poetry, and the characters are nuanced and achingly real.”

The Regulator was pleased to host the book launch event for Green Gospel last summer. Our congratulations to Charles (a.k.a. LC) Fiore!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Teach the Books, Touch the Heart

This was the title of a wonderful article about the value of literature, from the New York Times three weeks ago, written by Claire Needell Hollander, an English teacher at a public middle school in Manhattan. I haven't been able to stop thinking and talking about this since I first read it.

The first three paragraphs:

"FRANZ KAFKA wrote that 'a book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us.' I once shared this quotation with a class of seventh graders, and it didn’t seem to require any explanation.

We’d just finished John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” When we read the end together out loud in class, my toughest boy, a star basketball player, wept a little, and so did I. “Are you crying?” one girl asked, as she crept out of her chair to get a closer look. “I am,” I told her, “and the funny thing is I’ve read it many times.” 

But they understood. When George shoots Lennie, the tragedy is that we realize it was always going to happen. In my 14 years of teaching in a New York City public middle school, I’ve taught kids with incarcerated parents, abusive parents, neglectful parents; kids who are parents themselves; kids who are homeless or who live in crowded apartments in violent neighborhoods; kids who grew up in developing countries. They understand, more than I ever will, the novel’s terrible logic — the giving way of dreams to fate. 

And the last paragraph:

We cannot enrich the minds of our students by testing them on texts that purposely ignore their hearts. By doing so, we are withholding from our neediest students any reason to read at all. We are teaching them that words do not dazzle but confound. We may succeed in raising test scores by relying on these methods, but we will fail to teach them that reading can be transformative and that it belongs to them. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

From our Thursday May 3rd email :

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Friday May 4th at 7:00)

You’ll be hearing lots of great things about this brand new novel, and all of it is going to be true. Billy Lynn’s army squad become instant heroes/celebrities when their intense Iraq War firefight gets caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew. The squad is brought home for a “Victory Tour,” and this amazing, no-holds-barred novel opens on Thanksgiving Day with the boys piling into a stretch limo, guests of America’s Team (a.k.a. the Dallas Cowboys), on their way to be part of a halftime show with Destiny’s Child. Along for the ride is a Hollywood producer who is trying to broker the squad’s story into a movie deal. The rest of the cast of characters includes patriotic fans, mammoth football players, the Cowboy’s wealthy businessman/owner and his friends, a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and the ghost of one of the members of the squad who died in the firefight.

This is an incredible book. Madison Scott Bell has called it “as close to the Great American novel as anyone is likely to come these days.” And Karl Marlantes, the author of Matterhorn and What it is Like to Go to War, has this to say about Billy Lynn:

“This book will be the Catch-22 of the Iraq War....This funny, yet totally sobering dissection of the American way of watching war will have you squirming at the same time you are laughing out loud; Fountain applies the heat of his wicked sense of humor while you face the truth of who we have become. Live one day inside Billy Lynn’s head and you’ll never again see our soldiers or America in the same way.”

Ben Fountain reads here Friday evening at 7:00.