Starred Review, Foreword Magazine

Man of the World, Chatwin Books (Oct 30, 2021) First flight across the sea…

The skies are seductive to a young man from the French countryside in Layne Maheu’s spellbinding historical novel Man of the World.

Auguste is the son of an apple farmer, for whom days replicate in calm form, in whom thrives a thirst for romance––not just with Simone, his bright childhood friend, but among the lights and glamour of Paris. Such grand excursions seem a distant dream before a hot air balloon drops into his orchard, carrying two daredevils headed for a display of the Wright Brothers’ aerial machine.

Auguste is swept up in the wonder of that witnessed flight. He’s soon ensconced as airman Hubert Latham’s apprentice. In Latham’s glitzy circles, fearless men are encouraged to break records with the dangerous flying machines—many of which remain in the early stages of development. Auguste is awed as the chattering metal and fabric contraptions take to the sky; behind the scenes, the madness of those endeavors is more apparent. And Latham’s unhealthy drive to achieve historical distinction is also witnessed by Antoinette, the waifish beauty after whom his machine is named, and for whom his desire is insatiable.

Rich, gorgeous images capture the excitement and promise of the era. These include the views from the balloon that Auguste first rises above the tilled earth in, of “an endless cloudscape [and] fleeting castles of the sky,” and of the balloon’s “shadow, rippling in and out over the chasms.” Grand parades and performances are preserved: aerialist displays in balloons meant only for show; great crowds gathering beneath World’s Fair tents and at inventor exhibitions. Latham, who’s charmed by “suicidal daydreams,” pulls Auguste through this alluring world—perhaps toward ultimate freedom; perhaps toward infamy.

The untamable sky awaits the defiant adventurers who wish to ride it in the stunning historical novel Man of the World.

MICHELLE ANNE SCHINGLER (September / October 2021)

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Winter Roost

Here in Seattle, the roost of crows is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. Though near some cities, the estimate can be of over a million birds. I never grow tired of it, always in awe. I drove out to the arboretum three times this winter, hoping to see the crows. But darkness came and the crows did not. Finally, a friend told me that the roost had moved. The crows now meet over at the SR 522 / 405 interchange, at UW Bothell.

What’s more ominous: the sound of the traffic, or the sound of crows?

In my next couple of posts, I’m going to investigate as best as I can why the crows meet like this. But no matter what I find what, one can’t help but be moved by the mystery. How can we ever possibly know why—or all of the why?

Crow Photos Sent in by Author Mark Waterbury

One thing I like about these striking photos is that they remind me of a scene in my own novel. There’s a scene where the protagonist, I Am (a crow from Biblical times that can speak English), is out walking along the beach after the Great Flood. And here he is, brought to life by Mark’s camera:
                                                                                                                                 One Small Step for a Crow, by Mark Waterbury

Crow Reflection.

If you like Mark’s photography, check out his book The Monster of Perugia, The Framing of Amanda Knox.

Gods and Goddesses Associated with Crows and Ravens

A very incomplete list of gods and goddesses associated with crows and ravens includes

  • the eponymous Pacific Northwest Native figures Raven and Crow
  • the ravens Hugin and Munin, who accompany the Norse god Odin
  • the Celtic goddesses the Mórrígan and/or the Badb (sometimes considered separate from Mórrígan)
  • and Shani, a Hindu god who travels astride a crow

In Buddhism, the Dharmapala (protector of the Dharma) Mahakala is represented by a crow in one of his physical/earthly forms.

Avalokiteśvara/Chenrezig, who is reincarnated on Earth as the Dalai Lama, is often closely associated with the crow because it is said that when the first Dalai Lama was born, robbers attacked the family home. The parents fled and were unable to get to the infant Lama in time. When they returned the next morning expecting the worst, they found their home untouched, and a pair of crows were caring for the Dalai Lama. It is believed that crows heralded the birth of the First, Seventh, Eighth, Twelfth, and Fourteenth Lamas, the latter being the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Crows are mentioned often in Buddhism, especially Tibetan disciplines.

In Greek mythology, it was believed that when the crows gave bad news to the goddess Athena, she flew into a rage, and cursed their feathers to be black.

In Hinduism, it is believed that people who died will take food and offerings through a variety of crows called “Bali kākka.” Every year people whose parents or relatives died will offer food to crows as well as cows on the Shradha day.

***

The poet who sent me this list, a friend from my college days, Ellen Girardeau Kempler, had this to add to the complilation:  The aspect of this info. that stood out for me was that there are as many positive associations here as negative–usually only find the negative. And BTW, in Ireland (where I attended a poetry workshop last summer) the common crow is the Hooded Crow, which they call the Grey Crow, a beautiful black and charcoal version–black head and granite chest. They sound and act the same (universallyl crowlike).