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.

Songbirding

“In the woods,
I am the absence of woods…”
Daniel Mcdawson

I just recently went birding (crows aren’t my only bird of interest) and then wrote me a sentence…

When you first enter a promising area of birding—be it near trees, bush, or field—most of the birds fly away. They hide. Although you still hear them, or a chorus of them, you can’t see a one.

It’s only after you’ve stood still for an unspecified amount of time, when you’ve forgotten about the hubbub of your compartmentalized life, when the nagging of bills and the obligations of deadlines cease, when all of it drifts off as far away as possible, away with the breeze and the rustle of leaves, when all of a half-hour passes, or more—you don’t know—when you’ve taken less than ten steps, when a tiny shadow of a creature alights on a far branch, when three of them do, when you put the binoculars to your face and discover of patch of color so brilliantly yellow on a songbird wing, when all of the colors of the afternoon, when all the trees and the sky and the water, when all is saturated in the calm of the day, when a harmless, colorful visitor alights into view and prompts you to do nothing but admire, when, in the woods, you become a part of the woods…

Return

The following was taken from a January 28th, 2010 article in the ‘Seattle Times’, entitled ‘10th anniversary of Alaska Flight 261’, a flight that claimed all of the 88 passengers and crew, after going down in the Pacific off the coast of southern California. I found the article entirely moving. Here’s a small excerpt from it:‘Clinging to Memories.’
flying
“The survivors of Flight 261 have found ways to heal, cope, and endure because they’ve had to.

“Some found solace in their faith. Many cling to the good memories or see evidence of their loved one’s spirit around them.

“Pamela Sparks said she believes her son has left pennies for her to show her he’s there. Pierrete Ing believes her son comforts her by returning lost objects. Paul Bernard and his wife believe their son, Michael, has visited them as a crow.”

-Christine Clarridge, Seattle Times