Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Story of Stuff

If (like me) sustainability and consumerism have been on your mind lately, you simply must watch this video: The Story of Stuff.

Press release!!

In the tradition of Tuesdays with Morrie, this is the inspirational story of how one man learned life's greatest lessons in the face of incredible hardship.

and other life lessons learned in Siberia

Andrew Bienkowski & Mary Akers

Published by Allen & Unwin on 7 March 2008
No article or review should appear before this date without prior permission
RRP: $22.95 * Format: Paperback * ISBN: 9781741754223

Andrew Bienkowski was five when, exiled with his immediate family, he watched his grandfather starve to death so they could survive.

Reminiscent of Viktor Frankel's great classic, Man's Search for Meaning, this extraordinary book melds the unfolding story of survival against the odds with the practical wisdom 5-year-old Andrew gained while coming to terms with his new home; with its dramatic landscape and endless challenges. In amongst the pain are moments of great beauty, breathtaking northern lights, the appearance of the first butterfly after the long months of winter, the unexpected kindness of strangers who risked everything to be kind. It was these experiences that inspired Andrew to become a psychotherapist, and to devote his life to helping others.

As Churchill famously said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."

Each chapter details powerful ways to achieve this with such concepts as radical gratitude (learning to be grateful even for the difficult experiences in life); who we can and cannot help; genuine being with others in need, and the remarkable changes that we can experience when we do.

Andrew Bienkowski
has spent more than 40 years as a clinical therapist. After Siberia, the family spent a year in an Iranian refugee camp where Andrew nearly died from dysentery, malaria and malnutrition. Three years in Palestine and a year in England followed before he finally immigrated to America. There, he went on to earn a Masters in Clinical Psychology and to become a psychotherapist.

Mary Akers' work has appeared in literary journals, many related to health and healing. Her story, Wild, Wild Horses was a Notable Story of 2004, and she has been a three-time Bread Loaf work-study recipient.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Kelly Doust * Publicity Manager * Allen & Unwin Book Publishers
Tel: 02 8425 0137 Email:
Download 300dpi cover images from the Allen & Unwin website.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hair and mushrooms...

...used to clean up oily beaches in an environmentally friendly way. Amazing!'s off!!

The book went to the printer Friday (Australia time, which was last night my time). Whoo hoo!! The design team decided to do a glossy overlay for the cover, too; it will have the matte picture of snow and reflected trees, and then that image will be covered with a gloss that has an embedded snowflake pattern that can only be seen at certain angles. Should be amazing.

I can honestly say that I haven't got a single reservation about this book. The editor and publisher have been amazing to work with and they kept me involved and updated every step of the way. I am surely spoiled for any future editor and publisher. :)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

THE UNDERSTORY by Pamela Erens

Jack Gorse is a complicated man. The particularity of his nature is revealed in the book’s opening paragraph as he describes an episode of curdled cream in his self-serve coffee—an episode that led him forever after to drink his coffee black and obsessively double check each time he fills his cup.

We soon learn that he is also facing eviction from a rent-controlled apartment in New York City, an apartment he has illegally inhabited for years following the death of a similarly named uncle. The slow, cold war of attrition that ensues leaves Jack the only remaining tenant, and the architect hired to oversee the project his only human contact.

The ever unfolding layers of Jack’s personality reveal a man both intelligent and oddly na├»ve, shy and slyly voyeuristic, cunning and emotionally guileless. He is a fascinating man. He is also a quiet man, but even though this story is a first-person narrative, I would hesitate to label it a quiet book. The Understory crackles with the energy of compulsion and unrequited obsession that is slowly and meticulously revealed in a way that could be called meditative (for its gradually deepening understanding), except for the fact that Jack fails miserably at meditation. No, the true genius in the storytelling here is that Jack reveals his deepest self, without actually revealing his deepest self. He simply recounts, while we see what he cannot.

In fact, it’s this continual dichotomous tendency that serves up the book’s delicious tension. Gorse is beset by a stubborn ennui that plays against a dramatic narrative backdrop of eviction notices, narrowly escaped fires, and a culminating scene of violence that is as sudden and unexpected as it is dramatically right.

The Understory is a book that relentlessly and incrementally pulls you forward on intelligent tenterhooks till you slap against a conclusion that resonates long after the turning of the final page.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

More amazing news!!

And, I've learned that a good friend and great writer, Jim Tomlinson, has just been awarded an NEA Fellowship for 2008!!! The news today keeps getting better and better!!!

Here's the list of prose fellowships, FYI.

Congratulations, Jim!!!

Congratulations to Laura van den Berg

Laura has just been announced as the winner of the 2007 Dzanc Prize! You can read more about this at Katrina Denza's blog. Laura is a great writer and a fine human being--what excellent news!