Monthly Archives: September 2014

Mikawadizi Storms by Dennis Vickers

Kindle Cover

Mikawadizi Storms

Available at last!

The title, Mikawadizi Storms, comes from an Ojibwe phrase (miikawaadizi) meaning she is beautiful.

The plot draws energy from a conflict between those who would dig an open pit mine in scenic Mikawadizi Hills and those who oppose them. The former include the KAMS (Keep American Mining Strong) consortium and its principle member, Gready Metals. The latter include La Roche Verde Indian Nation. As the book’s preface reveals, a similar conflict is underway in Wisconsin, USA, pitting Gogebic Taconite against a slate of environmental groups led by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, over an open-pit iron-ore mining project in Wisconsin’s Penokee Hills. Mikawadizi Storms is not, however, a report on the Wisconsin conflict. It is purely a fictional piece (magical realism, in fact) that draws on the energies such conflicts generate and uses those energies for literary, not political, purposes.

The novel is organized into 45 chapters, each named for a separate character (almost), and each telling the story of someone entangled in the main conflict. Each chapter begins with an illustration (mainly character portraits) drawn by the author. In effect, the novel’s narrative mainstream is created from 45 smaller narratives that cluster around it, as an image might be drawn by coloring the spaces around it. One character (Evie Arnold, freelance journalist) appears in many of these clusters. She agrees to report on the conflict and so touches the lives of many who are more engaged in one side or the other. Her life is the thread that binds much of the narrative together.

Through this structure (mini-narratives creating a larger story), the novel explores personalities and values associated with the mining conflict. As in real life, smaller stories make up larger ones, and, in the end, personalities and idiosyncrasies of individuals project onto a larger screen.

A third of the way through the story, another character tells Evie, “If you claim you don’t have an opinion you’re being disingenuous; that, or you don’t give a shit. Either way, nobody cares what you have to say about it.” In fact, Evie doesn’t treat the two sides in this values contest evenhandedly; she comes to support, and eventually adopt, ideals represented by the anti-mine group. The same might be said of the novel itself. That’s good, because the magic that fuels the magical realism resides there.

Copies available in paperback or kindle format.

Here’s the video trailer.

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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (deux)

A few months ago I wrote about Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. I started that review mentioning how I’d read the story and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Six months later and I’m thinking about it still. This story rings bells in my subconscious that are difficult to ferret out, yet impossible to ignore.

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes) is widely anthologized and available free online, in English here and Spanish here. If, like me, you are perpetually learning Spanish, here’s something straightforward to read side-by-side. It was written in 1955 and included in Leaf Storm (La Hojarasca), Marquez’s collection of short stories and a novella (also La Hojarasca) published in the same year.

The story is simple. An old man, battered and muddied, completely ordinary except for his enormous wings (in no better shape than the rest of him), shows up in Pelayo and Elisenda’s courtyard one day. They reluctantly take charge of him, put aside their first inclination to club him to death, and second inclination to put him out to sea on a raft, and confine him to their chicken coop. Soon the neighbors decide he’s an angel. The ensuing onslaught of visitors is overwhelming, until Elisenda conceives an idea to charge a paltry admission. This scheme nets her and Pelayo a fortune, which they use to build a new house, but not a new chicken coop. They keep the old man in the same decrepit building until it falls down and he’s moved to another shed. He continues to live with them, slipping into their house enough to annoy Elisenda. Presently, when they believe he could hardly deteriorate into worse condition without dying, he begins to regrow feathers. Soon he lifts himself off the ground on faltering wings, and flies away.

What is so captivating about this charming story I find myself returning to it? It must be the character of the old man. Angels hold a prominent place in Christian mythology. I, like many, harbor dim memories of Christmas pageants. In fact, I may have played an angel in one. It’s likely there are connections rattling around my subconscious that link angelhood to happy mysteries of early childhood. But, this angel is a decrepit old man, with shabby wings and missing teeth. How can the happy mysteries of childhood connect to the slow deterioration of old age?

It is the genius of magical realism to connect such unlikely partners, and therein lies the explanation for my return to the story. In this unlikely association of childlike spark of fascination with mature regard for inevitable decay, certain realizations arise. Elisenda watching the angel disappear into the distant sky is anyone watching his innocent dreams fade, regretting his life’s unrealized opportunities, accepting mundane reality in the places where celestial ideals once held sway.

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Buck a Book!

With the arrival of Mikawadizi Storms only days away, Sunny Waters Books has my other books on sale (a celebration, of sorts, or maybe just moving inventory). Click on a cover to see the Amazon page. Click on a title to see the YouTube trailer.

Double Exposures

Double Exposures.

Between the Shadow and the Soul

Between the Shadow and the Soul

Passing Through Paradise

Passing Through Paradise

Adams Apple

Adam’s Apple

The Second Virtue

The Second Virtue

Bluehart

Bluehart

Witless

Witless

Enjoy!

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A Buck A Book Kindle Promotion

Celebrating the September 30 release of Mikawadizi Storms (see cover below), all kindle books from Sunny Waters Publishing go on sale September 25th (8:00 am) through October 1 (8:00 am). The price for each book during this period is .99 cents! Included are Double Exposures, Between the Shadow and the Soul, Passing Through Paradise, The Second Virtue,  Adam’s Apple, Bluehart, and Witless. All books are by Dennis Vickers. Video trailers are here: Double Exposures, Between the Shadow and the Soul, Passing Through Paradise, The Second Virtue, Adam’s Apple, Bluehart, and Witless.

Enjoy!Kindle Cover

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