Monday, February 27, 2017

The Oscars as Petri dish?

Despite the rather exciting Price Waterhouse Best Picture screwup, I found last night's event was a petri dish ripe for analysis of human behavior. It did not hold up well regards human behavior and empathy. When Jimmy Kimmel had the bus load of unsuspecting tourists enter the theater, I was astonished by the reactions and behavior. The majority brandished their cell phones and started making insta-movies as opposed to living their lives in the moment and enjoying an unprecedented opportunity to meet and greet movie stars whom they obviously adore and perhaps even dream of meeting as fellow human beings. Their one and only chance was given up to capturing the moment as digital bits to share on Facebook and Twitter, etc. I learned something last night. We have rapidly losing the ability to connect face-to-face. Technology is rendering us courser and we've sold our souls to the machines. We embrace the fake at the expense of the real. And as the great bard said, 'All the world's a stage.' A great big unrelenting stage.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Washington's Relentless Pursuit of his Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

Just listened to a fascinating interview on NPR's Radio Times with Marty Moss Coane. Erica Armstrong Dunbar talked about her book, Never Caught:The Washington's Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. Though George Washington did change his mind about slavery and freed his slaves after his death, his wife did not. She owned more slaves than Washington and her attitude was quite different to her husband. She liked light-colored slaves to serve in her home as she deemed them more intelligent. Nor did she or Washington wish to deprive themselves of luxury during their lives by liberating their slaves. Ona Judge was a remarkable woman who ran away to freedom after learning she was to be 'gifted' to Martha's granddaughter. The interview made me think how superficially many of us think about slavery. Imagine spending your whole life spent as the property of another human being. Your whole life. Imagine this every day. Imagine the silent despair. How horrid. Washington was a brilliant man but in this issue he was wrong. One can't excuse him because of the times in which he lived. John and Abigail Adams found slavery abhorrent and spoke out. Washington signed the Fugitive Slave Act requiring Northern States to return runaway slaves to their masters.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Book Giveaway from Goodreads

For US readers, Goodreads is doing a giveaway of three galleys of my novel The Moment of Truth. So click on uppercase Goodreads and it'll take you over to GOODREADS enter.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A lovely review

Here's what Joan Schweighardt, author of THE ACCIDENTAL ART THIEF said about my new novel: Damian McNicholl, The Moment of Truth (Pegasus, 2017) Feminism was a seedling in the 1950s, and it might have shriveled and died altogether if so many women had not ventured outside the home during World War II to replace the men who’d gone off to fight. Postwar, most of these women were happy to return to domestic life, but there was no denying that they’d gained something out there doing “men’s jobs,” a kind of spunk their daughters would inherit, with or without any coaching. In Damian McNicholl’s new novel (due in June, available for preorder) Kathleen Boyd, a young art student in Texas, finds herself caught in the crosswinds of the seemingly tranquil 1950s. On the one hand, a traditional future is unfolding before her eyes; on the other, she finds she has an overwhelming desire to become a matador, fighting the bulls across the border in Mexico. This novel, based on true events, is beautifully rendered, as elegant and as exhilarating as the art of bullfighting itself.—JS Thank you Fivedirectionpress for the review and check out other great books.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I got a wonderful unexpected Valentine's Gift about my new novel. Here's what she said about it: Damian McNicholl’s stunning novel unflinchingly tracks the journey of following one’s dream and all the triumphs and setbacks that are a part of making that dream a reality –especially when the dreamer is a young woman determined to enter an all-male world. With a vibrant cast of characters and evocative prose, McNicholl brings the world of 1950s Mexico and the rarified circle of bullfighters to glorious life. By turns exhilarating and heartbreaking, The Moment of Truth is a story that goes in unexpected directions and is as memorable as it is unfailingly honest. --Sarah-Jane Stratford, bestselling author of Radio Girls I am absolutely thrilled.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Speaking truth to power

All artists are called to be vigilant in these unprecedented times. Azar Nafasi, from Iran but living now in the US and author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, delivers a blistering speech about the emerging Imperial Presidency at the AWP this week. And an Imperial Presidency is emerging with news that Jared Kushner is becoming a de facto Secretary of State and dealing with foreign governments directly on behalf of Trump. While it's good he's a Democrat, I can't condone this because he has not been appointed by the Congress and it is utterly against the traditions and laws of the US. You can read about it here.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Rise-Up Huddle

What a brilliant RISE-UP HUDDLE last night. And we were told they’re happening all over the US. We met at the local library and the meeting room was packed. 300+ people. The organizers of the march on the day after inauguration coudn’t believe it. All age groups and walks of life were in attendance, including parents and their kids who who were provided snacks and art items. All motivated to work to get back the country we thought we lived in prior to the election. We were informed the movement is neither Democrat or Republican, though I’ll bet it was mostly Democrats and Independents who vote Democrat in attendance. But it’s necessary to keep the door open to Republican folks because there will be many joining as the threat increases and they realize the government has been hijacked from their party. After introductions, a sign-in sheet was passed around where we provided contact details and marked the issues we were interested in—Human Rights (encompassing women, LGBT, and other minorities, etc), Environment, Arts, Government Watchdog, Health Care. From these will emerge committees that will be co-ordinated so that when action is required, everone in the group gets involved. An attack against any one interest is an attack against all us. We stand and rise together. After this, we were told to speak to two people beside us in the room (huddle) and talk about our issues and get to know one another. It was good old-fashioned face-to-face contact and brilliant. I chatted to two women, Debbie who’s Jewish and from a nearby town and Cathy who’s Irish American, a senior citizen and fiery. Debbie told us about the Jewish woman who’d been verbally attacked at Starbucks by a well-shod woman for wearing her Star of David and told she wasn’t welcome anymore. The woman’s American and reportedly still traumatized by the attack. (I’d written about this on a FB post shortly after it happened.) High school kids stepped to the podium and talked about what they’re going to do to get the country back. Three girls from Central Bucks East are holding a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood and its LGBTQ support group. One boy, a science student, is organizing a march in town in April to highlight the administration’s attack on science. It really made me think. There are great, mature kids who are smart and do more than listen to music on iPhones and talk monosyllabic. They’re informed. It’s too easy to say kids don’t care today. There are many who do. These four public school educated kids are a credit to Bucks County. No one must allow DeVos to pull apart excellent public schools like teh one’s in Bucks and impose her warped evangelical ideas. Next up, a young Muslim mother from town who has two teenage daughters introduced herself and described how she’s felt since the election. How some white residents on the street approach and tell her she’s not wanted and must go home. They do so in front of her bewildered daughters who are American born. And she made a point of stating she’s muslim (wears a hijab), American, supports LGBT and African Americans , wants to save the environment, etc. I was truly moved, so much so I went up after the meeting ended and shook her hand and chatted. Her enthusiasm and believe in America was infectious. After the meeting, many people walked around talking to people they didn’t know and one could overhear comments like, “It’s so great to talk to people who feel like me.” Bottom line, I hope everyone who believes in this country and the basic decency and kindness of Americans will get and stay involved in this hugely important movement. There can be no sitting this one out, straddling the fence because of fear or running off to live in Europe or Canada. It’s our responsibility to overcome the buds of an imperial Presidency.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman sees Constitutional Crisis in the offing.

Just listened to NPR's Here and Now where Yale Professor of Law (field of knowledge is Constitutional Law) Bruce Ackerman states we are headed toward a constitutional crisis due to Trump's disrespect for the other branches of government. Moreover, he stated that Trump's language attacking and trying to weaken the other branches of government and the press is the language of a demagogue. Only two weeks and three days into the administration and this si where we're going. I think something's going to give.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

NatGeo documentary Gender Revolution

I watched Katie Couric's two-hour documentary Gender Revolution on NatGeo last night. It was highly informative, discussing among other matters the difference between one's gender and sexuality which are often erroneously conflated. I came away understanding the issues a lot better. If everyone watched such programs, there wouldn't be blanket hysteria and ignorance about bathroom issues such as takes place in the heartland and bible-belt areas.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

About Muscle Marys

Taking a cue from the heroine of my new novel, I decided to lift some free weights today instead of cardio as I always do at the gym, albeit her gym amounted to a pair of pitted dumbbells supplied by her 'Maestro' in a 1950's testosterone soaked dive at a Mexican bullring and my Y is 'new millennium' sleek and shiny. Despite running an hour three times weekly on the elliptical, I was astonished by how weak my muscles felt. I really struggled to do what had been so easy a year ago. Tomorrow I'll be in pain. But one thing I did notice as I looked around the gym--usually I have my head stuck in my kindle on the elliptical catching up with query-reading. My middle-aged body is in damned good nick after I discounted the young and not so young Muscle Mary's walking round with their tattooed biceps and a third of the 30 and 40 somethings.