If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.Martin Luther King, Jr.
I was given the opportunity to review Lisa Manterfield’s new novel, A Strange Companion, prior to its release. Before I get to the review, I want to say that I received a complimentary early review copy from the publisher for review purposes. No other compensation has been received or implied for this review, nor was I given guidance about review content. All the opinions expressed here are my own.
Having said all that, A Strange Companion comes out April 4th. Friends, you want this one.
In 1991 I met Ronald de Kaper in Pamplona, and I’ve been blessed with his friendship ever since.
Ronald invited me to go back to Holland with him to do this thing he called the “beach walk.” I went, and, sure
enough, it was indeed a beach walk. Six days of walking on the sand and through the seaside towns of the Netherlands from Hoek van Holland to Den Helder, camping along the way. Ronald walked with a group of friends, all Dutch – everyone on the walk was Dutch as far as I knew, except me – and over the course of the six days Ronald’s friends became my friends, too: Stefan, Rico, Egon, Janneke, Joris, Johan…
I was asked why I thought the United Kingdom should have stayed with the European Union. My first thought was I wondered if Britain remembers how nationalism, hubris, and fear led them to the guns of August. And while I’m certainly no subject matter expert on the EU or the world economy, these were my second thoughts:
I think the people were lied to about what a Leave vote would do for them.
The Orlando massacre has rattled me.
I’ve wanted to write something for the last week, but I’ve not been able to. I don’t know why, but the massacre in Orlando has shaken me in ways that its many, many predecessors (e.g., Kalamazoo (6 dead), San Bernardino (14 dead), Umpqua Community College (9 dead), Charleston (9 dead), the Navy Yard (12 dead), Newtown (28 dead), the Sikh temple in Oak Creek (7 dead), Aurora (12 dead), Fort Hood (13 dead), Binghamton (14 dead), Virginia Tech (33 dead)…) did not. But I’ve wanted to get something out of my heart and onto the page. I don’t have confidence I’ll write this well, because I’m still working through how I feel, but here goes.
The Aisne River flows in a northeast direction through northern France, at least until it reaches Reims, where it bends nearly due west and continues to its confluence with the Oise, and then on to the Seine and into the English Channel at Honfleur and Le Havre. The scenery alongside its banks is tranquil and bucolic, lined with trees and pastures as it has been for centuries.
In 1917 a ferocious battle was fought between French and German armies for a ridge near the Aisne River called Chemin des Dames, which translates to English as “the ladies’ path,” and was the preferred route for the daughters of Louis XV when they journeyed from Paris to the Château de Boves.