I looked at yesterday’s writing goals and a list of books I made to read for Tales of the Land of the Firebird Part I and I thought, “How will I ever manage to complete all of these projects?” Yet then it occurred to me: for reassurance I will look at the projects I have already completed. I will include only those that matter to me, not ones I eventually decided were not worth publishing or only partial (I have some projects that I began which I don’t know if I shall ever finish). With this in mind, I will begin with my published work; and then move on to completed works I have high hopes for; and then finally completed work which I like but may never matter to anyone else.
My first work worth mentioning is The Bible According to Eve I-IV. I am convinced this is my best work. These four volumes begin with Genesis and end with Chronicles II, the last book of the Jewish Bible. (The order of books of the Jewish Bible is different than the order of the Catholic or Protestant Bibles, and I followed the order of the Jewish Bible.) The idea of The Bible According to Eve is to tell the Bible’s stories from the feminine perspective. Although I have met skepticism from friends, I like to think that these books bring Biblical tradition to both feminists and other secular people who would like to believe in God but have doubts about traditional religion. At the very least, (and I believe I have my friends’ agreement on this) I think my four-book-set causes people to think about the Bible. I like to think it opens up the question of the Nature of God to the average reader. I hope that it assures people that God’s love is intellectually respectable: I myself toyed with Spinozan thought before I became Jewish, and I still believe that perhaps some version of panentheism is a more likely description of God than a neatly arranged dualism. I also emphasized that God has feminine and not just masculine traits.
The next book which I have published is Faust in Love. Faust in love is a version of the Faustian gambit in which Donald Trump sells his soul to the devil to be president of the United States, and the American right sells its soul by voting for him. However, I do not portray a world view in which left-is-all-good-right-is-all-bad. Aloysius Faust, the anti-hero who is at the center of the book, is not exactly living a godly life himself. First, he does in fact plan to sell himself to the devil by seducing the Virgin Margaret. Secondly, the way he has been living before the devil shows up to meet him is less than respectable: he has been searching through Medieval Muslim medicine for the “Elixir of Life” because though agnostic he is very afraid of death. And, thirdly, you can’t exactly say his love life is responsible. On meeting that babe, Helen of Troy, he is for selling anything and anyone–at first, anyway. I will leave it to the reader to decide if Aloysius Faust is in fact able to change (or the right, though I write less about its redeemability).
Next, the as-yet-unpublishable Brazil, which is about the Problem of Evil. Jose Baruch is a rabbinical student who sees a child fall from a tree and die, and loses faith in God and becomes Other. It makes it worse that the child is obeying Jewish law: the child is waving a bird away from the nest so that he can take the eggs down to his lame father below. I took this story (of Aher) from the Talmud. I placed this story in Brazil both because it seems to me that the 3rd World contains more suffering than the 1st, and because I wanted to write about this subject for years before I heard the story. In high school I believed that the problems writers like Charles Dickens brought to the public forefront in Great Britain in the 19th Century still exist in places like Rio de Janeiro, and that the way to end human poverty for good was to take Dickens’ message further. We need to have it brought to the public forefront that nobody should be poor, not just that only people in our own country should be poor. This is not a criticism of Dickens: in his day, the poverty of places like New York and London was such that it might seem like people should focus on their homeland’s poverty.
Though it has not been written yet, a sequel, Wild Rose, is a book I hope to also write about Brazil. The story is about Other’s adopted son, Isaias. Isaias, despite having been a Brazilian orphan, feels guilty about those he left behind to become Other’s son. However, eventually he will learn how to channel his energies as an artist to help those who cannot help themselves. One idea I hope to suggest is that an individual from the 1st world just by adopting one orphan from the 3rd world can save a life. I believe that we can help those less fortunate than ourselves, but sometimes to do so, whether individually or as an organization, we must focus on one problem–which is why Wild Rose focuses on the orphans of Brazil, an issue which Brazil focusses on in a smaller way.
Maybe the Meek will Inherit the Earth has stories in it that have gotten downright mean reactions. I believe this is because the subject it deals with are poor Guatemalan and Mexican immigrants. The short stories are “The Tale of Juan the Bear”; “The Education of Barbara”; “Little Cornflower Comes to America”; “Feed My Sheep”; and “A Thief in the Night.” These stories–except “A Thief in the Night” which is about Donald Trump–are about migrants and the people who work with them. Juan the Bear Diego and his family and Little Cornflower and her mother are people with Guatemalan and Mexican ancestry. Barbara and the protagonist in “Feed My Sheep” are a Jew and a convert to Catholicism who are trying to help either the Mexican-American Jose (Barbara) or children separated from their parents (“Feed My Sheep”). In “Feed My Sheep” I highlight the idea that sometimes when a person sees suffering, it is a reason to turn to and not away from God. As for “A Thief in the Night” it is my parody of Donald Trump. I hope someday this–perhaps my most radical book, racially–is published.
Poor Folk is about rural poverty. Or rather, that is most of what it is about. There are a wide variety of characters and situations in the book, but I got the idea to write it working with the mentally ill. Why? Because many of them live under the poverty level, and not for reasons that are their fault. In fact, many of them had trouble learning in school due to their illnesses. The first story in the book that occurred to me is “On the Road but Never Got the Girl” about Mike Bannock–whom I have blogged about before–who lives in a trailer court and gets the bright idea to go into politics. I write about all kinds of people–black people, white people, politicians, drug dealers–but it is intended to be a book about people on the margins. I don’t know how to describe the book better than that. I believe in its ability to help the people described in the book.
Loveless Love is about one of my pet peeves–the romance novel. The main character, Helen, drops out of college to marry, but then finds she doesn’t like being a housewife. So she takes up her pen and writes–romances. However, what writing romances really does is build a fantasy life surrounding her own husband and the adulterous affairs she has because even though she loves Jack he is not quite “enough.” What I try to relay in the book is that although Jack may not be the brightest tool in the shed, it may not be anything to do with Jack that Helen is dissatisfied. Anyway, I don’t know if anyone would like the book besides me and my Aunt Margaret. As for the title “Loveless Love,” it is an early W.C. Handy song about synthetics. Handy said that he went to a church to listen to a preacher preach and come to the conclusion of people that “they are idolatrizing love.” There are some things which love, beautiful though it is, can’t do for a person. Of course, this is an old maid talking.
Then there is Discovering Wonderland, a book spanning 2 years of Annie (age 9 when the book begins) and Bertie (age 8 when it begins). Actually, it began as a book in which I tried to work out my own troubled feelings about that man in my life which supposedly either makes or breaks a girls’ childhood–her father. Like most little girls, my father was my first love. Unfortunately, by the time he died, I almost looked forward to his death. I no longer understood why he could not be a real person and not just this loser obsessed with his 2nd wife’s leaving him. I couldn’t work out if I loved him or hated him–so I began the book, which largely falls on the side of hating. The book needs Annie’s friend Bertie to keep it from falling into the doldrums. Her father Horace Maultier is simply the unbearable boor of the book…I kept writing… the book is huge, but I hope someday to write sequels: Living in the Looking Glass; Wonderful Days of Yours and Mine; and Goodbye to Wonderland. Living in the Looking Glass is about Annie and Bertie’s adolescence. Wonderful Days of Yours and Mine Annie’s first two years of high school. Goodbye to Wonderland will cover three years because Annie is put into a mental hospital because of reasons centering around her father. I may write two more books for the series about Annie and Bertie’s college career. Yet all of this is speculative. For now all I have is Discovering Wonderland.
I have two books which did well as a Blog (I have severely edited them in their post-Blog existence) but which seem to have no other life: Grace; or, in Search of the Leviathan; and The Cycle of the Ahriman. Grace was inspired by my relationship between myself and my Grandma’s. Both of them were very religious, but Grandma Alderson was religious in a negative way (she believed in the coming apocalypse) while Grandma Williams was very loving and kind in her faith. I combined elements of both of them, and even Mom a little into Grandma Början, a Swedish American Grandma (Grandma Williams was a pure-blooded Swede), and in Grace; or, in Search of the Leviathan, Grace discovers that true faith is about giving and accepting and not judging people due to their religion or culture. She does so trying to defeat the wicked fairy Lilith. In the meantime, she meets the abused boy Prince Alfred from ancient Wales. The two of them go on further adventures in The Cycle of Ahriman, in which the nature of good and evil is described as evil being a kind of rebellion against God. The figure in the book who represents evil in the book is Ahriman, who begins his own personal story as Absalom, who like his namesake rebels against a father-figure, a beloved Benefactor whom he blames for things which happened to him when they were unfortunately separated.
The Magic Orchard and Other Stories began as a story about a character named Peter and his family. Peter–like Ahriman–has a mysterious benefactor, but his is female and he never rebels against her. No, his life’s first two stories (how he gets his orchard and how he gets his wife), there is a period of building and a period of trying to understand children who do not see the world the way he does. Peter wants his children to work on his orchard, but two of the three tell him they have other aspirations. He gives them some money and sends them on. The ending is not harsh (these are children’s stories after all); eventually Peter and his children are reconciled. There are more children’s stories in the book, my favorites of mine being Aryeh the Lion (Aryeh meaning ‘lion’ in Hebrew) and “The Black Sorcerer” about an African slave who flew back to Africa. I say of mine because I included several stories my Grandma Alderson used to tell me in the book, and perhaps Grandma Alderson’s stories–despite her religious views–cannot be topped. My favorite story in the book is “The Little Snow Girl” which I will tell some other time.
A Child’s Haggadah is a book of Jewish American stories which I made up myself. Some of them–like “The Dancing Bear”–are retellings of older stories (it is a telling of a Dov Ben Amos story from Folktales of the Jews from Vol. 2). Other stories are completely mine, including “The Unicorn’s Journey Past Sugar Candy Mountain,” which I originally came up with in grade school myself. This story is about a magical land in which sugar fairies live lethargically, but in which a bright little unicorn hears of our world and is determined to come here to see everything for itself (imagine such contraptions like airplanes and blenders! he thinks as his grandfather describes our world to him). Here he meets a little boy, and they travel back to the Land of Sugars. The main malefactor of the book is the Big Gulp, a giant slushy that eats people. However, everything works out okay for the unicorn and his friends in the end.
A Pocketful of Stories is a brief collection of children’s stories. They include Jewish stories like “What Rifka Got for Hanukkah” (in which an orphaned girl moves in with her Uncle Jacob and has a fabulous Hanukkah); “Christian” stories like “Hank and the Witch” (a story about Hansel and Gretel and the loving Grandma who tells the story to her grandson Hank); and one story about a boy and his pet dragon–my favorite story in the book.
Well, looking at all this I am reaffirmed that I can write more and that it will sell–admitting that not all of this has, yet.