Monday, September 2, 2019

All The Better Part Of Me - A New Release from Molly Ringle.

There's always cause for celebration whenever Central Avenue Publishing launches a new novel from Seattle based author Molly Ringle. This is especially true for Molly's latest offering "All The Better Part Of Me" that is due to hit stands on September 3. I had the opportunity to participate as a beta reader on an early draft of this outstanding new novel and I'm so pleased to see it come to life in its final form.


What's it all about? 

It's an inconvenient time for Sinter Blackwell to realize he's bisexual. He's a 25-year-old American actor working in London, living far away from his disapproving parents in the Pacific Northwest, and enjoying a flirtation with his director Fiona. But he can't deny that his favorite parts of each day are the messages from his gay best friend Andy in Seattle—whom Sinter once kissed when they were 15. Finally he decides to return to America to visit Andy and discover what's between them, if anything. He isn't seeking love, and definitely doesn't want drama. But both love and drama seem determined to find him. Family complications soon force him into the most consequential decisions of his life, threatening all his most important relationships: with Andy, Fiona, his parents, and everyone else who's counting on him. Choosing the right role to play has never been harder.


Who is Molly Ringle?

Molly Ringle was one of the quiet, weird kids in school, and is now one of the quiet, weird writers of the world. She likes thinking up innovative romantic obstacles and mixing them with topics like Greek mythology, ghost stories, fairy tales, or regular-world scandalous gossip. With her intense devotion to humor, she was proud to win the grand prize in the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with one (intentionally) terrible sentence. She's into mild rainy climates, gardens, '80s new wave music, chocolate, tea, and perfume (or really anything that smells good). She has lived in the Pacific Northwest most of her life, aside from grad school in California and one work-abroad season in Edinburgh in the 1990s. (She's also really into the U.K., though has a love/stress relationship with travel.) She currently lives in Seattle with her husband, kids, corgi, guinea pigs, and a lot of moss.

My take...

Stylistically, this new novel is signature Molly Ringle, from its smart dialogue to its grounded and recognizable characters and its rich and evocative Pacific North West setting - honestly, why Molly has never been tapped to write for a Gilmore Girls-esque TV series is beyond me. Where "All The Better Part Of Me" represents a departure for Ringle is in its handling of a Male to Male relationship - one that is sensitive, deep and enriching, both for the story and for the reader.

During my beta read, Molly and I had a back and forth during which we remarked on how similar the experience of writing outside our familiar cultural sand box was for us both. I recall Molly fretting at times about whether she was unfairly appropriating a narrative in portraying a gay relationship from a heterosexual perspective - in much the same way as I worried about writing an Aboriginal story from a non Aboriginal perspective with "Gifts of the Peramangk". 

Molly's approach to the central relationship between Sinter and Andy has been handled with such a deft hand that you soon lose yourself in their love story, forgetting any baggage that may or may not come with the genre. As I have often said of Molly Ringle - she is an astute observer of the human condition and, as a storyteller, she is able to tap into something universal, no matter what genre she is writing within. All The Better Part Of Me brings together everything that makes Molly Ringle's writing so appealing and then goes further, exploring love and family and the politics of love and family in a smart, engrossing tome that will leave you heartily satisfied.

Pre-Order Purchase Links: 









Where Molly Ringle Can Be Found:


Blog: Mirrored here and here 



DFA.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A Flick Of The Switch - A Schwannoma Diary (#16).

I'm home now. 

It's been five days since my surgery and four days since my Medtronic Intellis spinal cord stimulator was switched on for the first time. On Wednesday at midday, my medical technician visited me at my bedside and programmed the stimulator in a process that took roughly fifteen minutes. 

That's all. I know right?? 

And it was cool in that all she used was an iPad with a nifty user interface and a handheld device - similar to the one I now own - to send a series of commands into the stimulator, then tweak them so that I would feel the electrical impulses in the right area - namely my left lower back, left hip and left leg. The sensations were strange to say the least. I equated them to being zapped by an electric fence when I was a kid at my uncle's dairy farm, but much more entertaining. After the initial flurry of shocks and zaps, which took place while the technician was establishing the programming parameters, the impulse settled down, becoming a ever present buzz that rose and fell rhythmically.



I'd had a rough sleep on Tuesday night after the operation. I think that was due to the post anaesthetic fog and the inevitable pain from the surgical incisions. I have a cut in my thoracic spine, which feels like I've been kicked in the back and ribs, while the cut on my buttock makes finding a comfortable position when sitting or laying down difficult. 

The first thing I noticed after the switch on - my hip pain virtually disappeared. Instead of the ache that would usually have me struggling to move, the buzz from the unit had taken its place - and it was pleasant! The pins and needles that I usually experience often come in random bursts throughout my leg, ranging from an unpleasant popping and fizzing to an intense burning that can and has lasted for days at a time, they have been replaced by the rhythmic tingle from the stimulator. So the early signs are really promising.



I came home on Thursday and began to reacquaint myself with a familiar environment.



Working with the handheld device has been an interesting dance. It requires some playing with in order to find the best current for a given positions. I find going from a standing to a sitting position, I have to adjust the intensity of the electrical current, otherwise it can be overpowering. The ideal range when standing seems to be around 2.3 to 2.6 mA (milli-amperes). When sitting, I'm finding that I have to dial it down to between 2.0 and 2.3 mA. And when laying in bed, depending on what side I'm on (I tend to be a side sleeper), I find that sometimes I have to dial it up and sometimes I have to dial it down. Laying flat tends to push the paddles against the spinal cord - as does sitting taller - which they say is a good thing anyway.



The rules, if there are any, seem a little rubbery. For now, it's been good to discover and learn what works and what doesn't. I will meet the technician again in the coming weeks to make some adjustments and add some settings to the handheld for me to play around with.

While I heal, I have to stay out of the swimming pool. I'm not happy about that, given the progress I'd made leading upto the surgery. I was achieving 1km distances in around 24 minutes, which I thought was pretty damned good. The most important part of the healing process is ensuring that the leads and paddles don't move while the fascia and muscle layers knit together. Fortunately, I won't need to wait as long this time around.

All in all, I'm in a good place. I feel positive. 

DFA. 


Monday, August 19, 2019

MacArthur Park - A Schwannoma Diary (#15).

It's a strange experience being a "guest" in the place where you work. Even after a few times, I've never entirely gotten used to it. The faces you see every day...it feels like they see you differently. Maybe they do. Maybe they don't. It's just a feeling.

I was whisked through to radiology as soon as I checked in to undergo the pre-operative mapping X-Rays of my thoracic spine. This is so the surgeon has accurate images of where she needs to enter in order to place the paddles onto my spinal cord. I have a whole bunch of writing and drawing on my back where the radiographer labelled everything. I'd take a selfie, but it's a bit hard and I don't really want to.

I'm waiting now. There's an hour to go before the 2pm list begins. I know I'm third on that list so I'm thinking it'll be around 5pm by the time I go under. I have a nice room with a window that looks over some cloisters. They remind me of the cloisters I wrote about in "The Recipient" so that's nice.

My daughter Lucy made sure she packed her multicoloured Llama into my overnight bag this morning. She said it would bring me good luck. When I dropped the children off at school this morning, her bottom lip bulged and I saw a tear. I thought I saw a tear.



I panicked this morning because I didn't have an anaesthetic song. That's a song that you take in your head to the pre-op area - one that's supposed to keep you calm, maybe inspire you. I recounted in a previous post that I got the idea from Michael J. Fox who took Pearl Jam's "Given To Fly" with him into one of his surgeries. 

I have Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park" stuck in my head. I didn't necessarily want it, but it's there and I guess it'll do. There is only one version of MacArthur Park that is satisfactory to me though...


See you on the other side...

DFA.