It is time! What time? FALL time which means another Fall Book Fling from CLADACH Publishing.
YEAH! And this year we start with Gadly Plain. First of all - that isn't spelled wrong, and if you read it Gladly - well, I did that at first too.
Next, this book is NOT your average book. It is more of a bit of an allegory, but yet an entire tale of a girl, and her family. Spring-baby is just 12, and her Daddy has died. Her Mother leaves her with family, and vanishes. Basically alone, and in shock, Spring-baby finds an odd friend in the "different" guy who lives next to her Grandparents. Chirp is supposedly mentally impaired, but he has a friend. A friend that Spring-baby and others have seen, but discounted. This friend is a donkey, named Amen. Amen's tale is a huge part of this book, and it is a good one.
This book probably will not be a book that everyone understands, but if you will just come as a child, you will not have a single problem liking Amen's story. After all, it is the story of Redemption seen through different eyes.
GADLY PLAIN - A Novel
by J. Michael Dew
BOOK DESCRIPTION:What do you get when you mix an orphaned girl just coming of age, a grieving, pain-filled family, a rural Kentucky barnyard, a donkey who has lived since Adam and has stories to tell, a mentally-handicapped man, and an apocalyptic climax? Happily, you get a literary novel that maintains its lyrical language and dramatic pace from the first to the last page and leaves you thinking, smiling, wondering, looking at this life and the next with eyes to see in fresh, new ways.
When a young girl's father dies, and her mother abandons her at her paternal grandparents' home in Kentucky, no one helps her cope with the cloud of death that hovers over the family ... until she wanders down to the neighbor's barn. There in an earthy, unlikely haven, vistas open to Spring-baby that transcend time and place and even death.
For readers who love well-written fiction that is both personal and sweeping in scope. If you enjoy novels with literary merit that show the intersection of the grit and grief and glory of life on earth with the presence and power and persuasion of the supernatural and heavenly ~ you'll likely be enthralled by this story.
At the back of the book is a discussion guide for reading groups and book clubs.
Creative drawings by Raw Spoon, at the head of each chapter, bring visual life and added sensory dimension to the experience of reading this book.
J. Michael Dew lives with his wife and three young daughters in Atlanta, Georgia. He was born and raised in Warren County, Pennsylvania. He earned a B.A. in English from Lock Haven University and an MA and PhD in Literature and Criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is an Associate Professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College where he is also the Honors Coordinator for the Dunwoody campus. In his spare time he enjoys being a husband and a dad. And fishing. He loves a glinty, trouty stream.
The author and illustrator at the book launch.
Q/A WITH THE AUTHOR:
1. This story is remarkably creative yet feels warmly authentic. One would think you have experienced it yourself.
Dew: I suppose I could say that Gadly Plain began for me the day, at age nine, when I found out my father had passed away. It is, I suppose, a working out of that sadness. The story is based on conclusions I reached after years of introspection. I will admit, however: The German woman in the beginning is not a made up character. She was real. I met her as did my sister. But nobody else remembers her presence.
2. Some authors take years to write a book while others take only months. What was your process for writing Gadly Plain, and how long did it take?
Dew: To give readers a practical answer, one afternoon, I went out and purchased a large piece of cardstock paper on which I began to diagram plot points. The diagram grew to include characters, biblical references, and other details I felt were important to the story. I used this diagram of sorts as an outline, keeping it in front of me each time I sat down to move the story along. All in all, it took a year to complete a first draft. Copies of that draft then went to professionals in the fields of theology, speech pathology, and creative writing. Once I got their very valuable feedback, I revised the manuscript then sent that version to another set of readers. It took a dogged effort, but it was worth it.
3. Tell us about the title of your novel. Why did you choose such an enigmatic title as Gadly Plain and what is its significance?
Dew: The title was discovered on a Pennsylvania back road somewhere between Interstate 80 and Warren. I was driving home from graduate school under a cloud-splotched sky, and I happened to pass one of those roads that was probably a driveway but was nevertheless given the distinction of a name: Gadly Plain. It was a rutted dirt road that more than likely led to a simple hunting camp or some far-flung place of retreat and rest. I didn't stop to inspect. Instead, I made a mental note of the catchy name, and when I pulled off the road to fish for trout further into my journey (as was my happy custom), I jotted down the name in my journal, thinking this would make a great title for a book. This was years ago. It took a lot of time since to construct my own getaway. Much of that time was spent learning why I needed to do so in the first place.
"Gadly Plain" could be "way away" or "heaven" or "paradise" or "across the rainbow bridge" or "in the bosom of God" or "Narnia." I didn't want to be too specific, thereby robbing the reader of his/her ability to imagine Gadly Plain, and I wanted to be (in my humble way) poetic. Gadly almost sounds like Godly, and the existence of heaven is a "plain" truth - nothing complicated, something a child can understand, no need for an advanced degree in theology, etc.
4. What themes are you interested in writing about next?
Dew: At least since the dawn of postmodernism, writers have largely been asserting, in various and sundry ways, the viewpoint that all values are relative, that everything is and should be deconstructed. I know I am generalizing here, but I feel this to be a safe assessment of modern literature. I believe in taking up the call issued by Wendell Berry who says that an author's duty today is to rescue some values from the dustbin of relativism and go about bravely building meaning and relevance in a world at direct odds with them both. The themes I'm interested in exploring are themes that do just that.
5. Reading this succinct but sweeping novel, one cannot doubt you believe in the over-arching story of the Bible and the final victory of good over evil. Will you share something of your personal faith?
Dew: I am deeply devoted to Christ and strive daily to be the man he wants me to be.
BOOK INFO:Trade Paperback
224 pgs / 5.5" x 8.5"
Illustrated: original drawings by Raw Spoon
Category: Christian Fiction/ Literature
"As a reader, it's not often I come across a small literary miracle, an unexpected gift. Gadly Plain is that type of book. It sweeps us up into the rich yet simple world of an orphaned girl and a mysterious donkey, a world both familiar and mystical, melancholic and full of hope. Do yourself a favor and open this gift.." ~ Eric Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Fireproof andOctober Baby
"Splendidly written ... You will give yourself over to the girl, Spring-baby, and to her life of wonder with a donkey that does not die." ~ Terry Kay, award-winning author of To Dance with the White Dog
"Gadly Plain is a book about sorrow, regret, and grief--but it is also about the fleeting spirit of childhood and the choices we make to believe in the stories that give us hope. Gentle and reflective, this is a story about stories and the incredible power they hold to heal and redeem broken hearts." ~ ForeWord Reviews
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