Text by Diane Slocum

T

he holiday season has always been a time to get together with family, and we can hope that conditions this year will allow those who missed out last year to revive the tradition.

For a novel featuring family to the extreme, catch Honorèe Fanonne Jeffers’ “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois.” The family’s story begins in the 1700s as an African man enters a Native American village in Georgia and continues with that family’s many branches into the 21st  century with Ailey Garfield as she reconstructs her family history for her doctoral dissertation. Ailey’s story is the central thread as she grows from being the baby sister into her post-graduate years, but stories of the other women and men, past and present, weave into the fabric of her life. There is Lady, a descendant of the indigenous Creek inhabitants, the African and a white man. Lady marries brutal white man Samuel, who forces the last of Lady’s family off their land and fathers Nick by one of his purchased Little Friends. Through many generations, both of these lines lead to Ailey and her sisters. 

VALLEY WRITERS

Beth Cato, who grew up in Hanford, is featured in the anthology “Clockwork Curses and Coal; Steampunk and Gaslamp Fairy Tales” edited by Rhonda Parrish and published by World Weaver Press this year. The book features punked-up versions of Hansel and Gretel, the Princess and the Pea, Pinocchio and others, plus original tales of the same sort. Cato’s story is “A Future of Towers Made.”

Her most recent novel is “Roar of Sky,” the third book in the “Blood of Earth Trilogy.” In it, geomancer Ingrid once again must save the earth, this time from a power-hungry ambassador who also has ancient magical powers. Ingrid has been weakened by the earlier struggles, so she flees to Hawaii to the realm of Pele, the goddess of volcanoes. If Ingrid doesn’t prevail, the earth and everyone she loves will be destroyed. 

WRITING CONTEST

Submissions for the Crazyhorse Prizes in Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry will be accepted from Jan. 1 through 31.  Short stories and essays may run up to 25 pages. Up to three poems may be entered. Winners receive $2,000 and publication plus a one-year subscription. Details at: crazyhorse.cofc.edu/prizes/.

THE LAST WORD

“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.” Charles Kuralt (1934-1997)