Local teen writes memoir of grief

From a Sundance Books and Music news release

growing young book coverSundance Books and Music will host a conversation and book signing with Bridget Park, a local 17-year-old whose new memoir, Growing Young, was inspired by the tragic loss of her brother when she was 12. The event will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at 121 California Ave., Reno.

Bridget Park is a junior in high school. Inspired by the tragic loss of her brother, she wrote her debut memoir, Growing Young: A Memoir of Grief, at age 15. She hopes that the only grief support book written by a teenager will encourage others to find healthy ways of grieving.

She recounts stumbling upon the body of her 14-year-old brother while they were home alone. His suicide shattered her world and forced her to face issues she had never before considered. Follow the author through the grieving process as she attempts to cope with the loss of a loved one.

Bridget Park currently resides in Nevada and plans on continuing her writing. She aspires to share her story through speaking engagements.

This program is made possible through a partnership with Nevada Humanities and with the support of the Nightingale Family Foundation.

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Washoe County Library has some pretty nice friends

From a Washoe County news release and the Friends website

Friends of Washoe County Library presented a check for $100,000 to the Library Board today. The money will support library materials, technology, programs, marketing and staff training.

The library system receives monetary and in-kind donations throughout the year that assist in providing services and materials. The list reviewed by the board today includes the names of donors and grantors from July 1 through Dec. 31 and totaled $270,455 plus in-kind support.

“We are very grateful for the support we receive from individuals, the business community and local foundations, all of which strengthen library services to our community”, said Maurins. “We are especially thankful for the generosity and hard work of the Friends of Washoe County Library. Their annual contribution allows for free programming and much needed technology updates to our branches.”

Friends of Washoe County Library raise funds by selling donated books, and they have a used book sale running through Sunday.

For more information about supporting the library, please visit the library’s website at www.washoecountylibrary.us or contact Jennifer Oliver at 327-8360.

‘Parallel to Paradise’: Reno author gets it right

By Laurel Busch

p2p-coverMany of the 14 short stories  in Laura Newman’s first book, Parallel to Paradise: Addiction and Other Love Stories (LeRue Press), are set in Nevada and Lake Tahoe, but the good writing is what makes them interesting.

Newman says her stories “are about everyday people who are impacted by events.” “Parallel to Paradise,” “The Little Beast,” “A Small, Too-Familiar Gesture,” and “Alabaster Circle” are about marriages and relationships at various times from the 1800s through the present. “Red Eye” is about a gay boy growing up in Virginia City, “Twentieth Century” is about an unplanned pregnancy, and “Silver” is about boyhood friends fighting together in World War II. “Angel Dust,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” and “Needle and Thread” are about men with addictions.

Many of the stories could be memoirs or essays if they weren’t fiction (“Burning Man,” “Water,” “The Quality of Light,” “The Graveyard”). Some authors would not be able to hold their readers’ interest without strong plots. Newman’s style works, however, because she makes her characters and settings interesting.

The writing

Newman is a master at showing, not telling. For example, you suspect an immigrant girl learned to curse because she “walked off the gangplank speaking English like a sailor.” You know a car in the Nevada desert is full of bullet holes and has been there a while because it “looks like it was shot to death in 1947.” You understand that a valley is dark because “the sun has somewhere else to be after 4 o’clock.”

Some of Newman’s lines make me think of country music lyrics. “Ruby went on to short stories and John went on with his drinking,” one character cooks “oven roasted potatoes that turn out to be over roasted potatoes,” and “ten years in, Lara started looking for a way out.” Another character muses, “Perhaps they did before they said I do, because I was born seven months after the vows.”

There’s dry humor–a boy having second thoughts about shooting a bird “considers becoming a vegetarian until his mother serves the Christmas turkey”—and near poetry—a miscarried baby “faded to nothing but a christening gown in a sealed silk pillowcase.”

The only writing I don’t like is in the last story, “Alabaster Circle,” which is told by a woman born in Wisconsin in 1890. Her dialect seems to come and go, which is distracting.

Real Nevada

Rather than limiting the appeal of the stories, the local references just add another layer of enjoyment for the readers who recognize them.

Although I’ve never met Newman, we clearly live in the same place. Like some of her characters, I’ve spent time in the rose garden near the UNR quad and lived in an apartment on Arlington near Saint Mary’s. All the details seem completely natural. I especially appreciated Newman’s attempts to describe the beauty of the light in September in Northern Nevada; I find that to be one of the most beautiful times of the year here myself.

Newman also places her characters in Las Vegas, in the Bay Area, on the Oregon Coast, and more. I’ve spent time in those places as well, and her descriptions of them feel right to me. I’ve been up and down Paradise Road in Southern Nevada countless times. “The Graveyard,” her story about California teenagers visiting relatives in Iowa, sounds a lot like my visit to relatives in Kansas in the 1970s.

I’m a copy editor, and a couple of things made me stumble as I read the book. First, most of the stories switch back and forth between present and past tense without any logic that I can see. Second, there are misspellings. Another editing pass would have been beneficial.

Nonetheless, the writing rises above the editing issues. I loved the surprise ending of “A Little Beast,” I laughed out loud at the nativity scene in “Angel Dust,” and I cared about all the characters in all the stories. I’m looking forward to future work by Laura Newman.

Parallel to Paradise can be purchased at Sundance Books and Music or Grassroots Books, from the publisher, from Newman, or at Amazon.com. This review is cross posted at ThisIsReno.com.

Reno author to read, sign memoir about recovery from spinal cord injury

From a Sundance Books and Music news release

Two_Feet_Back_CoverLocal author Grant Korgan will read and sign his memoir, Two Feet Back (Lucky Bat Books), at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at Sundance Books and Music.

The book tells the inspiring story of his road to recovery from a severe spinal cord injury. It’s a painfully honest, inspiring memoir of a man whose broken back taught him to stand in his truth.

One moment, Korgan had everything he’d ever wanted—a successful career, a new marriage to the love of his life and an athletic body that enabled his constant pursuit of world-class adventure sports. The next, he found himself lying in the snow, with no feeling or movement below his belly button.

But this is not a book about the paralyzing grip of a spinal cord injury or the struggle to walk again. Rather, Grant’s story of survival, unbound love, endless gratitude and the limitless power of unwavering positivity is one that applies to us all. It’s about living big, remembering and finding the greatness that lies within all of us, and living the highest version of yourself regardless of your circumstances.

Determined not to change a single goal of the past, the Korgans embarked on an unconventional, activity-based recovery plan that bucked the prognosis that Grant’s long-cherished independence was gone forever. Two Feet Back is Grant’s account of this incredible first year of recovery, the Korg 3.0 movement it inspired, and how the path to getting back on his own two feet back gave him a lot more than he bargained for.

About the author

Korgan, who grew up in the Reno/Tahoe area, was a research project leader in the field of micro-and nanotechnology during the week and a professional snowmobile rider and whitewater kayaker on weekends until March 5, 2010. That was when he sustained an injury to his first lumbar vertebra while filming a day of snowmobiling in the Sierra back country.

Since then, he has been constantly working toward his eventual goal of 120 percent recovery, training daily as part of a rigorous, activity-based recovery plan, of which his wife, Shawna, is an integral part. Grant now speaks publicly about his experiences to pay forward his amazing recovery.

This program is made possible through a partnership with Nevada Humanities and with the support of the Nightingale Family Foundation.