Books to Enjoy by Tucson-area Writers

“Border women and the community of Maclovio Rojas: Autonomy in Spaces of Neoliberal Neglect” Michelle Tellez (University of Arizona Press). 193p. $24.95 pocket book.

In the tradition of scholarship that foregrounds the voices and experience of women activists, this scholarly ethnography examines a Mexican autonomous community through interviews with ten of its women. The community, Maclovio Rojaslocated nearby Tijuana, is remarkable in that women, more than men, have assumed roles in organizing, developing and governing an autonomous society. Their human governance differs from neoliberalism, writes Michelle Téllez – “a governing rationality in which everything is economized” – humans and human activity are seen as part of a market; people, businesses, government considered businesses.

An associate professor at UA in Mexican American Studies, Téllez writes about transnational community formations, Chicana feminism, and gendered migration. She came to the study of the Autonomous Communities through her involvement in the Zapatista movement in 2002.

Christine Wald Hopkins

“COVID-29: In search of a newer world” Ross Carroll (self-published). 417 pages, $12.95 pocket book; Kindle available.

A bonus to writing fiction is that you can recast the world to your liking. Ross Carroll seems to have relished that in this intriguing post-apocalyptic novel set in the near future: In the background, he’s just serving desserts to our contemporary politicians.

After a deadly virus wiped out nearly the entire human race in a week in March 2029, anarchy and violence break out. Carroll follows three groups of survivors who travel the roads in search of companionship and a safe place to start this “new world”.

As the survivors face food, water, and fuel shortages and encounter rampaging militia types, Carroll reminds us how irresponsible humans have been in their stewardship of Earth and its people.

(And there will be no spoilers here on what Ross is up to with Biden, Harris and Trump.)

Christine Wald Hopkins

“How to Feed a Horse” by Janice Dewey. 74 p. $16.95 pocket book; Kindle available. “Gone to Earth: Ancient and Uncollected Poems 1963-1975” by Eleanor Wilner. 109p. $16.95 pocket book; Kindle available (Crooked Heart).

As they tell in a Red Hen Press video, when UA Assistant Assistant Professor of Spanish and Humanities Janice Dewey lamented the difficulties of being published with a widely published poet Eleanor WilnerWilner replied, “start your own house.”

Enter Crooked Heart Press. A footprint of Red Hen Pressit is dedicated to publishing the work of women over 55. These two books are the first productions.

Dewey’s fine collection, “How to Feed a Horse,” is notable for its clear and precise descriptions of animals, birds, and plants in an increasingly parched West; the relationship between poet and landscape; the nature of the words: “…She will dream of more water in the dry springs”, reads “Saint John’s Day”, “and in the saguaros which / bloomed this year in the fever / As if no rain was falling anytime soon / like it was the very last bloom.

Great Gifts “Gone to Earth: Early and Uncollected Poems 1963-1975” Eleanor Wilner as a young poet. A longtime instructor in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson Collegehere she reveals herself to be imaginative, passionate about social justice, keen on nature and society, expansive in her vision of the world.

His powerful “What have myths got to do with the price of fish?”, defends – to a condescending poet – his use of mythology: olive, an old / intimate part begins to stir, … / – for a moment, / long as centuries or as the time that only stones / remember – none of this was to happen: / “…[missiles, the split atom, Hitler, the Crusades] … “and / Nagasaki is a place admired for its gardens.

Christine Wald Hopkins

“Radioland” by Me Elzey (Little House Press). 391 p. $24.95 hardcover; available in print and Kindle.

‘I swear, Harry,’ says Holocaust survivor Mariam Katz in “Radioland”, “the mastermind behind New signal news must have studied Joseph Goebbels.”

A free press, corrupt broadcasting, corporate greed, rabid defense of the Second Amendment, politics and contemporary white supremacists are all elements of this engaging and timely novel by writer Marana Me Elzey.

At issue is the influence of the venomous rhetoric of radio hosts and the fundamental fragility of American democracy. We follow the social justice advocate Harry Chalberg and his elderly assistant Mariam as they try to hold back the rantings of fox type signal news afternoon host Cal Brown responsible for inciting lethal violence.

Elzey’s warning to contemporary America is clear, but her message is more nuanced. Even seasoned cops can support gun control. Fame and wealth do not ensure happiness. Cal Brown’s opinions aren’t really his own — they’re scripted for market share. And it can happen here.

Christine Wald Hopkins

“Bottomless Cups” by Joel Bresler. Tasfil Publishing, LLC. 279 p. $13.99; Light up $4.99

A taste for Marvel comics brought together fifth-grade students Teddy and Ray, back when men wore suits, women wore gloves, and armed conflict was on. Korea. Fast forward one life and the two, now in their 60s, meet at restaurants to linger over coffee while reflecting on old times and current dilemmas. The effect is a split-screen tale of an eventful friendship journey that leads them and their childhood companions to the mixed blessing of a film adaptation of their coming-of-age story. The hidden awareness of the inevitable end of their journey is portrayed with sensitivity, but Oro Valley Resident Joel Bresler’s characters are so likeable and witty, and his storytelling is so funny that melancholy cannot gain a foothold in this heartwarming novel.

Helen Woodhams

“Enough to Make Angels Cry” Ernesto Patino. black opal books. 218p. $15.99; Light up $5.99

Someone kills the descendants of St. Patrick’s Battalion, a bizarre circumstance that Tucson private detective Joe Coopersmith finds out while investigating the murder of a descendant’s elderly widow. Looking for clues, Coopersmith turns to her husband’s friends and finds that they are falling like bowling pins. the key appears to be a missing history log. Using the battalion, which did exist, as a backdrop, the author demonstrates the power of history to influence current events.

During the Mexican-American War, Irish immigrants fighting alongside United States realized it was counterintuitive to kill Mexicans – who were largely Catholic – when they themselves were persecuted for their Catholicism. They formed the elite “San Patricios”, fought alongside the Mexicans and were treated savagely by the American conquerors. For the most part, it’s not a chapter that’s well remembered. United States story, and 180 years later, there’s a murderer ready to kill to make sure he remains forgotten in this novel by a retired private detective Ernesto Patino.

Helen Woodhams

“Mi-Granted Life: The Adventures of a Happy Immigrant” Michel Delife. Independently published. 358p. $12.99; Light up $5.99

Michel Delife left torn by war Lebanon for United States young man and pursued a successful career in insurance before retiring Southern Arizona. With this memoir, he describes the events that led him to insurance capital Hartford, Connecticutoffering a detailed look at the business of reinsurance and its rise through its ranks, interspersed with personal stories of family and finding each other.

Delifir, an affable narrator, tells his story with humor: learning the ropes of a superpowered industry came with cultural challenges, like adjusting to boozy lunches (he disliked booze) and collegial conversations about the sport, his knowledge of which was non-existent. But his story of assimilation into the American mainstream is fraught with commercial details, causing the narrative to periodically lose steam. He is at his best talking about his early struggles, personal growth, and awakening to what he considers the darker side of insurance.

His goal, Delifer says, is to give an honest account of himself to new immigrants who he hopes will encounter the good fortune he enjoyed.

Helen Woodhams

“Science Is Doomed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained The colorado river” By Eric Kuhn and John Fleck. University of Arizona Press. 288p. $35; Light up $9.99

The over-allocation of colorado rivera crisis for the modern West, could have been averted almost 100 years ago if the authors of the Colorado River Compact had not ignored the available science out of respect for development proponents wishing to transform 4 million acres of arid lands into a green and profitable oasis.

The implications continue to haunt us, say the authors of this highly researched and highly readable volume. To prove their point, Eric Kuhnretired general manager of Colorado River Water Conservation Districtand John Fleckdirector of the water resources program at the University of New Mexico, show how sausage was made by politicians who picked data and indulged in wishful thinking while turning a blind eye to historical flow of the river, which amounts to a deliberate misunderstanding that became deeply embedded in the decisions that led to our current situation.

Clear and concise writing makes this book easily accessible to the general public, starting with a glossary that demystifies scientific terms and hydrological jargon. The cultural, historical and political contexts show how easily the denial of science has triumphed over the facts.

The way forward will require great negotiation that takes into account the great variability in the hydrology of the Colorado River and the effects of a warming planet; moving forward without a plan B for what to do if there is not enough water will have disastrous consequences. A compelling read.

Helen Woodhams

Colin L. Johnson