Friday, May 5, 2017

Latest Literary Efforts

Mea Culpa
Somehow or other I managed to over-write this blog while trying to do another one about the recent eclipse. The basic problem was that I had two Blogger windows open at the same time and wasn't careful enough about which one I was working on. Lesson #1
Moreover, I had not made  a copy of the post after it was written, because I composed it in the blogger box, as I'm doing now. Note to self: Make copies of all blog posts and keep the copies in a folder. I have lots of folders on my computer and can usually find stuff there, but I trust the online platforms to keep copies of whatever I post. When I tried to back-track and find a copy of the original post, it was all gone. Lesson #2.

Reconstructing a Past Post
So I'll try to reconstruct the poor lost post, which was mostly about books that have come out during the past year. Three new books include a travel booklet, a short-story collection, and an autobiography. Here's a brief look at all three.

Travel Booklet: Russia Revisited

Russia Revisited describes a tour to Ukraine and Russia in 2010, which was a bucket-list trip taken to revisit the European portion of that huge and complex country. The narrative is based on observations written in a journal kept during the trip as well as information from other sources on the history of the places we visited. For those looking for a quick historical overview of Russia and its thousand-year past, this would be a useful, easy-to-read, well illustrated booklet.
That tour took place nearly two decades after an initial backpacking trip across the entire country in 1992, shortly after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. That trip began in Irkutsk, Siberia, with a Sierra-Club backpacking group, and continued solo, primarily by train, across the vast expanse of Asian and European Russia to St. Petersburg, Russia's European gateway. I'm still working on a book about that trip, which will include a more comprehensive overview of Russian history.and culture as documented by other western travelers who have visited and written about Russia and the USSR between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries.

Short Fiction Collection: Speaking with Strangers

This is my first book of fiction, although several stories in the collection had been published previously in literary magazines. Speaking with Strangers is an eclectic collection of fiction that relates the sorts of unsettling experiences that can happen when we interact with those we don't know or don't understand, including ourselves.

"This is a terrific collection of stories. There is something for everybody in these stories. The characters are vibrant and interesting, and when they're speaking you feel part of the conversation. Family dynamics, the pursuit of career, the serendipitous treasures found in chance conversations - it's all here! You will enjoy this book!!" (reader review, Amazon)

Autobiography: Saving My Life

This autobiography is a synopsis of my life, constructed with the help of journals and photo albums. Saving My Life was written primarily for my children, grandchildren, and close friends, although others might discover something interesting in the complex life of a late twentieth-century "liberated woman" -academic, world traveler, and iconoclast.

"Jo Anne Valentine was born to educated but impoverished parents during the Great Depression, attended grade school during World War II, had an idyllic youth in rural Michigan, and attended college and graduate school, eventually earning a Ph.D. degree in the biomedical sciences. She did research and taught at a time when women experienced considerable difficulties pursuing a scientific career. She was married twice and has three children and six grandchildren. Keenly interested in human culture, she was an avid world traveler, ultimately living abroad for five years in four different countries. This autobiography narrates a complex life replete with setbacks and rewards."