Holiday memories. We all have them. We can enjoy them, we can try to erase them, and we can live with them–good, bad, or ugly–in a mindful way. To start this topic, I want to announce what will be a wonderful memory that I will keep and that is the independent review I received for my novel “Final Shot” from Kirkus reviews,a most respected reviewing service. Here it is and then I’ll come back to the main points of the discussion.
A Psych ‘n’ Roll Mystery
Kalina, Ira CreateSpace (310 pp.) $11.99 paperback ISBN: 978-1481896818; November 11, 2013
In Kalina’s debut mystery, the host of a popular radio program races against time to unravel his family’s secrets and bring a notorious Nazi war criminal to justice.
Psychologist Isaac “Ike” Miller’s career is on a roll as the host of “Psych ’n’ Roll,” a successful radio call-in program that combines practical advice with classic rock. However, he’s haunted by memories of his father, a guitarist for Neil Young’s band who was the victim of a drug-related murder. He draws strength from his relationships with his friends, colleagues and family, particularly his grandfather Otto Sperber, a psychoanalyst. Otto is part of a group of Auschwitz survivors that includes Ike’s paternal grandfather Avram. After two other members of the group, Baruch Gittlestein and Hymie Safier, die under mysterious circumstances, Ike learns of the group’s connection to a Nazi doctor named Antonin Helm. Soon, Ike and Otto find themselves the targets of Helm and his family, and as Ike delves further into his family’s past in a quest to bring Helm to justice, his life is complicated by a growing attraction to a mysterious, beautiful woman named Aja Connolly. The mystery boasts strong characters; Ike, for example, is an effective protagonist who’s caring, compassionate and aware of his potential weaknesses, and he’s surrounded by a well-drawn group of friends and colleagues (including producer Tony Keyes and Ike’s high school friend Jamal Jamison). The story also effectively uses music throughout, and Kalina includes a discography of the songs he references in the book… The opening chapters ably balance character development and back story, and the action moves briskly…. A fast-paced mystery buoyed by a likable hero.
KIRKUS REVIEWS– DECEMBER 10, 2013
Thank you for reading and let your family, friends, and colleagues know about Final Shot. Okay enough commercial time, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Memories: The important thing to know about memories is that they reside not only in our mind–our visual representation of an event, occasion, and a time — but also in our body. That sense of joy that runs through us that we feel in our hearts, the sense of dread that invades our guts, the electrical shock like a finger to a socket that makes us want to avoid our Mom’s or Grandma’s house.
Here are examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly:
The good: Billy was five when his father was sent off to Vietnam. The family worried desperately about Dad’s well-being and anxiously waited for any news about him. Dad’s tour of duty was two years. When Billy turned seven he expected another Christmas without his Dad. But in 1970 Dad disguised as Santa brought his son and daughter the gifts they’d asked for but more importantly they brought the gift of a father who was home for good. The underlying fear they’d felt the last two years had ended.
The Bad: The Marcus family decided to make Christmas break a holiday skiing vacation in Vale Colorado. The oldest boy, James, was a snow border and the rest of the family, sister Jan, mother and father, had different levels of skiing expertise. They arrive in Vale during a horrific blizzard, great for the slopes but not for the skiers, at least not for two days. The Marcus’, like all the other skiers were getting antsy to do their shushing thing. Finally weather cleared and it was a go. But on James’ first run he lost control of his ski board and plowed into a thicket of bushes, destroyed his femur and after being helicoptored to Denver for surgery, the family spent their holday watching over him. Dad would joke: on the slopes we would have all been separated, at least now we are all together. Years later James only remembered that Christmas vacation as bad.
The Ugly: When Christmas dinner is marred by too much drinking often ugliness is the memory. Sharon thinks of Christmas as a time of sloppy drunks who do things they’d never do sober and that includes molestation by her undle, her mother’s brother. She has so associated Christmas with what became a reptitive abuse that her parents would never acknowledge that she decided never to again to celebrate Christmas but to spend her time each year meditating in an ashram.
The good, the bad, the ugly. That’s our second topic in this holiday series. Share your stories and ask your question. Ceertainly their are many reparative techniques to use to help with the bad and ugly the most powerful is to share your memories so that you are able to relase the toxins of those recollections while at the same time receiving the support you need. So, please, share your stories — good, bad, or ugly– concerns, and ask your question. And of course the music. The one thing for me, no matter my experiences (and I have had my share of good, bad, and ugly) the music was always good, uplifting, joyful. And speaking of music let’s start with the following musical set “Sweeter Memories” by Todd Rundgren, Guns ‘n’ Roses and “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.” And this wonderful Stephen Sondheim song, “I Remember,” performed by Barbra Streisand.