Given that the thermometer will soon take its big dip into freezing temperatures and the snow is likely to fall, we wanted to share a trio of new books by local authors or about local subjects to consider. Also, look for other review roundups in our Sunday Arts & Living section.
As a note, Susan Defreitas, author of one of the books review below called “Hot Season,” will read this Monday at the Narrow Chimney Reading Series. The free event at 7 p.m. takes place at Uptown Pubhouse, 114 N. Leroux.
“Hot Season” by Susan Defreitas. Prescott College graduate and former Prescott resident Susan Defreitas has made a name for herself as a writer and now author with her sharp (and politically timely) first novel, “Hot Season.” Although she traded the desert Southwest for the Pacific Northwest some time ago, she bases “Hot Season” in the Grand Canyon State and her experiences here.
Set in the fictional town of Crest Top and the campus of Deep Canyon College (inspired by Prescott and Prescott College), Defreitas tells the story of three roommates and their forays at a school known for its radical politics.
But when the FBI comes to town in pursuit of an alumnus wanted for politically motivated crimes of property, rumor is that undercover agents have enrolled, making the college dating scene all the more challenging.
Katie, an incoming freshman, discovers a passion for activism that will put her future in jeopardy; Jenna, in her second semester, finds herself seduced by deception; and Rell, a senior, finds her own voice, her calling and love where she least expects it.
The book captures well the spirit of college life and the aura of activism interwoven with the issues of the American Southwest. It’s a brisk read with a potent mix of wit and edge. It makes a nice addition to the winter reading queue.
“Where the Wind Dreams of Staying: Searching for Purpose and Place in the West” by Eric Dieterle. Part reflection on nature, part travelogue and part memoir, “Where the Wind Dreams of Staying,” Eric Dieterle captures the emotional turmoil of his boyhood and into his adulthood as he seeks meaning in a place, or a place with meaning.
The Flagstaff-based author’s journey moves from the plateaus of eastern Washington through the landscapes of other Western states, ultimately ending in the shadow of the San Francisco Peaks.
The author integrates a series of essays, with titles such as “Atoms in the Sand,” “River of Wind” and “Virgin Territory.” The last essay, “Unpacking What Cannot Be Saved,” even includes Dieterle’s personal story of evacuating during the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon.
The writing and exploration of Dieterle finds intrigue in both the internal and external worlds, as he tried to not only find a sense of place but a sense of self through his essays. He grapples with anxiety and depression, substance abuse and failed relationships.
It files beautifully in the realm of environmental literature, but also has deeper thoughts to share about what it means to be a human walking among the landscapes — and seeking.
“… Going Sketching Now, Will Write Again Soon: Letters of Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton” by Susan Olberding. One of Flagstaff history’s most important women is Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton. Within a few years of relocating with husband Harold Colton to town in 1926 from the Philadelphia area, the couple help found the Museum of Northern Arizona.
She worked as an artist, author, educator, ethnographer and curator during her illustrious time in Flagstaff. And Colton is known for her advocacy of the arts, Native American rights and women’s rights.
For this reason and more, we found delight in author Susan Olberding’s latest book “… Going Sketching Now, Will Write Again Soon,” which is a collection of Colton’s letters from 1909-1919, during her younger years that showed her wild longing for nature and open spaces (as Colton wrote, “cities cannot hold me”).
The letters are from Colton and her mother during her adventurous times and eventual marriage to Harold. The book, though, also introduces a number of photographs and is beautifully laid out with easy-to-read letters and color pages.
In many ways, the book itself is a love letter to Colton, and another thoughtful title from her press, Fort Valley Publishing.