MEMOIR | RANDY SPENCER
In the 1990s, there was astronomical research that showed that Washington County, Maine was second only to area 51 in Nevada for UFO sightings in the U.S. This story about mysterious phenomena in the night skies of Grand Lake Stream, Maine is from master fishing guide and award-winning author Randy Spencer, excerpted from his new memoir, “Written on Water: Characters and Mysteries from Maine’s Back of Beyond.”
In the 1950s, Jerry Vis had an uneventful, blue-collar, stickball-in-the-street childhood in Paterson, N.J. That is, until his father, who had been no more than a vaporous, bring-home-the-bacon presence, nearly killed himself with alcohol and suddenly got religion.
Virginia Evans wrote the first draft of her novel in 61 days. Seven days a week, she was at her desk with coffee by 5:00 am. She wrote 98,000 words while working three part-time jobs, with two children at home under age four. Then she defied the odds and managed to secure a literary agent. All of that turned out to be the easy part.
As a young man, Roberto Loiederman read Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” and George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London,” which inspired a dream: to be broke in Paris one day. In his 70s, as a tourist in Paris, a sudden event gives him the chance to live out his youthful dream. Temporarily, anyway. This is a story about how we are all pretenders, to one degree or another.
After his father dies, Emlyn Cameron returns to his hometown in California, which is menaced by COVID-19 and massive wildfires, to unpack their relationship while sorting the contents of his father’s storage unit.
This is a beautifully written and touching essay about the life and death of the brilliant, kind, and infinitely creative Charles Cameron — a man we here at PenDust Radio knew and loved very much. We are honored to publish his son Emlyn’s eloquent words.
Michael Fallon’s visit to Ireland’s Aran Islands is a very funny “you-can’t-get-there-from-here” story. He arrived by ferry from Galway. Though everyone spoke English, he could not learn how to return to the mainland to catch his flight home. “There’s no ferry that goes to Galway,” he was told. But how did the ferry he took from Galway get there in the first place? How would he get home?
First, cancer endangered Michael Fallon’s life, and then it threatened to take his voice from him. He learns that to survive and recover from cancer, you must find that place in yourself which is the source of inspiration and strength, that deep river of being that — even now — flows through you. This is the uplifting story of how he found “the lost river” and got his voice back — with the help of memory, imagination, and a sip of Garnacha wine.
SARAH K. LENZ
This touching memoir recalls a journey the author took with her father along the rural back roads of central Nebraska, visiting the significant landmarks of his life in what he called his “nostalgia tour.” He reflects on his life as a failed farmer, and she remembers flashes of alcohol-fueled abuse. But an unexpected detour turns out to be the catalyst for a surprising moment of redemption.
In the early-1950s, against his wishes, Jerry Vis’s father sent him to a strict Adventist boarding school in Virginia. In this humorous memoir, he recalls a school that was definitely not to his liking or fitting his character, where he was dubbed Jerry “Vice.” He remembers one particular Dean who doled out outlandish punishments, but who Jerry came to respect. Nudity and trash cans play a role in this funny tale of how he painted himself into a corner — and out again.
Some name their first child for a relative, some for a prominent person. Some choose a name that’s in vogue. Roberto Loiederman named his first child for an unforgettable cocaine dealer he met while crossing Lake Titicaca. This is a story of wanderlust, a passionate love affair, and the most unusual way Roberto’s son got his name.
When Michael Fallon was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the throat, he burst into tears and wondered how he could possibly tell his wife the devastating news. This was followed by uncomprehending rage and radiation treatments in the belly of a massive, whirring machine that focused a beam of invisible light on his tumor. Yet he wanted to save something of value from what was happening to him and to share inspiration with others who must face and endure challenges of their own.
Annilee Newton answered a Craigslist job post with a photo of herself drinking wine — a bold move that will eventually lead to her becoming a professional wine taster. This amusing memoir takes us along on Annilee’s journey to learn the intricate art of wine tasting. We travel with her to Mississippi, France, and Texas. We learn that place affects the taste of wine—both the place where the wine is made and where the wine is drunk.