The Book Cellar
Join us at The Book Cellar as local authors Paul Barile (My Brother's Hands), Laura Quinn (Punk Charming), Maggie Kast (A Free, Unsullied Land), Donna Urbikas (My Sister's Mother), Martin Seay (Mirror Thief), and Gint Aras (The Fugue) show off their newest works during June's Local Author Night at 7PM!
Paul Barile is a Chicago/Berwyn native. He’s a writer of plays, movies, short stories and poems, and this is his first novel. Paul also works as an actor, musician, tour guide and educator. He has been a well-known figure on the Chicago music and theatre scene for nearly 40 years. Paul has written over 30 plays and many have been published. In the first three months of 2014 – he had three full-length plays published. He has had dozens of his plays produced in Chicago as well as Brooklyn, Arizona, London (England). His monologue “I’m 13” was featured in the recently published “Best Contemporary Monologues for Kids Ages 7-15” published by Hal Leonard. His nightlife writing has appeared in books such as “Hungry? Chicago” and “The Barfly’s Guide to Chicago’s Nightlife.” He maintains a poetry blog as well as a flash fiction blog. Paul has produced dozens of play festivals (2000-2011) giving work to hundreds of local actors and writers.
Paul has also written the screenplays for several short films; “In the Garden” , “The Paper Boat” and “The Hustlin’ Shufflin’ Crew”, the last of of which were recently submitted to regional and national film festivals. His film “Prairie Melancholy” is in post production and “The Descending” is in pre-production.
My Brother's Hands
Peter Campbell was not the most popular kid in school. He was always aiming for average and seemed to be fine with that until the night in that dark movie theater when he discovered his incendiary stigmata.
This startling discovery catapulted Peter Campbell into a world populated with shyster preachers, honest carnies, heavenly-yet-homely tenors, and the Tennessee Tornado.
Peter Campbell’s life was upended the day he agreed to join the revival tent circuit with two preachers who were focused on exploiting his rare talents for their own good.
Set in (and around) the fictional town of Orton’s Cove, Peter Campbell comes of age with the help he receives from the most unexpected places. He is also – more or less – the catalyst for the nascent news network CNN.
Laura Quinn was born in Chicago, IL, making her grand entrance in the midst of a blizzard. She grew up in the awesome decade of the 80s, with spiked hair, rubber bracelets, and several pairs of fingerless lace gloves and Doc Martens. Her record collection (yes, vinyl records!) included everything from ABC to Wham!, with plenty of Duran Duran. Quinn has always had a serious case of wanderlust, and first traveled to Europe in 1986. She packed her Walkman, coins for the pay phone, paper maps and paperbacks. Now, she packs her iPod, cell phone and paperbacks. So far, her furthest points traveled are: Maui (west), Panama (south) and Norway (north and east). A recent trip was driving from Chicago to L.A. via Route 66, with her husband and dog (who enjoyed 70% of the car space). Her two cats gladly stayed home with their substitute human servant, having no love for the jostling contraption that exists solely to abduct them to the evil vet. Punk Charming is Quinn's debut novel. The sparks of an idea for the story came to her while in Oxford in '86. Years later, the sparks finally sparked her into action, and Punk Charming came to life. Quinn is now working on the sequel to Punk Charming, as well as a new mystery series. When not writing (or waiting on her furry kids), she teaches creative writing at local colleges and is a writing coach. She lives in Chicago with her husband, dog and two cats.
1986 – Shoulder pads are big, hair is bigger, and American college student Kate Spenser is set to embark on the biggest adventure of her life. Having been accepted to a summer study-abroad program in Oxford, England, Kate travels to Europe for the first time. The eighteen-year-old is psyched about a summer of exploring countries on her own, experiencing new cultures, and perhaps meeting a charming young man along the way.Armed with a French-English dictionary and her Walkman loaded with Duran Duran, Kate is ready to start her adventure in France. Little does she know what awaits her when she arrives, and how she must use her wits to escape peril in Paris. Fortune favors Kate when she meets her Punk Charming, and it’s love at first sight. Now, if she could only find him again! James Barrington meets his soul mate while on the run from Paris. Mis-cues and sabotage prevent him from reuniting with Kate, but he can never forget her. If only he had told her the truth before it was too late. Or is it? Can true love conquer all?
Maggie Kast the author of The Crack between the Worlds: a dancer’s memoir of loss, faith and family, published by Wipf and Stock. Maggie received an M.F.A. in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and have published fiction in The Sun, Nimrod, Rosebud, Paper Street and others. A chapter of her memoir, published in ACM/Another Chicago Magazine, won a Literary Award from the Illinois Arts Council and a Pushcart nomination. A story published in Rosebud and judged by Ursula Leguin won an Honorable Mention in their fantasy fiction contest. Her essays have appeared in America, Image, Writer’s Chronicle and elsewhere. A Free, Unsullied Land is her first novel.
A Free, Unsullied Land
Nineteen-year-old Henriette Greenberg takes her first steps away from an abusive home on the dance floor of a Chicago jazz dive in prohibition-era Chicago and is enraptured by this new music. Struggling to escape a mother who doesn’t like girls and a father who likes young women all too well, she submerges herself in bad sex and political action. She meets and falls in love with Dilly Brannigan, a graduate student in anthropology. Ignoring his warnings, she travels to Scottsboro, Alabama to protest the unfair conviction of nine young black men accused of rape. She adopts Dilly’s work as her own. A powerful funeral ritual gives her hope of re-writing her family story but tempts her to violate an Apache taboo, endangering her life, her love, and her longed-for escape from home.
Born in Coventry, England, Danuta or “Donna” Urbikas immigrated to the USA with her parents and sister, the subjects of the book, in 1952, settling in Chicago, Illinois, and growing up in the Polish community. After attending Catholic grade schools and a public high school in Chicago, she graduated from the University of Illinois—Chicago Circle with a degree in biology and began teaching high school biology. In 1976, she took her first trip to Poland to meet relatives and explore her parents’ home towns. On the cusp of the Solidarity Movement, her movements were restricted by the Communists and the trip became a significant life experience. Later, she graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering. The author has published her thesis, technical articles, worked as a teaching and research assistant and served as president of the Society of Women Engineers in Chicago, participating in numerous public speaking engagements. She went on to work as an environmental engineer and project manager in charge of water and wastewater compliance at coal and nuclear power plants and as an industry spokesperson. As a full time mother at home, she was a school volunteer, serving as President of the Board for Rogers Park Montessori School, Chicago, Illinois, and began writing. She joined the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois and was a volunteer teacher in the religious education program for several years. The author returned to work as a consultant for a large engineering company and then, as an owner of her own company, she worked on hazardous waste clean-up projects, permitting, and wastewater treatment during which time she published papers and made presentations at technical conferences. She is a graduate from the University of Chicago’s Certificate Writing Program and has attended many writing workshops and conferences.
My Sister's Mother
We hear much about the survivors of war these days. But whatever happens to the children of those survivors, like the children of Soviet labor camp survivors who were born after World War II? Not many would have the courage to write about their conflicts with mothers who survived those camps. They would be expected to be wholly empathetic, to pity their mothers and not feel burdened by their mothers’ experiences. As the daughter of one such survivor, brought up in America, I began to explore the impacts of that war on me. How was I treated differently from my older half-sister who had endured the camps and escape with our mother? How was I affected at different ages, different times? What kind of mother did I become as a result of my mother’s war experiences? My Sister’s Mother will enlighten and inspire through the strength shown by two mothers overcoming life’s unexpected challenges at different times, in different worlds. No other book on this subject of the survivor’s children of Soviet labor camps has been written from the child’s perspective, yet it is a universal story as wars continue to rage on in the world.
MARTIN SEAY is the executive secretary of the Village of Wheeling, Illinois. This is his first novel.
The Mirror Thief
The Mirror Thief is a dazzling combination of a genre-hopping adventure, a fast-paced mystery, and literary verve. Set in three cities in three eras, The Mirror Thief calls to mind David Mitchell and Umberto Eco in its serendipitous mix of entertainment and literary mastery.The core story is set in Venice in the sixteenth century, when the famed makers of Venetian glass were perfecting one of the old world’s most wondrous inventions: the mirror. An object of glittering yet fearful fascination — was it reflecting simple reality, or something more spiritually revealing? — the Venetian mirrors were state of the art technology, and subject to industrial espionage by desirous sultans and royals world-wide. But for any of the development team to leave the island was a crime punishable by death. One man, however — a world-weary war hero with nothing to lose — has a scheme he thinks will allow him to outwit the city’s terrifying enforcers of the edict, the ominous Council of Ten …Meanwhile, in two other iterations of Venice — Venice Beach, California, circa 1958, and the Venice casino in Las Vegas, circa today — two other schemers launch similarly dangerous plans to get away with a secret ….All three stories will weave together into a spell-binding tour-de-force that is impossible to put down — an old-fashioned, stay-up-all-night novel that, in the end, returns the reader to a stunning conclusion in the original Venice … and the bedazzled sense of having read a truly original and thrilling work of literary art.
Gint Aras (Karolis Gintaras Žukauskas) has been trapped on planet Earth since 1973. He is the author of two novels, Finding the Moon in Sugar (Infinity, 2009) and The Fugue, (Tortoise, 2016). His prose and translations have appeared in The St. Petersburg Review, Quarterly West, Antique Children, Criminal Class Review, The Hellgate Review, Curbside Splendor, Šiaurės Atėnai, STIR Journal, Dialogo, The Good Men Project and other publications.
Aras earned his MFA in Writing from Columbia University, and a BA in English and American Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He currently lives in Oak Park, IL with his family.
After over a decade in prison, a young sculptor, Yuri Dilienko, returns to his old neighborhood in Cicero, Illinois. He finds the town stripped of so many places he used to know, while the town’s familiar streets, bricks and steeples trigger memories of his traumatic youth. To convalesce, he sculpts from collected scrap metal, but his arrival in town soon rouses a young girl, Lita Avila, to curiosity. Could this reclusive and oddly quiet man, whose art is sensitive yet intense, truly be guilty of setting fire to his parents’ bungalow and burning them alive? At once an homage to the urban grit of Nelson Algren and the family sagas of Leo Tolstoy, The Fugue is a true epic that spans three generations and over fifty years, a major new achievement in the history of Chicago literature. It considers the effects of war and the silent, haunting traumas inherited by children of displaced refugees. Gint Aras’s lucid yet lyrical prose braids and weaves a tale where memory and imagination merge, time races and drags, and identity collapses and shifts without warning.