Vividly written, Everybody Dreams, by Michael Stratton, is filled with compelling prose and deep, complex characters who speak to the most human frailties in us all. This breakout novel leaves no stone unturned when it comes to delivering drama and a thought provoking message. Purchase your copy right now from Amazon.com!

SUMMER/FALL 2009 Views, News & Review

END OF SUMMER / BEGINNING OF FALL 2009

New updates on Everybody Dreams, the changes at WLNZ (and the Final Side of Midnight?), book reviews and more…

Everybody Dreams

New book signings have been scheduled at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids for 9/10/09 at the 28th Street store, 7 p.m. There will be media attention in G.R. before the signing and reading, including a review and story in the Grand Rapids Press.

There is another signing at Schuler Books in Okemos, 10/28/09 at 7 p.m.
I am humbled at the local response to the book. Schuler Books has called several times this summer, requesting more books. It has been one of their best sellers of the year. And every time I run into someone who talks about reading it, they relate that they’ve passed their copy on to a friend or relative. That is very flattering, that the readers want to share the book with others.

I had a great time doing signings at Horizon Books in Traverse City, Montreal at the IPGA conference and espescially at the St. Lawrence campus of Sparrow Hospital. Anyone who has read the book knows that several of the scenes are set at a certain Lansing-based psychiatric hospital, and it felt very special to do a reading and a signing for the staff at St. Lawrence.

WLNZ & The Final Vinyl?

WLNZ is making some big changes and I know only a little about these. I’ve been approached by several people in the community, wanting to know more about the changes and who to talk to about keeping jazz radio alive in Lansing. I’ll relate what I know, and, if you have concerns, where to direct your concerns.

WLNZ is shifting to a AAA format. Triple A is Adult Album Alternative. It has a lot of classic rock and is designed to draw a larger audience. I’m told these are decisions that have been made by LCC’s Marketing Director, Lucian Leone (leonel@lcc.edu) and Jane Kreha (krehaj@lcc.edu). I’ve been told by WLNZ’s administration that feedback should be directed to these sources. There will be an outside consultant that will be working with WLNZ and will be making further changes to the station.

Already you’ve seen a loss of dozens of hours of jazz programming each week. What remains at this point is Byron Lyle’s Crystal Jazz, Jim Stone’s Big Band Swing, Sunday Jazz and my show, The Vinyl Side of Midnight. Even with the huge loss of hours, WLNZ still remains the only station in town that offers this much classic and straight ahead jazz. But that might change.

I’ll be bummed to lose the show, but on the other hand it’s been a great run of thirteen years and counting. I like to think I’ve done a little bit in serving the jazz community in Lansing, helping some people learn about this great art form and gain a deeper appreciation for the music. More will be revealed, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that these next few shows could be the Final Side of Midnight.

BOOKS

I just finished reading three amazing books that I have to mention here.

Cool Water; Alcoholism, Mindfulness, and Ordinary Recovery by William Alexander

This is a book I’m recommending to friends and clients in recovery. It is a deeply inspired work, that is in turn inspiring. For anyone interested in recovery, struggling with recovery, or wants to figure how to blend Buddhism with recovery, this book is a jewel. Alexander speaks from the inside out, recovering himself, he offers education about what science tells us about addiction, weaves in his own story and comes up with a book of experience, strength and hope. It’s clear that he’s a practitioner of the Twelve Steps, but he doesn’t merely parrot slogans. His is a well thought out work, which at times challenges some of A.A.’s assumptions. A really great read.

Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard

Before I published Everybody Dreams I did a youtube video, trying to attract an agent or a publisher. In the video, I said I wasn’t capable of writing at the level of Barbara Kingsolver, but I think I told a story as well as Elmore Leonard. I’d like to go on record relating what an arrogant whelp I am: Elmore Leonard is also out of my league. How does he do it? No one writes dialogue, both spoken and the internal riffs, like Elmore Leonard. Road Dogs features something unusual: the reappearance of several characters Elmore has introduced in different novels. Jack Foley (from Out of Sight, played by George Clooney in the movie), Cundo Rey (from LaBrava) and Dawn Navarro (Riding The Rap) are the shadiest of characters, a group of vipers that warily circle each other in planning the next scam. Hats off to Elmore Leonard. The most entertaining read of my summer.

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

What a strange book. Just like the movie, Memento, the protagonist wakes up with no knowledge of who he is. There’s a note that tells him to go see Dr. Randle, along with an address and a map, a picture of his vehicle and keys. He learns that he has a condition of severe dissociation, that he’s suffered these attacks before. And he’s warned not to read any letters he might get. After returning home, he gets a letter. It says don’t trust Dr. Randle.

So that’s for openers. Along the way you’ll be reminded of The Wizard of Oz, The Matrix, Jaws, Alice In Wonderland and the novels of Haruki Murakami (The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, specifically). Where is the line between imagination and reality? Can our ideas hurt, even kill us? What does it mean to be chased by a conceptual shark? This is supposed to be a movie, although I have the same reaction as when I heard a movie was being made of Naked Lunch: how the heck are they going to do that?

OTHER SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS

I was so disappointed to hear that MSU’s Jazz Studies was losing Derrick Gardner. Then I heard that Etienne Charles, who was a guest on Rodney Whitaker’s set at the Oldtown Jazzfest, is teaching at MSU this Fall. Etienne has just released a new disc, called Folklore, that I’ve been playing ever since I received it in the mail a couple of months ago. It’s a great disc, beautifully conceptualized and performed. I review each disc I receive, on a 0-5 star system. This is what I wrote about Folklore:
***** Etienne Charles – FOLKLORE; Etienne Charles
This is a little masterpiece. Trinidad born trumpeter Charles leads a band through a set of original compositions that call on influences from calypso to Miles. Charles’ rapport with saxist Jacques Scharz-Bart seems telepathic. A beautiful disc. Use tracks #1 (Folklore) or #3 (Dance with la Diablesse).

In addition, Rodney Whitaker wrote and premiered a piece dedicated to our mutual friend, Robert Busby (“The Mayor of Oldtown”), who was murdered a couple of years ago. The tune was titled “Robert’s Lament” and it is a wonderful and soulful ballad, an excellent tribute to a one of a kind individual. I hope Rodney records this on his next record.

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