2013 Winter Book Series

Imagine your father pulling you out of school to tell you he killed a man. How would you react to this news?

Kelly Daniels was nine when his father announced he killed a cousin, a drug dealer. The elder Daniels was already a stranger, having left his family months earlier.

Driving away from the school, his father says, "You can cry if you want."

Daniels describes his reaction in Chapter 1 of Cloudbreak, California:

"Noctambulous" means of, pertaining to, or given to sleepwalking, according to Dictionary.com. It is also the first poem in a new collection by Ricardo Mario Amézquita:

Solid ground                        floating on sea

not lost                                  iceberg belief

isolated                                 suspended

to reoccur                            cyclic amnesia

From myself                         in vacuum

the picture of a flame/ reaching home

In the 1850s, Henry David Thoreau spent two years at a cabin in the woods near Concord, Mass. The cabin, at Walden Pond, is where he wrote his most famous work, Walden; or, Life in the Woods. In it, he writes:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately ... to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life ... to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

In the late 14th Century, poet Geoffrey Chaucer mined Greek mythology to retell the story of two lovers from ancient Troy. His book, Troilus and Criseyde, is considered by scholars to be his best work.

You'll find a synopsis below, but the first thing you should know is this: On his deathbed, Chaucer renounced the poem.

Sunny is a woman just released from prison for attempting to kill her husband, a snake-handling preacher. Jackson is an anthropologist who falls in love with Sunny, but then joins her estranged husband to research religious snake handling.

This is the basic premise of Snakewoman of Little Egypt, a novel by Robert Hellenga.

Winter Book Series Returns

Nov 24, 2013

Who's writing the best literature in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin?

That's a question WNIJ's Dan Klefstad tries to answer twice a year. This December, his Winter Book Series will feature works by five authors which, he says, convey a strong sense of place:

"We handle snakes at a Pentecostal gathering in southern Illinois," Klefstad says. "We reconnect with nature at a Michigan cabin. In another, we meet Troilus and Criseyde of ancient Troy, but this time their tragedy plays out in Wisconsin."

Virtual Book Club This Saturday

Oct 21, 2013

(Updated Nov. 15th)

Here's what book lovers are already tweeting about Snakewoman of Little Egypt:

"Do you know of any actual snake-handling churches in IL? Ever been to a service?"

"Church of the Burning Bush With Signs Following?  (Where did that name come from)?"

"How did come up with the name Thomas Ford University?"

#readwithWNIJ

Oct 2, 2013

Join WNIJ and your fellow book lovers for a community reading of a novel from our Winter Book Series.

Snakewoman of Little Egypt kicks off the series in December but on Saturday, Nov. 16, you'll have an opportunity to tweet your questions and comments to the author, Robert Hellenga, during an interview with Dan Klefstad. Use the Twitter hashtag above to be part of this special event.

Who's writing the best literature in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin?

That's a question WNIJ's Dan Klefstad tries to answer twice a year. This December, his Winter Book Series will feature works by five authors which, he says, convey a strong sense of place:

"We handle snakes in a Pentecostal church in southern Illinois," Klefstad says. "We reconnect with nature in a Michigan cabin. In another, we meet Troilus and Criseyde of ancient Troy, but this time their tragedy plays out in Wisconsin."