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Publisher: Penchant Press International (2016)
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This curated anthology shows the collective creative effort that the Red Wheelbarrow Writers have dedicated to “Memory into Memoir,” each one a nugget of remembrance cloaked in the wisdom of time’s perspective and expressed in well-chosen words and memorable well-crafted story telling that will capture your heart and expand your soul.

Below are a few samples of the superb writing in this anthology.

The collections start with author (Beyond the Scope – Truth Turns Deadly in the Congo) and former US Embassy staffer Nancy Adair, who recounts, in “Just Say No,” being called upon to provide “community control” for a planned visit from Nancy Reagan to her post in Malaysia. Disaster follows disaster as plans fall through, the weather refuses to cooperate, and Reagan’s anticipated speech is four words long. Adair learns that far from being “one of those introverts who doesn’t like to disappoint people” as she initially imagined herself to be, she is secretly feisty, feisty enough to say “no” to the First Lady when the situation requires it.

Blogger Sky Hedman’s “The Chosen Day” examines a distraught family trying to reconnect on a mountain picnic. The narrator, her Alzheimers-ridden mother and silently suffering sister Martha barely dodge tragedy on that outing, only to face it days later, along with an acknowledgment of fractured relationships: “The time to know Martha better had passed.”

In “Thank You, Grace Paley,” aspiring Novelist Barbara Clarke recalls her remarkable personal meeting with the feminist icon over a late-evening cup of tea. Discouraged with her attempts at writing, she asks for and gets en-heartening advice from the famous author: “Just keep going.”

University instructor Kate Miller’s “Elemental” is the memory of her eleven-year-old self, happily receiving a much-desired chemistry set, then balking at using it when she discovers the many vials containing poisonous substances: “What if I spilled two chemicals that weren’t supposed to mix?” Her escalating concern sparked by an active imagination causes her to stow the set away; later in life she is diagnosed with panic disorder, but still sometimes dreams of the chemistry set and its many messages.

In “Leaving the Roman Lands,” world-wanderer Kenneth W. Meyer recreates his adventures overseas when in 1976 he and a traveling buddy agree to drive four wealthy students from Istanbul to Pakistan. In those days, foreign travel, the author states, “was like walking in space: you detached from the capsule, fed out your line, and enjoyed the spectacular view.”

The final piece in Memory into Memoir, “The Great Moratorium,” is the fascinating story of a young woman “busting out of the beige life” at age 18, only to find herself in a highly abusive relationship. Escaping that, she later becomes a therapist for victims of domestic violence and embarks on a one-month experiment in “relationship moratorium” that stretches out to eighteen elucidating years.

Superb writing styles blend with ease in The Red Wheelbarrow Writers’ first anthology of thirty-two non-fiction works that are a pleasure to read. Offering something for most everyone to appreciate makes this anthology a wonderful gift and a welcome addition to any writer’s library as an inspirational read. A consortium of writers has produced this engaging collection of life’s vicissitudes remembered.

The Red Wheel Barrel Writers

According to members Cami Ostman and Laura Kalpakian, the Red Wheelbarrow Writers in Bellingham, Washington, call themselves a “loose collective of working writers” who have “monthly Bored meetings (yes, that’s the correct spelling)” and eschew formal designation as a club or non-profit (“when we need money we pass a hat”). The writers have conspired to inspire with this array of 31 short memoirs.

The group takes its name from a poetic work, XXII, by William Carlos Williams:

So much depends
upon
a red wheelbarrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.

Underscoring this theme, each memoir begins with a quotation from Williams chosen by the individual writer.