Mango Rash is a memoir of your time in American Samoa as a teen in the mid-sixties. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this memoir?
I started writing bits and pieces of my Samoa story when I joined a writers’ group in 2004. That was almost forty years after my time in Samoa, and for all those years I’d struggled to convey what it was like living on a tropical island as a teenager in the 1960s. All I could come up with was, “It was beautiful . . . It was a blast . . . “ and other generic responses that didn’t begin to capture the essence of the experience. So I started writing about that year as a way to not only fill in the details, but also tease out why living in Samoa made such an impression on me—something I’m not sure I completely understood until I finished writing the memoir.
Was everything you wrote from memory, or did you have to do research like dig through old photographs and letters?
Some events and conversations were so deeply etched in memory I could write them off the top of my head. Others surfaced as I looked through old photographs, played music from the time, and read letters and diary entries. One very good friend from high school days had saved all the letters I wrote her from Samoa, and those filled in so many details, including entire, verbatim conversations and descriptions of people and places. As I was revising the manuscript, a cousin unearthed letters my parents had written to her parents from Samoa. Those letters corroborated my accounts and provided even more details.
I appreciated the candid nature of your book. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer for this book?
Interesting question! I think my main goal was to dig beneath the day-by-day recounting of events, extract the most pivotal events, and ferret out my reactions to those events, both at the time and forty to fifty years later, as I was writing about them. And then to keep making sure I was telling the truth, not only the factual truth, but also the emotional truth.
This is a lovely coming of age story that superbly captures a whirlwind of emotions. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Thank you! I hope readers take away several messages from my story.
First, that even though our individual life stories may be very different, we all experience similar emotions at key points in our lives—adolescence, for one, but also other points along the way.
Second, that change is inevitable—nothing is permanent—but it’s good to consider which changes are beneficial and growth-promoting and which ones are destructive. Neither resisting change nor forging ahead just for the sake of change is the best path.
Finally, I think the most important message is that we all can learn so much from cultures other than our own if we open ourselves up to what they have to offer. Given all the mistrust and misunderstanding among different groups of people these days, this message can’t be stressed too often.
Moving to a South Pacific island from small town Oklahoma, sixteen year old Nancy Sanders trades cruising Main Street in search of tater tots for strolling sandy shores with islanders who feast on sea worms and summon sharks with song.
With a dash of teenage sass, MANGO RASH chronicles Nancy’s search for adventure—and identity—in two alien realms: the tricky terrain of adolescence and the remote U.S. territory of American Samoa. Against a backdrop of lava-rimmed beaches, frangipani-laced air, and sensual music, Nancy immerses herself in 1960s island culture with a colorful cast of Samoan and American expat kids.
But life is not one big beach party, Nancy soon finds, when she clashes with her parents over forbidden boys and discovers double standards in the expat community. Samoa, too, is experiencing growing pains as ancient customs collide with 20th-century ways. In the midst of all this, a hurricane shatters the peaceful paradise, delivering lessons in attachment and loss, strength and survival.
Like Nancy, readers of this unforgettable memoir will fall in love with Samoa’s biscuit-tin drum serenades, its mountains like mounds of cut velvet cushions, and its open-hearted people, who face adversity with grace. And just as Nancy does when her own health crisis thrusts her into a very different kind of unfamiliar territory, readers will draw strength from fa’a Samoa: the Samoan Way.
In language as lush as the island landscape, MANGO RASH enchants, entertains, and, ultimately, inspires with its message about embracing and learning from other cultures.
Sex and sexuality have changed quite a bit in the last decade. It is therefore only natural that the approach to sex education be changed to fit with the times.
Dr Doug Hammack’s book, Rethinking Sex Ed, is a guide to help parents bridge the generational gap that tends to stand in the way of effective sex education. He suggests that a symbiosis between religious and societal teachings on sexuality would be most beneficial. The book details the progression of sex education and shows the reader how and when teachings ceased to be effective.
The book is well written and delivered in an even tone that seeks to inspire the reader to change their stance on their own sex education approach. The book is diplomatic, not fully supporting one approach to the detriment of another. The author acknowledges the importance of all approaches. This book only advocates for amendment of sex education to make it more palatable to the current generation. The author has a very good grasp of the material and is well versed in this subject and speaks from a point of expertise. It would therefore be safe to say that this is a reliable guide book for anyone willing to keep their mind open.
This book is very short which is wonderful, because this could be heavy material with an important message. Dr. Hammack has the ability to keep the reader well engaged and on track with the message. It takes special skills to write a book about sexuality that does not pin point and focus on a particular orientation. The basis of all love and sexuality is the same. We are all inherently the same. In that sense, this book is suitable for anyone regardless of their sexual orientation. It is not even specific to parents either.
Rethinking Sex Ed is an important book that I think is especially important in this time of so much sexual confusion. Children are growing up lacking the appropriate sexual curriculum and therefore never really attain that maturity. This is a recommended read for educators, young adults, and parents.
Pages: 186 | ASIN: B07JK5H6B5
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Back in the 1980’s when the LGBTQ community was severely marginalized. Back when AIDS was called GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency). Dustin Thomas struggled with his identity. Unbeknownst to him the place his parents likened with Sodom would be the beginning of his journey to understand his true self. At the age of 20, he gained the courage to walk through those doors. This would lay the foundation for the relationship he would later have with Gauge Paulson. How will they survive with only their restored 1949 Indian Motorcycle and hope? How will they navigate the complexity of their relationship? Will their Fort Lauderdale past follow them down the California Coast?
This book tells a very important story in the history of the LGBTQ community. There is a lot that people do not know about the struggle before members of the community could openly fight for their liberation. If for nothing else, read this book to truly understand the struggle. It provides an accurate albeit bleak picture of what life was like for the LGBTQ community in the 1980’s as well as the lengths they had to go to simply exist in the society.
This is a well written book and a moving tale. The style of writing is fitting for a story of this intensity and magnitude. It is emotive and gut wrenching. You find yourself rooting for young Dustin to overcome all the hurdles on his path.
The grammar is spotless with a flair that is just right, never feeling inappropriate for the tragic undertone of the story. The author has an uncanny ability to create a full dimensional mental picture with both his creative use of language and unique tone, giving an artistic feel to his writing.
This is a very informative book. There is a story to enjoy sure, but at the core of it is a lesson for human kind. At the end of it all you wonder why human beings cannot coexist in peace without judgement and creation of restrictive societal codes. What would really happen if everyone was accepted just as they were? This book is thought provoking in this way. You will also learn that love truly is powerful; against ignorance and debilitating superiority complexes.
Craig Moody has broken into the genre with a powerfully poignant book. This book tells a story that many need to hear.
Pages: 252 | ASIN: B06XD51X19
It’s almost impossible not to come across a story every day about another victim of the opioid/mental health crisis that is devastating cities around the globe.
This ongoing tragedy encompasses so many issues and has so many facets but at the end of the day it is a tragedy of people. Real people who have real stories and whose stories have elements that anyone can relate too.
So, what makes a person succumb to pain, depression and despair? Why are some people able to stay clean and others can’t break free? The answer is not always the same, neither is the end of each persons tale. Taking a page from a true life news article, singer/songwriter Steve Murphy embraces the idea of the person behind the byline in a short story centering on Mark; a homeless man who battles his personal demons, usually without much success.
From the opening of Foul Play is Not Suspected Murphy asks the questions we should ask and take the time to think about. The characters of this short story could be anybody and like anybody, they have twists and turns in their lives; as well as a desire to find the best lives for themselves.
The crisis’ of drugs and depression often go hand in hand and by no means can be put into a box or a quick article but the authors considerable talent allows him to illustrate an accurate and savvy picture of how these problems affect all people in society.
At the center of Foul Play is Not Suspected is Mark an everyday man who becomes the symbol of a life interrupted by darkness and bad decisions and the inability to get past his addiction. But, there are more layers to Mark and to Murphy’s story in general. Thankfully, the message is not lost in complexity nor overwritten to prove a point. His vision stays true to the message and is clear as well as impactful.
Steve Murphy closes the story with links and ideas to be more active, as well as a link to the original article and a link to an informative article about the health risks of opioids.
Reading stories like Foul Play is Not Suspected will help put the right take on this overwhelming problem and should be part of any book club. A longer version of the story would have been wonderful.
Pages: 103 | ASIN: B07XC1QFZD
Operation Sustainable Human outlines four pragmatic steps that anyone can take to combat climate change. Why was this an important book for you to write?
As with all of my writing projects, the goal is somewhat simple: to help. I wanted to facilitate effective climate action. I felt that it could be made a lot easier for people and that we could be far more impactful with an optimized strategy. I loved the idea of focusing on the few areas that account for the vast majority of emissions. I also felt that there are many myths around the climate crisis that needed to be cleared up.
I appreciated the science and research used in this book. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
I am an active scientist and so I am always reading research papers and conducting experiments. And as a lot of my research is about sustainability, I had a huge head start before I sat down to research for the book. I went back to the source papers and tried to gather as many perspectives as possible. Almost a third of the book consists of references and so those who read it are getting a solid synthesis of the current literature. That being said, I also spent a lot of time ensuring that the book was really easy to read and understand, and so, while there may be a lot of scientific research behind the book, it is accessible to anyone. in fact, one of the most common pieces of feedback is that it is really easy to read (the book only takes an hour to complete).
What is one thing that people can start doing today that will help with climate change?
If you are looking for something that has immediate effects, then switching to a plant-based diet is a great place to start. To quote the book:
“Switching to a plant-based diet has rapid, measurable, highly significant results. In a single month, you personally would have saved 600 pounds of CO2, 900 square feet of forest, 1,200 pounds of grain, and 33,000 gallons of water. Just by modifying your diet you can stop funding the leading cause of deforestation, ocean dead-zones, habitat destruction, species extinction, water pollution, methane pollution, and nitrous oxide pollution. In short, it is the single biggest way to reduce your negative impact on our planet.”
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Right now we are working on the documentary version of the book. If anyone wants to be involved, now is the time to reach out. As for the next book, I have two that I really want to write and so I need to decide which one should go first.
Operation Sustainable Human has a refreshingly unique, no BS approach. No speculative theories. No time-wasting. Rather than bombarding the reader with a 100+ item to-do list, this short book offers four, deeply considered, pragmatic steps that account for the vast majority of the problem. Everything is backed by science, clearly referenced, and easy to read. High impact made simple.
Revealers and Revelations attempts to philosophize a variety of medical topics. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Ans This book was very important for me to write because i extensively studied western philosophy from ancient to modern school of thought. This study was to learn about the scientific exploits of various philosophers. I realized that our modern science has its roots in the ancient and medieval philosophy of western philosophers. This study compelled me to give befitting tribute to various philosophers and their philosophies. Keeping it in mind i applied philosophical approach to describe various medical topics without trivializing them. I have tried to present this book to my readers to study and enjoy as well and of course it is as authentic as any medical text book. No exaggeration!
I thought this book was well researched. What kind of research did you undertake to write this book?
Ans I studied ancient philosophy of western world from various authors, begining with Pre-Socratics and continued the research till the modern philosophy of Sigmund Freud. I revised my own medical text books on various topics especially Genes, Genome, Stress, Cancer and Human Nature to equip myself with new thoughts which i couldn’t appreciate during my post graduation course in Internal Medicine. To expand the horizon of my thought i had to immerse myself in the writings of many authors. Some notable works which i researched with great passion were ‘Sofie’s World’ by Jostein Gaarder, Red Queen and Genome by Matt Ridley, Gene Machine by Venki Rama Krishnan. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novel Cancer Ward was a fictional novel but it added a lot to my information regarding the subject. Other books which i immersed myself in were Robert Bazel’s HER-2, the Plague by Albert Camus, One renegade cell by Robert Weinberg. Sidhartha Mukharjee’s great works like Emperer of all Maladies and Gene were very wonderful reading, Death of cancer cell by Vincent T Devita JR MD, The fifth miracle by Paul Devis, Illness and its Metaphors by Susan Sontag was mind blowing to read. Then to learn about Stress i did the indepth analysis of Sickning Mind by Paul Martin and to have touch of spirituality in my works i dived deep into the works of the all time great poet painter and philosopher Khalil Gibran. I can’t recollect many Journals, notes and essays which by various great writers were of great help to satisfy my innerself.
This book delves into deep discussions of genes and genomes. What was your driving motivation for discussing this subject?
Ans My driving motivation was; to be honest is to become a writer and to get literary fame. I am inspired by the lifes of Khalil Gibran, Sigmund Freud, George Bernard Shaw, AynRand, Susan Sontag, Spinoza, David Hume, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the author of Genome and Red Queen, Matt Ridely.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Ans I am working on the study of genes and the genesis of cancer and its impact on our society, its prevention and latest intervention to tackle this monster. I am yet to give name to my new book which of course will be very informative, This may be available at the end of next year.
Author Links: Website
Revealers and Revelations: is a research work borne out of passion to know Philosophy and Philosophers and an attempt to philosophise various Medical topics without trivialising them. Begining from Pre-Socratics till Sigmund Freud is a pleasant tour of philosophy. This book describes gene from ‘principle’ of Aristotle to four letters (A.C.G.T) and Genome. Nothing is more important to human lives than the Guardian angel of genome, the gene TP53 which obviates the immortal illness…the Cancer. Described in a literary style as ….A thief in the night; the cancer once an obscure disease and now a defining plague of modern era; its various incarnations and monstrous character is stripped naked in this work. And finally Stress to Eustress to negotiate with uncertainties of human life . And that Human nature as a history of sexual evolution than the natural evolution is beautifully explained to be comprehended even by a lay man!
Every person in their youth has dreamt of escaping to some exotic locale for fun, freedom, and newness. Someplace on the globe that is ‘other’; a place that can physically represent the internal battle of reaching adulthood and really understanding how things change and how one wants to find their own and new identity.
For the author, Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, the dream of a far off world full of new possibilities was a lush and beautiful reality. Mango Rash is a memoir of her brief time in America Samoa as a teen back in the mid-sixties. But it is so much more than that! Nan’s recall of her life-transforming time is a lush, layered, inviting and provocative tale that is so delightful to read!
Mango Rash peppers in historical references and factual instances in a perfect way that makes Nan’s story more intriguing and doesn’t date the story. In fact, the writer’s coming of age story is so timeless in the way that any teen can relate too in any age or any setting.
America Samoa provides such a picturesque and breathtaking backdrop to the timelessness of Mango Rash. Nan’s voice is so strong and effective and pens such a likable and marvelous story with a place that everyone will want to visit and a group of people that everyone will want to meet.
Nan’s ups and downs on the island mirror her ups and downs in life and her voyage to figure out where her home really is. The all too brief interactions with her parents and the very quick observations she makes about the world around her were such wise touches!
Mango Rash has an ending I did not see coming, but probably should have. Despite the memoirs’ sudden end and out of nowhere change, the author makes the conclusion stick with flair and whimsy.
Pokerwinski has a huge talent for drawing the reader in with such ease and flair; like listening to a story being told by your best friend! Everything about Mango Rash is delightful and wondrously fun!
Take the time to enjoy this book and you will find yourself reflecting on the people and places that helped shape you and still hold a part of your heart today; as well as identifying closely with the characters. For sure, you will dream of American Samoa and will be hoping that Nan has more stories to tell.
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B07WNXS6LV
POWERFUL EXPRESSIONS OF AN EXTREME SCHIZOPHRENIC.
Almost everyone has been touched by cancer; either indirectly or directly by this aggressive and unpredictable disease. Serious diseases affect people in different ways, sometimes the emotional storm leaves you as unprepared as the illness. A child battling cancer is as bad as it gets and the real life story of Adrienne Wilson is a total gut-wrencher as well as beautiful, uplifting and encouraging one. Better off Bald: A Life in 147 Days is an undeniably fascinating read that should be experienced!
There is so much raw truth and strength in the authors recounting of her sisters battle with childhood cancer. Andrea Wilson’s story is a roller coaster of hope, anger, grief, nostalgia, determination, self guilt, and courage that can only be matched my her marvelous and spirited sister. The truth about cancer is that there is no absolutely true path or outcome. Everyday and every story is different. Despite knowing the end for Adrienne the author is successful at making the reader understand how every day and moment is different and unique and the journey of these 2 strong women is just as compelling as can be hoped for.
Andrea Wilson Woods opens up her soul with her memoir Better off Bald: A Life in 147 Days. This fabulously narrated journey lays out all that can be experienced when dealing with the terminal illness of a minor.
There are countless ups and downs in Adrienne’s story and it’s not straight forward nor easy. What in life is? The roller coaster ride is raw and real and the unbalance of this story makes it remarkable.
Better off Bald paints such a vivid picture of the complexity of cancer and the real life challenges of living in the moment and how people think and react to every changing scope of their new reality. The author captures the readers heart and attention with clarity and grit. There is so much in Adrienne and Andrea’s story that makes you wish you had known them in person and feel like you already do.
From beginning to end A Life in 147 Days demands attention and you just want to keep reading and reading. The triumphs and tragedies of the two sisters is a story that must be shared and I am so grateful the it was! The author ends her story with a call to action and perspective that is relatable and honest. A truly great read!
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B07X3N6TCP