G.K. Lamb at Bookmans Saturday

By Christine Davis

I remember being seventeen in Ms. Knudsen’s AP Environmental Science class. She was Canadian and had purple streaks in her hair, so everyone wanted to enroll. Each day we learned that the planet was doomed. G.K. Lamb’s dystopian, debut novel is about this inevitable doom as told through the first-person lens of Evelyn, a young girl full of hope and fight. She might have done well in Ms. Knudsen’s course, but in Evelyn’s world free thought is rebellion, family is complicated, and answers come at the ultimate price.

World building is key in young adult fiction, and Filtered delivers in this arena. The novel centers on the premise that air pollution has resulted in toxicity so severe all citizens must wear masks while outside, and rely upon air filtration systems inside. Lamb creates images of tall buildings, tightly locked doors, and a billboard declaring, “Remember, a fresh filter everyday keeps death at bay!” The Great Society is responsible for regulating safety, but their regulations encroach upon almost every human right. Evelyn’s schooling is a perfect example of The Great Society’s stiff expectations. Students aren’t permitted to look authority figures in the eye, move out of synch, or question anything about their world. When Evelyn encounters her first taste of rebellion, she says, “There’s life here,” and her new companion retorts, “Uncomfortable, isn’t it?” Lines like this capture the psychological world-building Lamb accomplishes alongside the physical landscape.

Readers fall even deeper into the familiar landscape of family, but once again they find a filter. The family lives in an upscale apartment with plenty of fresh filters and store bought food. Her father works late. They watch T.V. However, any displays of “normalcy” are interrupted by the ever-present threat of death. In addition to communicating through literal filtration masks designed to protect them against pollution, they also must communicate through the masks of fear and ignorance. Evelyn’s mother falls deeper into isolation as the novel progresses, leaving Evelyn thinking, “I wish she were someone I could trust…one look at her and I know she can’t be any of the things I wish her to be. Her frame is already withering, no doubt from malnourishment and confinement.” She wonders, “How much of our imprisonment is self-inflicted?” but she is alone with this question, unable to include her family in any quest for answers.

Lamb’s plot and ultimate climax are nicely tied to both the world he creates, and the family Evelyn must break away from in order to come of age in a time of rebellion. Readers will want to engage in her fast-paced adventures, full of villains, broken heroes, and misguided youths. The more Evelyn commits to uncovering the truth, the more she finds herself entrenched in a historical tug-of-war that leaves her fighting for her life in more ways than one.

The result of reading a book like G.K. Lambs’s Filtered is not only to leave entertained, but also educated. At Evelyn’s age I had Ms. Knudsen to tell me about the perils of this world, but did I listen? Filtered provides young readers an intricate look at the results of environmental collapse through a character they will want to follow anywhere.

Saturday, February 27, G.K. Lamb is signing books at Bookmans from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., as part of the Bookmans Flag AZ Author Fair. Lamb joins Mark Bordner and Austin Aslan.

Eat at Chili’s; Support Thin Air

NAU Thin Air Literary Magazine Give Back Event:

Let Chili’s do the cooking while we support NAU Thin Air Literary Magazine at the same time. With each flyer presented on Thursday, Chili’s will donate 15% of the event day sales back to this great organization.

Chili’s Flagstaff/1500 S. Milton Road/Flagstaff AZ 86001/928-774-4546/www.chilis.com

That’s some fine-looking print you got there: Give Back Event flyer required with each check to receive credit for the sale. (You can download it from our Facebook event page!) Sale cannot be included in donation amount with flyer. Offer only valid on the date and location stated above. Donations will not be given on sales made prior to or past this date.

Eat at MartAnne’s; Donate to Thin Air!

MartAnne’s Burrito Palace is donating 10% of its entire sales on Wednesday, February 17 to Thin Air Magazine’s AWP fundraiser.

AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, is holding its 2016 conference and bookfair at the Los Angeles Convention Center, March 30 – April 2.

According to the AWP web site, “The AWP Conference & Bookfair is an essential annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers. Each year more than 12,000 attendees join our community for four days of insightful dialogue, networking, and unrivaled access to the organizations and opinion-makers that matter most in contemporary literature.”

Help represent Thin Air Magazine at the 2016 AWP Conference & Bookfair by eating at MartAnne’s Burrito Palace, voted Best Breakfast Place by Arizona Daily Sun readers. And remember: MartAnne’s now has a dinner and cocktail and beer menu and accepts credit cards. Eat well and support literature all day long!

Narrow Chimney Schedule Spring 2016

James Jay and Jesse Sensibar welcome writers and lit lovers to Uptown Pubhouse every Monday night at 7pm for libations and literature. Don’t miss out on this welcoming, homegrown event!

January 25 Elizabeth Hellstern & Jane Armstrong
Feb 1 Bryan Asdel & Sandra Dihlmann
Feb 8 Mathew Henry Hall & Jamison Crabtree
Feb 22 Natalie Rose & Barbara Lane
Feb 29 Lawrence Lenhart & Molly Wood
March 7 Jessica Martini & Beth Alvarado
March 21 Emily Regan & Andie Francis
March 28 Ian Keirsey & Jon Tribble
April 4 Eugene Munger & Laura Kelly
April 11 Jay “Jaybyrd” Willison & Jia Oak Baker
April 18 Seth Muller & Robert Isenberg
April 25 Shelly J Taylor & Renee S Angle
May 2 James Jay & Justin Bigos

“10-4” or “Things I Learned about Cops on my Civilian Ride Along”

by Camille Sinaguinan

When I told an officer of the Flagstaff Police Department last December that I was a writer, and that I was always looking for story, he suggested that I go on a ride along.  I wasn’t sold on the idea at first–couldn’t you get shot at on ride alongs?–but when I mentioned it to a group of writer friends, they insisted that I do it.

So, when I got back from California, I went to the Flagstaff Police Department and filled out an orchid-colored form.  I would not be issued a bullet-proof vest.  I would obey all commands given to me by my officer.

The next day, I received a call: my request was approved.  When would I like to schedule my ride along?  I chose a Thursday night from 5:30pm-9:00pm.  Our dispatch handle was “David 20”, and here are some of the things I learned:

  • The cops are the good guys.  At least in Flagstaff.  The officer I shadowed that night pulled over two vehicles for traffic violations.  Both drove away with warnings.  When I told the cop that I’d never been pulled over in California without getting an actual ticket, he said it’s probably different in larger cities.  I was both pleased by his kindness and disappointed in my hometown.
  • It is an unspoken rule that the older cops get the better patrol cars when on duty.
  • If you are accompanying a cop on a ride along, you are referred to as a CO or Civilian Observer.
  • Everyone knows everything that’s going on all the time.  It’s called dispatch.  There are no secrets in police work.  Also, a good dispatcher can save a cop’s life.
  • Civilians often use the police to do the dirty work for them.  Our first call was made by a woman who sent us to her ex-husband’s house so we could ask why he hadn’t returned her two-year-old daughter.  We find out after meeting the man that he always keeps their daughter until Sunday per their custody agreement, and he’s tired of the police coming over all the time to heckle him at his ex-wife’s behest.
  • Traffic stops–when a cop pulls a vehicle over–can be more dangerous than actual calls.  We did two on my ride along.  Both times I was told to stay in the car.  The second time he radioed for backup and approached the truck with his hand over his holster.
  • Cops wear around 40 lbs of gear when on duty.
  • Because of the nature of their work, cops have above average adrenaline levels when they are on duty.  When they’re off duty, their levels drop below average to allow the body to recuperate.  This constant high to low shift can cause real problems for officers.  Some manage the imbalance by working out and taking on hobbies.  The less fortunate can become alcoholics.
  • A lot of patrolling is driving the same route over and over.  This doesn’t mean the job is easy, though, because…
  • Cops are crazy multi-taskers.  Here was what my officer was doing minute-by-minute while we were in the car together: driving, checking vehicle registrations on his laptop with one hand, talking to me about the necessity of a police force, listening to the dispatch radio, listening to the regular radio, and looking out for traffic violations.  There were times when we would be talking and he’d stop abruptly, hearing something only he understood from dispatch.  Then the next second he’s making a U-turn to pull over a guy with a busted headlight.  After completing his calls or traffic stops, he would continue our conversation as if we’d never been interrupted.  It was really impressive, but it made me seriously wonder how adequate I was at life in comparison.
  • Working for the police can be like any other job.  Some people actually work, some don’t.  Some can be trusted, some can’t.  Bonds made doing difficult work are some of the strongest bonds around.
  • We let cops into our most private lives, sometimes without even knowing it.  One of our calls was a student who thought she heard someone inside her apartment when nobody should have been there.  My officer and one other did a sweep of her apartment before deeming it safe.  The girl was so grateful, and on the way back down to the patrol cars, the cops talked about how nice her apartment was.  When cops check our registrations from their patrol cars–and this happens every free minute they have–pulling up our license plate numbers brings up all our information: name, age, eye color, home address.  And we don’t even know our plates were run.  I watched my officer run a plate once.  I didn’t look long–it felt wrong, seeing that person’s information without them knowing.
  • Cops don’t have ticket quotas.
  • “10-4” is the most common code I heard over the radio.  It means something like, “Got it” or “Understood.”  When I asked the cop where the codes came from he laughed and said, “I don’t know.  I just work here.”

Not much happened on my ride along in terms of violence or crazy people, but I got as much as I could about the day-to-day.  For those of you that are curious, anyone can go on a ride along.  You just need to go to the Police Station and fill out that form.  Usually you can schedule to shadow the same week.

It’s a good thing to do, if you’re looking for story.  Getting to know the people we trust with our lives doesn’t hurt either.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

The Four Coolest People I Met at NonfictionNOW

The Four Coolest People I Met At NonfictionNOW (although picking is so hard.)

by Elizabeth Hellstern

I volunteered for the NonfictionNOW conference held at NAU at the end of October, in Flagstaff AZ. It was amazing. I attended four panel sessions and two keynote speaker sets per day, browsed the book fair, drank cocktails at a couple parties, read my own work (in Halloween pink hair) and found many interesting people to talk to. Many of my conversations have led to online sharing of writing and ideas. From now on, I am compelled to read work by people I met at this conference, because it provides context for understanding, good material for conversation with my new friends, and ultimately because there are so many good things out there to read that we have to have some way of choosing.

To that end, to I have searched and found four essays from some of the cool people I talked to. Believe me, there were many others, but for brevity’s sake, I will keep it to four. I won’t tell you all about each piece, but rather, I’d like to pull out some of my favorite lineslines that are so well-written that they stand apart as objects, as individual marbles I’ve been rolling around my mouth, saying them over and over and savoring the way they feel. I love the places they refer to, the people they mention and the ideas they embody.

 I remarked about our mutual wearing of orange as we were in line for coffee, and Lynette D’Amico referred to me from then on as “the first person that talked to me at the conference.” I’m really glad I did, because she’s an excellent writer and gave me the brilliant tip to google “vernacular photography” (just do it.) “Fictions of the City” her essay in Slag City Miniatures is a fabulous jewel. She writes about an experience on the subway, in New York City, how it reminded the narrator of hopes from her (and America’s) youth. The line that hit me was this, “The City was itself: an exhalation of overheated garbage and car exhaust, burnt sugar and burnt coffee, sweat and piss and fried foodequally rank and delectable.” Yes. Just yes.
 

 Barrie Jean Borich is from Chicago, and like every blond woman from that town with sass and a curvy figure, she reminds me of my Aunt Claire. I was really excited to find her essay “Of Wearing My Red Dress” (in the anthology After Montaigne) so I could“talk” about fashion with someone who had similar style panache to Claire.  In her favorite red dress, Borich shows off her great cleavage and gets more attention than usual, then examines the situation, saying “I know the woman they see in this dress is made of a design, a bra, a posture, a stance, a mood, an attitude, and more story than body.” I get it! I also completely understand Borich when she says “the clothes werenever just clothes, but also the story of clothes, the longing represented by clothes” but“…clothes have no stories without the body, and without the human lives that clothes both project and protect.” I have always felt that my clothes tell a story, and I try to be conscious of which story I’m telling.

I first met Tarn Wilson when I gave her a ride to town from the Flagstaff airport. I knew I liked her when I found out she was also a vegetarian. Wilson is the author of The Slow Farm, a memoir with “artifacts” that illustrate her unique life growing up off-grid, with alternative-lifestyle parents in Canada. I read The Slow Farm as soon as I got home from the conference. Then I found a fabulous essay Wilson wrote called “The History Of My Teeth” in Inertia Magazine. She says “Several of my high school students with impaired social skills have told me–not as an insult but as a cheerful observation–that I look like a rabbit.” This line is so brave and funny and endearing—in ways that aren’t sexy or sophisticated but purely humble. Wilson has gone for the humor at the expense of her ego; and now I am a loyal reader.Jericho Parms may very well be my writing doppelganger. We both love to write about touch, art and hot springs. Her essay “Lost Wax” in the American Literary Review braids together impressions of classic sculptures of Cupid, Eros and Aphrodite with memories of her ex-lover and her parents’ relationship. She writes “material textures enclose our living impulses.”  I’ve started to get itchy thumbs, as I touch these impulses. Parms also says “these sculptures are myth and legend personified, allegories preserved”but although “created to uphold perfection, have inherited the imperfection of life itself.” The references to bronze and marble help me to feel the memories of lost love between my fingers.

There’s that famous question; which of your favorite writers would you want to have coffee with? These four authors are my top choices for coffee dates. If that doesn’twork out, then I’ll read their pieces with a hot cup of joe and be just as satisfied.

Review: The Lucky Hat

Review: The Lucky Hat, a children’s picture book by a local Flagstaff writer
Reviewed by Angelé Sionna

 

The latest children’s book by Flagstaff writer Matthew Henry Hall is also the latest release from the Grand Canyon Association.

The Lucky Hat is a local story that connects people through place and time. It takes readers along on the journey of a boy named Michael who loses the cherished hand-made hat his grandmother gave him in the Grand Canyon. He returns season after season in search of the hat with no luck. He eventually finds friendship and his future wife on the journey. The two share the love for hiking the canyon with their daughter while they continue the decade-long search.

Along the way, readers move through layers of the canyon on the different trails the characters search for the hat and get to see some of the creatures who live there, all beautifully illustrated by Utah artist Jim Madsen.

The story is a work of fiction, but reads like it could be a nonfiction tale. Hall says his idea came during a hike he and his best friend took on the Tanner Trail where they speculated about hats lost to the canyon’s flora and fauna.

As a mom of three elementary-aged children, I appreciated the lessons in this heart-warming picture book. It inspired us to talk about how we might have favorite “lucky” things but it’s really each other and doing things together that makes us feel loved and lucky in life. We also talked about all the animals in the canyon who become guardians of the hat through the years, so they learned a little something too. And of course, they asked to go back to the canyon again.

The Lucky Hat is Hall’s second picture book. His first, Phoebe and Chub, was a finalist for a Western Writer of America Storyteller award. Hall also has collaborated with Flagstaff-based artist Joe Sorren on two books.

Proceeds from the sale of The Lucky Hat directly support Grand Canyon National Park. It is available on their website as well as Starlight Books and Barefoot Cowgirl Books.

You can’t really buy a more local for a holiday present for your children – a story that takes place in Northern Arizona, written by a Flagstaff writer who got his MA in creative writing from NAU and is the artist in residence this year at Flagstaff Junior Academy published by a local nonprofit and sold currently only in locally-owned bookstores.

Letter to a Knucklehead NAU Student

Letter to a Knucklehead NAU Student by Natalie Rose

Dear Undergraduate Boy I Saw Walking On Campus In Flip Flops In Sub-Freezing Temperatures On Wednesday Morning,

Please put on some real fucking shoes.

The friend I see you walking with at least had the good sense to wear some thin cotton socks with his athletic sandals, but I’ll have to send him a separate missive about his choice to where a threadbare undershirt without a jacket. Back to you, Flip Flops.

Did we wake up this morning in different climates? When I woke up it was just 12 degrees outside. I had to put on four layers and my fleece tights under my jeans to feel warm enough to leave the house. Walking to the bus I had my scarf pulled up to my eyeballs. After carefully maneuvering my phone out of the pocket of my puffy coat with two sets of gloves on, I saw it was 17 degrees at the bus stop. Now, because we’re in the shade, it must be a few degrees below that, and I am worried about your toes. Do you think we’re in Miami?

(Are you on drugs? You can tell me. The first time I did edibles in college I hallucinated Betty Boop was flying around my apartment, trying to convince me to eat more weed. So if you are hallucinating that we’re in Miami, it’s OK. I’ve been there. But tell me so we can get you the proper medical treatment. #noshame)

Do you know, little darling cherub away from your hawk-eyed den mother for the first time in 18 years, what hypothermia is? Hypothermia occurs when the body is exposed to cold, aka when you don’t wear weather appropriate clothing. The body then can’t generate enough heat to maintain your internal temperature at 98.6 degrees, and this can lead to serious health problems, like permanent tissue damage. Up to 90% of our body heat can escape through our skin, so please, I beseech* you, put on some real fucking shoes.

I know this advice, coming from a woman old enough to be your mom (abet a very youthful, cool mom), is completely unsolicited. However, I feel obligated as the more mature person here to implore you to think about your toes and put on some real fucking shoes. And while you’re at it, some real fucking pants, too.

Sincerely,

Me (your would be youthful, cool mom trying to be stealthy about inspecting your frostbitten toes while walking behind you on campus)

*Use in a sentence for extra credit: be·seech | bəˈsēCH/ | verb; ask (someone) urgently and fervently to do something; implore; entreat.

Unzip Me

Unzip Me by Hannah Baggott

Production by Gabriel Max Starner, Heather Hayden, and Joel Lain. After Samuel Beckett.

Hannah Baggott holds MFA from Oregon State University and is now a Lecturer of English at UNC Pembroke. She is a regular contributor with PDXX Collective and winner of the 2015 Jan and Marcia Vilcek Prize in Poetry from Bellevue Literary Review and the Joyce Carol Oates Commencement Award. Her work can be found or forthcoming in Passages North, PANK, Ninth Letter, HOBART, and through her website hannahbaggott.com. You can find her on Twitter @hannahbaggott
 
Gabriel Max Starner is a photo and video artist living in Nashville, TN. He’s currently pursuing his masters in marriage and family therapy, and he’s a weekly contributor to the Honest Liars Podcast. He’s on Tumblr at gabrielmaxstarner.tumblr.com.

Vintage Binoculars

Vintage Binoculars by Leah Browning
Danny found them on a shelf at the back of the shop.  The thin leather strap was worn to a string on one side, and missing its snap, but someone had looped it through and tied it in a knot.  They were otherwise in good condition, for their age.
He took them to school the day of the class picnic.  His mother rubbed sunscreen on his nose and the back of his neck.  She was wearing a skirt even though they were going on a short hike before lunch.
At the top of the hill, Danny turned back.  He lifted the binoculars to his face and adjusted the knobs.  He could see Greg’s dad, walking alongside his mother.  As they walked, Greg’s dad placed his hand on the small of her back.
Wildflowers were growing along the trail.  Some other boys started a game of tag, and Danny ran after them, holding the binoculars to keep them from knocking against his chest.

 

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens and three chapbooks. Her fiction and poetry have recently appeared in Chagrin River Review, Fiction Southeast, Toad, The Blue Hour Magazine, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Mud Season Review, and Glassworks Magazine.

A publication by Northern Arizona University's MFA Program

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