Red Bricks

Love and treachery in the old southwest

by Anne Muccino

$17.95 – buy a print copy online

Red Bricks, the debut novel by Kansas City writer, Anne Muccino, is set in the desert southwest circa 1930. JT Swain is just seventeen when he loses everything that matters to him, his father and the ranch he grew up on. The young man sets out on horseback to find the connectedness suddenly gone from his life. He meets Dalia Jackson, the fifteen-year-old, half-Nahua Indian, half-white daughter of a wealthy New Mexico rancher, and quickly discovers that the rebellious young woman sees her place in the world as equal to that of any man. Strangely drawn to Dalia, when JT learns that she has disappeared, he sets out to find her, challenging the law when he must, tracking her into the barrios of Juárez, Mexico, where he witnesses firsthand the cruelty of human trafficking.


In prose reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy, at once savage and tender, Red Bricks by Anne Muccino offers no easy outs, instead asking us to contemplate the paradoxical nature of loss and redemption, of the razor’s edge between life and death. Muccino’s stunning debut explores both what it means to be harmed beyond recognition and what it means, finally, to recognize one’s own strength. This is a riveting and deeply moving novel, one of the best I’ve read in a long while. Anne Muccino is a talent to be reckoned with.
—Abigail Dewitt, author of
News of Our Loved Ones


Anne Muccino’s debut novel is a literary gem. It is rich in detail and remarkably authentic. Catch up on your sleep. The time and place in Red Bricks are so vivid, with characters so real, so poignant, you will not want to put this book down. This is a beautiful, moving, absorbing experience, destined to become a classic.
—Dawn Shamp, author of
On Account of Conspicuous Women


Amazon reviews—

From Georgesreview: Work of Art! Triumphant debut into the literary world for Anne Muccino. Her character building is engrossing from beginning to end. A wonderful story of ones love for another and what the main character will do in his pursuit for justice and happiness, all in superb literary flair. Ms. Muccino is a talented author and I cannot wait for her next novel.

Deborah Cook says: Inspiring Novel. In a superb debut novel, Anne Muccino tells an endearing story of a young man suffering tragedy and loss as he battles his own inner turmoil. As he travels through locales described in vibrant and realistic detail, his character artfully unfolds and triumphs through courage and love. A compelling work of literature well worth reading.

Eileen Farley: Red Bricks was amazing! Great book! Loved the storyline and characters! Looking forward to reading more books from Anne Muccino.

From Amazon Customer: Excellent read. I received this moving book as a Christmas gift, and what a gift it is, indeed. The story kept me engrossed and the characters stayed with me long after I finished the last page. I immediately lent it to my sister whose response after reading it was to recommend it to her writing group. I can only hope this is the first of many such novels by Anne Muccino.

Into the Backlands—a Peace Corps Memoir

Ken Fliés

An uplifting two year odyssey of a young man to Brazil and back home again.

 $17.95 – buy a print copy


A spirited memoir of Ken Fliés’ wild odyssey from the dairy farm in southeast Minnesota to the Backlands of Brazil in 1962, where he learned about the frustrations and joys of rural community development, the satisfaction and longing that comes from genuine friendship, and back home again, a principled young man eager to take on the world.

Reviews:

I was present at the creation when the bright flame of conviction took hold in the imagination of the country and the Peace Corps became a promise fulfilled.—Bill Moyers


Into the Backlands, a Peace Corps Memoir, by Kenneth E. Dugan Fliés, reminded me of reading Eric Sevareid’s classic coming-of-age book, Canoeing with the Creed. While Sevareid paddled a canoe 2,250 miles from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay in 1930, Fliés followed President Kennedy’s challenge and joined the Peace Corps in 1962. His anecdote-ladened account of a dairy farm kid’s journey to Brazil resonates as a wide-eyed adventure during climatic times.

From training in the Deep South as racial tensions began to explode, to venturing to South America just as the Cuban Missile Crisis ratcheted up, there’s a Forrest Gump-esque feeling of witnessing history first hand. I can’t help shrugging when I think of today’s youth, glued to their screens, Twitter and text messages. Writers like Sevareid and Fliés rekindle the spirit of adventure I hope still percolates in our youth.

“Lived to its fullest, the hero’s journey results in the ascent or flight of an individual from unconsciousness to illumination and to a newfound freedom of understanding,” Fliés writes. “The flying white dove on the Peace Corps emblem fittingly symbolizes this ascent. In this way, my work and adventures in Brazil as a Volunteer expanded both my world-consciousness and self-consciousness, leading to a deeper understanding of life. Brazil became my portal of transformation. I crossed a great divide and came back with a new perspective on life.” Ken’s account will widen and broaden the reader’s perspective as well.—Curt Brown


Amazon Reviews—
From Bruce: This is a fascinating personal story of a Peace Corps volunteer. This book provides insight into the early, somewhat bumpy first few years of the Peace Corps. Told through the eyes of a talented, inquisitive, and sincere volunteer, the historical context and difficulties of making a difference in Brazil make this an excellent read.

Bill says: Great well written book. The story line flowed very nicely and the book is well written. Background information was provided throughout to bring a sense of the moment and give it context. I truly enjoyed the adventures that the Author endured. I Highly recommend this book.


From Elliott: A Wonderful Suspense, Adventure and Love Story.This memoir is a compellingly woven tale with so much depth, touching on themes of adventure, coming-of-age, religious faith, family, politics, and above all – love. I found it to be a “page-turner” that you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. The author’s vocabulary and imagery are first-rate and in my mind I could see it as a movie while I read the book. What a great window Flies has provided to us into the 1960s, the “Backlands” of the Brazilian frontier, and into the heart of a young man leaving home for the first time ever heading off into the adventure of a lifetime to serve his country and the people of Brazil. And, in the end, the underlying love story with his long-distance girlfriend back home make this story complete and utterly satisfying.

Bob Flaco: “Peace Corps brings an idealist down to earth!” Sargent Shriver. Want to know what Peace Corps was like then and now? Into The Backlands, a Peace Corps Memoir takes you by the hand into the early years of JFK’s Peace Corps and the spirit and challenges of the times…1962-1964. Ken Flies was 19 years old when he reported to Training at the University of Oklahoma as part of Brazil II, one of the first. I doubt if Ken knew what he was getting himself into, and Brazil…where’s that?

Ken’s Memoir shares the beauty and innocence of Kennedy’s “kiddie corps” as the press portrayed the first Volunteers. The isolated community of Correntina would be his home, and his adopted Brazilian family…something he never considered prior to his arrival to Brazil, and speaking Portuguese! Ken paints his new home with words and emotions that are new to this 19 year old. And Ken will never be the same, and Brazil will always be his second home! He found himself, faced the challenges of being a Volunteer, and added new friends and adventures beyond his expectations…and the two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer would be the foundation of who Kenneth Flies is.The beauty and charm of the early years of Peace Corps, with Giants such as Shriver, Jack Vaughn, Warren Wiggins and Frank Mankiewicz laid the ground work for what we have now, some 50 plus years later. The fears, frustrations, happy moments, love of our neighbors, and meeting people that will be our “families” is what Peace Corps is all about. Ken and Dave, a fellow Volunteer…made a path that we followed…and still do. Meeting new Volunteers in 2018, is like talking to the newbies of 1962…the current Volunteers seem a bit smarter than us…but they have that flame of pride and warmth of friendship they want to share. That flame is still within us, I can feel the warmth and strength. Be proud of what you and Brazil II brought with you Ken. Padre Andre saw that in you, and so did Millie.

As you read Ken’s awesome Memoir, remember what Mankiewicz believed in…”Volunteer’s first job is to get to know the people and the setting of their lives; the Volunteer starts building a community.” It isn’t the monuments you leave behind, but the communities that are now a part of you. I recommend Into the Backlands to RPCV’s, Trainees, PCV’s, and Peace Corps staff. Jody Olsen, I am sending you a copy! Ken gave us a message…The Peace Corps community is as strong now as it was in 1961! Don’t let anyone tell you differently. I encourage you to read and learn from this Memoir, share your thoughts!

As Ken would say, bate papo, chew the fat. Thank you Ken for sharing your life in Brazil and the person you became. I read your Memoir twice, had to relive my memories. My family is very Peace Corps, my brother Ron went to Peru 1963-1965 and I went to Colombia 1964-1966…I believe we were one of the first brothers to serve at the same time. Changed my life

Sixty-one

Larry Johnson

$17.95 – Buy a print copy online

Drafted during the Vietnam era, Larry Johnson filed for conscientious objector status and served as an Army medic in Germany, carrying no weapons. The life-long peace activist from Golden Valley, Minnesota, answered JFK’s call in 1961 and hiked 50 miles. At age 61, he hiked 61 miles down Highway 61 with his grandson Tyler. Just a few weeks ago, to commemorate his 70th birthday, Larry completed a 70 mile hike.

Amazon Reviews—

Andy of Minnesota writes: Integrity, Compassion and Modesty. Well-written remarkable stories of some key events in the life of a man of great integrity, compassion and modesty. In these indecorous times it is encouraging to read the tales of someone who has dealt with life’s challenges in such a principled way. A must read for those now coming of age.

Settling: 100 Snippets of Life of a Mid-Century Woman

Deborah Williams Smith

$17.95 – Buy a print copy online

 

Deborah Williams Smith’s Settling lies close to the author’s heart. Fiction based strongly on the lives of real people the author has known and loved over the course of sixty-five years, Settling is comprised of 100 short episodes, Snippets of Life. The tale begins in 1921, providing glimpses of post-WWII England and America as the narrative winds its way to the present day. Like those “camera flash” moments that stand out in a memory, Settling illuminates multiple family stories that entwine in an Anglo-American epic of great passion and evolving wisdom. Repeatedly tempted by Settling for life imagined, as in love is so sweet, the central characters ultimately accept Settling because it is the right thing to do after all.

Much of Settling, Section One, follows the famous 78th Lightning Division as it fights its way across WWII Germany. The mettle of one central character, Laverne, a medic in the 311th Timberwolves Regiment, is tested during the battle for the Bridge at Remagen. After the War, in 1945, during the occupation, the Timberwolves are stationed in the small town of Grebenstein. Combat-weary Laverne falls in love with a young local woman named Erika. Fraternization is strictly prohibited and marriage is not allowed, yet a mid-Century baby is on the way …


Amazon Reviews—

From Gregory Adams: All the while adding the human elements of love and survival, Settling is a collection of interconnected short stories, or “snippets” as the author has named them. These stories detail the lives of ordinary people swept up in extraordinary circumstances, all the while adding the human elements of love and survival, and our bottomless thirst for companionship. Settling reinforces the statement that “Life Happens” by identifying how coincidence comingles with unavoidable fate. The characters are well presented. The author unassumingly introduces them to us throughout the work, and candidly shows how they are products of a century that started out with more horses than automobiles, and ended up twisting out of control with war and global upheaval among its main themes. She shows us, through the weave of the stories and the experiences of the characters, how easily these people could be our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins…and us. Settling will resonate with children of the 20th Century. It in fact serves as a reminder to us all that our circumstances define us as much as we define our circumstances.

ONeil DeNoux says: Captivating short short stories. Well written short short stories based on real events. Deborah Williams Smith takes us through the long years with snippets of life, the good and the bad, the emotional, the human side. Excellent writing and good quick glimpses of captivating characters.

Dawn Laufenberg writes: Great Read Excellent book of short stories! I found I couldn’t put the book down until I had finished it in entirety. I was left wanting to know about the lives of each of the characters. The concept of “settling” was subtly and thoughtfully interwoven throughout the book making the reader ponder ones own life of settling or not settling! Can’t wait to read another book by the author Deborah Williams Smith!