Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Anna Klay Takes Readers Deep into the Memorable Raw, Dingy, Dirty Underground "Life" Within A Small Community

The devil claimed me. He grabbed my face, holding
my cheeks with his long, knotted fingers, and spit
into my eye. And that nasty, gray phlegm oozed
into my veins and turned the blood black. When it
reached my heart, I doubled over and held my chest,
retching out pieces of black meat. I didn't tell a
soul. No one would've believed me. They would've
said I was crazy, but then, no different than what
they say about me now.
I've been watching the evolution of what is called Contemporary Urban Fiction, or Street Lit... And I believe that ultimately it will encompass much more than what is formally defined today. Take, for instance, this novel, which is set in a small town. It is not so much based upon racial issues but more on the societal parameters that are faced by those within a given community. Thus, for me, I see the small-town community, in which I grew up, just as inclusive as the city environment... These streets are just the opposite of urban, city streets...

Street Lit, to me, is getting raw and deep into the life that we faced when we were young. In my case and in this particular book, it included power and control, sexual abuse. as well as violence, within the community, family and/or the church. These are the issues that have tainted, torn, and/or shaped our lives for the good or the bad. By its nature, street lit confronts readers directly with the specific, individual environment... In this particular book, the setting was certainly a major part of the lives of the community... 

I'd appreciate any comments on what I'm projecting to be a wider definition for Street Lit!

Broken Wing
By Anna Klay

This is a unique book that will speak to readers who will allow it to be just as real as the book cover warns. This is not horror--the crow is just a crow... Someone shot it one day... The boy cried when he killed it...

Who makes a young boy kill a bird? Not for eating--nobody eats crow, do they? No, this kill is purely to be mean, to cruelly kill just because you can. To show the power of the gun owner, the man who owns the gun and wants the boy to know the man has the power of that gun within him. He can kill the bird... Why, he can even kill the boy and his mother with that gun. In fact, he doesn't even need a gun--his large hulking body can be used just as effectively to destroy the body and the mind of those he wishes...

I know nothing about Tarot cards, so I found this interesting Cheat Sheet... I didn't have it during the time I was reading so I would study the picture on the front of each of the cards that began a new chapter, wondering how it related and whether it was illustrative of those who appeared in the chapter. For instance, the first chapter showed the picture of The Magician. Did he represent Ray Long who is the first character introduced
or was he the leader of the town in which he had just arrived?

I'm not sure knowing is totally relevant, except to say that this little town with just around 500 had a shop that sold readings and other metaphysical items...

It also had a whore house... actively visited on weekends... If there were other businesses or even a church, they apparently were not a major addition to the activities of the citizens... Two garages were there...and so was a tattoo shop... and a place to drink and dance.

Ray Long was the newest member of the community, not exactly a welcomed one but then there was not much of a welcome for any new members. Madam Charon, and Cinn, her daughter, were the most recent, coming a year ago, who had come to stay. Madam Charon owned The Spiritual Gate. On the weekends, she used another name to manage the whore house...

A young girl, by the name of Skye is the main character. She's the princess of the town--the daughter of the man who essentially owns the town of Pettington...Actually, her father was not a bad man--he had just had no idea how to raise his daughter after his wife left... He tried but she was now old enough to start living her own life. Had given up her job to work for him and had taken a job at The Spiritual Gate...

But Skye had never understood why her mother had left her and she could not give up her memories of the time she had been there and her need to reestablish contact...

At the same time Ray Long had left his home to get away from his abusive father...

Was it fate that brought these two together? Or was it just the unknown freedom that both had finally escaped and were running their own lives? But they did meet and fell deeply in love...

Until the constant daily gossip, which was essentially the main activity in Pettington, forced Skye to take another look at the man with whom she fell in love--and with whom she now found herself to be pregnant.

Afterward, they both laid still,
letting the cool fall breeze dry the
hot sweat on them both. Skye reached
over and grabbed Ray's shirt and rolled
it up into a ball to put under her head
as a pillow, when she felt something
hard in his pocket.
"What is this?" she asked as she held
onto the pocket of his shirt. "It feels
like a little toy soldier."
Ray laughed. "That's not a soldier,
baby. That's the commander."
If I was to stop there, you'd have the bare bones of the book. It is only when you add the emotional lives of these individuals that the book comes alive for readers--more alive than you may want to know about... Ray Long, for instance, was a seriously disturbed man, who tried constantly to ensure he didn't become like his father. He carried a little talisman of his mother's teachings and love--a small plastic statue of Jesus, who was almost unrecognizable from being rubbed and held, and prayed with...
They sat down at a table, which
was really a picnic bench, at the
edge of the dance floor. The
country beat filled the room and
bounced off the walls. Ray ordered
a bourbon and Code for himself
and a daiquiri for Skye. And as he'd
promised himself he would, he asked
her about working at The Spiritual
Gate. "Do you believe in that
hocus-pocus shit?" he asked.
"I believe we control our own fate,
but I can see the purpose for
whatever religion or faith people
choose to believe in. I imagine it
gives people hope. What about you?
What do you believe in?"
"I believe in the toughest, most
badass God there is."
Skye laughed. "And what has He
done for you?"
Ray wanted to tell her how his
God was going to keep him out
of hell, but he knew she wouldn't
understand. "Well, he's certainly
taking his time on buying me that
car," he said instead as he laughed.

On the other hand, Skye's mother had also been heavily into the metaphysical. Bonnie would take Skye out to gather rocks that could also be used as talismans and now she was going to be doing some jewelry designs to use her knowledge of the power each rock could provide.

Skye had never been to JZ's
when Ray asked her to go to get a drink and dance. But he was also interested in talking to her about working at The Spiritual Gate. Her mother's training was so very different than what his had taught him. But did it matter since neither of the fathers had demonstrated any real spiritual life to his children?

Unfortunately, it was in the bar when his flashback activities started to occur. A drunken man had grabbed Skye to dance. "Ray felt the adrenalin as it began pumping through his veins like water. His muscles tensed, and his feet became firmly planted in his place of comfort. And as the snakes inside his head slammed against the cage, he forgot about wanting to be someone else..."

No matter what comes to a child later in life, it is extremely hard to delete everything about childhood abuse from the mind. Both Skye and Ray had a parent who had no desire to show love that was expected by the child.

As these two meet, can love for each other and a child help or further hinder what they want in the future?
Sexually Abused child.
Sexually Abused child. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an amazing, extremely open and raw exploration into the life of a boy who was not only abused but watched as his mother was also. Once he found someone to love, however, and a somewhat routine event occurred, as a drunk approached his beloved, Ray was thrown backward to when his mother was attacked over and over... The cycle had once again begun...

The difference was that Skye was "almost" spiritually strong enough... Watch the tragedy of a young couple drawn together but torn apart by the community, the gossip, the violence and the sexuality that marked the lives of each and everyone in Pennington, a small town that slowly got back to normal when the "outsiders" were...gone...

This is not a novel to sit back and enjoy. It is alive with today's world, whether in a large city, or in a small town... Religion, or some sort of spiritual guidance is looked to for hope, while physical and sexual abuse is rampant and sexual diversions are a routine weekend for most... The question I was left with was whether it was really possible for those who have not given in to today's despair can really escape to find that hope and happiness...Anna Klay has imagined a "story about family relations, the need for love, the devastation of rejection, and the merry-go-round that keeps turning." She writes with the passionate openness of a writer who has something to share and the expertise and, perhaps, the experience, through which she can shape and creatively imagine this ugly world, yet lighten it with glimpses of the love and concern that we find everywhere, even in a town of 500 or so... A fantastic, memorable, and impossible to put down drama! Highly recommended...


Born to a father who was a musician and at one time a member of Elvis Presley's back-up band, and a mother who was just a little different than most, Anna Klay has always been a storyteller of the human condition. She is also a graduate of Naropa University with an MFA in creative writing and so far, her first book, Broken Wing, has received great reviews including one from Pacific Reviews:

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