Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Home For A Book

For the first time in 16 books, I have made a website especially for my new book.
With the help of my young, genius of a web designer, Dave, who is also a gifted musician with the Seattle band, Gray Star, we imagined a portal to the world of this memoir that was inviting, playful, and tender. An interactive world of story and voice, of video and photos that give readers a behind-the-scenes look at how I survived fundamentalism and still loved the earth. Think of it as a virtual visit with the author and a glimpse into the spirit of this book, which I mean to be a bit of a dark, divine comedy.
I have always believed that humor and art can defuse fundamentalism. In my family, when the polarities of politics and religion grew too heated, we could trust that one of us might burst into song. Once in the middle of an abortion battle at the dinner table, someone started humming “There is nothing like a dame,” from the musical South Pacific. The argument instantly shifted to four-part harmonies. We actually had to listen to each other, instead of anxiously waiting our turn in the looping jump rope of debate. You can click on the floating Guitar icon and listen to a sound story “Duck and Cover” audio that gives background on my very opinionated family. Or read the whole novel Duck and Cover that was a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year.”

Another survival strategy at family dinner debates was the dark humor that is our genetic trademark. There is a scene in the new book set in 2006 on a family Caribbean cruise, “Fire from Heaven,” in which everyone dives into a debate over what some of my family call the “liberal plot of global warming.”

In the middle of a debate so hot it could have melted the ice carving of a swan on the cruise ships’ bacchanalian buffet tables, I lose my cool completely and demand, “If you still doubt global warming evidence, then you’re just in denial.”

Immediately I realize that I’m about to be capsized by the tidal wave of conservative fury my comments have aroused. But suddenly my brother tosses me a life preserver.

“Hey, did you see that greeting card, ‘I’m not living in denial . . . I’m just visiting’?”

And everyone broke into laughter.

So dark comedy and song are the two salvations I’ve discovered in family life. There is also much from my upbringing I cherish and happily still share with my family. These gifts I call “Reasons to Be Left Behind.” And if you click on the Bicycle icon, you’ll see stories under The Earth, Animals, Food, and Music. These will be running themes in the blog, just as they are in the new book.

Dave actually built an MP3 music player for this website that is easy and elegant. He can built anything. Once, when he was having trouble with a cello, he decided to just build his own. And he did. His inventiveness is evidenced by the animation of this flash website, the way the trees bend protectively over the girl, and when you click on the Girl icon, her world is revealed – from a gray whale video of my parents touching their first gray whale calf in Baja, to family snapshots, to favorite seal pups by our Seal Sitter photographer extraordinaire Robin Lindsey.

I hope you enjoy the now finished and live home for this new book.  Come visit and play and stay a little in this world with me. The Girl icon always brings you home.


  1. Wonderful blog... Brenda, your links to the book seem to be broken...
    Thanks so much for writing this!

  2. Kim!

    Thank you! Fixed the links.

    Trish (Brenda's editorial assistant)