Archive for the ‘Tyler’s Articles and Short Stories’ category

“U.P. Reader” Brings Upper Michigan Literature to the World

June 8, 2017

In case you haven’t heard yet, there’s a new literary magazine in the U.P. It’s called U.P. Reader and it’s been published by Modern History Press with the cooperation of the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association. In fact, partial proceeds of the sales are returned to UPPAA to help with funding its programming and other author-reader-centered activities. In addition, for every twenty copies sold, one copy will be donated to a UP Library. Already twelve copies have been donated.

The UP Reader contains 28 works of prose and poetry, all by U.P. authors.

The magazine is the brain child of U.P. author Mikel Classen. It will be an annual publication and features the works of UPPAA members, all of whom are U.P.-based authors. This first issue contains the works of:

Mikel Classen, Larry Buege, Deborah Frontiera, James M. Jackson, Janeen Pergrin Rastall, Sharon M. Kennedy, Jan Kellis, Amy Klco, Becky Ross Michael, Elizabeth Fust, Terry Sanders, Tyler Tichelaar, Lee Arten, Roslyn Elena McGrath, Ann Dallman, Christine Saari, Aimée Bisonette, Frank Farwell, Ar Schneller, Rebecca Tavernini, Edzordzi Agbozo, Sarah Maurer, and Sharon Marie Brunner.

Several authors and local publications are already raving about U.P. Reader. Here are some of their remarks:

U.P. Reader offers a wonderful mix of storytelling, poetry, and Yooper culture. Here’s to many future volumes!”
— Sonny Longtine, author of Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

“Share in the bounty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with those who love it most. The U.P. Reader has something for everyone. Congratulations to my writer and poet peers for a job well done.”
— Gretchen Preston, Vice President, Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association

“As readers embark upon this storied landscape, they learn that the people of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offer a unique voice, a tribute to a timeless place too long silent.”
— Sue Harrison, international bestselling author of Mother Earth Father Sky

“I was amazed by the variety of voices in this volume. U.P. Reader offers a little of everything, from short stories to
nature poetry, fantasy to reality, Yooper lore to humor. I look forward to the next issue.”
— Jackie Stark, editor, Marquette Monthly

“Like the best of U.P. blizzards, U.P. Reader covers all of Upper Michigan in the variety of its offerings. A fine mix of
nature, engaging characters, the supernatural, poetry, and much more.”
— Karl Bohnak, TV 6 meteorologist and author of So Cold a Sky: Upper Michigan Weather Stories

You can purchase U.P. Reader at Amazon or in the U.P. at several different stores throughout the U.P. including in Sault Sainte Marie, Marquette, and Copper Harbor. A list of several of the local retailers selling the book can be found at its website: www.upreader.org.

You can also learn more about the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association at www.uppaa.org.

 

Advertisements

My Article about Carroll Watson Rankin and Dandelion Cottage is Published

February 27, 2016
The current issue of Michigan History, in which my article appears.

The current issue of Michigan History, in which my article appears.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve had an article about Carroll Watson Rankin published in the latest issue of Michigan History magazine. I feel very honored to be published in the state magazine and even more that the magazine’s editor approached me and asked me to write the article. I also thank the Marquette Regional History Center staff for supplying the images for the article.

Carroll Watson Rankin was born and raised in Marquette. She adopted the male version of her name for her pen name and wrote several stories she published in magazines. Then in 1904, she penned her classic children’s book Dandelion Cottage based on the antics of her daughters and a small cottage behind the Rankin home in Marquette. The book has been loved by generations of children and its success inspired Rankin to write many more books. The cottage is still in Marquette and has a fascinating history of its own, as detailed in my article.

Copies of the issue can be purchased at the Historical Society of Michigan’s website: http://www.hsmichigan.org/store/back-issues/

Dandelion Cottage in Marquette - the inspiration for Carroll Watson Rankin's children's classic.

Dandelion Cottage in Marquette – the inspiration for Carroll Watson Rankin’s children’s classic.

Book and DVD of Popular Local Play Willpower Now Available

June 19, 2015

Marquette, MI, June 19, 2015—When Will S. Adams was diagnosed with ossification, a mysterious disease that caused his tissues to harden until he became nearly a living statue, he refused to quit living life fully and was immensely productive. Now the original play Willpower, which translated his life story to the stage, is available as a book and a DVD.

The new book version of the play Willpower includes the full text of the play, sheet music, historical photos, and essays by the playwright and director.

The new book version of the play Willpower includes the full text of the play, sheet music, historical photos, and essays by the playwright and director.

In September 2014, Marquette’s Kaufman Auditorium was packed with people who came out to see the story of Will S. Adams translated to the stage, much as the Marquette Opera House was packed in 1906 with people who came to see his original operetta Miss D.Q. Pons. Born in 1878, Will was the adopted son of Marquette businessman Sidney Adams and his wife Harriet. He grew up in the sandstone mansion at 200 E. Ridge St., played baseball, and sang in the boys choir at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Then a strange disease began to stiffen Will’s legs and work its way up his body until he lost the use of his limbs, became bedridden, and eventually lost his eyesight before his early death at age thirty-one. Through it all, Will never lost his sense of humor, his energy, or his determination to make the most of every minute. In his short life, he ran his own newspaper, wrote poetry, drew cartoons, and composed the operetta Miss D.Q. Pons with Norma Ross, a local music teacher and his close friend, who also starred in the production. Will’s spirit of perseverance would attract countless admirers, including a Detroit Free Press reporter and the famous actress Lillian Russell.

In 2013, the Marquette Regional History Center hired local novelist Tyler Tichelaar to write a play and bring Will Adams’ story to the stage. The MRHC produced Willpower with the aid of a major grant from the Michigan Humanities Council and grants from the Marquette Community Foundation and Upper Peninsula Health Plan. The play was directed by Moire Embley, with Jeff Bruning as musical director. It starred many local actors and included period music. Filled with humor, romance, dreams, and faith, Willpower was received with standing ovations by audiences, and The Mining Journal’s reviewer said, “Will’s is an interesting and inspiring story to all and deserves to be told and retold.”

“Many people have expressed a desire to see the play again,” said Tichelaar, “and while I hope it will someday return to the stage, I wanted to release a book version to tell more of the history behind the play and allow Will’s story to continue to inspire us.” The newly released book includes the entire script of the play, photos from the original production, sheet music of songs from the performance, numerous historical photographs, extensive commentary on the history behind the play, and an essay by director Moire Embley.

The book version of Willpower is now available in local bookstores and gift shops and online through Tichelaar’s website at www.MarquetteFiction.com. A DVD of the original performance is also available at the Marquette Regional History Center’s gift shop.

About the Author

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., is a seventh generation Marquette resident devoted to capturing the past through his books. He is the author of the popular history book My Marquette and nine novels, including The Marquette Trilogy and The Children of Arthur series. In writing Willpower, Tichelaar grew to feel a special kinship with Will Adams, who shared his passion for literature, and with Norma Ross, who was friends with his great-grandmother.

###

“Enoch and Sabrina, or The Demon Lover”

October 27, 2012

For Halloween, I’m posting a ghost story that is told in my recent novel Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance. It’s a story within a story, and is told by Mr. Whitman at the Whitmans’ boarding house to the novel’s main characters Adele and Barbara Traugott:

“Why, Pa!” Edna then perked up. “I had forgotten it was Halloween. You should tell us one of your ghost stories.”

“Oh no, your mother wouldn’t like that,” he replied.

   “I bet you could tell us one before she even finishes cleaning up.”

Mr. Whitman raised his eyebrows to suggest Edna should be helping her mother, but she said, “Mother told me to come in here and entertain the Miss Traugotts, but your stories are far more entertaining than my conversation, and it is Halloween, Pa.”

“Very well,” he said. He had filled his pipe with tobacco as his daughter spoke. Now he lit it, took a good puff, and exhaled enough smoke to raise a sinister fog along the New England coast where his tale took place.

“Now this story,” he began, “was told to me by my Grandfather Whitman when I was young. It dates back to the beginning of this century, and every word of it is true. It concerns a young man named Enoch, and Sabrina, the pretty young girl who had the misfortune to love him. They had grown up in the same little seaside town—known each other since birth in fact, and gone to school together—and when they came of age, they fell in love, and there was talk of their marrying.

“Now Enoch was by no means a handsome boy, and he was not strong or athletic like most of the other young men, but he had a tall figure that stood out in a crowd, and his hard features suggested a determination not really there. Some say he had a little scar over his lip where his older brother had once struck him with a rock when he was a boy—I don’t know whether that’s true or not, since I was not there, but what is true—and you can verify this in the town’s records—is that his older brother went missing for several days, and when his body was found, it was lying on some rocks along a cliff above the sea. The townsfolk whispered that Enoch had murdered his brother to get revenge for that scar, but it’s just as likely his brother’s death was an accident and no fault of Enoch’s.

“Sabrina paid no heed to any ill rumors about the young man. She had her heart set on Enoch, and he had his heart set on her, and none of their parents was opposed to the match. But that spring, Enoch’s mother and father both died of the diphtheria, and then that summer, a terrible drought struck. Now Enoch had been raised a farmer, but his father had done all the hard work on the farm, and with his parents no longer there to keep a steady eye on him, he did not care for the crops as he should. The long and the short of it is that his crops failed, and ultimately, he knew he could not make a go of the farm. Plenty of other farmers had a hard time that year, but they struggled and got by, while the determination that appeared on Enoch’s brow did not compensate for the weakness of his character and his lack of backbone. Finally, he confessed to Sabrina that he wanted nothing to do with hard dirty work like farming, so he was going to sell the farm and seek his fortune elsewhere.

“Sabrina’s parents were beside themselves with dread when they heard this, for they did not know how Enoch would support their daughter. They had two sons of their own who were to split the farm between them, so Sabrina was expected to find a husband to care for her. When her parents considered breaking off the engagement, Sabrina flew into a fury, declaring if she could not marry Enoch, she would marry no man but throw herself off the same cliff that had caused the death of Enoch’s brother so the ocean would swallow her body for all time.

“As you can imagine, Sabrina’s parents were frightened by her outburst, for they truly believed their daughter meant to destroy herself if they did not let her wed Enoch. They told themselves the boy was young and foolish, but he came from a good family, and in time, he would settle down; they would do what they could for the young couple in the meantime.

“And so one day in early spring, Sabrina and Enoch were married, and a few weeks later, he went off to sea. He promised Sabrina he would make his fortune and come home with enough money to buy ten farms, or better yet, they might start up a tavern in the town, or even their own shipping business. Sabrina, because of the great love she bore for Enoch, allowed her soul to be fed on such dreams, while her parents worried their daughter and her unsteady husband would starve after they had gone to their reward.

“Well, Enoch’s ship sailed off—out to the South Seas it was. The summer and the autumn passed and then the winter came. An entire year went by, and in that time, not one letter came home from Enoch. You can imagine Sabrina’s anxiety and excitement when the ship finally sailed back into the harbor, but I don’t think any of us can imagine her disappointment when all the other sailors disembarked from the ship, yet no Enoch appeared.

“One young man on the ship was a couple of years older than Enoch and had known him since their schooldays. When Enoch’s brother had died, this young man had taken it upon himself to look after Enoch; it was said when one of the other boys at school had called Enoch a murderer because of his dead brother, this older boy had thrashed the accuser so hard no one else ever dared whisper such a rumor again. This young man was the last to come off the ship that day, and when he saw Sabrina standing on the dock, her eyes welling up with tears, he hated to be the one to tell her, but he felt it was his duty.

“‘Enoch decided to leave us,’ he told Sabrina, ‘in a foreign port’—I forget the name of it now—‘he…’ and then the man paused, trying to find words to soften the blow, but Sabrina could not bear the silence, and suddenly, everyone on the dock heard her shout out, ‘Why? Why? Where’s my Enoch?’

“So the young man quickly put his arm around her and led her from the crowd, and then to calm her, he said, ‘Enoch has great prospects. He believes he can make his fortune in that place, and—’

“‘How?’ she demanded, for in her heart, Sabrina had begun to doubt Enoch’s fidelity.

“‘He has a plan,’ said the young man. ‘He thought he’d start up a plantation there—pineapples and bananas—and he’ll make a great deal of money. He’s just starting out now, so he told me to give you all his love, and to ask you to be patient. He’s going to send for you to come to him just as soon as he can. He kept asking me to tell you that he loves you very much.’

“Sabrina tried to find comfort in these words. She let the young man walk her home to her parents’ house, and there he told the same story again, and her family politely thanked him and then let him go home to his own folks.

“But Sabrina’s family was not pleased. ‘Who does Enoch think he is to expect our sister to live in the wild with him?’ and ‘I don’t believe any of it—it’s all lies,’ said her brothers, and her mother confessed, ‘I always did fear that boy would come to no good.’ But her father only put his arm around Sabrina and consoled her by saying, ‘We can’t say whether his plans are right or wrong until we know more. We’ll just have to wait for word from him.’

“They waited all that next spring, and that summer, and into the autumn, and when winter came again, and they knew no word could reach them in those months because of the storms at sea, all their spirits fell, and in her heart, Sabrina began to doubt Enoch would return—she feared he might have died—that’s what she told herself—that’s what she almost hoped had happened, for the other possibility would have been just too much for her to bear.

“Now the other sailors who had been on Enoch’s ship had gone out again that spring, but when the next winter came and ice froze along the shores so it was not safe for ships to sail, the sailors had nothing better to do but drink in the tavern, drink and talk, and the drink loosened their tongues so that they said things perhaps they should not have. That’s when it came out—rumors that Enoch had gone native. When Sabrina’s brothers heard these stories, they feared they must be true because Enoch’s friend would have spoken out against such rumors if they were not, and soon Enoch’s friend quit coming to the tavern, ashamed perhaps to have been friends with such a one as Enoch.”

“What do you mean by ‘gone native’?” Adele interrupted Mr. Whitman.

“Well,” giggled Mr. Whitman. “I don’t know whether I should say in front of young ladies—but I guess I mean he went to live with the natives and follow their ways.”

“You mean with the savages?” asked one of the shopgirls.

“I don’t know whether they were savages or not,” said Mr. Whitman, “but the rumors were that he had gone to live among them, and some even said that he had taken a woman from among them.”

“Oh my!” said Adele.

My sense of propriety at that moment made me want to get up and leave the room; I would have expected Mr. Whitman to have a better sense of decorum, but I also perversely found myself wanting to know what had happened to the poor Sabrina.

“The brothers kept all these rumors from their sister,” Mr. Whitman said, “but I imagine some of the sailors told their own wives and fiancées, and you know how women talk, and so I’m sure if these rumors never actually reached Sabrina’s ears, she sensed the rest of the town knew Enoch had done something disgraceful, and her heart broke over it.

“The years passed, and Sabrina’s parents died. Her brothers married and started families of their own, and they prospered enough to build their own homes while Sabrina continued to live alone in her parents’ house. Her brothers begged her to come live with them, but she refused. She could no longer find joy in human companionship. Her house was near the ocean, and so she had a widow’s walk built upon the roof, and they say in the evenings at dusk, she could be seen pacing about there; sometimes she would walk the entire night while the rest of the town slept, for she craved no human company save that of her Enoch, and he was absent. Those children who dared creep near the house at night to catch a glimpse of the mysterious solitary woman said they heard her weeping and begging God to bring back her lover. That is when the story began to grow truly strange.

“The young man who had been Enoch’s friend had grown to love Sabrina, perhaps out of compassion for her pain, perhaps because he had always loved her, but he had been too loyal a friend to Enoch to speak earlier. Finally, he went to Sabrina and explained to her how unlikely it was that Enoch would ever return, that enough time had passed to presume Enoch was dead, and that if Sabrina would have him, he would be honored to marry her and care for her the rest of their days.

“Sabrina thanked him, but she refused his offer. She continued to live in that house alone, and after a few years, the young man gave up waiting for her and married another. He became a good husband and father, but the townsfolk whispered it was always Sabrina whom he truly loved.

“And then one night, many years after the day Enoch had sailed away, when Sabrina’s beauty had begun to fade, and she had shut herself up so that scarcely anyone ever saw her, the townsfolk heard a piercing scream coming from her house. When they ran and knocked on her door, there was no answer, but the screaming continued until finally, Sabrina’s brothers broke in through a window and went upstairs. They found their sister sitting up in bed, her hair turned gray overnight, her face pale with horror, blood soaking through all her bed sheets. She stood staring out the window, shrieking so that her brothers could barely stand it, and it took them several minutes before they could shake her enough to bring her to her senses.

“Some said she had tried to kill herself—to slit her wrists—though her brothers refused to let a doctor see her. I don’t know why they didn’t send for the doctor, but people say it was because they were afraid to know the truth about what had happened to her; others say she had not hurt herself, for there was a woman who came to clean for her, and she told everyone she had seen no scars on Sabrina’s wrists the next day.

“I hesitate to mention this part, but Sabrina was clearly mad after that night, such that her brothers ordered her tied to her bed so she would not hurt herself, and often she would thrash about in the bed, screaming out Enoch’s name. Most frightening of all, some say she went mad because her prayers had been answered—that Enoch had returned to her—only it was not the flesh and blood Enoch, but his ghost—come back to claim his wife in their bed.

“Really, Father!” said Edna, but I could see a smirk of pleasure on her face.

“Now, I’m only repeating the story the way my grandfather told it to me, and whether it is true, who is to say,” Mr. Whitman replied. “Anyway, after that, Sabrina grew weaker and weaker, and though she thrashed about in the bed for several more nights, soon she wasted away until she died before the year was out.

“Her brothers boarded up the house after she died, for they could not bear to go near it, their pain was so great, and they were too sentimental to sell or tear down their childhood home.

“And it is still said that to this day, Sabrina’s steps can be heard at night, pacing up and down the widow’s walk, and sometimes, a scream is heard in the night, and while some say it is just the wind during a storm at sea, no one can prove that it is not Sabrina, crying for her demon lover.”

Everyone was silent after Mr. Whitman finished his tale. I thought it completely distasteful and wanted to go upstairs to bed all the more now except that Mrs. Whitman had still not come in with the pie and coffee.

After a couple of minutes, Edna said, “It’s such a sad story.”

“Rather freakish,” laughed Mr. Wainscott. “I mean, especially that a dead man would come back to torture his wife like that.”

“I don’t believe it would have happened that way,” Adele said. “I can believe part of it—that Enoch might have come back to her, or that her ghost haunts the house because she still longs for him—I believe people can love like that, but I don’t believe he would return as her demon lover. If anything, I think he would have come back, repentant for deserting her, and if she saw his ghost, it would only show how great love is, that whatever our sins, we can make peace with one another after death.”

“What a romantic idea,” Edna said. “It’s like something out of a Brontë novel.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to say the whole story was ridiculous when Mrs. Whitman appeared with the coffee. She handed me my cup first, then gave a cup to one of the shopgirls, who rather than thanking her, said, “Mr. Whitman has been frightening us with ghost stories, so it won’t be the coffee that keeps me awake tonight.”

“Nathaniel, you and your ghosts,” Mrs. Whitman frowned.

“What? It’s Halloween after all,” he said.

“That any Christian man would find pleasure on the devil’s day,” his wife scolded. “And these poor young ladies mourning their uncle—you’ll have them so frightened they won’t dare go live in the woods, though perhaps that would be a good thing.”

“It really wasn’t that frightening,” Adele said. “It was more of a love story.”

“Well, I don’t know whether that makes it any better or any more true,” Mrs. Whitman replied. “Those love stories are all make-believe and can do a great deal of harm.”
For more about Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance, visit www.MarquetteFiction.com

Announcing “The Gothic Wanderer” – My New Book and New Website

September 4, 2012

I’m very pleased to announce the publication of my latest book The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, Gothic Fiction from 1794-Present by Modern History Press, which formerly published my book King Arthur’s Children. This new book has been about fifteen years in the making, having begun as my doctoral dissertation at Western Michigan University, and it has since been expanded and updated to include discussion of why I love the Gothic, and not only the classic nineteenth century British Gothic novels, but to explore how that tradition influenced works throughout the twentieth century and to the present day.

The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption by Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D.

Here is some information from the back cover about the book:

From the horrors of sixteenth century Italian castles to twenty-first century plagues, from the French Revolution to the liberation of Libya, Tyler R. Tichelaar takes readers on far more than a journey through literary history. The Gothic Wanderer is an exploration of man’s deepest fears, his efforts to rise above them for the last two centuries, and how he may be on the brink finally of succeeding. Whether it’s seeking immortal life, the fabulous philosopher’s stone that will change lead into gold, or human blood as a vampire, or coping with more common “transgressions” like being a woman in a patriarchal society, being a Jew in a Christian land, or simply being addicted to gambling, the Gothic wanderer’s journey toward damnation or redemption is never dull and always enlightening.

Tichelaar examines the figure of the Gothic wanderer in such well-known Gothic novels as The Mysteries of Udolpho, Frankenstein, and Dracula, as well as lesser known works like Fanny Burney’s The Wanderer, Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Zanoni. He also finds surprising Gothic elements in classics like Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes. From Matthew Lewis’ The Monk to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, Tichelaar explores a literary tradition whose characters reflect our greatest fears and deepest hopes. Readers will find here the revelation that not only are we all Gothic wanderers—but we are so only by our own choosing.

With the publication of The Gothic Wanderer, I have also launched a new website www.GothicWanderer.com, designed by my good friend Larry Alexander of Storyteller’s Friend. At this website, not only can you find more information about the book, but I will also be blogging about all things Gothic, and for those of you interested in the Arthurian legend and my blog at ChildrenofArthur.com, I’ll be tying the Gothic and the Arthurian legend together into my upcoming series of novels based on the Arthurian legend, so watch for many Gothic and Arthurian topics on both blogs.

The Gothic tradition greatly influenced the writing of my last novel Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance, and my readers might also be interested in knowing that I wrote the original dissertation that The Gothic Wanderer is based on from 1998-2000, while I began writing The Marquette Trilogy in 1999 so both works were really written simultaneously. And while the Gothic may seem like a subject removed from Marquette and its history, Marquette has its share of Gothic, paranormal, and supernatural places and connections, but perhaps that is another blog….

Please visit www.GothicWanderer.com – if you ever wondered about the story behind the story of great books like Dracula and Frankenstein, you won’t be disappointed.

Award-Winning Historical Fiction Explores Famous Composer’s Inspiration

April 1, 2012

As the sponsor of the Readers Views Literary Award for Best Historical Fiction, I am delighted that “Vivaldi’s Muse” by Sarah Bruce Kelly has won for 2011. I admit I know very little about Vivaldi or opera, but I love historical fiction, and Kelly has done a fabulous job of recreating the world of early eighteenth century opera in Venice, Vienna, and other significant musical cities of the time. Rather than rely on sweeping historical scenes and lots of detail, Kelly blends her research into the story in what feels like an effortless portrayal of the life of priest-turned-composer Vivaldi and the woman who was his pupil and Muse, yet never his lover, Annina (Anna) Giro.

The relationship between these two primary characters is detailed largely through Anna’s eyes as the reader watches her grow from a child of nine who dreams of becoming a great singer, to one who becomes pupil to the great maestro, and eventually becomes his dear friend until the time of his death.

Kelly does a magnificent job of keeping the reader interested in the characters while including just enough historical detail to make the reader feel he really is walking through the streets of Venice or watching prima donnas in grand opera houses rehearse their roles. Kelly also knows how to balance the characters against one another. I was impressed that she did not try to make the novel sexy or melodramatic in depicting Vivaldi and Anna’s relationship, leaving their relationship more meaningful and believable as evidenced by history, and the book appropriate for younger readers. Kelly does, however, do an excellent job of demonstrating the backbiting and envy that existed among the singers in a world where boys would be castrated so they could sing as sopranos in Rome because the pope forbid women to perform on stage, and where female singers often had to give their bodies to powerful men in the music world, from patrons to composers, so they could attain the roles they desired.

Amid this somewhat sordid but glittering world, where music reigned supreme, Kelly offers a balanced portrait of a man who was a priest but has a physical ailment that does not allow him the strength to stand and perform Mass so instead he composes operas, and of a young woman who becomes his friend but never his lover. While others, including a cardinal, insinuate that an improper relationship exists between Antonio Vivaldi and Anna, the relationship never slips into a romantic or licentious one, and Kelly, who has thoroughly done her research, knows how to tie together pieces of the true story, filling in holes with plausible fictional moments, including why the cardinal later changes his tune.

While Anna and Vivaldi are both well-drawn, I have to admit my favorite character was Chiara, a young singer who is jealous of Anna and immediately upon meeting her is determined to put her in her place. Chiara is an excellent villainess full of spiteful language and evil schemes to make Anna’s life miserable. She is perfectly bitchy without going overboard or being unbelievable. I also thought Anna’s mother was well-depicted and added to Anna’s character development by how she abandoned her family while Anna was still young, leaving Anna with some insecurities and a perpetual longing to heal her relationship with her mother, a situation that Vivaldi’s attention helps to soothe for Anna.

I have only read one other book about the life of an opera singer, Willa Cather’s wonderful “The Song of the Lark,” and I found Kelly’s novel could easily hold a place beside it. “Vivaldi’s Muse” is an example of what good historical fiction should be. It seeks to be realistic and true to the past and characters. Kelly’s broad brush strokes bring the people and era to life without ever boring the reader with too much detail. I hope Kelly continues to introduce us to the history of great music through her books. This reader, at least, wants to explore that great music after having read this novel.

For more information about “Vivaldi’s Muse” and Sarah Bruce Kelly, visit www.BelCantoPress.com

The History of My Stomach: A Tristram Shandy Parody

January 20, 2012

The other day I came across the following paper that I wrote for an eighteenth century literature course when I was a graduate student at Western Michigan University. It was a fun little assignment where we were asked to write a parody of Laurence Sterne’s novel Tristram Shandy (1759-1767). For what it’s worth, here is my offering which has a bit of a Marquette connection since it references my ancestors.

The Life and Opinions of Tyler Tichelaar, Graduate Student

Or

The History of My Stomach

            This work is intended to be the history of my life and opinions, yet as I sit here typing, I find that my stomach is so upset I cannot concentrate on my subject, but perhaps this is not amiss, as stomach disorders have been my lifelong problem. In fact, I probably had stomach troubles while still in my mother’s womb, so my life story cannot be told without discussing my stomach.

My stomach has always caused me grief. No matter what I eat, my stomach becomes upset. Similarly, if I do not eat, my stomach is upset. A doctor would suggest that I change my diet to remedy this problem, but since everything upsets my stomach, changing my eating patterns is hardly a solution. Nor is it a matter of nerves or stress which causes my disorder. As an innocent, sheltered infant, I was removed from all forms of stress, yet I went through more diapers as a result of diarrhea than is suffered by anyone who regularly eats three meals a day at Taco Bell.

The reader may then ask if it is not purely my imagination that makes my stomach upset. Reader, I am not like Joyce’s Leopold Bloom, receiving pleasure from my bodily functions, enjoying each chance to urinate, and indulging in the movement of my bowels.

The fact is that I have a stomach problem, and there is no solution to my problem;  nor is it simply my problem;  it is a family complaint. Would that my problem were only my nose!  Then, like the admirable Walter Shandy, I could find some consolation in Slawkenbergius. But if there is a worthy book on stomachs, I have yet to find it.

Perhaps the lack of such a treatise is why I dwell on the subject now. Perhaps it  will behoove the world if I write on the cause of my stomach complaints. Perhaps others like me will realize they are not alone, and possibly, they will even learn the source of their own complaints. But perhaps if I am to write such a treatise, I must first relate how I discovered the true cause of my stomach’s malfunctions.

One day, while in the midst of great gastronomical pain, I thought I would contemplate the enigma of my stomach. In my contemplations, I recalled my mother once saying to me, “You have a stomach just like mine.”  Therefore, reason led me to theorize that my stomach was a genetic inheritance from my mother;  further contemplation caused me to believe my theory was true, for the similarity in our stomachs is attested to by our fighting over who gets to use the bathroom first after a visit to Bonanza’s salad bar.

After contemplating the inheritance of my stomach from my mother, I inquired of her if she might have inherited her stomach from one of her parents. She contemplated my question and then recalled that her father had also had a weak stomach. Being an amateur genealogist, I knew my grandfather had had parents of his own;  perhaps from one of these parents, he had inherited his disordered stomach. But upon inquiring of other family members, I learned that the memory of my great-grandparents’ stomachs had disappeared into oblivion.

But I was determined not to give up the search for my stomach’s origins. It then occurred to me that some information might be derived from “The History of the Bishop and White Families” which Jean Martel, my second cousin once removed, had compiled. This family document was easily attainable since the author had given me a copy. In perusing this work, I learned that my grandfather’s father’s father, Jerome Nehemiah White, was a corporal in the Civil War.

But what does the Civil War have to do with my stomach the reader asks?  Well, reader, be patient rather than trying to rush me, and I will let you know. Corporal White fought on the side of the North during the Civil War. Most importantly for my theory, he was shot in the abdomen on June 19, 1864 at Petersburg, Virginia. Following this wound, he did not die, or else I would not be able to write this now, nor would you be able to read this, so be thankful that Johny Reb was such a poor shot, unless of course, you are not enjoying my discussion of inherited stomachs and wish my great-great-grandfather had been shot to death, but I am sure such a brutal thought never crossed my humane reader’s mind. See, I knew you were deeply interested in the state of my stomach all along.

But what happened to Corporal White?  Well, reader, he went to a hospital in Washington D.C. and recovered. In fact, he was released soon after the Civil War ended. Feeling much better, and wanting to celebrate both his recovery and the end of the war he had so bravely fought in, he decided to see a little of his nation’s capital before returning to his Michigan farm. After all, he was only twenty-four, and since he had seen little of the world he was in little hurry to return home. So one night, Corporal White went to the Ford Theatre to see the play Our American Cousin. But reader, you are anticipating me. Yes, you have guessed my family’s secret claim to greatness. My ancestor, Jerome Nehemiah White, witnessed the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. There you have rung from me the surprise I intended for a future chapter since this chapter was only meant to explore the history of my stomach, or actually my birth, but since I am off the topic, let me discuss how this digression relates to the main topic.

Reader, I am a firm believer in cellular memory. I believe parents pass their memories on to their children through their brain cells, but only those memories of things that happened in their lives up to the time their children are conceived. My great-great-grandfather returned to Michigan and assisted his wife in conceiving my great-grandfather;  in doing so, Corporal White passed on the memory of his wounded abdomen to my great-grandfather’s subconscious, causing all of Corporal White’s descendants to have upset stomachs. Therefore, my stomach is a direct descendant of the Civil War, as the following stomach chart illustrates.

THE STOMACH CHART

Corporal Jerome Nehemiah White’s Stomach (1841-1900)

Jay Earle White’s Stomach (1880-1963)

Lester Earle White’s Stomach (1905-1987)

Nancy Lee Tichelaar (nee White)’s Stomach (1941-    )

Tyler Richard Tichelaar’s Stomach (1971-    )

Reader, I intended to write about my birth in this chapter. I keep trying to return to my topic, but you keep demanding other information from me. But perhaps these digressions are not without value. Certainly, a little family background is needed to understand how I became the person I am. Really, going back 107 years into my family history is only a small leap, considering I have traced my family tree back nearly two thousand years, and my cellular memory goes back nearly as far. For example, I often have dreams of being in Hastings, England during a great battle. Such dreams might strike you as odd, but since Corporal White was descended from both William the Conqueror and Harold Godwinson, who fought each other at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, my dreams are also the result of a cellular memory passed down for twenty-six generations.

Cellular memory is so marvelous it now enables me to begin the history of my life, or my memories anyway, in the year 1066. But I shall not begin this history until the next chapter, having already filled up enough of this one. In fact, my story should rightfully begin in Chapter One, so I will name this section The Preface. And now, on to the Battle of Hastings.