Friday, March 20, 2015

The Limits of Belief and Forgiveness

As I look back, I see that I've often written about missteps and misunderstands, crossed signals and bad timing, usually between men and women. In The Possibility of Snow, it's two guys. 

They become friends and then, well, not.

Big deal, right? Guys tend to become friends almost by accident—some combination of shared circumstances and sensibilities—and drift apart as easily as they came together.

The characters in The Possibility of Snow, Steve and Neil, meet in college, where, away from home for the first time, guys find themselves in need of new friends as never before (and perhaps never again, not with the same urgency).

It's also the place and time in which we are all looking to define ourselves, to decide what and who we want to be.

The combination of similarities and differences that bring Steve and Neil together makes it hard for them to either stay friends or simply go their separate ways. Each is unlike anyone the other has ever known. 

To me, that dynamic proved fascinating, mystifying, and ultimately unsettling.

Through their story, I found myself exploring the limits of loyalty, compassion, belief, and forgiveness. 

See what you think.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dust-jacket Preview


Totally thrilled with the design of the dust jacket to my first hardcover novel, coming May 1 from Luminis Books. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

First Blurb for New Novel

“In The Possibility of Snow, Al Riske explores the boundaries of male friendship, inviting the reader to consider the limits of loyalty, companionship, and love.”

— Barbara Shoup, author of An American Tune and Looking for Jack Kerouac

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Moveable Feast

I've been reading the Additional Paris Sketches in the restored edition and the Forward and the Introduction by Hemingway's son and grandson, Patrick and Sean, respectively.

It's easy to see why the additional sketches were not included before. They're not very good. It's also easy to see why they are included now. They're still pretty interesting even if they're not very good. The really interesting part, though, is comparing edited stories with restored versions: what was gained or lost or regained. 

Usually both versions are good in different ways and it's hard to say which is better.

The Fragments included at the end are quite sad, showing Hemingway's repeated attempts to write an introduction to the book. (The previously published introduction was apparently fabricated by Mary Hemingway, his wife at the time.) Though each attempt contains some spark, all in the end fail miserably.

Though people persist in referring to A Moveable Feast as a memoir, Hemingway clearly considered it a work of fiction, saying: "All remembrance of things past is fiction." 

Perhaps it should go without saying that memoir is simply a genre of fiction.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blog Tour Highlights

Here's what book bloggers have been saying about Sabrina's Window:

"Each character in this lively novel has personality that jumps off the written page. Most are likable, but a few are irritating, as in the real world.... From beginning to end, each main character takes something away from the other and a sense of calm is restored in each soul.  I enjoyed Sabrina's Window immensely."
- All My Lives Now

"I knew from the first page that I was going to enjoy Al Riske’s writing style. It’s clean, uncluttered and without unnecessary drama. His characters are real, whole people with the usual assortment of insecurities and vulnerabilities (except for scene-stealing Tara with her big boobs and bigger mouth). The dialogue is excellent and sizzles in all the right places."
- Lakefront Muse

"Adolescent love, confusion and the weight of the world are just a few of the ideas explored in this intimate tale.... If I had children struggling with similar issues, I would probably discreetly leave a copy of this lying around and see what happened."
- Naimeless

"Every chapter brought new revelations into each character and what drove them. It was a richly woven tapestry of everyday life, as beautiful and striking as the desert backdrop it took place in.... I found myself thinking about the relationships long after I had put the book down."
- My Life with Books and Boys

"A sweet and heart-warming coming-of-age story, Sabrina’s Window is one of those books that will make you want to read it over and over again. Al Riske immerses us in the life of young Joshua, a boy who’s unexpected circumstances draw his life in directions he never thought it would take. Sabrina might be older than him, but she lends their friendship a profound warmth and strength that endures through every turn of the page."
- Lissette E. Manning

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Luminis Literary Triad

Really pleased that my debut novel, Sabrina's Window, is now part of this three-book blog tour featuring works from fellow writers Vallie Lynn Watson and Chris Katsaropoulos.

Check it out. You could even win a prize.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tribute to the Old Man

Albert Johnsen loved books and fishing and books about fishing and the sea and flying.

His favorite drink? Coffee. Black. Any time of day.

His signature dish: meatloaf.

Also waffles, served with strawberries and whipped cream.

He loved calliope music, pipe organs, big bands, folk, country, rock'n'roll ...

He played the sousaphone in high school.

He learned to fly at an early age, and once had to crash land in an orchard outside Hood River, where he was born and raised. He was not a religious man, but often told of the presence he felt in the cockpit with him, letting him know everything was going to be alright.

He climbed mountains and weathered storms.

He sat in a wooden tower and watched for forest fires, sold shoes in the family's store, fought fires as a volunteer, was elected port commissioner, drove truck, routed freight, and sold real estate.

He married his college sweetheart, a bathing beauty from Baker, and they had four daughters. He loved them all. (I married one of them and love her to pieces.)

Like his father, he was always on time and expected you to be on time, too.

He always wanted to write but never got far. Instead, he painted, carved, sculpted, and drew faces.

He liked Buster Keaton and Red Skelton and was a bit of a clown himself.

If you asked him an obvious question you got a smart-aleck answer and a goofy look.

His daughters learned not to pull his finger.

All his life he loved vanilla ice cream, and that was his last meal, fed to him in his hospital bed by his oldest daughter. He was 84, often confused but still funny and charming.

I think of him whenever a plane flies overhead.

It's easy to picture him soaring over Mount Hood and Lost Lake—and here, now—along with the mysterious presence that keeps him safe.