Six Month Report: Slant’s First Season

SIX MONTHS AGO I posted about the re-launching of Slant Books as a full-scale literary imprint. I haven’t posted since that time for the simple reason that I’ve been immersed in the work itself.

As I said in my previous post, going from editing four issues of a journal a year to producing thirty books has been something of a shock to the system. The beauty of it is that it has returned me to my first love: the task of discovering writing marked by painstaking craftsmanship and a nuanced exploration of the mystery that is the human heart.

While I’ve sent out a few teasers about upcoming titles over social media, I want to occasionally take the opportunity to share with you the sweep of what’s to come. I have accepted seventeen books for publication, but I’m only prepared today to share the first ten with you.

I’d love to wait to produce a list that’s perfectly balanced between genres, genders, and other considerations—for example, books that didn’t make it onto this list include the first book of philosophy we’ll be publishing, our first thriller, and the first book for middle grade readers (which should give you a sense of the scope we’re aiming for!).

But I’m hoping this list will further whet your appetites and encourage you to stay tuned for updates. It’s just a sampling of the rich feast to come.

I’m proud of this list and humbled by the gifted writers who have entrusted their work to Slant.

One pledge I will make you here and now: I will never publish a work that I do not believe deserves a permanent place on your bookshelves.

Now that my learning curve is leveling off and I’m getting into a rhythm, I’m planning on posting more often—here, on the Slant site, and on social media. We have so much planned for you: a newly re-designed website, many more great books—heck, we’ve even talked about launching a series of workshops devoted to those working on book-length projects. In short, we’re just getting started. Please stay in touch and thanks for your interest in Slant.

To stay abreast of our new titles, please subscribe to SlantWise, our e-newsletter, here. Details concerning publication dates will be announced as we know them.

 

Long After Lauds: Poems

Jeanine Hathaway

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 2Ever since the Middle Ages, the first hour of daily prayer in monastic life—Matins—has roused the community from sleep. Wisely, the second hour was reserved for Lauds, which means praise. Praise with that freshly awakened consciousness. In this way, such an attitude toward the world, seen and unseen, could be absorbed before breakfast.

The poems in this book continue that tradition—though outside a monastic community—of waking up, reflecting, and discerning what there is to praise—and how, and whom. The book constructs an introspective retrospective of a woman charged with curiosity and accommodating doubt. Over decades, she acknowledges with gratitude her own daily shaping by students, grandchildren, rhinos—a public and private history full of saints and ain’ts.

Beyond the author’s erstwhile community chanting Lauds, she explores its resonance with wit and wistfulness and arrives at this truth: praise over time alters the one who gives it.

Jeanine Hathaway currently enjoys Professor emerita status from Wichita State University, where she has taught writing and literature. She was a poetry mentor in Seattle Pacific University’s MFA Program. Hathaway is the author of the autobiographical novel Motherhouse (1992), the 2001 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize-winning The Self as Constellation (2002), and a chapbook, The Ex-Nun Poems (2011).

Available now! Order through Amazon and other outlets.

 

Hotly in Pursuit of the Real: Notes Toward a Memoir

Ron Hansen

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 3In Hotly in Pursuit of the Real, the beloved bestselling novelist Ron Hansen opens the doors of his writing studio to share with us his passions for history, scandal, theology, Jesuits, the American West, and golf (which he plays even in bad weather).

If Hansen’s novels explore people very different from himself—from a stigmatic nun to a Victorian poet to Billy the Kid, and even Hitler’s niece—the meditations in this book do the opposite, allowing us to glimpse the wellsprings of his imagination, the places and traditions and books that drive him to create made-up worlds. In that sense, the reflections in these pages truly serve as “notes toward a memoir.”

As each section unfolds, we gain a clearer sense of Hansen’s aesthetic, the parallels he sees between writing and the sacraments, between literature’s capacity to make history present to us and the Church’s rich array of traditions, including the Jesuit charism that has inspired great writers, such as Gerard Manley Hopkins (and himself).

Equally adept at telling a hilarious anecdote and guiding us through a complex, ambiguous episode in history, Hansen’s language remains fresh and invigorating. Hotly in Pursuit of the Real takes you inside one writer’s imagination, only to send you back out into the wide world with new eyes.

 Ron Hansen is the author of ten novels, two collections of stories, and a book of essays, A Stay Against Confusion.  He is currently Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University in Northern California.  He is married to the novelist Bo Caldwell.

 

Ordinary Time: Poems

Paul Mariani

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 4With Ordinary Time, his eighth collection, the distinguished poet and biographer Paul Mariani shares a vision of the world in which the sacred and the quotidian mingle, sometimes quietly and sometimes with revelatory force. These poems treat not only the social and historical issues of the time—the poor, the marginalized, the casualties of war, the forgotten—but the importance of family and friends, especially in those moments we all share of illness and desolation. What saves us is not only beauty but the wit and humor to see the reader through.

A grandfather now, Mariani celebrates a new generation as well as remembering the dead.

If the poems often deal with the ordinary—everything from memories of New York City back in the 1940s to the Mississippi Delta and the Canadian Rockies, to Sweden, the Baltic Sea, and finally Jerusalem—they do so under the shadow of the sacred, which these poems keep reaching out to with word after word after Word.

Paul Mariani is University Professor of English emeritus at Boston College. He is the author of nineteen books, including biographies of, among others, William Carlos Williams, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Wallace Stevens. His previous volumes of poetry include Epitaphs for the Journey, The Great Wheel, and Salvage Operations. He is also the author of Thirty Days: On Retreat with the Exercises of St. Ignatius and The Mystery of It All: The Vocation of Poetry in the Twilight of Modernity.

 

Finding the World’s Fullness: On Poetry, Metaphor, & Mystery

Robert Cording

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 5Forty years as a poet has kept Robert Cording looking at the details of everyday experience, at what Richard Wilbur called the “hunks and colors of the world.” That long labor has brought him face-to-face with the inescapable (and inscrutable) complexity of a world that is full of suffering and injustice. And grace.

This journey has convinced him that, as Czeslaw Milosz puts it, “poetry embodies the double life of our common human circumstance as beings in between the dust that we are and the divinity to which we would aspire.” But Cording believes that we live in a time when the language of religion has been emptied of much of its former significance. His task has therefore been to evoke what he calls “the primordial intuitions of Christianity”: that we live in a world we did not create; that God’s immanent presence is capable of breaking in on us at every moment; that most of the time we cannot “taste and see” that presence because we live in a world of self-reflecting mirrors; that only by attention alone can we live in the world but outside of our existing conceptions of it.

The reflections in Finding the World’s Fullness—comprising not only thoughts on metaphor but also close readings of poets ancient and modern, including George Herbert, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Bishop, and Stanley Kunitz—suggest that, as Richard Wilbur puts it, “The world’s fullness is not made but found.”

Robert Cording has published eight collections of poems, the most recent of which are Walking With Ruskin and Only So Far.  A new poetry book, Without My Asking, is due in 2019.  He taught for 38 years at Holy Cross College and now serves as a poetry mentor in the MFA program at Seattle Pacific University.

 

Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees: A Jon Motes Mystery

Daniel Taylor

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 6Bible translators, of all people, are dying—at their meetings no less. Why?

In this, the third novel in the Jon Mote Mystery series, Jon and his special needs sister Judy find more bodies showing up in their lives. This time it’s Bible translators. Jon’s wife Zillah has returned. Determined to leave behind forever both the voices that once haunted him and his life-long confusion about the meaning of his life that plagues him still, Jon has taken a job as a book editor. That lands him in the last place in heaven or on earth that he expected to find himself: as a member of a Bible translation committee.

The New York subsidiary of a gigantic international enterprise wants in on the Bible-selling business. Knowing nothing about the Bible, it assembles a team of translators based primarily on the principles of diversity and name recognition. Things do not go well.

Wildly different understandings of nearly everything—theology, the meaning of texts, the direction of history, the nature of reality and of church, among others—leads to take-no-prisoner clashes on issues large (Did Jesus consider himself divine?), medium (Is the woman in Song of Songs “dark, but beautiful” or “dark and beautiful”?), and small (Did Jesus go into the “wilderness” or into the “desert”?).

But these are merely surface issues in what is more profoundly a collision of understandings of the cosmos and the human condition. For some reason, this collision is proving deadly.

Daniel Taylor (Ph.D., Emory University) is the author of thirteen books, including The Myth of Certainty, Letters to My Children, Tell Me A Story, Creating a Spiritual Legacy, The Skeptical Believer, and two previous Jon Mote mysteries: Death Comes for the Decontructionist and Do We Not Bleed? He speaks frequently at conferences, colleges, retreats, and churches on a variety of topics.

 

God’s Liar: A Novel

Thom Satterlee

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 7The year is 1665. England is in the midst of the Restoration, and John Milton, a blind, politically and religiously marginalized writer associated with Oliver Cromwell’s failed attempt to form a republic, has not yet published Paradise Lost. When one of the worst plagues in history descends upon London, he and his much younger wife are forced to flee to the countryside.

There Milton is befriended by the local curate, Rev. Theodore Wesson, who knows nothing about Milton’s controversial past or the dangers of associating with him. Soon their fates become intertwined when the curate’s hopes for advancement are threatened by his relationship to the notorious traitor and “king-killer,” John Milton.

The situation tests Wesson’s loyalty—to the monarchy, to friendship, to a church career—while complicating his already blurry sense of God’s involvement in human affairs. For Milton, the cost is potentially even greater: the target of assassination attempts since the restoration of the monarchy five years earlier, he has real reason to fear for his life.

A riveting and briskly paced novel that transports the reader to a very particular place and time even as its themes resonate with our own time, Thom Satterlee’s God’s Liar will take its place next to works as varied as Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Colm Toibin’s The Master.

Thom Satterlee is the author of The Stages: A Novel (2012) and Burning Wyclif: Poems (2006). He lives in Marion, Indiana.

 

World Without End: Poems

Claude Wilkinson

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 8World Without End, Claude Wilkinson’s fourth poetry collection, takes its title from the last words of the Gloria Patri. But the preceding words—“as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be”— also echo the book’s overarching theme: the seemingly infinite spiritual implications woven throughout our experience in the natural world. The poems are organized into meditations on family and community, spiritual worldviews, art and its insights, and nature’s endless source of ever-relevant metaphor.

The poems also speak to each other across these sections—and even with poems in Wilkinson’s earlier collections. World Without End opens with “Among Other Things, My Father Teaches Me How to Mow Grass,” exploring the relationship of father and son, something that is revisited later on in “Salvia.” Both poems long for conciliation between father and son through yard work—restoring order in the garden, a lost Eden.

Wilkinson’s gift for ekphrastic poetry remains strong in World Without End, though here it is more referential and allusive. Rather than engaging specific works of art, the poet strives to understand the broader aesthetic visions of figures like Theodore Dreiser, Vincent Van Gogh, and Walter Anderson. In the title poem, a reference to Edward Hicks’s The Peaceable Kingdom suggests art’s ephemeral yet sustaining power—and an irrepressible yearning for a return to Eden.

Claude Wilkinson is a critic, essayist, painter, and poet. His previous poetry collections include Reading the Earth, winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, Joy in the Morning, and Marvelous Light. He has been a Provost Scholar and also John and Renée Grisham Visiting Southern Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. Other honors for his poetry include a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship and the Whiting Writers’ Award.

 

The Holy Fool: A Novel (Slant MasterWorks #1)

Harold Fickett

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 9What do you do when life loses its plot? When the story you thought you were living has become a shambles? When the faith you believed informed your story has turned into, it would appear, the means of its destruction?

It might also be true, of course, that you have simply made a mess of life.

That’s the situation in which the Reverend Ted March finds himself in The Holy Fool. His marriage in crisis, his children confused, and his congregation at his throat, Ted responds by going deeper into the Christian mystery than ever before and finds he must take an unimaginable risk.

The Holy Fool, first released in 1984, is an acute observation of life within evangelical circles, with a depth of insight that makes it as relevant today as ever. Beyond its unflinching depiction of this religious milieu—in which 80 million Americans practice their faith—the novel addresses perennial questions of life’s meaning, especially how to reconcile a broken and often cruel world with a loving God.

Harold Fickett is the founder and CEO of Scenes Media, and the author of many books, including Flannery O’Connor: Images of Grace, The Living Christ, and The Faith (with Charles Colson).

 

Toward: Poems

Moira Linehan

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 10As Linehan’s latest poetry collection Toward unfolds, landscape becomes central—the landscape of the wild southwest of Ireland that borders the North Atlantic; the island landscape of America’s Northwest; in between, the landscape behind the poet’s home in Massachusetts; and then round again, to the land north of Dublin.

The poet’s eye and imagination capture lyrical, sonic, imagistic details of these places. And also, their embedded history. The Famine, the days of the whaling industry, the speaker’s genealogy are woven in. By crafting language and pushing its possibilities, the poet searches for the most elemental in whatever place she finds herself. At times, that brings her to an awareness of the ways the missing remain. At times, that brings her to an awareness of a palpable spiritual presence. The poems in this collection are on the move. They take the reader along, always toward something more.

Moira Linehan is the author of two collections of poetry, both published by Southern Illinois University Press: If No Moon (2007) and Incarnate Grace (2015). Both were named Honor Books in Poetry in the Massachusetts Book Awards.

 

Entangled Objects: A Novel in Quantum Parts

Susanne Paola Antonetta

Six Month Report: Slant's First Season 11Entangled Objects is a contemporary pilgrim’s progress, the story of three very different yet inter-connected women. Each woman’s tale is told from her perspective: for some time the characters don’t directly interact, yet their stories betray the “entanglement” of quantum behavior.

Fan is an adjunct professor, the daughter of a coal miner who attended college only to find herself teaching at a salary that’s brought her close to poverty-level again. When she and her husband move to Korea so he can investigate human cloning, she finds herself having an affair, even as her husband gets caught trying to publish falsified cloning research.

Filomena is a maid who begins to steal clothing from the rooms of wealthy guests, dressing up and haunting the hotel where she works. As she questions her own sexuality, she becomes obsessed with televangelists. Filomena begins communicating anonymously with hotel guests through text messages, delivering reassurances and warnings.

Finally, there is Cate, a reality star who manages her own reality television career and that of her family. She orchestrates the alcoholic binges of her rock-star husband, edits the family’s daily footage, arranges re-shoots, and crafts her world as well as that of her mother and sisters.

All three characters confront the question: when are we most ourselves, when we realize the selves we aspire to, or when we are unadorned? The characters converge on the same place: Filomena’s hotel, where Cate comes to stay before a public appearance. The three point of view characters come together, after which each will come away changed.

Susanne Paola Antonetta is the author of Make Me a Mother, Curious Atoms: A History with Physics, Body Toxic, A Mind Apart, the novella Stolen Moments, and four books of poetry.