For Shadows and Ghosts

“This is a rich and thoroughly satisfying novel, by turns hilarious, poignant, and thought-provoking. With exquisite craftsmanship and great compassion, Froman focuses her own camera lens on characters who are just like us—only more so. The portraits of relationships among women are unforgettable: we all have friends like Phyllis and Gloria, we all have mothers (and sometimes daughters) who can drive us crazy, we all have known men both sleazy and stalwart. We all cope all the time with both ghosts and shadows. But hurrah for all of it, I realized in the end. How boring we would be otherwise! My book club will love this one. I can’t wait.”
—Catherine M. Wallace, Ph.D, author of For Fidelity: How Intimacy and Commitment Enrich Our Lives, and Motherhood in the Balance: Children, Career, God, and Me.

“What could be more archetypal, yet also universal than the Jewish mother-daughter relationships at the center of Barbara Froman’s Shadows and Ghosts? While readers will laugh at the familiarity of this fraught relationship, they won’t be able to help but feel the pain of recognizing themselves in it. Froman lures readers into her satiric tale of smothering mothers, neurotic daughters and intense sibling rivalry through famous cinematic images and Borscht Belt humor, but she moves them with her keenly observed characters and their emotional journey toward selfhood. Just as Froman blurs the boundaries between narrative and cinematic storytelling, she explores the problems her characters face dealing with the permeable boundaries between their need for emotional distance and their equally compelling need for attachment—a struggle that shapes their personal relationships, their professional lives, and their art. Touching and funny, well-paced and engaging, Froman’s novel will capture your heart.”
—Susan Applebaum, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Theater, Loyola University Chicago, and author of In the Studio with Joyce Piven, and Mentor Mothers and Female Adolescent Protagonists

“Shadows and Ghosts is a satirical, yet realistic treatment of boundaries (and the lack thereof), where the lines of fantasy and reality, conscious and subconscious, doctor and patient, mother and daughter are stunningly blurred.”
—Diane Karlins, L.C.S.W. specializing in Adolescent and Adult psychotherapy.

“Shadows and Ghosts masterfully shifts between the present tense and distant recollection, the earthly and the ethereal, and drama and humor. I often found myself laughing along with its characters, and also moved by their struggle. As the narrative takes us through such varied settings as a rural squatters’ enclave and suburban family life, its many characters are all keenly observed and their stories are equally compelling. As I read Froman’s work, I found myself thinking of such disparate literary reference points as Jonathan Franzen and Kurt Vonnegut. It all adds up to a most satisfying read. Well worth your time!”
—Benjamin Meyer, Award-winning filmmaker and editor.

There are books that are supposedly ‘for women’ and then there are books about women, the many facets and moods of women. Shadows and Ghosts is the latter.

“Froman’s language and images alone would be enough to make this book worth a read, but her story is also rich and relatable. The characters are well drawn and the shifting perspectives seem effortless as a reader. It just works. Ida is an engaging woman, the likes of which are not often seen in contemporary literature.

The way Froman mirrors film and the film maker throughout the novel is fantastic. ‘My reality has always come from images—flickering and still—that I frame and fit within lines.’ Sigh. Shadows and Ghosts is a wonderful read.

Tracy Ewens, Author of Blow, and Tap (among other titles in Ewens’ A Love Story series)

“Barbara Froman skillfully alternates comedy with a sharp, uncompromising yet deeply understanding and forgiving observation of human flaws, and truly poignant descriptions of human frailty. Even in their excesses, her characters have a core of warmth that makes you sympathetic to them. Their imperfections make them perfect. A treat of a book that brings tears, laughter – and tears of laughter. ”

—Katherine Gregor, Translator of The Whales Know: Travels Along the Baja California Peninsula, and The Florios of Sicily.

“…a perfect example of why the genre of women’s fiction is so broad.”
—(Rhiannon Johnson, Ivory Owl Reviews) Read the complete review.

“…an intricate character-driven novel, that pulls the reader into its maze of unique characters and their relationships….”
—(Peg Glover, Discover New Authors and Great Reads)

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For (After)Life: Poems and Stories of the Dead

“Reading anthologies is a great way to expose oneself to many different writers, and (AFTER)life: Poems and Stories of the Dead, is a good example of why. Purple Passion Press, a small northern California publisher, has created its first collection of poetry and short fiction, which I found to be well worth reading from beginning to end. With entries from a few well-known American and international writers nestled alongside local NorCal voices, the range of work is warm, funny, tragic and bittersweet. There are dreams, ghost stories, letters to and from the dead, and even some surrealistic science fiction and fantasy. The dead remembered in these short pieces include pets, family members, and famous artists. The writers engage personal and imaginary loss with fondness, anger, regret and resolve. As editor Renee Schell discusses in her introductory note, quoting Robert Frost, there are many ways to “stay” the confusion that comes with death.

“I expected to like Ellen Bass’s poems–and I did–especially “Morning” about the death of a mother, but I was surprised and delighted by (new to me) Babo Kamel’s very different poem, “Sometimes the Dead” on the same subject. I’ve heard Ken Weisner read around town, and I was moved by his technically interesting “Listening to Ives.” Jason Arias’s short story “Dead Girlfriend” is subtle and more ambiguously interesting than the title suggests. I enjoyed the sounds and questioning voice in David Perez’s “The Last Stop Ranch,” the details in poems by Erica Goss and Kimberly Cates Escamilla and Darrell Lindsey. Calder Lowe’s “Lent in the Age of AIDS” made me deeply sad and “It Touches You Everywhere” by Candace Elise Hoes made me squirm.

“I wouldn’t recommend this anthology to anyone freshly grieving, although there are poems here that console. Perhaps the best description of the collection can be found in the final lines of Vuong Quoc Vu’s “Every Ghost Story is a Love Story” – “What is a ghost but a love story / that refuses to be forgotten?” Good poems and stories are just like that. I look forward to more collections from Purple Passion Press.”

—Jen Swan

(AFTER) Life: Poems and Stories of the Dead, Purple Passion Press’ first anthology, is an exploration of the unknown. Far from being morbid, this collaborative work is a tribute to the departed, an acceptance of human fragility and ultimately a declaration of our ability to live in spite of death.

“In the editor’s note, Renee M. Schell relates the profound sense of shared loss she experienced in the aftermath of a dear friend’s baby boy being stillborn. Schell goes on to say, ‘A year after the death of her son – almost to the day – she gave birth to a second son, who lived. The decision she and her husband made to have a second child testifies to human resilience. And this resilience, I believe, reflects our need to believe in life over death.’

“The varying styles of prose and poetry in this anthology serve as a reminder that we are united in the human experience. That is to say, whatever our individual backgrounds, we will all – in one way or another – come face to face with mortality and loss.

“Each of the fifty-one succinct poems and concise stories range in approach and perspective. From Bri Bruce’s strong poetic imagery which captures the sense of loss so poignantly, to Shaun Avery’s tragic, yet amusing story ‘Grave Diggers’ to Vuong Quoc Vu’s elegantly written poems, this accumulative work reminds us that we are alive and ought to live accordingly.

“There is a profound sense of sadness in the book, and rightly so, but it is never maudlin. In fact, there are some light-hearted and humorous moments which lift the overall mood of the book considerably. Even in these playful areas, the consistency of purpose is maintained. There is pain here, but there is also a redemptive essence of restorative hope.

“There are no weak links within the thirty-eight contributing authors. The quality of writing is as consistent as the book’s theme. However, Purple Passion Press might want to consider including a few fresher, less established writers in future anthologies; the bio pages read like a who’s who in the world of publishing and academia.

     (AFTER) Life: Poems and Stories of the Dead is a finely-crafted anthology of relatable poems and stories which do, as the editor intended, testify to human resilience. (July 2015)”

—The Small Press Book Review

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