Best Reads and Leg Stories from 2021

These are my favorites from 2021! Buy a copy or check them out at your local public library.

Saving Bay Haven: A Charming Town with a Dirty Secret, Karyn Tunks Wayfaring Stranger, James Lee Burke Jubilee Sunset Romance, Deborah McDonald
Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey
Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke

Leg Stories
We went to visit Greg and Pam, my former reference desk mate, in Tennessee. We checked out their new home overlooking Norris Lake and took in the sights. The weather wasn’t all that great, but we spent a little time outside and inside. The Museum of Appalachia is well worth your time and money.
John Rice Irwin started the museum. Most of the text is told in the first person by JRI himself, or as told to him by the original owner of the item. Mr. Irwin didn’t just collect stuff, he collected stories, and once people knew what he was doing they donated things to him, like coffins, entire buildings, peg legs, traveling cart and soooo much more. It’s nicknamed “A Living Mountain Village” for good reason.

Henry Clay Moss with a hatful of potatoes. Peg leg nerd alert: He wears suspenders to hold up his pants and a belt around his waist to keep his peg leg on.
Uncle Henry Moss’s Peg Leg with the suspension strap still attached. Museum of Appalachia.
JAKE JACKSON’S TRAVELING CART-When J.J. (Jake) Jackson became crippled, he made this hand powered, three-wheel cart to get to and from the grocery store he operated in Jonesborough-Tennessee’s oldest town.(The name of the store was “Jackson’s General Merchadise.” My best information indicates that Jackson operated his store from about 1930 into the late 1960s. (David Byrd, from whom I purchased this interesting contrivance, had heard thatjackson became paralyzed with “jackleg”, a condition said to have been brought on by drinking “bad” whiskey-not an uncommon occurence during prohibition, I understand.) JRI

If you ever find yourself northwest of Knoxville, Tennessee or near the Cumberland Gap, the building and grounds (including the Popcorn Sutton Whiskey Still) of John Rice Irvine’s Museum of Appalachia is a must see.

Thanks for reading. Happy New Year. Write On!

Is There a Best of 2020? What’s Up for 2021? Remember Steve?

Now that we are well into the new year, I’m posting my best of 2020. It’s a short list. The best book of 2020 is a fellow Pensters Writing Group member.  

Little Gears of Time: Martinello, Susan, Walker, Sue Brannan, Krchak,  Jenni: 9780942544060: Amazon.com: Books

Looking for a sweeping generational women’s epic written in verse by a woman? Little Gears of Time, by Susan Martinello is a literary tour de force, an epic of the American story from a woman’s perspective. Based on Martinello’s family, it is Homerian in its breadth and language and is an odyssey of mothers and daughters spanning many generations and taking place between continents and across oceans.

With family trees, maps, and illustrations as our guides, Martinello tightly winds mothers and daughters using personification, letters, history and memoir with a watch, an artifact that comes to represent oppression, imagination and identity.

In Martinello’s exquisite and affective poems we embrace, are emboldened and empathize with these women. As with other great epic’s the world is a stage and as the characters and their experiences play out Martinello’s writing leaves readers yearning for more.  

And of course in a special category is Stump’s Favorite Amputee book.

The Elephant's New Shoe: Neme, Laurel, Wildlife Alliance, Landy, Ariel,  Landy, Ariel: 9781338266870: Amazon.com: Books

The Elephant’s New Shoe: A True Rescue Story, by Laurel Neme, Illustrated by Ariel Landy, Foreword by Nick Marx

While these books are fantastic I was proud to publish three books of my own last year. Available to read for free are The Cape Cod House and Architectural Studies: Montgomery Hill Baptist Church and Bayside Academy. I’m very pleased with the success of Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope. It’s a local history book that I enjoyed writing and continue to research. I have another order of Clay City books arriving later this month. I post news and information here

 

2021

You probably didn’t even notice, but I’ve deleted my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. This is not political. It’ personal. I don’t like calling it a New Year’s resolution, but after deactivating several times last year and not missing it or the anxiety that goes along with it, I’ve deleted the accounts. Hopefully, it will work as well as last year’s food choices. Except for a few weak moments during the pandemic and after the hurricanes, we have been able to stick with and really embrace our new menus. As Sue says, “If it walks on land we don’t eat it.” Even though I’m no longer on social media I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email, Want to talk? I’m not hard to find online or in person. Feel free to share my writing with your followers. Instead of posting on social media, I typed a thank you note to the mayor. On paper. Using my Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter. I put it in an envelope, slapped a stamp on it and put it in the mail. I will be doing more of it in 2021.  

Fairhope Living Magazine January 2021 Cover

Career-wise, I’m still working at Coastal Alabama Community College and writing for the monthly community magazine, Fairhope Living. I’m thankful to serve students face-to-face and glad to have the opportunity to write about my home town.

Remembering Steve

Today is the second anniversary of my brother Steve’s death. It’s rare that a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Here’s to Steve. Nostrovia! To your Health in 2021.   

Early 1990s, West Falmouth, MA.
Also early 90s. Mom and Dad’s place on Edgewater Dr. W. in East Falmouth.
McSharry’s Irish Pub, mid 2010s. I had a Guinness. Steve, Take the Causeway, Fairhope IPA.

What Have You Been Doing?

Whether it’s an entry into a journal, a note about a book I’m reading, or revision, revision, revision, writing is my passion, hobby, profession, and most important these days, a distraction.

With that in mind I want to share some writerly news.

I’ve recently completed two eBooks, well eBooklets really, and they are available for free through links in Internet Archive. Architectural Studies is my undergraduate work on building surveys for Montgomery Hill Baptist Church and the Bayside Academy Administration Building. Those projects are combined in one book.

ArchStudiesCover

The second book, The Cape Cod House, An Architectural Study, traces the origins of the Cape Cod style house dating back to the late 1600s to it’s proliferation in the 1950s. CapeCodCover

I’m proud of my scholarship. The books are for fans of local history, architectural history, and historic preservation. You can read them online and download them for free through Internet Archive. Yes, FREE. They will also be available to borrow soon from the Fairhope Public Library. If you prefer your own print copy, I’m selling them myself for the low, low, direct-from-the-author’s hatchback price of $5. For distant fans, or if you prefer the speed of Print-on-Demand, the books are available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99. Readers, not sales, make me rich! So write a review to let me know how your heart raced a little when you skipped down the page toward those tantalizing…footnotes.

Another Book (not free, but very reasonable)

Have you ever wondered about the orange block structures and houses around Fairhope? Or perhaps you know about them but want to learn more. Well, soon you will wonder no more.

My book Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope will be out in July! People have called me the “Clay City Tile guy” for a while, so I’m finally getting around to publishing it. It’s local history, which I enjoy. I’ve posted a few photographs (not in the book) on the book’s website Clay City Tile.

Stay tuned for updates about the Clay City Tile book on the above website and right here at Stump the Librarian!

Research

Of course, I’m always doing research. Lately, I’ve gone down the letterhead rabbit hole. I’ve found all kinds of great Fairhope letterhead at the Fairhope Single Tax Online Archive. Of course, anything can be used as letterhead these days. I’ve been using the Bank of Fairhope. It’s kind of cool, and it surprises me that with all the banks in Fairhope (26?), no one thought to resurrect one, the best one in fact, from Fairhope’s past.

BankofFHFHPL

Incidentally, The Bank of Fairhope’s second location, which became the Press-Register building and is currently Christmas Around the Corner, was built in 1927. It is scored stucco over…you guessed it, Clay City Tile.

Odds and ends

RoyalReview

New Typewriter, it’s a sickness really, but at least I’ve got the ten fingers for it. Er, well, that’s five per typewriter now.

Stumpcoverfun (2)

People have been taking photos of themselves in book covers. How could I resist!

Oh, I almost forgot Summer Camp. I’m leading a Creative Writing workshop for writers ages 10 and up at the Eastern Shore Art Center. My Creative Writing Summer Bash takes place July 13-17! Join me if you can. It’s going to be super fun!

 

Stump Gets Reviewed in Amplitude

So excited to see a review of Stump the Librarian: A Writer’s Book of Legs!

Check out the review at Amplitude, an online and print magazine with the tagline “Powerful, Practical, and Positive Living with Limb Loss.”

Click on the cover below to see Amplitude magazine’s home page, which includes a PDF of the current January/February 2019 issue. The review is on page 7.

amplitude

I sent out advanced copies of my book to several amputee related publications for reviews. Whatever your subject, find publications on that subject. Submit your book. Also, if you’ve read my book, please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. A few honest words would be appreciated. Just click on the respective logo on the right. If you have already reviewed it, thank you.

In other book news, I found the children’s picture book Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, by Jessica Kensky Patrick Downes, and illustrated by Scott Magoon, in Amplitude magazine. It just won the Schneider Family Book Award, the American Library Association’s best book for young children with a disability experience. It was included in my Best of 2018 list.

 

On Sale Now!

officialcover

Click on the photo or here to buy the print book from Amazon.

Also available as a Kindle Book.

What are People Saying?

Alan Samry’s kaleidoscopic book, Stump the Librarian is at once a glorious compendium of quick biographies of one-legged individuals, a moving memoir, a fascinating history of amputations and prostheses, and a medical investigation of the congenital anomaly that left the author with a disability at birth.  Samry, a librarian in Fairhope, Alabama, takes joy in the quest for answers and pursues information with the sublime sense of mission that the best librarians possess.  With clarity, candor, and a down-to-earth directness, he takes us with him:  fascinated, outraged, horrified, thrilled, and ever curious about a world populated—and profoundly changed—by those who not only get by on a single leg but stand far more firmly than many people with two. Samry weaves poignant personal recollection through his tapestry of information, making Stump the Librarian a must read.

Molly Peacock, author of The Analyst and The Paper Garden 

Alan Samry takes readers on his personal journey of curiosity, humor and exploration. In an unlikely narrative readers learn about Alan’s life as a congenital below-knee amputee.  In a very delightful and provocative manner, Alan relates his personal memoirs and shares historical and imagined characters who are like-amputees. Alan’s writing style is fascinatingly varied, and insightful into his own self-discovery.  He shares intimate details that enable readers to appreciate his story and perspective. This book is a celebration of Alan – his person, determination, and his insatiable desire for truth.

—Tamara Dean, Director, Fairhope Public Library

You Have a Book?

officialcover

Why Yes, I do, and I’m very excited and humbled to finally share my writing with readers.

What’s it about? (from the back cover)

Stump the Librarian: A Writer’s Book of Legs is a diverse collection of creative writing that explores Alan Samry’s life as a congenital below-knee amputee and a public librarian. Alan’s cross-genre writing in creative nonfiction, poetry, essays, satire, and experimental writing weaves fascinating mythical, historical, and literary figures into his own absorbing story of being a “born amputee.” In the book, with chapters organized as though the reader were exploring a public library, Alan writes about his experiences in an open, insightful, and humorous way. In his search for other leg amputees, Alan finds a new way of seeing himself, and the world around him.

When is it coming out and where can I buy it?

The book, published by Intellect Publishing, will be available for purchase locally, on Amazon, and for libraries through Ingram in mid-October in print and as an e-book.

Stump the Librarian Book Launch Party

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fairhope Public Library-Giddens Auditorium

501 Fairhope Avenue, Fairhope, Alabama 36532

6:00 PM

More details on the launch party and other author events coming soon.

 

 

Need Some April Reading?

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I’m hoping the March showers will bring April flowers here in Lower Alabama. In the meantime, here’s some links to an article on relationships, the great global nonfiction versus fiction debate, and links for amputees, poets, and librarians.

For Amputees

This month is Limb Loss Awareness Month. (#LLAM) The Amputee Coalition of America’s National Limb Loss Resource Center is a great place to find information for anyone with limb loss, from born amputees like me, to those recovering from amputation surgery.

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Relationships

My wife Susan and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last month. In a Facebook post, my cousin Gayle asked, “What’s the most important thing to share about your time together?”

“Friendship, empathy, forgiveness, funniness, and affection are a few important things,” I posted. About a week later, I read the article below. No matter the relationship, I think understanding one another is profoundly difficult and infinitely more challenging to sustain.

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For Readers and Writers

The next storm that crossed my path is the relationship readers and writers navigate between fiction and nonfiction. This global multilingual discussion will have you wondering about the origins of the word nonfiction and questioning the meaning of story.

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Student Librarians and Poets

Since it’s also National Poetry Month, I’ve included a link to an article that I netted for a library school assignment about Charles Bukowski. It’s not his poetry at the other side of the link below. A well-written (if a bit raunchy) profile from a 1976 Rolling Stone magazine interview has motivated me to go and read some Bukowski this April.

bukowski

Don’t forget, next week (April 10-16) is National Library Week, so visit your library, online (Fairhope Public Library) or in-person, to learn how Libraries Transform.