Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Echoes
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Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - July 11th, 2011
A Civil War soldier wins an inner conflict in Echoes
Echoes of Distant Thunder
By Frank P. Slaughter
Arbutus Press
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
You’re going to like Will Castor. This simple Civil War soldier is going to captivate you and show you a very different kind of war. “Echoes of Distant Thunder” by Frank P. Slaughter isn’t one of those big Civil War books we’re all used to, but something much smaller and more personal, a look into the depths and scope of one man’s soul.
The story begins in 1971 with an inheritance coming to Paul, Will Castor’s great great grandson: an antique wooden box containing some old letters, a pocket watch, and a Civil War-era revolver. The watch, inscribed “Love Always, Mollie,” is a mystery as is Will’s tombstone with the word “Peep” carved beneath the Civil War designation of Pvt Bat D 1st Mich Art (Private in Battery D, 1st Michigan Artillary).
With these two mysteries in place we’re sent back in time. Chickamauga, Georgia, September 20, 1863. Another sleepless night for Union private, Will Castor, and a day of relentless battle. The Union is losing ground. They are withdrawing. Since just before daylight the cold, heavy air had carried the deep rumble of artillery fire to them from somewhere over on the left, and it had steadily increased in volume and urgency as the morning wore on.
The battle continued: The guns of Battery D were taking a terrible toll on the Confederates as they crossed the old cornfield, but they could not fire fast enough to stem the tide, and all six guns were running out of ammunition.

Friends and comrades die terribly around this country boy from Michigan. The aftermath of that day’s war being that he’s forced into horrible acts he would never have considered in his earlier, simpler life.
One of the strengths of the book is that the author doesn’t intrude, never judges, simply lets Will go about staying alive, moving from crisis to crisis, until he is home, in Michigan, again. Unfortunately he’s home with dreams that haunt him, and scenes in his head that fill him with guilt
In Michigan, Will tries to make a life for himself as a changed man but he travels through the rural world of northwest Michigan as if he deserves nothing, let alone to be left alive. The lumber camps draw Will into the rough life of men alone in the woods. As with the rest of the book, nothing is glossed over, only bare truths are given, which are sometimes funny. The lumberjacks, most of whom considered it unhealthy to bathe more than once a year, were beginning to give some thought to personal hygiene. The bane of all the men was the louse, body louse or crab louse; they all were hosts to both varieties. With this wealth of personal livestock, the lumbermen came up with a non-contact sport that involved pitting one louse against the other in fights to the death. It is here, in the lumber camp that Will faces another challenge, and himself, when he comes close to blindly killing a man simply because he can.
Will heads farther north again and straight into the path of a terrible forest fire burning the state from coast to coast: ...the next morning the smoke was even thicker and the wind had picked up and swung around to the southwest . . . Will weighed his options and quickly decided against trying to outrun the fire. He pulled his boots and socks off and stuffed them in one of G.D.’s packs and then picked up the mule’s lead and waded out into the lake.
Will survives another trial by fire.

Details of Michigan history, woven through the narrative, ground the story firmly in place and give a peek behind the curtain of time. These are events we’ve heard of. And now we have a winsome character taking us to places like the Michigan Battalion in the Civil War where we are a part of a devastating day and a cruel loss. And then the forest fires that leveled Chicago and much of Wisconsin and Michigan. We’re taken to lumber camps and graphic stories of camp life—funny and cruel, to the way men set up business at that time, found wives, made a life for themselves, and left secrets behind.
Eventually Will finds his way to Monroe Center, between Sherman and Traverse City, and a measure of peace. The frame for the story, through the use of the great great grandson and the mysteries surrounding Will work beautifully to highlight portions of his life. The author is very much in charge of his work, not bleeding dry the scenes of carnage but always keeping us in the head of this simple man who is probably Every Man: likeable in his plodding way; understandable in his quiet misery; victorious by his own measure of victory.
On many levels, Echoes of Distant Thunder is a very good book.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s fourth book in the Emily Kincaid mystery series is in stores now. The public is invited to the launch of “Dead Dogs and Englishmen” at Brilliant Books in Sutton’s Bay on Friday, July 22, 7 pm. Wine, cheese, and the music of Noel Coward will be featured.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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