Book Buzz: Oklahoma Proud

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Book Buzz: Oklahoma Proud

By Lucy Smoker

With a passion for family, for justice and adventure, Oklahoma novels give the two coasts a run for their money. You might find that these books share an outlook and a cultural independence that is unique to our state.

Emotional Thriller: The Sad Girl by Oklahoma author Bob Mueller

Parolee Danny Cumberland just found out he has a daughter from his ’70’s fling. Except his daughter was murdered—or was she? As he reviews the evidence, Danny finds that the DNA didn’t match and he begins the hard search for a girl he knows best by her sad eyes in a photo.

My grip tightened so much on the phone I thought I would break it. I bet there’s going be a lot of times like this over the next few months. “Doctor, it would mean an awful lot to me if we could meet sometime. You seem to be the only people I can reach who knew my daughter, and…” I couldn’t find the words to continue. How do you beg someone you don’t know to help you learn about your dead daughter? Tears flowed down my cheeks.

This book has heart. It will pull you through every emotion as Danny leads us down the dark path to find his daughter. Recommended as a slow-burning thriller.

Historical Fiction: All Men Fear Me by Oklahoma native, Donis Casey

As a first draft lottery brings WW I to small-town Oklahoma, pro-war, anti-immigrant “patriots” and anti-conscription socialists turn family member against family member. Alafair Tucker begins her day in solitude, feeding breadcrumbs to the wild turkeys:

Alafair was not a fearful woman, but never before in her life had there been so much to dread. For a woman whose entire experience of the world extended from the western side of the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas to the middle of the Southwestern desert, Europe was so far away that she had never imagined that the fire that was raging there could ever burn her … she kept reminding herself, as she scattered crumbs, the United States was in it, now. She didn’t have the slightest idea what that would mean.

Soon she and the rest of town face murder and espionage at the brickyard. While the historical details and mystery are on-point, what kept me engrossed were the charm and warmth of Alafair’s relationships with sons, brother and uncle. Fabulous insights we can all relate to. Highly recommended.

Modern Chinese Drama: Ruined City by Jia Pingwa

From University of Oklahoma Press, this lyrical novel centers on a famous novelist, Zhuang Zhidie, and several overlapping couples and their relationships, reminding me of Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge, but set in a fast-changing, corrupt modern China. Zhidie uses his celebrity for favors and sexual fulfillment. My favorite character, however, is a new writer he befriends, Meng Yunfang. Banned in China, this book is far tamer than Fifty Shades. Recommended as high socio-political drama.

“A timely rain,” the old man said as he abandoned his cart and ran to the temple gate where he stood under a flagpole to keep dry. Either because he was bored or because his throat itched, he sang his doggerel at the top of his lungs.

He did not know that Abbot Zhixiang, who was sitting inside, heard him singing. Just inside the temple gate stood an unusual rock, most of the time it was nothing special, just a rock, but in inclement weather the graphic outline of a dragon appeared on it. With the rain still falling, Abbot Zhixiang went out to look at the rock and listen to the words being sung, “… the officials get rich, the vendors prosper, the poor move aside…” He looked up and saw seven crisscrossing rainbows in the western sky.

Poetry: Four Directions by Joseph Bruchac

I’ve been a fan of Bruchac since Thirteen Moons on a Turtle’s Back. This latest collection from Oklahoma’s Mongrel Empire Press is no disappointment. With deceptive simplicity, Bruchac moves our souls while passing down the traditional wisdom of ages. Highly recommended.


Late March has come, a new rain thrums
the canvas, makes the dark woods moist.
Mouths in marshes open in ancient chant.
My hands know it will not be long
before they spin the bow drill again…

Lucie Smoker is featured along with some of the world’s most prominent poets in Veils, Halos and Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women available April 8 worldwide, For more on her words, visit

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