Monday, March 9, 2015

Leeram in Fordlandia by Buell Hollister review and author interview

Leeram in Fordlandia by Buell Hollister
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Talking shrunken heads, dead men coming back, electricity from plants, and the one and only Heny Ford as a river dolphin. These are a few of the oddities you will find in this strangely addictive book. Much like the riverboat captain in this novel, I find the concept as whole nuts but it works well. I would highly recommend it to anyone who finds the Amazon river amazing, is an environmentalist, or just wants to read the weirdest book ever.

I would like to welcome Buell Hollister to my blog today please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?

I had three very different careers after I graduated from UVA in 1964.  The first was in journalism – I was a newspaper reporter (Greenwich Time in Greenwich CT), and a stringer for UPI.  In addition I was the Boston correspondent for a commercial fishing industry trade periodical called the National Fisherman, and a free-lance writer on various boating topics.  After a divorce (with custody of two small boys) I found myself in my second career in the real estate development business.  This one lasted about five years or so.  Tired of it, I went to Umass Boston to study marine biology and spent the final 15 years of my life working for a paycheck with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, from which I retired in 2001.  My web address is (still getting its final tweaks).
Since I left the DMF, I was president of the St. Botolph Club in Boston (a club centered around the arts) for four years, and have recently tried my hand, for the first time, in fiction.  In addition to Leeram, I have written a half-dozen or so short stories which are making the glacially slow rounds of various literary magazines.  A couple of unfinished novels are still waiting their turn, but not before I finish the sequel to Leeram in Fordlandia.  Essentially, I started a new career in fiction – my fourth – at the age of 75. 

Taking your questions in turn:
1) What genre do you like to write?
     1. I enjoy writing historical fiction and humor.

2) If you were to branch out from your current genre which one(s) would you like to explore?
     2. I love poetry and would someday like to put a volume together.  I have three poems on my website which were published years ago in a Tufts University years ago.

3) How long have you been writing? What prompted you to start writing?
     3. I have been writing, with some lapses, since I graduated with a BA in English from UVA.  When I was a student there, I met William Faulkner (he was writer-in-residence in 1956-7) and later, John Dos Passos and Jorge Luis Borges, both of whom visited the University several years later.  Their inspiration and that of Mark Twain’s were at the root of my desire to write.

4) What inspires you to write?
     4. Inspiration comes from the soup of my experiences in life.  It’s also good for a cold.

5) When a story idea pops into your head, how long does it typically take to write it (from start to finish)?
     5. The last one – Leeram – took about a year.  Short stories generally take about three weeks to a month.

6) What did you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process?  Easiest? 
     6. The hardest part of writing is overcoming the hopeless feeling of being in a creative dead end – finding the energy to break through it.  The easiest part is riding the gush afterwards.

7) Of all your characters whom do you most relate to?
     7. I suppose I relate to my protagonist in Leeram – Gilbert Greenbush – but just obliquely.  In a lot of ways he’s not even close.

8) Is there one of your characters that you did not like when you started writing about them, but found yourself liking by the end of the story?
     8. This one’s easy.  Henry Ford reincarnated as a fresh water dolphin.

9) What is your least favorite part about writing? The Most?
     9. I suppose I share this with every writer, but as I write, I am convinced that what I electronically scribble on my computer is the most trite, worthless junk ever to be recorded.  Deleting what I have just finished writing is second nature and sometimes it feels like I’m trying to outclimb a mudslide.  The most enjoyable moments are when someone reads what I’ve condemned in my own mind and tells me that they really liked it.

10) When you are not writing or editing what do you do for relaxation?
     10. My other passion is sailing on the sea.  I was brought up by an actual sea captain who had the most impressive document on his wall I have ever seen – his master’s license.  It read: “Master of Oceans, all oceans, all tonnage”.  He taught me about sailing and seamanship, and it shaped my life.

11) What genre of books do you like to read?
     11. I am pretty much an omnivorous reader.  I usually have two or three books open at any given time, ranging from non-fiction historical topics to novels.

12) What author(s) do you enjoy reading?  Why?
     12.  This is a really tough question.  Yesterday’s fave is buried under today’s fancy. Lately I have been going back in time.  Right now I have “Wing and Wing” by James Fenimore Cooper on my bedside.  I just finished re-reading Ken Kesey’s  “One Flew Over the Coocoo’s Nest.”  Generally I avoid books on contemporary political issues, only because I can read their reviews and harvest the essence of whatever point they make.  Certain topics are timeless.  My favorite authors at this moment are Hilaire Belloc (his secular essays and writings about the sea), Anton Chekhov for his short stories.  He wrestles with Flannery O’Connor and O Henry on the literary mat, while the referee, Isaac Azimov stands over trying to break them up.  Close around the ring are Ray Bradbury, Harold Robbins and Herman Hesse, all on their feet cheering hoarsely, while the poets – all seated in the highest balcony, their arms crossed – include Wallace Stevens, Yeats and ee cummings.

13) Tell us about your books where can people find them?
     13 You can find Leeram in Forlandia on amazon here.