Kirkus Review Selects Memoir

Kirkus Review selects Out of the Inferno: A Husband’s Passage Through Cancerland for publication in their September 15 edition


5200 librarians, literary agents, and publishers subscribe to Kirkus.  Kirlus selects the top 10% of new releases for publication.  Please consider buying my memoir on Amazon or from your favorite independent bookseller, and let me know what you think!  Here’s a link to the review:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/0s7rozgaqduft5f/Kirkus_online_091516.pdf?dl=0

 

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Kirkus Review publishes Out of the Inferno book review

randyevansauthor.com

OUT OF THE INFERNO
A Husband’s Passage Through Cancerland
From the “Red Sky” series, volume 2
by Randy Evans
BUY NOW FROM
AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE
LOCAL BOOKSELLER

Kirkus Review, August 19, 2016

A memoir examines life, love, and cancer.

Laurene Evans was a fighter who spent 10 years battling breast cancer. Her husband was at her side, standing with her through the tests and chemotherapy, experiencing feelings of hope and despair. In this memoir, Randy Evans…documents the years he and his wife spent living with cancer, touching on everything from treatments to travel. The couple tried to keep their family life as normal as possible; they raised their four daughters, took trips to Europe, pursued job interests, and lived life to the fullest. Yet the specter of cancer was a continual presence, hovering like the proverbial other shoe just waiting to drop. Despite a skilled team of medical professionals…

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Blurb for Out of the Inferno from Dr. Theo Ross, a leading cancer warrior

Out of the Inferno is an eye-opening, honest memoir written by an author whose wife lived and died with cancer. Rarely have authors whose partners died of cancer taken the time and effort to put their experiences on paper for the rest of us. The powerful writing forces the reader to feel the good, the bad and the horrific while uplifting the reader with lessons learned. This unique book fills a gap in the cancer literature. I love this book.

Dr. Theodora Ross, M.D., Ph.D., Cancer Geneticist, Director, Cancer Genetics Program, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, author A Cancer in the Family

Kirkus Review publishes Out of the Inferno book review

OUT OF THE INFERNO
A Husband’s Passage Through Cancerland
From the “Red Sky” series, volume 2
by Randy Evans
BUY NOW FROM
AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE
LOCAL BOOKSELLER

Kirkus Review, August 19, 2016

A memoir examines life, love, and cancer.

Laurene Evans was a fighter who spent 10 years battling breast cancer. Her husband was at her side, standing with her through the tests and chemotherapy, experiencing feelings of hope and despair. In this memoir, Randy Evans…documents the years he and his wife spent living with cancer, touching on everything from treatments to travel. The couple tried to keep their family life as normal as possible; they raised their four daughters, took trips to Europe, pursued job interests, and lived life to the fullest. Yet the specter of cancer was a continual presence, hovering like the proverbial other shoe just waiting to drop. Despite a skilled team of medical professionals, aggressive treatment, and a deep desire to live, Laurene died in 2002. The period following her death became a time of anguish and healing for Evans as he mourned Laurene yet began to move on. This book is Evans’ effort to preserve his wife’s story and share “how we seek to discover strength and joy during difficult times.” In writing this account, the author also finds a way to use his hard-won wisdom to help others on their own journeys through Cancerland. As his wife’s caregiver, Evans remained in a position to fully understand the physical and emotional costs of cancer. His narrative refuses to shy away from the technical and often brutal side effects. He writes about his wife’s fragile bones snapping without cause and details a conversation concerning Laurene’s wishes for him to remarry after her death. His descriptive prose and powerful imagery (Evans needed a wheelchair to move the enormous stack of Laurene’s medical files from room to room) drive the story home. Throughout his wife’s illness, Evans found solace in penning poetry and stories that provided an outlet for his often overwhelming emotions. And he discovered a new passion: venturing into the world of psychology to study the quality of life of breast cancer survivors.

A profoundly honest work from a man who survived Cancerland and discovered new gifts, a different path, and, ultimately, peace.

Pub Date: June 10th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-63491-435-2
Page count: 428pp
Publisher: Booklocker
Program: Kirkus IndieEvans_428_Book2_Layout 1

Grief and Recovery Motivate Classically-Inspired Memoir (Petoskey News and Review, July 20, 2016)

Glen Young Special to the News-Review 

Grief takes a variety of forms and requires a range of responses.

In “Out of the Inferno” Petoskey area writer Randy Evans provides a look at one such response. Evans wrote the new memoir in the wake of wife Laurene’s death to breast cancer, and as a key component of his grieving.

Part Two of his “Red Sky Series,” Evans says, “It’s something I’d been working on for over 10 years. I’d been working through my grief in hard science and the fantasy of novels, but neither was working.”

Subtitled “A Husband’s Passage Through Cancerland,” Evans eventually fixed on the metaphor Dante’s “Inferno,” the classic 14th century tale of the poet’s odyssey through hell guided by Virgil.

Evans says after lengthy reflection on his own sadness, he “realized I no longer needed to get over it.”

In his introduction he writes, “My daily grief still lingered, but began to soften like the lovely light filtering down through the leaves and branches of the tall magnolia tree that had stood in the front yard of my Houston home.”

Remembered from a favorite college class, Evans recognized, “Dante’s pilgrimage seemed to parallel my own.”

After this, “the book started organizing around the epigrams,” he says. Chapter 1 starts where Dante starts, “Stopped mid-motion in the middle/ Of what we call our life.”

There are also lessons highlighted in each of Evans’ chapters, such as “Lesson Nine” that explains how, “Help comes in many forms and in unexpected ways,” or “Lesson Nineteen” that asserts, “Grief involves thoughts and feelings about loss. Mourning is the process of picking up the pieces.”

Evans illustrates the idea of picking up the pieces from the beginning, as he recounts the memory of his father-in-law Neil Schmitt.

“It’s not a story just about the two of us,” he says referring to himself and Laurene, “but about family and friends and medical professionals. There are huge numbers of people involved” in the aftermath of a cancer diagnosis.

Because Neil’s mother also died of breast cancer, Evans understands how Neil’s experience supports his own.

“I also wanted other universal themes readers might be interested in,” he explains. “Readers want to recreate their own experiences while reading.”

From diagnosis through treatment and decline, Evans chronicles his and Laurene’s odyssey, all the while returning to Dante’s journey as well as those universal lessons attached to any story of grief and loss.

Evans says while recounting the arc of his sorrow, “Some of the funny things came out, as well as the serious things.”

He recalls with a laugh the time the family cat landed in the clothes dryer during a hasty dinner, the family pet fluffed but unharmed.

He says the decision to use Dante also comes down to how the poet “had to rely on his guide and blindly follow and trust things would work out,” much the way Evans and Laurene had to do the same. Where Dante organized around 34 cantos in the first book of his “Divine Comedy,” Evans’ book traverses 34 chapters.

His book came only after many other earlier steps, however. After Laurene’s death in 2002, Evans told himself, “I have to rebuild my life,” which meant going back to school. He earned his PhD and developed his writing career before falling in love again, with new wife Denise.

In the end, Evans realizes, “The grief is part of who I am now.”

Evans says readers are affirming his work.

“The best part is feedback from readers,” he said. “Hearing from people who enjoy the book and are getting something useful is the biggest payback for me.”

At more than 400 pages, the book charts a lengthy course. Readers are undeterred, however, as the book currently sits at or near the top of several memoir categories on Amazon.com.

While “Out of the Inferno” chronicles Evans’ journey through the hell of breast cancer, he has much more to write about, with other books on the horizon. Next up is “Crooked River: Love, Adventure, and a Search for Belonging in Northern Michigan,” the story of “people who end up in Northern Michigan and fall in love,” Evans explains. “It’s a big sprawling adventure novel.”

Behind that is “The Lawnmower Club: How Leo Zitzelberger Lost and Found Paradise on Earth.” The new books are also part of his “Red Sky Series,” and all are available locally at McLean and Eakin or Horizon Books in Petoskey, or Between the Covers in Harbor Springs.

Randy Evans will sign copies of “Out of the Inferno” at Between The Covers, 106 Main St., Harbor Springs at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 21. For more information, call (231) 526-6658.

News Article about Red Sky Anthology

‘Red Sky Anthology’ offers insight and introspection
Glen YoungSpecial to the News-Review | Posted: Friday, March 18, 2016 7:00 am

‘Red Sky Anthology’ offers insight and introspection
“Red Sky Anthology: Reading Out Loud in Northern Michigan” by Randy Evans
After a successful career in business, Randy Evans found grief pushing him in a different direction. This reorientation turned him toward writing and that has seen Evans publish his first book, “Red Sky Anthology: Reading Out Loud in Northern Michigan.”
“I started writing when my wife was diagnosed with cancer,” Evans says, reflecting on the process of moving from grieving to healing as he rediscovered an early appreciation for writing. “She gave me a journal.”
Evans says that though he didn’t get serious about writing until his wife’s diagnosis with breast cancer, he first developed an interest in high school. “We had this English teacher, she was from Wellesley, and we’d read one major work a semester,” he says remembering his earliest exposure. Evans says his teacher’s passion pushed him to major in English at Ohio University, though he later earned an MBA, turning to a career in business.
He never lost his interest for literature, however.
After the death of his first wife Laurene, he says, “I had more time and I had things I wanted to write about.” He wrote short stories, poetry, even a couple novels. Each genre shows up in “Red Sky Anthology,” the title a nod to the monthly open mic nights at Red Sky Stage in downtown Petoskey, where Evans regularly reads his work.
In 2011, Evans attended a workshop with noted memoir writer Wade Rouse. In 2012, he attended the Bear River Writers Conference, and the result was “Crooked River: Love and Adventure in Northern Michigan,” a portion of which is excerpted in “Red Sky.”
“It’s about people who come from all over the world and end up in Northern Michigan,” Evans says. “I had never written anything of any length before,” he explains. “It turned out to be too sprawling, too long. But it was a lot of fun,” he adds with a smile.
Evans credits useful advice from early readers for helping to shape his process and his style. He says Karen Langs of Petoskey and James McCullough of North Central Michigan College both provided useful feedback on his early efforts. “The encouragement to take my writing more seriously came from that support,” he says.
As much fun as the writing was, Evans says he soon after recognized an important lesson he’d initially missed. “I realized this fiction I was writing was not facing directly into the grieving I was feeling,” he says. And though he’d once thought of memoir as “vain,” he turned to the genre in “Out of the Inferno: A Husband’s Passage Through Cancerland,” also excerpted in his new book, and again helped by a collaboration with Rouse. He says the difference is that he “started telling it like a story,” and it came naturally.
What results from the memoir is an honest close-up of the grief Evans says triggered his return to writing. He recalls the hunting rifle his father-in-law Neil gave him, and how Evans’s wife Laurene “wanted us to love each other,” and how “After a while, we did.”
Laurene also believed “that if you followed the rules, life would be fair to everyone and all would be well,” and for a while it worked.
Evans inserts reality checks, however, and in “Lesson One,” he explains, “It doesn’t matter how good you happen to be, or how well you follow the rules. Bad things can happen. There is no limit to how many bad things can happen.”
Bad things happened indeed, and in “Out of the Inferno,” with epigrams from Dante, Evans details the decade long struggle of his wife’s cancer.
As well as the poignant and painful, however, there is also the uplifting in “Red Sky Anthology.”
In his poem “November, Petoskey, Michigan,” for example, Evans writes how “The young boy at the library on Mitchell Street reads/ his first lines,” as well as how “In a coffee shop, a boy and girl bend their heads/ together over hot chocolate.”
Evans, now remarried to Denise, has plans for additional books in the Red Sky Series, with complete editions of each of the novels excerpted here. “Out of the Inferno” is scheduled next, followed by “Crooked River,” and then “The Lawnmower Club: How Leo Zitzelberger Lost and Found Paradise on Earth,” a story Evans conceived while motoring past the Wequetonsing golf club.
In total, offering a variety of poetry, several short stories, a drama, and three novel excerpts, “Red Sky Anthology” demonstrates a writer in control of multiple genres, each providing insight and instruction for introspection.
Evans says one of the most important lessons he’s learned is how “readers determine content and it doesn’t always have to do with (the writer).
“Red Sky Anthology: Reading Out Loud in Northern Michigan” is available locally at McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Between The Covers in Harbor Springs, and Round Lake Books in Charlevoix, as well as in e-book form at Amazon.com. Randy Evans is designating a portion of his book’s proceeds for the Petoskey High School Strive program.