Review by Grady Harp
Mik Everett is a writer to read, an artist to watch. She is unique: all writers who matter are unique, but Mik Everett has a higher position on the ladder with this her first book. One of the aspects of this book that is rather startling is the fact that it is indeed a memoir, that Mik Everett is the narrating person in this profoundly moving novel. Bit of bio (from her own sites): ‘Mik Everett is a 22-year-old writer living in Black Hawk, Colorado with her daughter. She studied philosophy and English at Wichita State University, where she also worked as a logic clinician before moving to Boulder, Colorado to open a bookstore. She is a former bookstore owner, former logic instructor, and former fashion magazine editorialist. Now she writes and edits stuff.’ Some comments from her about what is important: ‘literature also offers something I hope I can convince you is more valuable than that: The ability to see life through someone else’s eyes. When people are grouped and labeled and otherized, real human beings suffer.’
These are the pervasive thoughts that spin off the pages of Everett’s book SELF-PUBLISHED KINDLING: MEMOIRS OF A HOMELESS BOOKSTORE OWNER. For those of us who fear the gradual demise of stand alone brick and mortar bookstores as Gileads from the world out there, the obvious inevitable replacement by etherized transmissions of books pluckable from the air for a minimal price, this book will ring clearly. The ‘formal PR distillation’ of the book is strong: ‘A young family opens a unique bookstore to help independently-published authors tell their story. But as the traditional publishing industry begins to fall, e-books dominate the book market, and the economy slows, the family winds up homeless–a big secret to keep, as business owners. While some authors struggle with addiction and others struggle to tell their story, a young family struggles simply to survive.’
What the synopsis does not share is what happens from page one to the end of this book. Without much preparation (a good thing) we are plunged into the life of the narrator, the mother of Lyric and Sophie and wife of John, struggling to survive as homeless people in a motor home alongside Wal-Mart in Longmont, CO. Everett shares this so simply that we immediately feel the magnetism of a family hanging on to subsistence by sheer willpower and the kindness of strangers. The fact that this family plies self published books by authors in need of platforms to place their work before audiences makes it all the more sensitive: sacrifice to stay above water while depending on the sales of new books by unknown authors seems to create a sense of martyrdom. But Everett does go there, instead she shows all the everyday machinations of finding food, shelter, depending on friends, offering meager belongings to help others in distress – and never asks for pity. That’s one reason why this rare flower blossoms so beautifully. That and the fact the Mik Everett is a very, very fine writer. This is a new road. Take a walk down it and become aware of what being a part of this community we call humanity truly is.
Grady Harp, Oct 2013
Title: SELF-PUBLISHED KINDLING: MEMOIRS OF A HOMELESS BOOKSTORE OWNER
AUTHOR: MIK EVERETT
PUBLISHER: BRAINFOOD LTD