Monday, May 30, 2016

Less Than Human by Allen Long (VNBtM, excerpt and GIVEAWAY) GFT

To those who celebrate, Happy Memorial Day.  Honor those who have and/or are serving.





Today I have the pleasure of a guest post from author Allen Long, who answers the question...


ELF: What do you think is the strongest attraction about the genre(s) you like to write in?


AL:  My most natural genre is memoir.  For one thing, I think in this jaded age, a lot of readers crave authenticity.  In a memoir, the writer can say, “Here’s the story of my life, and here’s what I think it means, or here are the lessons I’ve learned from it.”  Then the reader can make up his/her own mind about the material. 

When I wrote Less than Human: A Memoir, I made it a point to show my true self, warts and all.  You don’t want to present an ideal self to the reader because that ruins the integrity of your book, and the reader’s not going to believe you’re telling the truth.  And you want to tell nothing but the truth, because that’s the only way you’ll be able to make valuable discoveries about your life and provide your book with its primary value.

My book is about how I overcame parental child abuse, PTSD, and a nightmarish marriage to finally find true love with my second wife Elizabeth to whom I’ve now been married for twenty years. 

Instead of whining about the child abuse and making bitter and hateful comments about my parents, I set out to discover why the child abuse happened. 

First I analyzed my father.  My father was an only child for nine years before his younger brother came along, and my father has always acted like a self-centered spoiled brat, a fact my mother is quick to confirm.  So my father has a spoiled brat personality, which is probably why he hates children—he doesn’t want to compete with them for attention, and he doesn’t want them impinging on his spoiled brat universe.  Add to this that my father’s mother was mentally ill and abused my father as a child, and it’s pretty easy to see how all of these elements could explain my father as a child abuser.

But when I tried to perform a similar analysis on my mother, I discovered very few clues and had to admit that my mom’s participation in the child abuse will forever be a mystery to me.

Another thing I discovered while writing the book is that, since my childhood environment felt life-threatening, I didn’t learn to comfort myself as a child, causing anxiety attacks that lasted into adulthood and once landed me in the psych ward of a hospital for five days.  I have anxious depression, as do my mother and brother, but psychologists have told me my condition was greatly exacerbated by the child abuse.

In addition, since I didn’t feel truly loved as a child, I had a strong urge to find genuine love with a girl my age during my teen years.  My book contains two chapters about my teenage love life.  I fell in love with the first girl I slow-danced with at a party, and I married the first girl I dated in college because I felt love-starved.

My first marriage was a nightmare because my wife verbally abused and cheated on me.  And I put up with it for fifteen years because I came from an abusive background, and abusive relationships were virtually all I knew.

I could go on, but my point is that a completely truthful memoir allows both the writer and reader to make exciting discoveries about the meaning of the writer’s life.  If executed artfully, a memoir like this will be therapeutic and enlightening for the writer while fascinating to the reader.



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Less Than Human
by Allen Long

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GENRE: Memoir

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BLURB:

In Less than Human, Allen Long tells the story of his often nightmarish childhood in the wealthy suburbs of D.C., the wonders and mysteries of teenage love, his ill-advised journeys into corporate America and a hellish marriage, and ultimate breakdown.  And yet, his story is mostly one of triumph.  He draws strength from the joys of fatherhood, he finds true love in his second marriage, and through working with psychotherapists and leading a life rich in self-examination, he overcomes both child abuse and the resulting PTSD, finally learning that instead of being less than, he is, indeed, human.

Less than Human follows an unconventional path, arranged as much by theme and association as by chronology.  These stories take many forms, from driving narrative to lyrical reverie, at times evoking mythic overtones, and this variety, along with an unflinching confrontation with the conditions and consequences of childhood abuse, create its own form of suspense--in what direction will this book take us next?

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EXCERPT

While the zookeeper threw apples into the makeshift pool and coaxed the elephants to swim to retrieve them, he recited a long string of facts.  These awe-inspiring creatures have 150,000 muscles in their trunks and they can use this appendage to suck up to 15 quarts of water at a time, which they then squirt into their mouths.  Also, he said, elephants can hear with their ears, trunks, and feet.  In addition, these captivating mammals are believed to have the same level of intelligence as dolphins and non-human primates and they can feel grief, make music, show compassion and kindness, mother one another’s infants, play, use tools, and recognize themselves in mirrors. 

When some of the elephants exited the pool, they used their trunks to throw dirt on their backs.

“Dad, what are they doing?” Ben asked.

“Putting on sunscreen,” I said.
           
The boys giggled.

The zookeeper continued to lecture, but we tuned him out and focused solely on the elephants as the great gray wrinkly creatures with the small dark eyes and long eyelashes and formidable, floppy ears shaped like the African continent bobbed and swayed in the hot July afternoon.  Perhaps the boys’ minds wandered briefly to Babar, one of their favorite books about an anthropomorphized elephant, just as mine may have flashed briefly upon the proverbial elephant in the room at home, but our thoughts quickly returned to the magnificent elephants and our simple but immense male joy.

Sales links:
Amazon
B&N
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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Allen Long was born in New York City and grew up in Arlington, Virginia.  He holds a B.A. in journalism from Virginia Tech, an M.A. in fiction writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Arizona.  He has been an assistant editor at Narrative Magazine since 2007, and his fiction and memoirs have appeared in a wide variety of literary magazines.  He lives with his wife near San Francisco.





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GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The tour dates can be found here
 

41 comments:

  1. Hi, this is Allen Long, author of Less than Human. I'd like to thank The Reading Addict for hosting me today, and I'd like to wish everyone a happy Memorial Day. Readers--I'll be pleased to address any questions or comments that you post.

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    1. Hi, Allen! My apologies for being late to get my post up...my brain was evidently already on holiday this weekend--or at least it was too bogged down in work to make proper note of the calendar! Welcome to my blog and thank you for taking the time to share your journey. It is inspiring to see that you took your challenging beginnings and let them make you stronger. Good luck on the tour, and please know that I greatly appreciate you taking the time to interact with my visitors!

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    2. Thanks. I'm very happy to be here.

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  2. Thank you for the excerpt.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Rita!

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    2. Rita, I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. During a certain stage in my first, nightmarish marriage, my wife Linda kicked my three sons and me out of the house every Saturday after breakfast and wouldn't allow us back into the house until dinner time. This turned out to be a wonderful turn of events. I spent all day with my sons doing fun guy and kid stuff and we deeply bonded. All of us remember those days as some of the happiest of our lives.

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  3. Replies
    1. You are welcome, as always! Sorry that I am making extra work for you by neglecting to post punctually!

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  4. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

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    1. Knock on wood, but I've never had writer's block. However, I have some ideas about how one might best deal with it. If you're banging your head against the wall because you're stuck on a piece, take a break from it. You could hike, bike, swim, meditate, go see a movie, do some yoga, watch a high-quality show on cable television, or read some literary fiction or even escapist literature. Basically, you want to turn off your conscious mind regarding the story, but your subconscious mind will continue to work on the story until a path forward presents itself. Also, you could change gears by writing something else. You might start another story you've been planning to write, or you might do something really different, such as writing a book review for Amazon or attempting to write a successful piece of flash fiction. I recently began a story where two really different characters who were only acquaintences in high school bump into each other in a coffee shop shortly after college graduation. The story was flowing, and then I felt I needed to put in some expository background information. The story started to bore me, so I worked on something else for a week. When I went back to the story, I found that the exposition was choking off the flow of the story. I had the two characters sit down together and quickly cranked out five pages of dialogue that really developed the characters and my sense of what the story was about. Stephen King says that if he's writing and he realizes he's not having fun, he takes a break from the piece for a while. By the way, I like to read the O. Henry Prize stories every year. The stories are good, and I love reading the author comments about their stories. Many writers talk about how they started and stopped working on a story over a period of years until they had a flash of inspiration that allowed them to finish their award-winning story. By the way, I use many of the techniques suggested above so I WON'T get writer's block.

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    2. By the way, Ernest Hemingway used to end his writing sessions in mid-scene so he would have something guaranteed to work on when he returned to his writing.

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    3. Delighted that you elicited such excellent advice, Peggy. Thanks for taking the time to ask a question!

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  5. Happy Memorial Day and saying thank you to all our military men and women who served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. God Bless our Military men and women and their families.
    Thanks for this opportunity to win this giveaway

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    1. James, thanks for stopping by. I agree we should honor our veterans today.

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    2. Thanks for coming by, James!

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  6. Wow, this looks like it would be an intense but very interesting book.

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    1. Hi, Tammy. Thanks for stopping by. The book definitely has some intensity to it, but I was careful not to bludgeon the reader with lots of upsetting child abuse scenes. There is only one chapter that focuses directly on the child abuse, and only one really graphic scene in that chapter. I hope wary readers will give the book a chance. Thanks for your comment.

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    2. Thank you for visiting, Tammy!

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    1. Thanks. I hope you really enjoy it.

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    2. Glad that you think so, Becky. I appreciate you popping in!

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    1. Thanks, Mary. The book has some wonderful moments of joy in it, and the blurb is one of them.

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    2. Sounds like it did what it was supposed to, Mary, piqued your interest! Thanks for dropping by.

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    1. My pleasure. Glad you enjoyed it, Victoria.

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    2. Good to see you, Victoria, thanks for the visit!

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  10. Readers--I'm signing off for today, but I'll continue to track this blog for questions and comments, which I'll address. Also, I wanted to comment on the alligator image on the book's cover. When my brother and I were in elementary school, our negligent parents encouraged us to swim in a Florida lake inhabited by an adult alligator while they visited inside with our grandparents.

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    1. Wow...that definitely gives a vivid picture of what you had to overcome.

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  11. I really enjoyed reading the entire post, thank you!

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    1. Thanks, Nikolina. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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    2. Excellent, thank you for taking the time to visit and read the post, Nikolina!

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  12. Good afternoon! I am appreciate of you giving us the opportunity to win this giveaway, thank you

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    1. My pleasure, James. Good luck to everybody on winning. I'll keep monitoring this blog for questions and comments. I can also be reached at allenlongauthor@gmail.com

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  13. I enjoyed reading the excerpt. This book sounds like such an interesting and intriguing read. Looking forward to checking out this book.

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  14. Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

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  15. I have added this book to my TBR list and look forward to reading this book!

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  16. Hope you are having a fabulous weekend! Looking forward to reading this book!

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    1. Ally, thanks for all of your good wishes. I hope you enjoy the book.

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  17. I really enjoyed reading the excerpt and interview. Thank you for the giveaway! :)

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