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Book Bag

THE BRUJO’S WAY

By Gerald W. McFarland

Sunstone Press

www.geraldwmcfarland.com

Though he was born and educated primarily in California, Gerald McFarland has long made his home in the Valley, where he taught history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for 44 years before retiring in 2008. Now McFarland, the author of four books of history, has made his debut as a fiction writer with a novel set in the Old West.

“The Brujo’s Way,” by Sunstone Press of Santa Fe, N.M., is set primarily in the early 1700s in the Spanish settlement of Santa Fe, though the action also ranges down to Mexico City. It’s the story of Don Carlos Buenaventura, a brujo (Spanish for witch) who’s in his sixth life. In his latest rebirth, Don Carlos finds himself in a aristocratic family in Mexico City. Living in this conservative environment, he must conceal his true identity and act as an ordinary person. But in doing so, he begins to forget his brujo powers.

When he’s exiled to Santa Fe at age 19, Don Carlos’ journey north through the wild deserts of what today is the American Southwest awakens his forgotten powers, and he becomes caught between trying to live as a brujo and his conventional persona. Soon he’s involved with a series of wild adventures with an evil sorcerer, an Apache war party, and a woman who’s devoted to an ancient Aztec goddess.

Along the way Don Carlos must decide if he will continue to live the life of a carefree adventurer or dedicate himself to harnessing fully his brujo powers, especially an opportunity to expand his dimensions of consciousness after he meets a woman trained in tantric spirituality.

McFarland, who lives in Leverett, writes that he intends to publish two additional novels about Don Carlos Buenaventura.

McFarland will celebrate the publication of his novel at a book launch party Thursday at 4 p.m. at Amherst Books. He’ll also be the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Leverett Library Oct. 27 at 3:30 p.m., at the library.

WONDER: WHEN AND WHY THE WORLD APPEARS RADIANT

By Paul R. Fleischman

Small Batch Books

Amherst writer and psychiatrist Paul Fleischman is also something of a philosopher. He likes to examine the big questions in life, such as “What is the relationship between myself and the world?” Seeking greater understanding in these and other matters prompted him to write his most recent book, “Wonder.”

In the new book, published by Small Batch Books of Amherst, Fleischman draws on a number of sources to try to tie together the various impulses of life that collectively form wonder — the way, as he puts it, that “every person, plant and star springs from information compounded by interaction. We are imbedded in an ancient, intricate world.”

From literature, to the discoveries of science, to the ideas of science, and to spirituality, “Wonder” examines both grand, complex ideas and the most basic scientific principles of life and matter, such as electron transfers. Fleischman says he wrote the book to give context to his own life and to the greater ebb and flow of life itself.

“The ability to feel wonder,” he writes, “is a blessing received by someone whose ancestors and contemporaries struggled to throw off penury, ideology, and the presence of the herd. I feel not only indebted and lucky, but grateful to the great phalanx of heroes ... who pried open the door for me: writers, scientists, politicians, soldiers, immigrants, lawyers, contemplatives, and lovers.”

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