I recently finished reading the second book in Michael McGarrity's trilogy which details the history of the Kerney family. McGarrity is well-known for his crime novels featuring Kevin Kerney as the central character. These new books explore Kerney's ancestry.
As a native of the Tularosa Basin, I thoroughly enjoy McGarrity's vivid descriptions of region and its people. As I was reading Backlands, I was transported to the dusty barren landscapes and I could visualize the gorgeous New Mexico sunsets. McGarrity has done his research. He skillfully and convincingly intertwines the history and culture of the area into the lives of his fictional characters. For those who love the Southwest, McGarrity's books offers beautiful imagery, along with geographic and historic accuracy.
Michael McGarrity creates characters that are believable and relatable, even when they are despicable. While the Kerney men are central to the story, his depictions of the women in the Kerney world as strong and vital figures is unwavering. A girl can wrap her imagination around these smart and capable ranching women, lending balance to a story that might otherwise be historically and culturally male dominant.
I would strongly recommend Michael McGarrity's historical fiction trilogy. Pick up a copy of Hard Country before Backlands and then we'll all wait with baited breath till the final piece of the chronicle is released next year!
On October 1, I crossed an item off my bucket list. Since moving to Boulder in June, I have been literally counting down the days til the CU Law School hosted their annual Stevens lecture. The lecture features of a noted jurist and this year, it's fourth year, they hosted their fourth Supreme Court justice. Oh to have been around to hear Justices Stevens, Ginsberg and O'Connor in previous years! This year's speaker was Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest seated member of the current Court. The complete Supreme Court nerd in me got their an hour early and managed to snag 5th row seats. The 2000 person auditorium was packed with lawyers, law students and judges from around the state of Colorado.
Now, I should probably note here that Scalia is not one of my favorite legal minds. He is undoubtedly brilliant, charismatic and witty, but we occupy positions on very different sides of the political spectrum and in studying Court cases from the past 30 years, I can tell you that I have disagreed with most of his opinions. But despite those feelings, Scalia is a living part of history - without a doubt one of the most influential men in America.
The Justice spoke for about half and hour and then spent another half an hour answering questions from the audience. He is quick on his feet, answering pointed questions with ease and dodging like a true legal pro. The topic of his talk was originalism, go figure. He's witty. The audience, myself included, laughed right along as he called many of us idiots for believing in the living Constitution. And to hear him speak, you understand immediately why Scalia has had his successful career. Listening to him, its easy to see that he truly believes what he says.
I gained an appreciation for Justice Scalia's point of view. Hearing a person speak directly to what they believe is always a moving experience (in my humble opinion). However, I still cannot agree with the Justice's position. I believe that our Framers, having engaged in the restructuring of our government, knew what they were doing in leaving the wording of the Constitution vague. They left room for interpretation to ensure that the law of the land would be flexible enough to withstand the evolution of our society and changes in the social climate. In learning more about Scalia's life and upbringing, you get a glimpse of some of the non-legal and non-rational things that may affect his jurisprudence. For instance, his strict Catholic upbringing and his father's career as a textualist cannot be overstated as impacting Scalia's point of view. Reading Scalia: A Court of One for a very thorough and revealing look at Scalia's life, both personal and professional.
Despite my feelings about Scalia's work as a noted jurist, I was honored to hear him speak and as a parting thought, I'd like to say this: making an effort to understand the other point of view is sometimes difficult and grueling work, but it is a necessary element of any true democratic system. Reflecting honestly about our own views and being open to new information and perspectives is what being an American is all about.
Happy Scalia Day!
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As part of my continued effort to evolve professionally and academically, I am going to start offering consulting services. I've got a lot of experience in a lot of different areas that could really benefit businesses and organizations here. And while my priority is always SANE, this will allow me to explore my interests and hone my skills in politics, the law, business and other favorite past-times. Contact me if you think my expertise might fit your needs.
More information about consulting services can be found HERE.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is fast approaching, but there's no need to wait til April to start work on ending sexual violence in the community. Please read the call to action below and share with everyone you know. Together, we can make this community a safer and healthier place!
Holy moly....I was elected President of the Otero County Health Council today. Planning......
...Also, I completed my first exam, did media work for the Quality of Life tax issue on the ballot, worked on programs for the Friends of the Library and still managed to find time to actually work :)
I am reading Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists & Other Sex Offenders which is a memoir and cautionary tale told by Anna Salter PhD. This book will give you nightmares, but it is a fascinating study on sex offenders and how they think. Dr. Salter has compiled anecdotal evidence, as well as direct quotes from incarcerated sex offenders, that illustrates how alarmingly methodical and cunning offenders can be and how even the most expert professionals can be fooled time and time again. This book has a particular focus on sex offenders who pray on children and while it probably will make most parents a little bit paranoid, I think its worth a read-through and some frank community dialogues. Law enforcement professionals, prison staff and attorneys / legal staff would also benefit greatly from reading this book.
Note: This book is disturbing. It WILL affect you. I am not going to downplay this because I know that some people will have a hard time coping with the material. That said, I think that the way we, as a community, end sexual violence is to start an open dialogue even when the topics are uncomfortable. And I believe wholeheartedly that you can't read this book without talking about it.
Honestly, I can't say I ever expected to be writing about different blood spatter patterns, but I'm really digging this Forensic Law class. When I started college in 1996, I thought maybe I'd go to law school. Instead, I majored in Political Science and Philosophy, started my own business, had a family...you name it :) Now I'm starting to wonder if law school is in my future. I'm so excited by the material we're covering in class and I'm looking forward to throwing some Psychology into the mix next semester. Life is a funny thing.
It's been a wild and crazy year so far and I'm glad to find myself on the downward slope toward 2013. It's been a year of personal strife. A separation. Adapting to single motherhood. A new relationship. "The Crash" New job. Sale of my business. A new chapter. I'm feeling good about the future and hope that things will stay calm for a while.
Among other things, I'm starting work on my Master's in August. I've been looking for the right program and I think I've finally found it at Western New Mexico University. I'll be pursuing a Master's in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration on Political Science. First course - Forensic Law! I am so stinking excited. (don't you feel the same way - forensic law...tee hee).
So, at the end of that day, even though it seems like the busiest, craziest life ever...I am finding a balance between work and home life, love and serenity and things are falling into place.
I want to share a bit about a recent interview with author Michael McGarrity. Michael has very generously donated his time to many events in the Alamogordo area. He has authored 12 books, many of which are set in the Southwest and even the Tularosa Basin. I spoke with Michael a few months ago about his new book Hard Country (which was released today, May 10th!). As a result of that conversation, we scheduled an interview at a venue of his choosing - The New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, NM. The museum alone was worth the trip and if you've never been there, I suggest you make a trip with plenty of time to look around.
So back to Mr. McGarrity - Michael also had his publisher send me an advanced copy of the book. Being familiar with Michael's previous books, I was expecting something similar - a detective story set near the turn of the century...what I got was something very unexpected. Hard Country is a truly inspired work of historical fiction - a family saga that follows the ancestors of Kevin Kerney (McGarrity's famous detective) as they ranch their way from West Texas to the Tularosa Basin. I started reading and I just couldn't stop. The way that McGarrity weaves fiction and history is really quite brilliant. Famous characters from our area - Olive Lee, Eugene Manlove Rhodes, Albert Fountain - are integrated into this fictional saga seamlessly.
Without having any knowledge of the history of the Tularosa Basin, this novel is engaging, interesting and well-developed. The characters are easy to love, hate and relate to - it sucks you in like a vacuum cleaner. With some historical background - and its hard to live here without having at least a little - it's impossible to put down. I was there the whole time - observing every single situation as if it were happening right in front of me. I am an avid reader. Hard Country is one of the best pieces of modern literature I've had the pleasure to sink my teeth into.
Bottom line: buy it, you'll like it. :)
Here's the interview with Michael McGarrity. Hard Country was released today. He'll be in Alamogordo twice in May promoting the book: the first appearance is at a Lunch & Learn at First National Bank, Alamogordo on May 24th (reservations required) and the second is a book signing at Hastings on May 27th at 3pm.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.
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