“This was the burden Charlie Bader was unable to lay down: his need for softness.” In one quiet sentence, Jan Maher captures the heart of Earth As It Is, a richly layered novel about one person’s journey across time, place, and gender to find softness, community, and love.
In the hands of a lesser writer, a novel about a cross-dressing man living as a woman could become shallow and sensationalist, but not in Maher’s. Maher’s understanding and empathy for the honest complexity of individuals is a gift both to her characters and her readers.
Maher constructs her novel in such a way so that when Charlie Bader moves to Heaven, Indiana, as Charlene, readers know Charlie’s history but Heaven’s residents do not. To them, Charlene is just Charlene, the hairdresser who shampoos, cuts, and perms the hair of Heaven’s women even as she hears and holds in confidence their stories and secrets. Charlene is a woman to be trusted, and so they do, to the benefit of the whole community.
Earth As It Is reminds readers that Earth truly is as it is, woven through with heartache, longing, secrets, love, sacred trust, softness, and a desire to be in every moment one’s best and truest self.
While we all adjust to the uninvited consequences of the pandemic, please consider investing time in your creativity. Few explorations are more transformative and empowering than cultivating your art.
Submissions for the 2020 Ink Cloud publication will remain open until April 19th. Please share your original poetry with us. Original artwork for the magazine’s cover remains just as welcome.
Contingent on student and staff interest and time, the Ink Cloud Open Mic is still possible, but the venue would be moved online. Expect those specifics mid-April. In the meantime, stay safe and create.
Scribd is a subscription ebook and audiobook service. For one month staring March 17th to April 17th, they are providing free access to their collections for any new customer. Access will end; you will not be automatically enrolled. We have tried this free service and recommend it. We were required to download a free app on our mobile phone to use the service.
Reading a ripping yarn is a great way to relax during these stressful times. You will find many of the same titles in the Scribd ebook collection as we have in our current Baker & Taylor print collection. The Scribd collection also includes the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Atlantic, and other titles useful for course work assignments. (We have access to these titles in our databases, with various embargo periods.)