Literary arts

Transformative experiences

New books offer a look at the journey of dreams and souls

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Searches are big in this week’s books. The first, a nonfiction book, is what the author calls “an invitation to consider a new perspective on how to navigate your life.” The second, a dystopian novel for young adults, has characters that find a way to escape a miserable existence.

Curriculum of the Soul

As it often happens, a close encounter with death can precede a revelation.

In Taos author Rick Haltermann’s case, he admits to being suicidal when he decided to witness the fresh lava emitting from Kilauea in Hawaii’s Volcano National Park. Despite warning signs, he nearly got caught in the hot lava that was surrounding him. But he chose to rescue himself and get professional help.

Haltermann made recovery his full-time job, including becoming a noetic balancing practitioner. (Noetic balancing is also known as “aura balancing.”)

And as a result, he created this hefty, 378-page, 7-inch-by-10-inch volume, which he describes as a general guide that needs to be interpreted individually.

Thankfully, Haltermann, who is also a photographer and musician, wrote his book in an approachable style and makes his points without being preachy about it.

He also couples his observations and insights with 150 poems and quotes from learned folk.

Haltermann offers this suggestion: Read the introduction and then choose the chapters that resonate. That’s what I did.

The topics I selected were: curiosity, art, abundance and gratitude. Here are some quotes from those sections.

Curiosity: “I suggest that curiosity may bring a fresh approach to our practice of silence, solitude, and even to revelations regarding the whole of the world we live in.”

Art: “What is your art? Perhaps something [not] normally thought of as art? Listening deeply; saying the right thing at the right time; being a skillful electrician; a gift for empathy; a deep sense of compassion; the ability, when necessary, to forgive others as well as yourself?”

Abundance: “Saying yes to the world is living in abundance.”

Gratitude: “Thankfulness deepens our spiritual nature and who we really are.”

Want to learn more? Haltermann will give a reading at the SOMOS Winter Writers Series this Wednesday (Feb. 8), 7 p.m. at SOMOS, 108-B Civic Plaza Drive, Taos. The event is free.

“Curriculum of the Soul,” published by Blue Coyote Books, costs $30.

Dreams of a New Day

It’s a wretched world after the Great Chaos of 2044. The Walker Complex, one of many owned by The Company, is a prison for the youth who live there. The girls work in the laundry. The boys are in the mines.

They’re served synthetic crap for food. They’re not allowed to have friends, attend school or go outside.

Then there’s the creepy prospect of girls of being selected for the Procreation Complex. Their reward is to work in the cafeteria.

Ron Ramsay Hagg has indeed created a bleak setting for this sci-fi novel set 29 years or so into the future.

But Hagg offers a bit of optimism when Mara-95501 and Nora-96781 dare to be friends despite the watchful eyes of the adults. They also discover an escape route from the complex. Along the way, they hook up with Sam-10201 from the boys’ dorm.

The trio shares a common bond: prophetic dreams that bring them hope about the outside world.

Early in the novel, Nora tells Mara, “When I sleep I have these great things happen to me. They’re like stories, but not like the ones we see on television. Do these [stories] happen to you at night?”

Surprisingly, their escape on foot is rather easy. Outside the complex, they encounter nature for the first time. And Nora and Sam learn a bit about young adult romance.

But the trio faces the risks of wilderness survival, including having enough food. They might have to risk sneaking back to the complex for more.

Luckily for the friends — and readers — the pace picks up when they find a solar-powered shelter packed with provisions such as food, books and recordings made by its previous habitant that educate the trio about social injustice.

Now Mara, Nora and Sam must make a decision. Should they return to the complex to liberate those being held captive? Well, I’m not telling.

This is Hagg’s third novel, including “Escape in Time,” which was made into a feature-length film. A fourth, “To Keep from Drowning,” will be released soon.

“Dreams of a New Day” is a 153-page paperback that costs $14.95.

Authors: Have a recently released book you would like reviewed in this column? Mail a copy to Joan Livingston c/o The Taos News, 226 Albright St., Taos, NM, 87571 – or drop it off at the newsroom at 226 Albright St. in Taos. Priority is given to Southwest authors and/or books set in the region.

Joan Livingston is a writer and reader living in Ranchos de Taos. For more information, visit joanlivingston.net.

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