My newest novel, What’s Left, follows a devoted daughter’s struggle to emotionally recover from the loss of her father when she’s 11. In the story, everyone loses something, but she’s the most defiant in the sense of distrust of everything in the immediate aftermath of catastrophe.
Her desire to recover him leads to a sequence of discoveries about just what so attracted him to the large, extended Greek-American family she inhabits. Central to her quest is the trove of photographs he left behind in his studio.
As she works with a favorite aunt to organize and investigate his legacy, she learns important details about the immigrant ancestors who founded the restaurant that’s the core of the family business, as well as the pink Victorian manse that serves as their continuing headquarters. Another aunt infuses her with an appreciation of the spirit of kefi, while a third hires her to help manage rock concerts in the old church they’ve converted into a playhouse. And that’s while Cassia’s still a teen.
Along the way, she increasingly treasures her two brothers and their circle of close cousins — the squad — especially in the struggles that lie ahead. What can they save of their heritage — and what will they lose? She’s vital to the ultimate outcome.
At Smashwords now.
Cassia’s father is the central figure in my earlier Hippie Trails novels, but much of what has emerged in the intense revisions leading to What’s Left now prompts me to revise those original volumes, reissuing them with new names and new covers in the coming year to produce a more coherent, easier to read set. Please look forward to the shift as the new ebooks appear.
The adventures currently open with Daffodil Sunrise. Here the Revolution of Peace and Love rocks a once-tranquil university in the rolling hills of Indiana when her future father heads east for enlightenment. He has no clue that his aging dorm obstructs the university administration’s ambitions, but as he and his neighbors resist the old-boy network’s machinations to raze his residence for clandestine profits, their sophomoric assumptions and pranks trigger high-stakes confrontations, even before antiwar protests, illicit drugs, and free love enter the picture. It’s enough to turn any straight into a hippie. And enough to rattle both the town of Daffodil and the state of Indiana.
To sample or order, click here.
The story moves on after college, when he hits the road with his thumb outstretched and settles into a semi-communal farm in the back porch of New England. Hippie Drum is rife with dogs, cats, and chickens — all part of the conflicted ambitions that erupt in the dilapidated farmhouse and grounds he and his housemates share. Here the Revolution of Peace and Love runs smack into the realities of toilet paper shortages, sour milk, well-water outages. And free love, as our hippie boy discovers, often comes at a price.
To sample or order, go to Smashwords.
No, that’s not me on the cover, though it does bear an eerie resemblance.
Reader Aggie Snyder-Cousino wrote: “Just wanted you to know that I read and enjoyed Hippie Drum very, very much. I read it over the past weekend on my Nook and I could not put it down! Thank you … It was eloquently and beautifully written. I enjoyed reading about DL and his quest for love and peace. More hippie stories please!”
An anonymous reader posted at the Barnes & Noble site: “A surprisingly well written novel about one hippie boy’s quest for love while living on a farm with a bunch of colorful, like minded individuals. Told with eloquence and warmth, DL struggles with finding new love as he tries to recover from a broken heart. All the while he is working as a newspaper photographer and hanging with his friends at Ranchos Huevos. … A sweet, nostalgic tale about growing up and finding spirituality while living in troubled times. Hippies or any peace loving dude or dudette should read this.”
Author Penelope Merrill noted at the Smashwords site: “Hodson explores the period of young adulthood to which all of us can draw parallels: the search for someone and the search for meaning. The group at the farm stumbles along, acting and reacting to each other. An enjoyable book by an independent author most likely to be found on a site like Smashwords. I appreciate the author’s offering of a free book. I will be getting another.”
Andy of the blog Law School Is So Over relayed: “Just a note to let you know I’m really enjoying the book. I should be doing other things, but I find myself reaching for it too often! I think you’ve captured the sense of time and feeling well (those came slightly before my time, but persisted in my own network). When I was a kid, I read Divine Right’s Trip in the Whole Earth Catalog, and I hear bits of it echoing through your writing as well. As I said, good reading. It also reminds me of Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me.”
As Lauryn E. Nosek, at Nightmares, Daydreams, and Imagined Conversations, said, the novel “examines one man’s journey to define ‘hippie,’ to find love and community and maybe even himself in those first few difficult years after college. Self-reflective and insightful, the novel feels more like a memoir. … Everything in the novel has an ephemeral feel to it. But that is largely the point. Our experiences and the people we share them with, even who we are or who we feel we are at any given moment are transitory and can never be recaptured. … The characters prove at times to be as elusive for the reader as they are for DL. Like the portraits he infrequently snaps with his camera, the images are there but the fuller sense of self is elusive (often, as DL discovers repeatedly, even to themselves). The parade of near misses with women of drastically different personalities shows how lost DL is in his search, but also the interesting things one discovers while looking for something specific. … The novel’s pacing and rhythm can take some getting used to … a style that is quietly engaging and unavoidably distinctive. Subdued and laid back, imperfect but not trying to be, Jnana Hodson’s Hippie Drum embodies the recurring sentiment of ‘be cool.’”
For the Periodical Gazette, this is “a fantastic ride … fast paced … like reading the script of a television soap opera.”
And the Parasite Guy “liked reading about the commune.”
As I look back on the hippie movement, I’m still struck by the two opposite directions it appeared to be careening. One retreated back to the earth. The other zoomed toward a bohemian inner city. Subway Hitchhikers takes readers a wild ride on the urban underground of the time.
To sample or order, go to Smashwords.
The book originally appeared in 1990 as a trade paperback from Fithian Press in Santa Barbara, California. As others have said:
“From the myriad of novels that have appeared on the bookshelves in shops and stores across the country in recent years, none is more original – more daring – than Subway Hitchhikers,” wrote Jack Barnes, book critic of the New Hampshire Sunday News and the Maine Sunday Telegram. He continued by hailing its “smoothly polished poetical prose that fits together like … semi-cubistic paintings” and called it “a work which merits being read more than once to be fully savored.”
“Drawing upon the social upheaval of the late 1960s and early ’70s, Subway Hitchhikers takes the underground in all of its forms as its theme, whirling in a Mixmaster of ideas, images, jokes, nonsense, and philosophy in its central characters’ quest for meaningful community,” publisher John Leonard wrote.
“This lively and inventive novel recaptures an interesting era of American culture,” novelist Rob Swigart observed. “Subway Hitchhikers is a delight to read.”
Readers would prefer one of the remaining trade edition copies may contact me. They’re $12 apiece, postage and handling included, within the United States.
The industrial heartland
Hometown News leaps into the newspaper world I inhabited for most of my professional career. In its newly revised edition, the novel can be seen as a report from Trump country — one of the small industrial cities that have been crushed by multinational capitalism.
To sample or order, click here.
As author Nancy Crowe says, this novel “captures the small Midwestern newspaper experience so well it’s a little scary.”
What a maverick swami’s eight closest followers encounter in a single day is enough to fill this novel. As a center for the practice and study of yoga, Ashram is a strict residence free of alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs, sex, and meat — and there’s next to no privacy. No wonder their lives are transformed along the route to natural highs and enlightenment.
I know from personal experience.
To sample or copy, click here.
In Ashram, I walk a middle path between those works that breathlessly adore the guru, on one hand, and those that revel in blame, on the other. What emerges instead is a series of encounters demonstrating ways monastic life is intensely down-to-earth, mindful to little things, and a celebration of community, rather than an escape.
“Wow,” blogger Gwenda Bond remarked, “this sounds like the worst novel ever about yoga.”
It was originally published as an ebook by the PulpBits foundation in Vermont in 2005.
When Kokopelli, the mythological hunchbacked piper of the American Southwest, flees the furor he’s aroused in one Native village, he meanders to the lush orchards far to the north. There, he meets up with an Irish fiddler, and soon they’re swapping tales and music in rounds of weddings, feasting, and dancing. Sometimes they’re even welcomed.
As Kokopelli’s Hornpipe plays, the harsh land and its peoples respond. Along with laughter and healing.
Take your own look at the score by clicking here for a free copy.
Is it fantasy, steampunk, dystopia …
or something else altogether?
In Big Inca Versus a New Pony Express Rider, global intrigue collides in a declining backwater city when a green college graduate is put to work restoring the old mills along the river. In the process, an international conglomerate with money to burn runs up against ancient underground currents, and poor Bill’s caught in the middle.
For your own free copy, click here.
What happens when English Bible translator John Wycliffe and Dutch surrealist painter Hieronymus Bosch show up as refugees centuries later in a small town on the American prairie? They remain creative forces who jolt the world beyond, With a Passing Freight Train of 119 Cars and Twin Cabooses at their service.
For your own free copy, click here.
Returning to abandoned plans for two youthful novels spawns an invitation to imagine ways the stories might still unfold. The outlines and drafts stir memories of connections long lost – friends, interests, places. If anything, the world’s turned even weirder in the interim. The volume opens with a surreal presidential campaign and closes with a deadly dinner. But it could have been the other way around, a deadly presidential campaign and a surreal dinner. Just maybe.
Enjoy this collection and more at Thistle/Flinch editions.
As a footnote
Even while eschewing commercial genres when it comes to my own fiction, I seem to have created my own in Hippie Lit line and the like. It’s been a zig-zag trip, providing me a wide range of experiences to draw on and to share with readers. I hope you enjoy their unique impressions. Here’s to pleasurable reading.