DEAR MAINE: THE TRIALS AND TRIUMPHS OF MAINE’S 21ST CENTURY IMMIGRANTS
Noted British writer John Berger (1926-2017) carefully wrote: “Emigration, forced or chosen, across national borders or from village to metropolis, is the quintessential experience of our time.” And that is certainly true today in Maine.
“Dear Maine” reveals how prescient Berger’s words are, with the movement of people between continents and countries so common and dramatic. In recent years, Maine has seen an increase in emigration from foreign lands, bringing vitality, hopes, dreams, imagination and energy.
This is a powerful collection of 20 “essay-style profiles” of immigrant men and women who recently settled in Maine. The stories of their travels reflect their fear, uncertainty and doubt, as most were fleeing violence, war, poverty, political, religious and cultural persecution. The authors devoted six years to this project, a remarkable effort to highlight the sacrifices and contributions of immigrants.
Rielly and Jalali selected 20 immigrants from 18 countries and told their stories with grace and fervor. For these men and women, their stories have happy endings in Maine. They and their families are safe, healthy and prosperous American citizens, and valuable contributors to their new home. However, his journeys were often terrifying nightmares of death, injury, disease, abuse, corruption, and sacrifice. Several never saw their families again. The lucky ones were well educated and spoke English, for others the transition to a new life has been difficult.
Two Somali women have been elected to city councils in Maine; an Iraqi man is a professional boxer; a Russian girl learned English by watching The Simpsons on TV with hilarious results. The essays also provide an amazing insight into the oppressive, brutal and deadly conditions in their home countries. It is no wonder that people are fleeing from countries like Syria, Bosnia, Rwanda, Russia and El Salvador.
Their stories and successes are positive examples of why “everyone should be given a chance.”
BAD MEDICINE: A MEDICAL THRILLER
About scientists, the French biologist Jean Rostand (1894-1977) wrote: “Nothing misleads the scientist so much as a premature truth.” Either that, or the scientist deliberately falsifies the research data for some other purpose.
“Bad Medicine” is the latest medical thriller from Ogunquit author Geoffrey Cooper, starring research scientist Dr. Brad Parker and his mistress, FBI agent Karen Richmond. This is Cooper’s third mystery involving these characters, following “Nodisclosure” and “Forever.” And this one is so much better: more involved, suspenseful, exciting and believable. Cooper is a retired cancer researcher and academic administrator who brings strong professional credentials to his suspense writing. And this could easily be titled “Bad Pharma”.
Parker takes a temporary job as director of the Maine Translational Research Institute in York, a cancer research center. There are problems between two scientists vying for tenure: one is a breakout star, the other is hated by everyone, especially the pompous professors. Parker has to figure it out, but he quickly smells a rat: accusations of research sabotage, threats, false data, and the apparent poisoning of patients in a clinical trial of lung cancer drug research.
Parker is in over his head, but luckily Richmond’s FBI background brings clarity and focus to what becomes a murder investigation. He is smart, but she is much smarter, more devious, and much more ruthless. He makes a bad decision that leads to blackmail, but she finally finds the only clue that opens the case.
Cooper’s clever and timely plot reveals drug research scientists to be prickly, arrogant, sycophantic, greedy egoists with high opinions and low morals – bad combinations when sleeping with Big Pharma. Then he throws in a cold-blooded hit man and the fight for the starting spot takes on new importance. Plot twists and fast-paced action make this a fun yet scary story.
Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.