PRAIRIE DOG BLUES
By Mark Conkling
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Meet the Corleys: Mom and Pop and their three grown kids—Jeff, Ida, and Junior—a zany but lovable family living in a changing neighborhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mom wants to fix each of her children’s problems—Jeff’s gambling, Ida’s promiscuity, Junior’s drinking—and to create a normal family. She convinces Pop to sell the family land and give $500,000 to each of their children, believing the money will solve their woes. However, hundreds of prairie dogs and the City Council’s animal ordinance stop the sale.
The Corleys try various methods to remove the critters—shooting them, blowing them up, rounding them up and trucking them away—but they all fail. Immersed in conflict, humor, and irony, the prairie dogs come up out of their holes and into each of the Corleys’ hearts, mysteriously softening their hard edges, helping them to find healing deep in Mother Nature. As disease befalls the prairie dogs, and just as it seems the Corleys will get rich, they discover that it is love, not money that is the true wealth of their family.
Mark Conkling—teacher, homebuilder, realtor, finance manager, retired Methodist pastor—returns to his writing career with this first novel. Mark lives in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, works with his wife Patricia (Meadowlark Family Healthcare), walks his dog in the Bosque near the Rio Grande, frequents the recovery community (AA), writes fiction, and seeks daily peace of mind. His short fiction was published in the Minnetonka Review and Diverse Voices Quarterly. Years ago, as a university professor (PhD, philosophy and psychology), Mark published several academic articles in existential philosophy and psychology, including “Consciousness and the Unconscious in William James' Principles of Psychology,” (Human Inquiries), “Sartre's Refutation of the Freudian Unconscious,” (Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry), and “Ryle's Mistake About Consciousness” (Philosophy Today).
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