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    Musa Al-Halool is a native of the Syrian city of Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River in the Syrian desert and a few years ago claimed by the Islamic State as the center of their so-called caliphate. Now, the city is ruined, the Islamic state has fled, and Syrians like our author whose family homes have been destroyed are giving thought to the biting ironies of life as they pursue their careers in exile.

    Musa Al-Halool developed these stories based on a sense of embitterment toward the Syrian regime. Now, after his country has fallen from the frying pan of an obtuse and rigidly bureaucratic state into the fire of war, suffering, and mass murder . . . he presents them as the response of one still-sane voice in the midst of madness.

    The collection opens with eight political fables in a chapter titled "Ratstan" . . . or the country of "rats." These fables introduce themes which are picked up and developed in the later stories or simply serve as counterpoint to the longer pieces.

    Work in progress - not yet for sale.

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    Work in progress - not yet for sale.

    "Steven Schlesser and his sisters lead a privileged childhood in Portland, Oregon financed by their father's business. Dad had developed an innovative way to provide pre-painted material for use in building the cheapest and most-reviled form of housing in the US, immortalized in plaintive country western tunes and brought before the public in Bill Clinton's most sleazy love affairs. We are talking about trailers also known as mobile homes. (The industry preferred the term "manufactured housing.") 

    After World War II, decent folk took jobs with big corporations that enabled them to qualify for FHA mortgages. They moved into freshly painted two bedroom houses in the suburbs. What about the other half? Seasonal workers, traveling salesmen, low paid factory staff, mothers without a breadwinner, drunks, druggies, failed criminals, perverts--all kinds of losers, outcasts, and hard luck cases moved into urban slums and into even less expensive and less stable neighborhoods: trailer park encampments at the edge of town.

    Steven Schlesser and his two sisters grew up in a good neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. As children, they had two loving parents and never worried about money. Brimming with confidence after graduating from college and law school, Steve joined his father's firm. The two created a juggernaut."

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    Work in progress - not yet for sale.

    Over the last few years on a mountaintop above the Mediterranean: An architect who had lived through the Lebanese Civil War and a day laborer who fled Syria as a refugee slowly created a palace of words. They now offer "Blood & Desire" as a construction of heart, soul, and mind--a necessary first step in rebuilding lives, families, communities, and the inhabited spaces of the Levant. 

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