Books by Carol Orlock

Released: Oct. 15, 1993

Whimsical stories told by an anonymous caregiver to her aged charge that intertwine like the ribbon and the hedge of the title- -all to create a history of a person and a place in a novel that won a 1993 Western States Book Award. Small-town Milford is a ``happy-face/have-a-nice-day sort of place''—nothing terrible happens there, nobody's ever nasty, and tragedy and doubt are concepts as foreign as murder and mayhem. In this very white-bread environment, Orlock (The Goddess Letters, 1987; Inner Time, p. 919) uses a genteel Protestant sort of magic realism to give a literary gloss to the tales told on each visit to the frail and ailing Amzie Latham. Amzie lives in a house overgrown by an almost impenetrable hedge that has closed off the gate and is now reaching for the third floor. The stories, told chronologically, move from her childhood, when young Amzie went around asking neighbors to will the snow to keep falling, to a motor trip she took with retired husband Tom. In between, we twice meet old Mrs. Madden, who owned the house originally—once when she goes downtown in a futile search for free daffodils; and again when she takes a bus ride that becomes a gentle metaphorical journey to death. Meanwhile, Tom Latham, for whom ``the future was a real thing,'' has his own story, as do artist daughter Betsy, who specialized in making replicas of everything, including the town itself; an amnesiac former spy called ``Mr. Twelveclocks'' (he wears numerous watches); the local pharmacist, who falls in love with a fake Rembrandt portrait; a ghost who offers Amzie tea; and others who all experience something pleasantly off-kilter. Nice stories, nicely told, about a very nice place with nice people who need a bit of a reality check to bring them fully to life. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

The whys and wherefores of our inner clocks, zestfully presented by journalist and novelist Orlock (The Goddess Letters, 1987). You say hello, and I say goodbye. So it goes, for people's body clocks are rarely in sync—and, according to Orlock, these internal timekeepers control just about everything we think, feel, or do. Chronobiology has uncovered over a hundred biological rhythms so far, with more on the way. They fall into three categories: ultradian (short—e.g., the firing of neurons); circadian (24-hour—e.g., the wake-sleep cycle); and infradian (long—e.g., the menstrual cycle or—the longest of them all—the life/death cycle). Orlock's jaunty tour of this fledgling science includes plenty of ethology, including Darwin's studies of biorhythms in plants and earthworms. The focus, however, is on humans—who appear to be a lot like puppets tugged by chemical strings. Migraines, calorie intake, alacrity of thought—all bow before internal cycles. Some facts amaze: when asleep, we ordinarily ``breathe through one nostril for three hours, with the tissue in the other nostril slightly engorged, then we switch''; more sobering is Orlock's discussion of the millions of Americans who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder—serious depression brought on by winter. To battle the cycle blues, Orlock proffers plenty of advice: If you want to lose weight, eat in the morning; for best sex, wait until October; to cure jet lag, splash yourself with sunbeams. How to tell inner time—and how to beat the clock. Fun. Read full book review >