Tag Archives: Royal Oak

Natalie Taylor Soars in ‘Signs of Life’

Cover ImageWhat do you do if you’re 24 years old, five months pregnant, and your husband suddenly – tragically – dies? If you’re Natalie Taylor you write one honestly good book. Yes, we all know that shelves sag with overdone memoirs of tainted childhoods, deeds done wrong, and ruined lives, but Taylor defies the dark and opts to soar instead with this tight uplifter, Signs of Life.

Natalie’s husband Josh Taylor died on Father’s Day of 2007. He was 27 years old, married to the woman he loved, and happily awaiting the birth of their first child. Who would have thought that a quick blow to the back of his head while Carveboarding would put an end to his own life just as the one he created was beginning to bloom?

Signs of Life is the narrative compilation of Natalie Taylor’s journal entries that span the year following her husband’s death, yet Taylor’s pragmatic approach toward handling her grief is precisely what lands Signs of Life in its own little camp of the genre. Though Taylor’s voice cuts with pure pain and candor, she unwittingly softens the blow with her straight-forward sincerity and unwavering humor.

“When I decide to do something, I want it done quickly. I do not dilly-dally. When Dr. G. told me that grief takes time, I wanted to say, ‘But what about for the smart kids?’ I took Advanced Placement Calculus in high school. Let’s talk Advanced Placement Grief. But one of the first things I realize about this stupid emotion is that AP Grief does not exist. Time goes by, weeks pass, a month passes, my belly grows, my hair grows, but when I wake up in the morning it feels exactly the same. Grief goes at its own speed.”*

As Taylor begins to piece together the brokenness of her life, the fog of her grief lifts just enough to reveal a bit more of both herself and the world around her. Through Josh’s death, Taylor is inadvertently exposed to life outside of the insulated bubble in which she grew up. Instead of self-absorption with her own sorrows, however, Taylor finds in herself an unexpected wellspring of compassion and understanding for all walks of life.

Taylor is a high school English teacher and she structures Signs of Life around the books she teaches and those that pass through her hands the year after Josh’s death. Seeking solace through literature, Taylor looks to some heavy hitters for help. Alice Walker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ralph Waldo Emerson are but a few of the many authors who step up to hold Taylor’s grieving hand.

Also balanced by the support of some killer friends and family, Taylor puts you on a nickname basis with Ads, Matthews, Moo and more, but it’s never overdone. Taylor’s memoir is incredibly fresh and breathes life and hilarity into the not-so-funny-at-all topics of death, darkness and grief. While Signs of Life is based on Josh Taylor’s terribly sad and untimely death, one can’t miss the budding evolution of a determined woman, a beautiful baby boy, and the incredible ongoing power of life.

-Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

Post by Megan Shaffer

*Passage taken from review copy of Signs of Life

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Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Natalie Taylor, Signs of Life

Chef George Vutetakis Brings Back ‘Vegetarian Traditions’

George Vutetakis is coming home this weekend. Though he now resides in San Diego, the culinary progressive and former owner of The Inn Season Cafe in Royal Oak is revisiting his “roots” with his latest work Vegetarian Traditions.

Veggies have made quite a comeback over the last decade, and no doubt Vutetakis has played a pivotal role in their fame. Before “Whole Foods” and other chains began to tout and commercialize the value of organics and natural, healthy fare, Royal Oak’s very own was already far ahead of the trend.

As stated of Mr. Vutetakis on his site, “His reputation as a leader in the creation of delicious, healthy and innovative vegetarian cuisine using fresh, unadulterated ingredients flourished as chef and owner of the award winning Inn Season Cafe in Royal Oak, Michigan.” You can read all about the famed chef, author, and teacher here, or check out his popular blog at www.thevegetarianguy.com.

George Vutetakis will appear at  The Book Beat on Sunday, June 13th at 2:00 pm to promote his cookbook Vegetarian Traditions:  Favorite Recipes From My Years at the Legendary Inn Season Cafe. As always, check all dates and times before stepping out the door.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by  Megan Shaffer

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-‘Vegetarian Traditions’ is available at several local outlets including one of my favorites, the Birmingham Farmers Market.

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