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Ursula Dreaming

When you consider my non-fiction books and my academic background, the themes which permeate my recently published first novel, Ursula Dreaming, should come as no surprise. Dreams, to be sure. And then there's language psychology (linguistic relativity and the languages of the Native Americans), architecture and skyscrapers, and ethnic identity.


Here's a summary:


When Ursula Cocheta, a young artist from an Apache reservation in Arizona, enrolls in a course on dream psychology at NYU, she hopes to gain self-knowledge, and inspiration for her artwork. But then she sees the young lecturer Dr. Jonathan Cohnheim and hears his passionate talk about the intricacies of the human psyche. When he tells a dream of his which is uncannily like one of her own, Ursula senses that their destinies were meant to entwine for some unknown higher purpose.


Ursula is unsettled by the intellect and erudition of Jonathan, who is game for no more than a fling. Furthermore, she is experiencing an identity crisis around her Indian heritage just as he is about his Jewish heritage. Both peoples are disappearing as distinct ethnicities due to assimilation and intermarriage, all the more in the megacity. But Ursula draws power from her spiritual ancestor Lozen, the fierce real-life female warrior who confounded the overwhelming might of the US cavalry with her brilliant tactics and seemingly paranormal gifts.


Sex as a weapon, tactical deceptions, extrasensory spying, cruel retaliation – all's fair in love and war. Jonathan and Ursula's intimate warfare is played out from the depths of her psyche, as they explore her dreams and artwork in her Lower East Side flat, to the heights of New York's iconic skyscrapers.


Ursula hardly has the chance to savor her victory over her intimate adversary before events from her teenage past come back to bedevil her, shattering her bond with him.


When the media report a bizarre ritual murder of a cult leader on an Apache reservation in Arizona, Jonathan recalls one of Ursula's dreams and realizes she is the perpetrator. As Ursula gets entangled in a web of suspicion, Jonathan knows there is only one way to get his guilty ex off the hook – a technique based on a strange characteristic of her Apache language. He's inclined to dismiss her pleas that her horrific murder was morally justified. But he's also tempted by his rekindled passion for her and a vision of a half-Indian girl in a dream.