Shadow of the Wind: a Story for the Stouthearted

For those who love the ghosts lying deep in the heart of old European cities, Carlos Ruiz Zapon’s Shadow of the Wind is not to be missed. I had just begun reading this book when a writer acquaintance told me she loved the story so much she cried when it ended. For me the book was so enthralling I was almost relieved to be free of its spell. Set in Barcelona in the 1950s during Franco’s rule, the story stretches to the edge of reality and back, never breaking the ominous sense of drawing closer and closer to a truth you aren’t sure you want to know.

Deep in the heart of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, eleven-year-old Daniel Sempere is invited by his father to choose a book which he must adopt, making sure it stays alive, for life. Here he sees, its title gleaming in the light as though waiting for him, Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax. The story, a man’s search for his real father, “becomes a ghostly odyssey … in which the shadow of a cursed love slowly surfaced to haunt him until his last breath.”

Captivated by the story, Daniel sets out to find its author, but Julian Carax has disappeared as have all of his books except the copy he discovered. Daniel’s and Julian’s odyssey runs side by side, ever more closely resembling the book which “split into a thousand stories, as if it had entered a gallery of mirrors, its identity fragmented into endless reflections.”

The disparate stories of beggar-turned-confidant, Fermin, the beautiful Clara Barcelo, and best friend Tomas Aguilar, draw Daniel closer to Julian’s tale, haunted by two shadows: the cruel and ruthless Fumero and Coubert, a man with a face burned beyond identity. But not until Daniel falls in love with Tomas’s sister, Beatriz, does the shadow of Julian’s life, “cursed by a doomed love,” become his own.

Interview With Toni Fuhrman

Two weeks ago, I announced the print edition of Toni Fuhrman’s One Who Loves, and reprinted my review of the e-book edition in the spring of 2016. As promised, today I’m reprinting the interview I conducted with Toni at that time.

 

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Welcome, Toni,

 You and I met in Ann Arbor in the 70s, so we have a long history as fellow writers. I’d like you to talk about your writing background—when you began to write, where you get your ideas, how you would describe your style of writing, and what authors have inspired you. Also tell us what has sustained you as a writer through the years.

 You recently published a novel, One Who Loves (New Libri Press, 2015), which is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Apple iBooks). Do tell us what the novel is about and what inspired the story.

 Finally, what advice would you give would-be writers, and what are you working on now?

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I always liked writing, including the act of writing, which involves handling pencils, pens, and paper. I still like touching the page with a writing instrument—that closeness, that physicality. I once took a calligraphy course so that I could indulge my love of writing by hand. I also write the first draft of my novels by hand. This may seem labor intensive but it’s not, if one is working on a few pages at a time. The pages just pile up and, some months later, there are several hundred pages and that wonderful thing—a novel manuscript. Once the first draft is complete, it’s much easier to edit and rewrite on a mechanical device. Over the years, I’ve transitioned, without too much difficulty, from manual typewriter to electric typewriter to word processor to desktop to laptop.

I didn’t write extensively while studying English literature during my undergraduate and graduate years. I didn’t write a novel until a few years after that, when I took myself off to England and wrote a very bad first novel, sitting in front of a rented typewriter at a gigantic claw-foot desk, in a bed-sitting room on Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, across the street from the Thames, just down the street from the former residences of Thomas Carlyle and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

I took my first writing course—and got my first rejection (from The New Yorker)—as an undergraduate. Following graduate school, I took two other courses, one at Windsor University (with Joyce Carol Oates) and one at the University of Michigan (with Robert Haugh). That was the extent of my formal training. I was accepted at the Iowa Writers Workshop but did not attend. One of my few regrets. I was in love, and Iowa seemed much too far away. I still have (filed away somewhere) the letter of acceptance from Vance Bourjaily, at that time a writer and teacher at the Workshop.

Story ideas. Where do they come from? They are often a momentary thought, realization, or insight, during which I visualize the story, or the key elements of the story, sometimes from beginning to end. It might simply be a title—at this point nothing more than a place marker. More often than not, the title, and its accompanying note, land on a stray piece of paper. I try to remember to put the idea in some more permanent place, like a journal, before the idea is lost and gone forever. Inspiration is ephemeral. It needs to be captured and pinned down before it dissipates. There’s a Chinese proverb that goes something like this: “The faintest ink is better than the best memory.”   

An idea for a novel is not much more complicated than an idea for a short story—at least in the beginning, at least for me. I know the main character or characters. I know what the thrust of the story is. I know how it ends. The rest is process. The story unfolds as I write it.

I often write plot outlines, but only after I’ve drafted the entire manuscript, and only to assist me in recalling the sequence of events, or because a potential publisher has requested it. I don’t map out novels or stories before I write them, or as I write them, because, for me, the story and the characters have lives of their own. My job is to get the story down on the page and allow the characters to progress in their own way and at their own speed. They’re often fated, as I may already have determined the ending, but they have a lot of freedom within that boundary. Yes, sometimes they force me to rethink my endings. That’s when I know I’ve created strong characters.

In several of my novels, including One Who Loves, I’ve written in the ending, or some portion of the ending, at the very beginning of the story. Even though some might consider this a “spoiler,” I’ve found it an effective way to launch a story. Most readers, I believe, will become too involved in the story to put down the book because they know the ending. The stories I tell are not about plot but about character development.

That said, it’s probably easier for someone else to describe my writing style than for me to attempt it. My primary stylistic model and ongoing inspiration is Jane Austen. I am almost always reading Jane Austen. I read her six major novels over and over because I admire her stylistic clarity, her utter lack of sentimentality, her smooth, effortless narration, her satire, her witty and engaging dialogue, and her timeless stories of family conflict and romantic mishap. She is a realist in the best sense; that is, she portrays her flawed characters with wit, humor, and compassion. As she said in one of her letters, “Three or four Families in a Country Village is the very thing to work on.” Modestly, she refers to her literary output as “the little bit (two Inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour”—a reference to the miniaturist art (watercolor on ivory) that was popular at the time. I’ve always believed, however, that she knew how good she was. After all, at his invitation, she dedicated Emma to the Prince Regent, later King George IV, who was an admirer of her novels.

Lined up behind Jane Austen are many other novelists and philosophers whose works have inspired me. For its narrative drive: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind (a favorite from age 12). For style: Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, the short stories of Anton Chekhov, James Joyce’s Dubliners, and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. For imagination and originality: Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. For majestic storytelling: Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure; Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina; George Eliot’s Middlemarch.

For language and subtlety: Henry James’ Washington Square and The Portrait of a Lady. For brilliantly capturing a particular period and social class: Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and her New York stories. For enlightened discipline: Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (another early favorite, from age 18), Anthony Trollope’s An Autobiography, and B. K. S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga. For voice: W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge and Of Human Bondage. For compelling story: John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. For its iconic character: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

For fearlessness: D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love. For empathy: E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India. For combining mystery with narrative mastery: Dorothy Sayers’ The Nine Tailors. For narrative style and personal warmth: Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. For shattering impact: Paul Bowle’s The Sheltering Sky and Annie Proulx’s Close Range: Wyoming Stories. For their clear, inviting style and stories of ordinary people: the novels of Anne Tyler and Sue Miller.

One Who Loves had several layers of inspiration, all of which came together at one point, and became the story it is. One layer is the title itself, which comes from a line in W. Somerset Maugham’s novel, Of Human Bondage: “There’s always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved.” I’m drawn to what I can only call Maugham’s “voice”—and I found that line, which is very thematic to his novel, and to mine, most intriguing. Do we ever love equally? Does the balance always tilt one way or the other?

Another novel that inspired me was Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. Stegner is a great favorite of mine, and this is a novel I like particularly well, and have read and reread. It’s about two young married couples who meet at the University of Wisconsin and form a deep bond of friendship, which continues throughout their lives. It’s one of those novels in which nothing extraordinary happens, but which sweeps the reader into the adventure of living one’s life and enjoying one’s closest relationships.

The third layer of inspiration was not so much inspiration as observation. My son, David, lived in a co-op while attending the University of Michigan, and I was an occasional visitor on the premises. I kept a picture in my head of several of the co-op houses, and imagined one that had its own look and personality. Co-op life is a source of close and lasting friendships, as the residents share not only space but responsibilities and a special kind of interconnectedness. It seemed to suit the story I was writing, so I used it to launch my two couples—who are a generation older than my son—on their life journeys.

One Who Loves is a story of friendship and love—including obsessive, misdirected, and frustrated love—troubled and challenging friendship, and the extraordinary conflicts that impinge on seemingly ordinary lives. Liz, Patrick, Tess, and Jon meet at a University of Michigan co-op in the 70s. They quickly form lasting friendships, which continue through the 80s and 90s. Liz, the narrator, takes us on her journey as she grapples with crises of love, loyalty, and the inexorable pull of sexual attraction.

What has sustained me as a writer through the years? Stubbornness. While continuing to write and submit short stories and novels, I worked as a creative director in the marketing field and, more recently, as a feature writer. Some of my short stories were published and, intermittently, I made an effort to hunt down an agent for my novels. Then, I began submitting to independent publishing houses, and New Libri Press accepted One Who Loves. Independent presses are the lifeblood of contemporary literature.

I should add, however, that, were I not published now, I would continue to write, as I have always done throughout my adult life. Why? Because, gratifying as it is to have readers out there who are enjoying what I’ve published, I have stories I have to tell—or, perhaps, one story which I have to keep telling—and, readers or no readers, I’ll keep telling that story as long as I’m able. Although my writing is character driven and revolves around family and relationships, it is—as is all literature—influenced by a personal quest, our search for—what? Love. Purpose. Rootedness. A sense of belonging. A room of one’s own.

During my brief stints as a teacher of freshman composition, I told my students, at the beginning of each term, that becoming a better writer was an ongoing two-step process, and that both elements of the process were absolutely essential for success. The two steps, in order of importance, were (and are):

  1. Read.
  2. Write.

I would reiterate this advice often during the term, but I doubt if it made much of an impression. It’s like that timeless advice for losing weight: Eat less. Exercise more. It’s just too damn simple.

 Right now, I’m working on my next novel, first developed some years ago and undergoing a considerable makeover. The title is also undergoing change, so there’s not much point in mentioning it. It’s a novel about family (sound familiar?) in a small town (think: “Three or four Families in a Country Village”). The characters will, I hope, be fully realized (at least to the best of my ability), but their quest—in all fairness to my readers—will be only partially fulfilled. As a realist, I don’t believe in happy endings. I do, however, believe in the resilient human spirit. We aspire. We struggle. We take risks. We often fail. But we are sustained by friendship, family, and love.

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 Thank you, Toni. And I’m so glad our paths have both been sustained by such a friendship.

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For more about Toni Fuhrman and her work, visit her web page at  https://tonifuhrman.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

ONE WHO LOVES Now in Print!

I’m delighted to announce that Toni Fuhrman’s novel, One Who Loves, will be coming out in print on March 15th. Those of you who appreciate the tangled relationship of love, loss, and grief won’t want to miss this story. For a taste, here’s a reprint of the review I wrote when the e-book was published last spring.

Between the opening Somerset Maughm quote, “There is always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved,” and the end of the first scene, “Does any of it matter, now that it’s over?” lies the story of two couples and the fluctuating passions that bind them for a lifetime. The core love story is Liz’s, but the dominant character is often Tess, and together with the men they love they weave the story.

Liz’s quiet love is no match for the electric Tess, who magnetizes and energizes all around her and marries Jon, the man Liz will love first and last throughout her life. The depth of Liz’s pain colors her life but doesn’t destroy the love she bears Tess. She marries Patrick, who adores her and thus becomes the stormy nexus of the one loved and the lover.

The waves of love, jealousy, lust, and anger that flow between the four, rather than destroying the friendship seem to bond the two couples, so that it becomes the story of the many different forms of love that sustain us. Though we feel Liz’s struggles most intensely, the drafts of similar conflicts emit from each of the others. The novel’s power lies in the grace and delicacy of Toni Fuhrman’s prose as she traces the shifting balance of love and being loved through their lives.

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In my next blog, I’ll reprint the interview I conducted with Toni last spring.

Order a copy today!

 

Ann Patchett’s COMMONWEALTH: a Review

Ann Patchett, in Commonwealth has captured the lives of six children whose families have been splintered by the love affairs of their parents. She does so with humor and compassion and her always compelling grasp of storytelling and language. 

Bert Cousins, father of three (soon to be four), shows up uninvited at the christening of Beverly Keating’s second daughter with a bottle of vodka. The Keating’s tree provides an unending supply of oranges, transforming the party, shifting the attention from the infant to the adults. Bert ends up kissing Beverly, setting in motion the dissolution of two families.

The scene then shifts to the adulthood of the newborn, Franny Keating, who is keeping her father company during his chemotherapy treatment and trying to piece together her past.  The chapters that follow shift both in time and in point of view, moving from one life to another, slowly binding together the six offspring who spend most of the year with their respective mothers, but run wild together in the summers.

Patchett’s unerring grip on character, with all of its oddities plus the mixture of humor and pain keep the reader engrossed. Franny and the Cousins’ youngest, Albie, emerge as the central characters, gradually revealing the secrets of those summers, while in the background their parents’ attention is largely elsewhere.

It has taken me a long time to decide how I feel about this book. It is an engrossing read, but the shifting chronology left me with a sense of jumbled lives without a center. I’ve now decided that effect is deliberate. This is a story of the commonwealth, of the fragility of adult-centered relationships and of children set adrift half-formed and without grounding.  That they emerge, finally, gives the tale its redemptive value, but the book should shake up any complacency about the new norms of family we’ve accepted.

 

New Book Coming?

News!

The Camera’s Eye, a new manuscript

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Many thanks to Chanticleer Reviews for their support of Indie authors. Hawkins Lane and Home Fires both won first in category awards in 2016 and 2014 respectively. Do check out their great book review site at #CAC17, #SeriousAuthors, #SomersetShortlister, and Twitter account @ChantiReviews. 

This manuscript was also a finalist for the William Faulkner Wisdom Award in 2015.

Here’s the blurb

A rock through the window ends the peaceful existence photographer, Veronica Lorimore, and attorney, Charlotte McAllister, have sought on an island in the Puget Sound. Faced with the disinterest of the local police, they explore possible culprits, ranging from a vagrant boy known to break into empty houses, criminals Charlotte has put away as prosecuting attorney, and islanders angered by Veronica’s recently published photo book. Their search leads to members of a local church group that believes they are lesbians—a belief that echoes, for Veronica, that of her own estranged children’ accusation—and to a boy Charlotte had removed from his addicted mother. The discovery that Veronica’s daughter is the youth group’s leader shifts the search to her own troubled past. The attacks continue and worsen, leading to her missing son, and impending discovery panics their young attacker, leading to tragedy and profound rethinking by all those involved.

Let’s hope it finds a publisher soon!

Thoughts on This Fateful Year

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This year’s jolting events should make us stop and think. All of us, right and left. It has jolted me enough that this blog has gone silent these last weeks, and perhaps that’s a good thing. It’s time to put down the drums we’ve been beating and take a good hard look at where they’ve taken us. Here’s my hard look, and I invite others to share theirs.

I came of age in the Fifties, when Joe McCarthy used the fear of communism to make his opponents “enemies,” “a danger to the American red-scareway of life” and lead an inquisition that destroyed careers. That change in language from “opponents” to “enemies” has shaped the politics ever since. Words matter. We may fight opponents, try to persuade them, or ignore them. We destroy enemies. The language of war is not the language of argument or civil discourse; hatred of enemies is called “patriotism,” dissent is called “treason,” “selling out.” Thinking becomes “waffling.” We are united by fear and its near cousin, hatred.

I was raising children during the Sixties when the young, angry and betrayed, rebelled with a revolution of their own. Through unity and numbers they have created great change for the good, especially for minorities and marginalized, but their language was, and is, the language of sixties-war-protestwar. Calls for revolution are calls for violence—the overthrow of entire systems of order.  Liberals insisted they meant peaceful change, but the word matters, and the reaction to it was fear, solidifying of the other side and increasing bitterness and hatred. Rather than persuading others, the language of civil argument, they created their own closed community, an ever more rigid ideology, silencing thought, rejecting all dissent as “selling out” or “racism”—the new word for “enemy.”

If you are one of the silenced ones, I join you—and I am a moderate liberal, not a conservative. I am not proud of my silence, but in the ever increasing bitterness, to disagree was to be dismissed as “an establishment patsy.” When Obama’s election came simultaneously with the crash of 2008, I told my fellow Democrats it was time to start conversations with Republicans. I was told they didn’t know how to talk to Republicans. So they went on, bringing in speakers that only increased their dogmatic rigidity while Republicans did the same, splitting into dogmatic, rigid, isolated groups.

The more people isolate themselves into camps, the more they identify themselves by that camp and denigrate “those others,” the less they know through interaction, the more they reinforce each other’s hatred. Many complained about the polarization and gridlock, but we seemed helpless to change our ways.

Trump

And so now a leader has risen to give voice to the hatred of the silenced, and our very institutions are threatened. Demonstrations, protests, and movements will only add fuel to the fire, but the young, who have grown up in the war climate, know no other way. We did this.

 

th (Pogo, Earth Day, 1971)

 

Illumination Night: Love and Redemption in the Hands of a Master Storyteller

illumination-night

We enter Alice Hoffman’s Illumination Night through the eyes of Simon, stretching to gaze out of his window on a hot summer morning. Simple details give us Simon’s four-year-old world—his room, his mother in the kitchen, his father out in the shed, the sound of the sea, something gauzy and white floating from the window of the house next door.

In the house next door, Elizabeth Renny, seventy-four and fearing another winter alone, gazes through the gauzy whit curtain and feels the weight of her bones lighten.

In the shed, Simon’s father sees his wife’s plates slide off her kiln and looks out to see the gauzy white shape of Elizabeth Renny on the ground.

Thus Alice Hoffman paints her canvas—two houses in a lazy hot seaside summer morning. Yet the very ordinariness of the scene and people contain all of the driving forces of the novel. Simon is small and fears he will not grow. His mother, Vonny, fears for him also and wants more engagement from her silent husband, Andre, who is happiest alone. Next door, Elizabeth feels the weight of age lift and decides she can fly.

When granddaughter, Jody, is brought in to care for Elizabeth, who has broken her leg and collarbone, the cast is very nearly complete. Moving from viewpoint to viewpoint, Hoffman weaves the longings and impulses of the characters that carry them toward tragedy and test their resiliency and capacity for growth. It is as though we can hold the group within our cupped hand as watch the human capacity for folly, tragedy, resiliency and growth played out in full.  Alice Hoffman is surely on my list of master storytellers.

Don’t Miss Indie Author Day!

Inviting you to

self-e_indieauthorday_logo_tshirt-01-e1462823856596

Saturday, October 8

11AM PDT, 2PM EDT

Libraries across the nation will join in a webcast introducing their local indie authors (authors who self-publish or publish through small presses)

I will be joining authors from the Skagit Valley on the Mount Vernon Library panel

Click here for the link

For those of you who aren’t writers and so are not totally immersed in the publishing revolution, here’s your introduction to the life of today’s authors. For those of you who are, here’s a national forum of the state of the art today. Most of the panel, in Mount Vernon at least, will be self-published authors, but I will speak about the role small presses play in the revolution. Do join us for the webcast.

 

All Book covers

All Book covers

 

 

Masterful Suspense: The Poison Tree

 

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Erin Kelly opens THE POISON TREE with a phone call that dries the saliva in the protagonist’s mouth and sends her driving across a frozen London in her pajamas and boots. We do not know who she is except that she has done terrible things for her family and the phone call is driving her to … what? Or is she running from? The answer will not come until the end of the book, but the gradual unfolding of the tale will keep you reading, ready for catastrophe in every chapter.

Then the still unnamed protagonist and her daughter, recently reunited with her husband after and unexplained absence of ten years, revisit a house in Highgate. The house, sealed over with renovation, gives no hint of the run-down, decrepit, shambles of the house or the crime committed there, a crime central to their lives.

Only then are we introduced to seventeen-year-old Karen Clarke, a gifted linguistic student at Queen Charlotte’s College who meets and becomes infatuated with Bibi, exotic and free-living drama student. Her entanglement with Bibi and the ancestral home she shares with her brother will carry Karen into a chaotic, party driven life that collapses in disaster at the very moment it shows signs of pulling itself together.

The mastery of this story lies in its telling. Moving from present to past and back again, our understanding grows as the family haunted by the past and the past itself draw ever closer together. When they unite in the final chapters, the meaning of the poison tree hits with full impact. I do not love the characters of this book, and for me that’s usually a big drawback. In this case, however, the masterful job of storytelling overwhelms all.

Another Tale for Today

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Browsing through my notes, I came across this dialogue exercise I wrote for a class many years ago. It’s not nearly the level of Tony Fuhrman’s poem, but it seems singularly appropriate to the level of social and political scene today.

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A Tale for Today

“My mom said if I got kept after again I couldn’t go out for a month!”

“Don’t tell her. Tell her you stopped at the creek on the way home.”

Naaa–she’ll find out.”

“Ya, Ol’ Prissy Smithy’ll be calling your ma just so your ma understands exactly what you did.”

“Your ma, too.”

“Who’s that kid over there?”

“Dunno. One of those jerks they’ve been busing in.”

“What’s he watchin’ us for?”

“Dunno. There goes Sammy talking to him.”

“How come Sammy doesn’t have to stay after? He was texting as much as we were.”

“Heyu Sammy! How come the teacher didn’t make you stay after?”

“He acts like he doesn’t’ hear you.”

“Like the guy is a friend of his.” Reuban said.

“Yeah, Sammy always was weird.”

“Did you see that shiny shirt he wears? All purple with funny designs. Like some alien from outer space.”

“Bet they’re talking about us, too.”

“Heard one of those kids grabbed Jimmy Green’s pack and ran off with it—laughing up a storm.”

“Didn’t get into a bit of trouble for it either, I bet.”

“Teacher’s pets, the whole bunch. ‘Now you have to be nice to the new children!’ Like we’re a bunch of kindergardners.”

“Yeah. Coach even made one of them pitcher. Pitcher! Can you believe that?”

“Ain’t fair.”

“Ain’t. And we’re the ones have to stay after.”

“There’s the bell.”

“Better get ourselves in or we’ll be in more shit.”

“Yeah. Let’s go. … Whatcha looking at, weirdo?”

“Nothin.’”

“He was. Git him!”

 

An Ode for Today from Toni Fuhrman

 

Orlando Shooting

Every time we awake to another mass shooting, we grow a little more numb, a little less alive. What will it take to shake us out of this ever more detached state of being? Toni Fuhrman’s poem, While I Slept,  did that for me, and I would like to share it with you. Please do take a moment and click here. You will not be sorry, I promise you.

My hat’s off to Toni (and not for the first time) for taking the time to translate her own state of being into poetry as well as for the poem itself. While I Slept does what poetry is supposed to do–bring  alive the incongruous state in which we are living these days.

Chattanooga TN shootingColorado Springs shootingFerguson

 

 

 

 

 

In our helplessness, we forget our greatest power–taking up our pens. For language is power and poetry distills that power, preserves the reality of our existence. We can do something! Thank you, Toni, for reminding us, and for While I Slept. Please, everyone, GO READ IT and SHARE it.

The Headmaster’s Wife: A Read for the Soul

The Headmasters Wife

A naked old man found wandering through Central Park turns out to be the Headmaster of a Vermont elite prep school. How can this be? How can such a man come to this? It violates every belief we carry about the inhabitants of that world. The tragedy Thomas Greene weaves of obsession, grief and loss that break the soul will carry you with all of the suspense and absorption of a first class mystery.

Arthur Winthrop, son of Lancaster School’s headmaster lives a predestined life. He will become Headmaster in his turn. He falls in love with Betsy Pappas, a scholarship student, and all is well, but then Betsy meets another man. Arthur’s love becomes an obsession, carrying him into actions that will doom his marriage and lead to further obsessions.

For Betsy Pappas, a child of chaotic shifts in fortune, Arthur promises a life of stability and dignity, an attraction that, for a sixteen year old, is easily confused with love. But then she meets her true love and what follows will live on to crumble their marriage and derange their souls.

One blow will finish the job and the death of their son in Iraq provides it. This is not a tale that ends well; on the contrary, it speaks to the fragility of the human psyche—where uncontrolled grief can carry us, what our need for security can lead us to accept, the cost to our sanity to going one step too far—the fatal weaknesses that can destroy us. It is a tragedy in the fullest meaning of that word.

Woo Themes, Canvas - Designer, Kate L Williams

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