Monthly Archives: July 2018

One of those heart-stoppy ones

From blogger, living read girl.

“Now, I did intend to read one of the other books on my High Summer TBR pile but alas, my attention was lured away to one of my recent library loans and I really don’t regret that at all.

Terri-Lynne DeFino’s The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers(and Their Muses) is the true definition of an enchanting read. While the main action of the story is set in 1999, where legendary author Alfonse Carducci arrives at the title location to live out his last days, a good chunk of the book is set in the 1950s.

That portion is a work in progress, as the ailing Alfonse regains his desire to write again due to Cecibel Bringer, a young woman working as an orderly whose scarred face matches the emotional scars on her soul. At first, Alfonse keeps his work a secret but then one of his contemporaries, the still feisty Olivia Peppernell , is asked for her opinion on his story and winds up adding a few chapters of her own.

The spark of literary inspiration jumps to two more of their fellow residents(one of which is an editor suffering from early memory loss) and Cecibel is given the chance to read along as they write along. You’re not only following the lives of Alfonse and friends, you’re also following the forbidden romance of Aldo and Cecilia, who are trapped by their social roles in the fifties to be together and yet always apart.

Both stories come to a moving and thoughtful conclusion, giving the reader a double blessing and a few surprises for each set of fictional folk. It may be bittersweet at times but DeFino balances the changing tones of both stories with a sure hand and infinite grace. If you haven’t read this book yet, I strongly urge to do so as soon as you can. A good story that showcases the joys and sorrows that real love possesses is a pearl that needs to be treasured, even if it’s just the once.”

Swooooooooooon!

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Fishing

There’s a fishing pole in the rafters
out on the front porch of this house on the river
He bought it one day, convinced it would quiet the chaos
Give him some zen
A fly rod, dancing the line out over the water
Enticing bass
He tied a few flies. I wouldn’t know
If they’re any good. But he was proud of
Those lures.
He only went a couple of times. The zen didn’t happen
The calm didn’t come
But he had one perfect day on the water
With his dad, casting the line
Casting, dancing, searching
One day is something, at least
The rod stays with the house.
It’s where it belongs. Here in this haven that was his cage
His safety net
His noose.

flyfishing

TLD

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So I Can Find It Again

The author posted this on my Facebook timeline yesterday, but I wanted it here, where I can easily find it again. I wish I could put ALL my (good!) reviews here, but that would be obnoxious. Modesty may be for suckers, but obnoxious is as obnoxious does, right? 😉

Beyond The Cover Review

Having read fantasy and romance from DeFino, I wondered how a straight up fiction novel of hers would be. I know that DeFino dislikes being pigeon holed into genres since she sees so many books falling into more than one. Which is exactly the case with The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers. In fact, her straight up fiction book has both romance and fantasy neatly inserted within its pages.

Set in, yes, (you guessed it), Bar Harbor at, yes, (you’re right again), a retirement home for aging writers, DeFino quickly introduces a cast of diverse and thoroughly developed characters. Of the writers, there is Alfonse, a sort of elderly Dos Equis man, the most famous of the authors. Then, there is Olivia, his ex-lover and quick-witted marijuana smoker; Judi, the group stenographer who laments the realization of her increasing dementia, and Switch, the taciturn, good hearted spoil sport. On the employee side, there is Dr. Kintz, kind and flustered, as he tries to manage these aging autocrats as well as his trove of damaged employees. And, Cecibel, the physically marred orderly who becomes Alfonse’s muse; Sal, the massive black nurse who moonlights as Wispy Flicker, the drag queen; and, Fin, the convicted murderer. Yep, I have that right.

As his last hurrah, inspired by Cecibel, Alfonse begins writing his final novel. It becomes a group project as the authors each take their turns adding to the story. How it evolves and ends and how all these characters interact with one another is part of this story’s magic. And, true to her roots, DeFino works in bits of romance and fantasy. There is a dream like quality to the relationship between Alfonse and Cecibel which goes well beyond patient and caregiver. At first, I was a little unnerved by the sensuality between these two, but DeFino’s writing simply exposes love that exists in places we often fail to look. And, also, who’s to judge what’s appropriate when it comes to love better than the lovers themselves?

DeFino’s timing between the story unfolding at the retirement home and the one that the authors are writing is pitch perfect. Just as you’re about to reach the cathartic moments in each story, she switches you to the other such that you have to keep reading to find out what happened in the previous plot line.

DeFino’s “jump” to fiction is seamless because it really wasn’t a jump at all. She brings together the best of her different story telling techniques to yield a lovely book that addresses dark issues but leaves the reader feeling hopeful and filled with love.

The retirement home for aging writers is a figment of DeFino’s imagination but I can picture it perfectly and hope that maybe, at some point in the future, there might actually be such a place.

Published: 2018
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Elizabeth’s rating: 4 stars

BarHarbor_PB_Final

Coming June 12, 2018

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Friday the 13th

“It’s marked as deceased. No one can do anything with it.”

Those words, overheard just now, they

hurt. Sorrow welled up and

out of my throat.

I covered my face so

my husband wouldn’t hear, wouldn’t

know, because those words hadn’t hit him

The way they hit me.

 

Two nights ago, a phone call from Texas:

“I’m calling for Christofer J. DeFino,

About a car he just asked about online.”

“He’s gone three years now. It couldn’t have been him.”

“I’m sorry, so sorry.”

My husband said it was our boy pulling a prank, letting us know

he’s still around to do so. I feared someone using

his name,

his identity.

That’s where we are, now. Him and me,

He and I,

Us.

“It’s marked as deceased. No one can do anything with it.”

Social Security, moments ago, assured my husband on the phone.

Upstairs, writing at my computer, I broke

into silent tears. He’ll read this and

He’ll know, silent will no longer

be silent.

They’re here, on this page, screaming.

~TLD

images

 

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Boxes, Needles, and Dust

We sold the house. Move date is nebulously the first week in August. The new owner wants to move in here August 15. Much packing has been in the works. The dust in a well-kept house makes me shudder to think about how it would have been had I been less diligent about it. Boxes and boxes and stuff and stuff and donations and donations. I am wildly, brutally purging, and still I have too much stuff.

I put off doing Chris’ room (aka, Frank’s den, aka, the hoarding room) for as long as possible. The house is as packed up as it can be while we’re still living in it. It was time. All the things I put in the closet of that room-waiting (the Curaleaf Tshirt, the weightlifting trophies, the cards and notebooks and poetry and equations) needed to be packed away.

We bought bins. (Bins. My son’s life condensed into bins.) That alone is enough to make the lump rise in my throat, the tears sting the back of my eyes. I tried not to look through things as I packed them away. (The marvel of those pages of equations that meant something to him. To other minds that work like his.) I put on his shirt and wrapped up in a sheetboth still Chris scented. I cried, and I put them away. I grabbed his gym bag, that sweaty, battered gym bag, and put it in last.

Two needles fell out.

The fury. The fury. At him for doing what he did. At myself for not seeing what I should have seen, knowing what I should have known. Please don’t tell me I couldn’t have, or that it wouldn’t have mattered. Logic has no say in anything sometimes. Today, I know he was always going to be a step ahead of me. Today, I know it might not have mattered then, and probably wouldn’t have in the long run. But those needles fell out of his bag, and the fury rose and rose and rose, accompanied by its best pal, guilt, followed behind by the soul-ripping sorrow that’s always going to be lurking inside me, waiting for an opportunity to stretch and claw its way out.

Its all packed away. The brilliance and the scents and the memories, good and bad. I considered keeping those needles, a morbid thing to consider. I snapped off the tips. I bent them in half. I threw them into the firepit and watched them burn.

We’re moving. A new phase in life, begun the day he died (the day he fell, the day he first used, the day he broke his ankle, his spirit) is well and truly on. I hope this log house on the river, in the woods, this house I’ve dreamed of as long as I can remember, gets to be what it deserves to be in my memory. Only leaving it is going to let that happen. I want to remember all the good times we had here, the beauty of this place, the peace and the love. Once the shadows are no longer hovering every day, I think it can be.

I suppose we’ll see soon enough.

 

grief

Melancholy by Albert György in Geneva, Switzerland

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