Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests








Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Loving Modigliani - The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne - A novel by Linda Lappin - 2020


 






Loving Modigliani - The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne A novel by Linda Lappin - 2020



Website of Linda Lappin



Gateway to Linda Lappin on The Reading Life


My Q and A session with Linda Lappin


My post on The Soul of Place, A Creative Writing Workbook, Ideas and Exercises for Capturing the Genius Loci

 




I have been an avid reader of Linda Lappin ever since I read her award winning novel, Katherine's Wish, based on the last years of the life of Katherine Mansfield.  I have also read and greatly enjoyed her two other novels, both set in Tuscany, The Etruscan and Signatures in Stone, which is a finalist for the Daphne Du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America, in the history category.


One great writer often leads you to another, but not always in the ways we might expect.  11  years ago I began reading and posting on all the then published short stories of Katherine Mansfield.   After completing the stories I discovered Linda Lappin had written a highly regarded novel centering on Katherine Mansfield's last year.  I read Katherine's Wish and felt Lappin had a profound understanding and sympathy for Mansfield as a writer and as a person.  I now see how this all ties in with Lappin's wonderful, The Soul of Place, A Creative Writing Workbook, Ideas and Exercises for Capturing the Genius Loci.  Mansfield (1888 to 1923) left her home country of New Zealand for London  in 1908 never to return.  In the stories of Mansfield you see a constant search for a home, a longing for a place of beauty.  I feel Mansfield was searching for a Sacred Place, for holy texts and holy men.  In her brief stories, such as the wonderful early works contained within In a German Pension, she is able to create a strong and deep sense of place.  The ability to do this is one of the lessons imparted in Lappin's workbook.




  I find a great depth of knowledge combined with a deeply intuitive 

sensibility in Lappin’s work that brings what she writes about to life with cinematic  verisimilitude.  Her prose has great elegance, her people are real, her history is right.  She is a master of atmosphere.  Her novels are  exciting and just flat out a lot of fun to read.  


I am so pleased to be able to close out my 2020 Reading Life Year by letting my readers know of her new novel.  


Amedeo Modigliani (1884 to 1920) is now considered one of The greatest of early 20th century artists.  Lappin takes us deeply into the trubulent struggling Parisian artist.  Modigliani  was Italian but knew Paris was his artistic home.  Like many artists, he hired Young women to pose nude for him.

 






Jean Hébuterne (Born: 6 April 1898, Meaux, France

Died: 26 January 1920, Paris - )met him at age sixteen and quickly moved from model to lover then pupil. Modigliani had a reputation as a womanizer.  Jean’s parents were agast at their relatiionshio. As relationship progresses Germany and France are at war.  Jean’s beloved older brother joined the French army.  Through experiences of Jean, we meet other artists and I felt a close observer almost there in the Montparnasse district of Paris, then Center of the art scene in Paris. Jean to her families horror gets pregnant and has Modigliani’s daughter.

He promised marriage but never kept his word.

 




Jean falls to her death from a window in the apartment she shares with Modigliani at age 21.  Some said his philanderings led her to suicide, others felt it was an accident.  I do not want to give away very much of the marvelously original plot other than to say there are several different interconnected segments coming from her death.


We follow Jean after death as she wanders through Paris.  This was just too exquiste a trip for me to describe.  I loved her cat companion and spirit guide, also dead who helped Jean figure out where she now was.  She spends about 25 years in Paris.  It turns out their are all sorts of rules the dead must follow. She comes to see the impact of German rule on Jews in Paris.


We leave Jean for a while.  We take up with an American graduate student in Paris to Research Modigliani, fifty years have gone by. She ends up meeting fascinating people with connections to him.


Modigiliani’s paintings now bring millions of dollars.  She becomes involved with a search for a missing painting.  




There is also a delightful closing episode taking a still deceased Jean to the South Pacific.


Lappin has produced a masterpiece.  As I read I could not wait to see what marvel she would next offer me, what plot turns would be taken.  Her prose has a very painterly style, her descriptions of interiors of Parisian dwellings would stand up next to Balzac and Proust.  


I give this book my complete endorsement.  To aspiring writers I suggest you first digest Lappin’s The Soul of Place, A Creative Writing Workbook, Ideas and Exercises for Capturing the 

Genius Loci then read this novel to study how Lappin creates a sense of place.



Don Wallace, author of The French House, elegantly evokes the wonder of this book


Praise for Loving Modigliani What a story Linda Lappin has to tell in the short life and long legend of Amedeo Modigliani, compulsive seducer, dedicated decadent and artist whose vision, like El Greco’s, seemed to warp the very air. But it’s the verve and authority with which Lappin centers her story on the parallel life (and afterlife) of Jeanne Hébuterne, artist and Modigliani’s model and lover, that amplifies the achievement of this scintillating tale, which is also a love story, a ghost story and a treasure hunt through the decades for a lost masterpiece. Through Jeanne’s female gaze, the great tapestry of Paris and its fervid art scene is rendered with twice the depth of field and emotional color. The result is a novel of high originality, page-turning pace and a poetic precision so impeccably deployed that the book unfolds like a living, breathing, 3-D spectacle in the reader’s mind.”


From Lindalappin.net


LOVING MODIGLIANI

PARIS 1920 Dying just 48 hours after her  husband, Jeanne Hebuterne—wife and muse of the celebrated painter Amedeo Modigliani and an artist in her own right — haunts their shared studio, watching as her legacy is erased. Decades later, a young art history student travels across Europe to rescue Jeanne's work from obscurity. A ghost story, love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.

 

Available from these sellers:

Amazon kindle https://www.amazon.com/Loving-Modigliani-Afterlife-Jeanne-Hébuterne-ebook/dp/B08MDCDC9V/

 

Amazon print: https://www.amazon.com/Loving-Modigliani-Afterlife-Jeanne-Hébuterne/dp/1947175300/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/loving-modigliani-linda-lappin/1138481578?ean=9781947175471

 

APPLE https://books.apple.com/it/book/loving-modigliani/id1544995840

 

KOBO https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/loving-modigliani

 

LAFELTRINELLI https://www.lafeltrinelli.it/ebook/loving-modigliani/9781947175471

 


Linda Lappin is the prize-winning author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin deWorde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft, 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne (Serving House Books, 2020). She won the Daphne Du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America in 2014

.She is also the author of The Soul of Place: Ideas and Exercises for Conjuring the Genius Loci (Travelers Tales, 2015), which won a Nautilus Award in the category of creativity in 2015. A former Fulbright scholar to Italy, she has lived mainly in Rome for over thirty years. Her websiteis www.lindalappin.net.




This is a perfect book for any quarantined reader 


Mel u

The Reading Life 









Sunday, December 27, 2020

Proustian Uncertainties: On Reading and Rereading In Search of Lost Time by Saul Friedländer - 2020


 

Proustian Uncertainties: On Reading and Rereading In Search of Lost Time by Saul Friedländer - 2020


Proustian Uncertaiainties: On Reading and Rereading In Search of Lost Time by Saul Friedländer is  book that anyone who has read and seen the greatness of Marcel Proust’s in Search of Lost Time will find fascinating.   The author is attempting to understand the relationship between the narrator of the work and Proust himself.  It is also an exploration of the challenges of just keeping as much of this giant work in your consciousness as you can.  


From his concluding remarks you can sense and for most readers identify with the concerns of Friedläder:



“Each of us, In Search readers, returns to some haunting episodes again and again, and for each of us they may be different. But at some stage we all have to make an effort to remember that it’s not Proust’s story that we follow but that of his Narrator. And yet we sense that as we are enthralled by the unfolding of that life’s description, we recognize a deep layer of authenticity. We can even identify what the author doesn’t want to tell us, or, some other time, what he doesn’t want to tell but hopes that some readers will uncover. It is on that search of the Search that this essay is based. Of course, many questions raised in our text have remained unanswered, but hopefully at least a few may have received some further emphasis.”


There are three central issues explored in looking at the relationship of the Narrator’s self presentation and what Friedländer tells us of the life of Proust.  Friedländer draws on numerous French and English sources but he does draw heavily from Wayne C. Carter’s biography.  Here is an important quote 


“William C. Carter’s more recent biography offers a very nuanced assessment of the proximity between author and Narrator: “In his letters and notes to himself about the novel, Proust usually spoke of the Narrator as ‘I,’ making no distinction between engaged not in writing his autobiography but in creating a novel in which there are strong autobiographical elements. The symbiosis between Proust and his Narrator can be explained by the hybrid origin of the story. Having begun as an essay in which the ‘I’ was himself, as the text veered more and more toward fiction, the ‘I’ telling the story became both its generator and its subject, like a Siamese twin, intimately linked to Proust’s body and soul and yet other” (Carter, Marcel Proust: A Life, 474). Further on in the biography, Carter adds an important comment: “As Proust lived more and more in the world he invented, he came to embody the Narrator rather than the other way around”


There are three central themes explored.  One is the relationship of the Narrator to his mother as this reflects and differs from Proust’s relationship to his own mother.  Friedländer insightfully talks about the Narrator’s longing for a goodnight kiss from his mother.  We are given sufficient biographical data to sharpen our focus.  


Proust never in his own life hid his homosexuality. The Narrator is not a homosexual.  There are several female romantic interests that take up a lot of space in the novel.  There is a lesbian relationship and a prominent gay character.  Friedländer speculates that Proust might have thought that if the narrator identifies as Gay censors and conservative readers might be displeased.  I am not, for what it worth, convinced fully of this but a number of interesting questions are raised.


A big open question for Friedländer is the question of Jewish identity of the Narrator versus Proust himself.  There are anti-Semitic characters in the novel, Friedländer talks about the Dreyfus question in the novel and in the Paris of Proust.


Proustian Uncertainties: On Reading and Rereading In Search of Lost Time by Saul Friedländer added to my understanding of the novel and of

Proust.  I think anyone who has read the novel, especially rereaders, will have wondered what forces shaped the work and the author.


SAUL FRIEDLÄNDER is an award-winning Israeli-American historian and currently a professor of history (emeritus) at UCLA. He was born in Prague to a family of German-speaking Jews, grew up in France, and lived in hiding during the German occupation of 1940–1944. His historical works have received great praise and recognition, including the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945.


From the publisher’s website - Other Press


“[A] haunting work…Friedländer has always imbued his scholarship with an acute literary sensibility…incisive and quizzical…[an] intimate and subtle book.” —Wall Street Journal


“[A] superb new book…Friedländer, the great historian of Nazi Germany and the Jews and also the author of his own Proustian memoir, When Memory Comes, argues that Proust’s narrator is a ‘disembodied presence unlike that in any novel before,’ and that it’s the relation of that presence to Proust himself that makes the Recherche, with its biting social satire, so unique.” —Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year


“The pleasure of [Proustian Uncertainties] comes from…the author unspooling thoughts and venturing theories collected over many years about a book he clearly loves…By taking a bird’s-eye view of the novel, Friedländer notices continuities and contradictions that are hard to see from within the teeming thickets of Proust’s prose.” —Harper’s


“[An] excellent volume about In Search of Lost Time and Proust himself.” —Literary Hub


https://otherpress.com/product/proustian-uncertainties-9781590519110/reviews/#content


Mel u

The Reading Life












Tuesday, December 22, 2020

“When Eddie Levert Comes “ Short Story by Deesha Philyaw - from her debut collection The Secret Lives of Church Ladies





“When Eddie Levert Comes”. A Short Story 

by Deesha Philyaw - from her debut collection The Secret Lives of Church Ladies -2020



Recommended by Rion Amilcar Scott on Electric Literature -December 2020


You may read the story here


Website of Deesha Philyaw



I have seen The Secret Life of Church Ladies on several lists of highly recommended debut short story collections.  I am thankful to Electric Literature for featuring one of the stories from the collection on their website.


The story is narrated by a woman, we never learn her name, who is the primary care giver for her mother who suffers from dementia.  It seems long ago the mother had a one night stand with Eddie Levert,the lead singer in a Philadelphia soul group.  Now she insists that this very day he is coming back for her.  Now the mother is a “church lady” but she had children by three different men, brought strangers home to have sex with while are kids are home and drank to excess.  Then, she “got religion” and quit her old ways.  Then  overtime, we don’t know how long ago, lost her grasp on reality.


We learn a lot about her life, she favors her two sons over her daughter even though they don’t do much to help her.  She seems to most favor her lightest skinned son, whose father was Puerto Rican. Her daughter was much darker.


The daughter is doing well as a real estate agent and investor.  She has a long time boyfriend who seems decent.


Philyaw takes us deeply into the psyche of the mother and daughter.  We see how the church, which does not much interest the daughter, is of paramount importance.   We don’t learn anything about the childhood of the mother, what drove her to multiple partners, to seeing it as 

ok to have loud sex at home, and to judge other African Americans by their skin tones.  We know nothing of the daughter’s father, her mother never married.


Throughout the story the mother insists she must have on make up and be dressed to meet Eddie Levert when he returns.  Her children live with this.


In one very sad scene her light skinned son comes to visit, first time in months.  The mother seems to think her daughter is a paid nurse but she is overjoyed to see “her baby” whom she praises to the sky for taking such good care of her.


There are two other stories you can read online and I hope to read them next year.


I am very glad to have discovered Deesha Philyaw.


“When Eddie Levert Comes” is a great Short Story.


About the Author

Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church. Deesha is also the co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce, written in collaboration with her ex-husband. Her work has been listed as Notable in the Best American Essays series, and her writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostMcSweeney’sThe RumpusBrevitydead housekeepingApogee JournalCatapultHarvard Review, ESPN’s The UndefeatedThe Baltimore ReviewTueNightEbony and Bitch magazines, and various anthologies. Deesha is a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and a past Pushcart Prize nominee for essay writing in Full Grown People. From the Author’s website.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

“Truth is Not Sober” - lead story by Winifred Holtby in her collection Truth is Not Sober and other stories first published 1934 - Blackthorn Press has republished this collection with a very informative introduction by Jack Bliss Plus brief remarks on two other weird and wonderful stories by Winifred Holtby


 “Truth is Not Sober” - lead story by Winifred Holtby in her collection Truth is Not Sober and other stories first published 1934 - Blackthorn Press has republished this collection with a very informative introduction by Jack Bliss


Plus brief remarks on two other weird and wonderful stories by Winifred Holtby


It is a very good reading life month for me when I discover one new to me writer I love on first read.  This Month  the addition of Mollie Parker-Downes to Winifred Holtby makes two. “Anthroplogist’s May” and a hilarious story about matricide, “Why Harold Killed his Mother” 


I am wondering, did Winifred Holtby probably pick the title story for her collection or did the publisher.?



Winifred Holtby


Born June 23, 1898 - Rudston, England


Died - September 29, 1935 - London


1936 - Her highest regarded novel South Rising was published posthumously 





Winifred Holtby was a tireless campaigner for the rights of women,  minorities and was deeply disturbed by the rise of Fascism. If she were living now living in America she would be a supporter of the progressive ideas of Bernie Sanders.  Jack Bliss goes into depth on her politics.  She spent time in South Africa and was appalled by the treatment of Africans.



“Truth is not Sober” is the eleventh story from collection I have so far read.  I am so far alternating one of her stories with one of Mollie Parker-Downes at a rate of two a day.


Holtby’s stories are strange, deeply creative and each one different.  There is no simplistic “moral” in her stories.  I do get the  message of a repudiation of generalizations about people, about trying to impose your values on others.


There are two other stories that I loved that illustrate her talents in addition to the title story.


“ANTHROPOLOGISTS' MAY” seems like something Aldous Huxley might have written. Here is the opening stage setting 


“IN May, 1933, Mrs. Brown, of Tooting, having completed her spring cleaning and replaced the open hearth of her drawing-room by an elegant electric radiator, rolled up her brass fire-irons in some old newspapers, put them in the lead-lined antique chest in the hall, and subsequently forgot all about their existence. In May, 3149, Professor Ignatius Labariu, the distinguished anthropologist, was examining the relics dug up by an excavation party on the site of the vanished suburb of Tooting, in order to gather material for his monumental treatise on “Modes and Social Codes of the British Islanders,” when he came upon the fire-irons of Mrs. Brown. The newspapers were crumbling to dust, but before they completely disappeared he contrived to capture a few fragmentary lines of print by instantaneous ray photography, together with one almost uninjured portrait. These exceedingly valuable and unique remains of a byegone civilisation excited him intensely, and since the ways of anthropologists had not altered much within 2000 years, he proceeded, after careful examination, to build up from them a theory of the May customs of the British Islanders about as accurate as most anthropological reconstructions can hope to be.”


From here we learn of Professor Labariu’s interpretation of the recovered newspaper articles.  This brief fiction is just tremendous fun.  I don’t doubt a good bit of satire is lurking in these pages.


“Why Herbert Killed His Mother” is more than a little strange.  It focuses on what happens when a Baby Boy is just too idolized by his mother.  As a less than well informed guess i speculate it is a barb at the then popular in England most beautiful Baby contests.  It is also an account of child rearing methods.   To me it substantiate my thought that  there is warning of repudiation of generalizations about people, about trying to impose your values on others in her stories.  I Will leave this also very fun and funny plot unspoiled.


“Truth is not Sober” begins with an account of a writer of popular “realistic” novels about real people like your family and neighbors that are easy to follow.  Remember James Joyce’s Ulysses came out in 1922 and Virginia Woolf had recently published several novels and who could actually enjoy reading such works?  Some Writers were depicting the horrors war, famine, poverty and Fascism was emerging in the UK and Europe.  Most wanted simple novels about ordinary people living decent lives. The writer had become very successful and his publisher prosperous through his works.


One day he stops in at a pub, he meets a quite not sober man named Truth who begins to mock his writings as shallow works ignoring the realities of life.  Truth opens his eyes to the thousands of years of exploitation and misery that has produced the modern world.  There are numerous very interesting examples from all over.  The writer is shaken but says ok this does not stretch to life in England right now.  Of course Truth gives him concrete examples of misery he never saw.


The Writer’s next novel horrifies his publisher used to a far different kind of book.  He refuses to publish it saying the writer must go back to his old ways.


I look forward to finishing the collection.




Saturday, December 19, 2020

“Anything Could Disappear” - A Short Story by Danielle Evans from her collection The Office of Historical Corrections - 2020


 



“Anything Could Disappear” - A Short Story by Danielle Evans from her collection The Office of Historical Corrections - 2020


Thanks to Electrical Literature you may read this story accompanied by an introduction by Kelly Link


In June 18 of this year I posted upon my first lucky encounter with the work of Danielle Evans, on her story Boys go to Jupiter.



“Boys Go to Jupiter” - A Short Story by Danielle Evans - from Best American Short Stories 2018 - selected and introduced by Roxane Gay


First published  in the Sewanee Review, Volume 125, Number 4, Fall 2017, included in her debut collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self.



This story here


Website of Danielle Evans


A very interesting interview with Danielle Evans




“In “Boys Go to Jupiter,” Danielle Evans writes a sly, subtle story about friendship and grief, but also about race and youth and small transgressions that become unintended acts of damage and defiance. “Boys Go to Jupiter” is one of the finest short stories I’ve ever read, and it embodies the ways in which fiction can be political without being heavy-handed or unnecessarily didactic.


I was very happy to find a story from her highly lauded second collection available on the website of Electrical Literature, with an introduction  by Kelly Link.


My main purpose today, besides recording my reading, is to let those new to Danielle Evans know of the online availability of this story.


This fascinating story takes us deeply into the world of a young woman.  When we meet Vera she is on a Greyhound Bus headed for New Jersey.  She has $20,000 dollars worth of cocaine in her purse.. Her boyfriend has sent her on a delivery mission.  Upon completion she will be paid $10,000 by a delivery business  in New Jersey.  Riding on a Greyhound bus is, for those not from America, the mode of transport of those on the bottom rung of society.  People often exchange life stories with others they know they will never see again.  Vera hear’s The story of several such persons.


The style of the story is almost like a fairy tale of modern America’s lost souls.


I dont want to give away a lot of the plot but everything gets going when a woman dumps her three year old son William on Vera, telling her she is just getting off the bus to use the rest stop but never returns.  At first Vera thinks she must turn him over to Police.  Then she figures not a good idea to go in Police station with cocaine in her purse.  So she takes William along to deliver the cocaine to the messenger office..  They offer her a job as a clerk and one of the two owners turns into a decent boyfriend 



Things get weird as Vera becomes more attached to William.  She knows she should try to find his parents.  


I dont want to tell more of the adventures of Vera.  I greatly enjoyed this story and have the collection on my wish list.


From The author’s website


“Danielle Evans is the author of the story collections The Office of Historical Corrections and Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. Her work has won awards and honors including the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Hurston-Wright award for fiction, and the Paterson Prize for fiction. She is a 2011 National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree and a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts fellow. Her stories have appeared in magazines including The Paris Review, A Public Space, American Short Fiction, Callaloo, The Sewanee Review, and Phoebe, and have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2008, 2010, 2017, and 2018, and in New Stories From The South.

She received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop, previously taught creative writing at American University in Washington DC and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and currently teaches in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University”




Friday, December 18, 2020

“Of Men and Dogs” - from In Fields of Butterfly Flames and other stories by  Steve Wade -2020


 




“Of Men and Dogs” - from In Fields of Butterfly Flames and other stories by  Steve Wade -2020


Gateway to Steve Wade on The Reading Life


My Q and A with Steve Wade 


Website of Steve Wade 



This is the seventh short story by Steve Wade that has been featured on The Reading Life.  I first read his work during Irish Short Story Month Year Three in March of 2013.  I found his short story “The Land of the Ever Young” fully qualified to stand with the great occult fairy tales of Sheridan Le Fanu or Andrew Lang.


“The Land of the Ever Young" recreates and helps us understand the stories of fairies stealing human children and substituting changelings for them.  Part of the root of these stories comes from the famine years where people had to find ways to deal with the starvation of their children.  On another darker side, this story also  treats of the fact that one more hungry child could be the tipping point in a family on the edge of starvation that can  send everyone else into the grave.  


First and foremost 'The Land of the Ever Young" is a tremendous lot of fun to read.  Joseph Sheridan le Fanu or Andrew Lang

have no better stories than this


My Post on “A Mother’s Love” - The lead story in In Fields of Butterfly Flames and othe stories in Steve Wade’s Debut Collection 


“Of Men and Dogs”

One of the themes often explored in Irish Literature and in non-fiction works is that of adult children who marry late or not at all because they are forced into the role of care giver for an aging parent.  Often they work the family farm.



Like, “A Mother’s Love”, this is a very powerful  account of how parent- child relationships can cause immense damage to children, even in this case, as they pass or maybe dont fully pass into an escape from the sins of their parents.   A man was drawn back to home after seven years in New York City because of the needs of his father for full time care.  He had his own construction business there.


When we first meet him he is kicking the ancient Irish Wolf Hound that is his last bond to his late father.  Even the death of his father, who was very abusive to him though totally dependent, has not liberated him, he is stuck with carry for the old dog, which close to tolerates  him.


““Lie down, Amadeus,” the man said, and gave the animal a kind of shoving kick or kicking shove in the ribs with his boot. The ancient Irish Wolfhound, over a hundred in dog years, raised a sad eyebrow and then cowered arthritically back into its corner, where it eased itself, with adoggy sigh, onto its dirty blanket. “I’m sorry, old pal,” he said, while working his way around the never-used baby grand piano. He ran his fingers from the dog’s head into its wiry-furred back. Amadeus shuddered but otherwise ignored him. The dog, adored by the man’s father, whom the dog had worshipped in return,almost tolerated,and wastolerated by the man. “I miss him, too.” And it was true. Nine months on since his father last cursed him, he did miss him. What was, at first, the release he’d been awaiting for two years, two years spent tending to his father’s every need, along with the constant whims and demands – the expensive Italian wines and daily, freshbaked bread, the weekly hassle with taxis and the wheelchair on those tripsto the theatre and thecinema; and, worst of all, that constant jangling bell summoning him from sleep to carry his father into the bathroom on his countless imagined urges throughout thenight – all this had lately triggered in the man a longing ache. Only now, in the past few weeks, did the reality that his father had truly ended become an undeniable fact”


It takes the man several months to assimilate the existential fact of the passing of his father.  Some historians see in this pattern part of the reason for lingering social issues in the Ireland related to the figure of the weak or missing Irish father.  (Your best source on this is Inventing Ireland: The Literature of a Modern Nation by Declan Kiberd)



About the Author - Steve Wade’s award-winning short fiction has been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies. His work has been broadcast on national and regional radio. He has had stories short-listed for the Francis McManus Short Story Competitionand for the Hennessy Award. His stories have appeared in over fifty print publications, including Crannog, New Fables, and Aesthetica Creative Works Annual. His unpublished novel, On Hikers’ Hill was awarded First Prize in the abook2read.com competition, with Sir Tim Rice as the top judge. He has won First Prize in the Delvin Garradrimna Short Story Competition on a number of occasions. Winner of the Short Story category in the Write by the Sea writing competition 2019. His

short stories have been nominated for the PEN/O’Henry Award, and for the Pushcart Prize.



From the Author’s  introduction 


“The stories in this collection first appeared in anthologies and periodicals. Some of them have won prizes or have been placed in writing competitions. Ostracised by betrayal, isolated through indifference, gutted with guilt, or suffering from loss, the characters in these twenty-two stories are fractured and broken, some irreparably. In their struggle for acceptance, and their desperate search for meaning, they deny the past”


There are nine other short stories in from In Fields of Butterfly Flames  and other stories by  Steve Wade.  Between now and March 31 (March will once again be Irish Short Story Month) I plan to post on the other nine.


In Fields of Butterfly Flames   by  Steve Wade -2020 is A very worthy edition to the reading list of all lovers of the short story.


Mel u