Click on this link and you’ll be able to virtually open a book with poems, stories and artwork that will knock your socks off. You’ll also love the sound of the pages turning, a whisper.
I always knew addicts hustle. “Just lend me a fiver and I’ll give it back tomorrow.” Or “I need a place to stay just for a day or so.” Or “I’m going clean tomorrow if you just ….” However, what I never knew until today was how addicts are hustled.
I was in Café Bene, my haunt, writing, because, like Hemingway (ahem) I need noise, activity around me to create. Usually everything is muted as I concentrate, but two tables away to my right were three people—a man and two women—facing down an addict, a guy in his mid-forties, say, maybe younger, but ravaged into premature aging. He was bone thin, his eyes sunken, and his words garbled.
“How long have you been drinking and taking painkillers?” the intervention guy asked loudly, setting his latest model Iphone on the table, but keeping his hand on it.
The addict mumbled how many Oxycotin he downed a day, how many beers and shots of Wild Turkey.
Wait, I thought, shouldn’t the addict have anonymity? Of course I could have changed my seat. I only had a grade-school marbleized notebook to take with me, not a laptop. (Wouldn’t you know I’m a senior citizen just from that?) But how could a writer resist all this material?
The interventionists asked the addict to step away from the table while the seasoned woman in designer glasses called the emergency room of a hospital. She knew the staffer’s name. In a hushed tone, (not too hushed for me) she went over protocol, and asked for the optimum time for this guy to come in. The plan was that this woman would meet the addict at the emergency room and use the oil of her influence to get him seen right away. She knew how many days he would need to be hospitalized before she could get him into rehab.
“Addicts are always physically sick,” she explained to the third woman who was fresh-faced, perky, like an intern or trainee. “They have to spend a few days in the hospital getting treatment for the physical problems before we can take them.”
They waved the addict back to the table and began angling for him to show up at the hospital tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.
“I don’t know,” he said, eyes glazed “I have to help out a friend.”
The male interventionist leaned forward. “Look, we can’t do this for you. You have to do it yourself.” The addict mumbled about all the pressing things he had to do, even though he wasn’t working (I also overheard this) and his family threw him out. “Well,” the interventionist went on, “this woman (he gestures to the rehab recruiter in the designer glasses) is clearing her schedule for you tomorrow. Can we trust you, can you trust yourself, not to let her down?”
Mumble, mumble, eyes sliding. So sad that this man couldn’t see that he was dying. What poor judges we are of ourselves. He finally agreed, with reservations.
I do hope he gets clean, but these interventionists were certainly not like Bill W. in the early days of A.A. where alcoholics, in order to stay sober, made it their business to go out and save other alcoholics. Here I saw only business, the interventionists practically rubbing their thumbs over their next three fingers with the thought of the moolah this guy’s treatment would bring them. Who knows if the rehab they represented is even had a good track record? I felt like getting up and asking them, an intervener descending on interventionists, but when you’re eavesdropping, you kind of loose your right to intervene.
I’m mourning the loss of this book along with all the characters who met a sad ending.
The Nightingale begins in France in 1939 in a quiet village of Carriveau when Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Anton, as he leaves for the front. When the Germans invade, a German officer requisitions Vianne’s home. She and her daughter must live with this enemy or lose their everything. She is forced to make one terrifying decision after another in order to keep her family alive.
But Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, a rebellious 18-year-old, meets Gaetan, a partisan who believes he can fight the Nazis from inside France, and she falls in love. But when he betrays her, she joins the Resistance, and risks her life to save others.
“With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.”
PLEASE, WILL SOMEONE RECOMMEND TO ME A BOOK i WILL LOVE AS MUCH. I’VE PUT DOWN FOUR SINCE!
THE CALICO BUFFALO at the Pearl Theater, 555 West 42nd St.
Everyone of every age loves to be told a great story and that’s just what THE CALICO BUFFALO brings to you. With its themes of sibling rivalry and the journey to find oneself. What atmosphere created by the minimal staging! The singing and dancing and costumes were delightful.
And, did I mention, Brooke Shapiro, my niece, plays the hilarious and heartbreaking toad, Bittie?
THE CALICO BUFFALO
Book by EJ Stapleton; Music and Lyrics by Peter Stopschinski & EJ Stapleton
FOR SCHEDULE AND TICKETS:
THE PEARL THEATER COMPANY
555 w. 42nd Street
Watch for Brooke, my niece!!
I’ll be at the opening on July 8.
Imagine Antonya Nelson or Julie Carr or Wendy C. Ortiz reading your work! Wow!
LOUISA MEETS BEAR
By Lisa Gornick
Louisa Meets Bear: A Novel: Lisa Gornick: 9780374192082: Amazon.com: Books
After wowing us with Tinderbox and Private Sorcery, Lisa Gornick had given us Louisa Meets Bear, ten linked stories which can stand alone, each so firmly that they have won awards, such as Distinguished Short Story in Best American Short Story anthology.
Each is a story of passion. Luisa, daughter of a geneticist, meet Bear, a plumbers son, and they plunge (no pun intended) into a stormy affair that affects their choices for years. In other stories a daughter stabs her mother when she finds out the truth about her father. A psychotherapist/wife/mother finds her teenage son in bed with a girl and a man dead on her office floor. A mother who has been separated from her son finds out that he has helped a blind woman learn to play the piano. Gornick paints each character with both unnerving truthfulness and compassion. Just as in the reruns of Law & Order that I compulsively watch, even the most minor of Gornick’s characters have personality. In Instructions to Participant, a mother who studying Social Work goes to a tenement to find a woman she’s supposed to interview. No one answers the bell. A boy sitting on a stoop has just blown his gum into a green bubble. “The boy darted his tongue in and out to gather the gum back into his mouth. ‘Bells don’t work,’” he tells her.
The stories take you around the world—Italy, Russia, Guatemala and are grounded in world events—Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia, the killings at Kent State, the shooting a black teen by a policeman. There is danger pulsing through each story.
What’s most striking is the way Gornick makes time leaps in the story and also between stories. A story’s main character can turn up in a later story as a minor character or the child or lover of that character. As you read, you think to yourself, Hey, don’t I know this guy? just as you do when you run into someone in life.
Writers will want to study the way she describes gestures, bodily sensations. She always stretches for an image. “My head throbbed at the thought, dissolving like a drop of colored water into a pool of oil…” For a literary writer, Gornick keeps you in suspense. Each chapter ends with a quiet wham! Each of her carefully composed sentences is a unit of drama. With masterful asides, she encapsulates a chunk of back story or the dynamics of a relationship. And what a sense of humor! “Despite her Arabian pants and embroidered Mexican blouse, Mahanna looked to Marnie like a girl from Short Hills who needed electrolysis.”
Gornick’s fiction is not only worth reading, but worth studying too. You can learn a lot about writing from her and even more about life.