Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Feasts of Lesser Men

For a limited time, Independent Publisher gold medal winner Stephen Parrish is giving away his novel for free on the Kindle. I had the great pleasure of being an early reader of The Feasts of Lesser Men. Here is my Amazon review: 

Stationed in Germany during the final days of the Cold War and the fall of the Iron Curtain, Jimmy Fisher is a Private First Class with the US Army charged with safekeeping his country's top-secret operational plans.

He's also a first-rate scoundrel with a fondness for buried corpses (and their gold fillings), pissing off officers (and sleeping with their daughters), and his favorite neighborhood whore, Melina.

What Fisher lacks in ethics and honor, however, he makes up for in daring and in a sincere, if reluctant, loyalty to his bumbling partner-in-crime, Chuck Cybulski. Soon these qualities are turned against him: Fisher is forced to turn spy. As the web of intrigue infiltrates the dark German forest surrounding him and extends its threads into a beatific French countryside, the question of whom Jimmy is betraying becomes ever murkier and more entangled. Can any one country--or any person--really be trusted?

Stephen Parrish is a deft writer and a keen observer of human nature, with a brilliant mastery of detail and verisimilitude. In this book he utilizes all the tools in his arsenal, every color in his palette. It's difficult to make the reader root for a character as nakedly opportunistic as Fisher, but he pulls it off with bold strokes, dark humor, and a bracing authenticity. As a reader, he took me out of my comfort zone and plunged me into a world of shadows and misanthropes, arrested by moments of understated, if exquisite, tenderness and beauty. Jimmy Fisher is not a man built for love; he's not a man who cares a fig about redemption unless it comes on the other end of a wink and a payoff. Parrish gives him a taste of both. Not until the final, shocking scene will the reader decide how much, or how little, Jimmy Fisher has changed, as the snow begins to drop and the curtain falls.

You don't need a Kindle to read the book. Just download a free reading app tailored to your specific needs. Or email Steve within this free five-day period and be sent a pdf file. 

Trust me. The book is worth it.   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sea Legs

She thought she was sick. 
She was sick. 
Or maybe not.
Maybe, maybe not. 
Lord, what a bore she’d become. 

The symptoms were holes around a moving target. Did thinking about fatigue make one tired? Was the bloating as bad as she thought or a natural phenomenon magnified by the distorted lens of her perception? That bit of queasiness: it didn’t qualify as nausea. No. A few pounds lost--thanks, stress! The irregular periods, the disturbing dreams and emotional instability? Fuck you, stress.  
They’d found something in her blood work. Finally--a something. The doctor gave her some medicine, a cure. 
“That should put your mind at ease.”
She’d laughed apologetically. “I’m such a head case.”  
Why apologetically?  
Leaving the doctor’s office, Woody Allen’s character in Hannah and Her Sisters dogged her thoughts. Woody, the quintessentially neurotic hypochondriac. God, what a joke. 

Her steps slowed near the car. Of course, they’d found something in Woody, too, hadn’t they? It had turned out to be a nothing much, but it was enough of a something to vindicate the second look. 
So why did she feel so goddamn ashamed? So queasy with self-loathing?  
Why, coming home again, was she still dissatisfied? 
She set the prescription bottle on the counter, grabbed her laptop and started another Google search. A spider dangled from the painting of crocuses she’d started two months ago, swaying a little in the breeze. When it touched the floor, the dog licked it up and spat it back out. It scurried off. 
She wondered if she wasn’t crazy and looked out the window. 
Lord, it was spring. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Facing the Sun

It's Easter Sunday, and though I'm not a Christian, I've always appreciated the season and the promise of renewal and uplift it brings.

Our fellow writer and friend, Richard Levangie, had neurosurgery this weekend to remove a pituitary tumor that's wreaked havoc on his body for more than a decade. His wife Kristina has been kind enough to let us know that he's recovering well. Yet in spite of a distinguished history as a journalist and award-winning writer, Richard's debilitating migraines and fatigue have left him unable to pursue his career with as much fortitude as in his pre-tumor years. His friends have stepped up to help him and Kristina with expenses as he continues to recuperate and regain his strength.

29 talented writers--including project spear-headers JA Zobair, Wendy Russ, and Stephen Parrish--have contributed to an anthology of poetry, short fiction, and reminiscences titled Facing The Sun. You may donate any amount of money to receive this anthology in pdf format via email. I've taken my time in looking through this lovely collection and have been deeply impressed by the talent of the contributors and the beauty of the photos and formatting. For your donation, you will also have your name inscribed on the "wall" of the site's sidebar. I've recognized so many familiar names up there already. It's just one more reminder of the incredibly generous and impassioned community of which we're all a part.  

Richard's done a lot for that community. He was one of the first people to interview me when my book was published, as part of his "25 Questions" series. He and Kristina designed my beautiful book "postcards." He's the kind of guy that takes as much delight in the success of his friends as he does in his own accomplishments. I'm happy to see so many people giving back to him now.

Please consider a donation. It's a beautiful day for new beginnings.