Review: Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle

summerlongSummerlong, by Peter S. Beagle, Tachyon, 2016

When is a mystery not a mystery? Obviously, when the mystery isn’t the point. Or the mystery.

Yes, that will require some explanation. It’s coming, but there are a few other things to cover first. Abe Aronson and Joanna Delvecchio are old lovers, as in both over fifty and they’ve been together for a long time. Abe is a retired history professor who attempts to brew beer, plays blues harmonica, and is writing a book on John Ball and the peasant’s rebellion. Joanna is a senior (as in ranking) flight attendant who likes to shoot hoops when she’s not worrying about her unhappy daughter, Lilly. Joanna is looking forward to her own retirement, after which she can fly anywhere in the world for free. They are almost but not quite living together in Abe’s home on an island off the coast in the Pacific Northwest. They are, in a word, comfortable with each other.

That comfort begins to unravel when, on a night out at the island’s only decent restaurant, they meet a new waitress named Lioness Lazos. She is, in a word, different, something that both Joanna and Abe realize right away. First, there’s her appearance, like someone who just stepped out of a painting by Botticelli. Her accent is unplaceable, she tells a story of her past which is almost but not entirely real, and in almost less time than it takes to tell about it, and at Joanna’s suggestion, she’s living in Abe’s garage. Then really odd things start to happen, like beautiful weather on the island, which isn’t known for this at all. And flowers blooming as they’ve never bloomed before, and Abe’s notoriously bad attempts at brewing beer suddenly start going right, and— Continue reading

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2016, Can’t Wait to See the Back of You

Yoshino-1Well, 2016 continues to suck. Last week I heard about the passing of Tammy Grimes. For those too young to know, she was an actress who won two Tony Awards for her work on the stage (for The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Private Lives). That’s all Wikipedia stuff and you can look it up if you’re interested, and all even before my time. I remember her best for two things: She was the voice of Molly Grue in the Rankin-Bass version of Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn (still one of my favorite animated films, excusing the duet between Lady Amalthea and Prince Lyr) and for the narration of several Edward Gorey pieces, especially The Wuggly Ump. Hearing her wonderful whiskey baritone hum of a voice rendering the final lines “…from deep inside the Wuggly Ump.” Gives me chills to this day. RIP.

What I thought was a short story might be turning into the first chapter of a novel. Still too early to tell, but the scope is shifting. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, but only bad if I can’t figure out what the story wants to be. After that it’s just seat of pants to the chair and fingers on the keyboard. I’m ready for something to go right.

Speaking of which, tomorrow here in the States we have a golden opportunity to make 2016 suck a little bit less for everyone here and around the world. Let’s not blow it.

Favorite Li(n)es

We all have them. Some of them we didn’t even write. Since my brain is otherwise locked up at the moment, I’m putting a couple of my favorites up here instead of, you know, writing something. Both of today’s lines come from one of my all-time favorite writers, Parke Godwin. The first one needs a little context, so know that it was spoken by Guenivere in Beloved Exile after learning of the death of a romantic rival.

“Later I heard she died of the plague. God is good. Sometimes he’s an absolute dear.”

The second is from “Influencing the Hell out of Time and Theresa Golowitz” and needs no context at all.

“Dead one day, and already I need a lawyer.”

While I realize that any single line or small phrase separated from its context is never going to have the same impact, these are two that, anytime I think of them, always make me smile.

And I think I will throw in one more from another of my most favorite writers. This is from Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn.

“No cat out of its first fur can ever be fooled by appearances. Unlike human beings, who seem to enjoy it.”

Anyone else have a favorite line? Anyone who doesn’t? (I would need that latter explained to me).

Review – The Line Between by Peter S. Beagle

The Line Between by Peter S. Beagle, Tachyon Publications, 2006

One pattern I’ve noticed in the writers I tend to come back to again and again—their “voices” tend to be consistent but their subject matter tends to vary. Sure, writers are people—most of them—and they have interests like anyone else, and those motifs tend to repeat. But with the really good writers, they’re going to repeat in ways that make you forget or even never realize that this is what they’re doing. And the subject matter, at least in broad strokes, is going to range more from A-Z than A-B. You’ll find that range evident in The Line Between.

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