Category Archives: Fiction

The Identicals by Elin Hiderbrand

Synopsis: Harper Frost is a laid-back, easygoing no-care in the world girl. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She likes a beer and a shot and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything fashionable. She’s inherited her father’s rundown house on Martha’s Vineyard, but she can’t hold down a job, and her latest romantic disaster has the entire island talking.

Elin Hiderbrand serves up another beach book that should be a nice addition to your light-summer reading list. Martha’s Vineyard is the perfect setting for this prissy-prance novel about a bohemian that threatens to overturn the Island’s last lingering social mores.  Exactly what this new comer brings is, well the crux of the book, but suffice it to say she plans a no-side-stepping girl-whirl on the upper crust socialites who call Martha’s Vineyard the last untouched Hemmingwayish type beach oasis left in America.  -Robin Wessler

It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is cool too) by Nora McInerny Purmort

It's Okay to LaughThis book is a satirical look at life through the rainy eyes of a dozen tears. The young head-strong Nora McInerny Purmort bounced from boyfriend to boyfriend and job to job like a bad check. Her life was little more than homage to the hamster on the wheel. Then she met Aaron, a charismatic art director and her kindred spirit. They made mix tapes (and pancakes) and had rumbling conversations into the wee hours of the morning. They finished each other’s sentences. They just knew what they knew. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed and married after his first surgery. They had a baby when he was on chemo. They shared an amazing summer filled with happiness and laughter. A few months later, Aaron died in Nora’s arms in another hospital bed.

His wildly creative obituary, which they co-wrote together, ignited a flame of sentiment and touched the world. Now, Nora shares hysterical, moving, and painfully honest stories about her life journey with Aaron. It’s OK to Laugh explores universal themes of love, marriage, work, (single) motherhood, and depression through her refreshingly frank viewpoint. It’s okay to look back at life in the review mirror. A love letter to life, in all of its messy glory, and what it’s like to still be kickin’, It’s OK to Laugh is like a long chat with a close friend over a cup of coffee (or chardonnay). –Evelyn Casey

3 Stars

Where’s Warhol? by Catherine Ingram and Andrew Rae

What do these movies have in common?

Funny Face

New York Stories

Beetlejuice

The Big Lebowski

Ghost World

WarholStumped? They all suggest that contemporary art — some of it, anyway — is a lie, a con job, or just a form of time-wasting practiced by the deluded. Lebowski’s Maude Lebowski, Ghost World’s Roberta, Beetlejuice’s Delia Deetz and Gregory Stark, the performance artist in Martin Scorsese’s section of New York Stories, are all either frauds or dupes. And that type is hardly limited to these movies. You can find it all over TV: in The Simpsons, Broad City, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Girls …

It’s not too surprising that this trope is so common, or that it should span decades. For many Americans, it seems to go without saying that the art world is a haven of emptiness and perfidy. Or, actually, it doesn’t go without saying: It gets said, and said a lot.

How, then, do you explain the instantaneous, bubbly appeal of Where’s Warhol? At a glance it’s clear this book will entertain virtually everyone who picks it up — art fan or no. It feels as buoyant as the silver balloons that drift across its cover. Its concept hardly needs explanation: Just like in Where’s Waldo, the bestselling kids’ series it emulates, Where’s Warhol challenges you to find one person amidst a crowded landscape. The difference is that these landscapes, real or imaginary, are all related to art history or pop culture: the Bauhaus, Studio 54, the excavation of Pompeii, a dinner party hosted by Salvador Dalí. And instead of looking for a goofy fellow in a striped hat, you’re seeking a too-cool fellow in a silvery wig and sunglasses.

The book’s focus on Andy Warhol is the key to its charm. It just wouldn’t be the same if it were Where’s Wassily? or Where’s Willem? There’s something about Warhol that seems fundamentally approachable, fundamentally democratic. Even before he attained the status of icon (that most democratic form of stardom) Warhol concentrated on subjects ordinary people know intimately: consumer products, Jackie O. –NPR

3 Stars

The Girl from Summer Hill by Jude Deveraux

Girl from Summer HillFollowing a bad breakup with a boyfriend jealous of her career success and a falling out with her too-demanding-to-be-borne-a-moment-longer boss, chef Casey Reddick has decided against getting involved in relationships for the foreseeable future. Her attention turns to other things. She is charmed by the town of Summer Hill, Virginia, and by the little guest house on the Tattwell plantation that the owner’s cousin is letting her stay in. All Casey needs is peace and quiet and a great kitchen in which she can cook to her heart’s content, and she’s good to go. Then one morning, she discovers a strange naked man showering on her front porch. He is unaware she is living there.

Tate Landers is a megastar in Hollywood and the owner of Tattwell, and he is back in Spring Hill for the first time in a long while. His cousin Kit is putting on a production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the local theater, and in a moment of weakness and familial love, Tate promised he would play Mr. Darcy. The last thing he needs is a woman he thinks is a reporter spying on him from the guest house, especially when he’s showering. However, it just so happens that woman turns out to be his new leading lady. At times, quaint and charming, and at others romantic – this book manages to have some fun without taking itself too seriously.  –Beth Frasider

3 Stars

NY First Look interview with Alvin Conway

First Look: Mr. Conway, thank you for stopping by today to discuss your new book, All Our Days of Splendor and welcome to New York.

Alvin Conway: Thank you. It’s my pleasure, Jeanie.

First Look: I have to admit I was quite stunned after reading your book. It’s an amazing read. It’s one of those intellectual gems of the rarest varieties…and the poetic aspects of the book are eloquent and simply delightful.

Alvin Conway: Thank you

 First Look: As I understand it, this is your first fiction novel?

Alvin Conway: That’s correct – this is my first fiction novel, but my 12th book. It’s a pleasant diversion from some of the non-fiction subjects of my other books – physics, geology, and ecological science. However, it will be familiar terrain for anyone who has read any of the books of poetry I’ve written: Ariel, Sinfonia 9, Esprit, The Amethyst, and Callidora.

First Look: The 1920s was such a colorful time in the history of the world – the art, the fashion, the music, the beginning of the modern communication age, air flights, and transoceanic travel. A lot of books were written during this time period, but not necessarily about this time. What inspired you to settle on this particular time-period as a setting for this wonderful romance that unfolds between these two fascinating characters?

Alvin Conway: As you mentioned, 1920s was the beginning of the Modern Age – but it was also the beginning of international cosmopolitan culture – and that’s always a fascinating backdrop for an intriguing story of love, mystery, and wonder to unfold. The influence of Romanticism was still strong and being widely felt in Europe at the time, cubism and surrealism (as artistic movements) where prevalent in France, and there was this wonderful burgeoning of diverse ideas that flowed back and forth across the Atlantic after World War I through various mediums like art, fashion, music, literature. The 1920s was also a decade of unbridled excesses and the birth of the new aristocratic class in society that would reshape the world right before the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression changed everything. So you have this gold vein of affluence from corporate capitalism nestled over these two historical sticks of dynamite that people were dancing over, but were basically oblivious too. In my opinion, there couldn’t be a more dynamic time in history for two electric personalities to grace each other’s presence.

First Look: F. Scott Fitzgerald garnered our attention so vividly with his story of aristocratic society in Long Island, New York during the Jazz Age in The Great Gatsby. However, your story unfolds half a world away in Paris, France in the year 1926 in a completely different context. You captured the decadence of the times so magnificently through the eyes of the French and some will even compare your ornate sense of visual writing style to that of Fitzgerald’s. Have you read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, The Great Gatsby?

Alvin Conway: No, I haven’t read the book nor seen the film adaptations of the book but I’ve read This Side of Paradise and I think Fitzgerald was a great writer.

First Look: I have many favorite passages in the book. One of them being: “Time passed. She read passionately. Words knit distance, and stitched together ponderous pauses between episodic exchanges of dialogue. And as she spoke, we were ferried across the distance subtlety, imperceptibly, by the nuances of and charm of literary enchantments until we arrived at Le Chateau Charbonneau outside Paris.”

What would be one thing that would surprise people about All Our Days of Splendor?

Alvin Conway: That the book has this intriguing sense of mystery about time.

First Look: You explore themes from many Twentieth century French writers in your novel – notably authors like Marcel Proust, André Breton, and Paul Éluard. Is there a significance reason these writers were interwoven into the fabric of the story?

Alvin Conway: They all came out of the school of surrealism. Elements of French surrealism and German expressionism later found their way into cinematic film noir themes in the U.S. during the 1940s. I think surrealism in literature was a fascinating movement. It was a prominent force in Paris in the 1920s. I believe anything that alters our perception of reality or juxtaposes contrasting ideas as a subtext for deeper contemplation merits some degree of discussion. Surrealism has intriguing creative aspects, especially if you can incorporate the idealism or symbolism into the central tenets of a story. In that respect, All Our Days of Splendor is homage to the movement – as it is a nonlinear narrative that plays against convention by meandering in and out of time – sometimes while conjuring up intriguing revelations and surprises. Essentially, something is lost and something is gained in the process through a pathway of experiences involving the various people the central character comes in contact with. Proust’s book À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) touches on certain aspects of this odyssey process, as does Joyce’s Ulysses. And of course André Breton, and Paul Éluard were non-centrist founders of the surrealism movement.

First Look: The Roaring Twenties was a remarkable time period for women. You emphasize and highlight this a lot in your book.

Alvin Conway: Women in the 1920s were so intriguing because they had just broken out of the shackles of Victorianism with all its constraining idealism and they were establishing their own identity and independence during the birth of the Jazz Age. They were fighting for equality, while at the same time flaunting their own brand of sexuality and femininity. They were bold and brash, and all of this was colorfully wrapped in some of the most intriguing styles and designer ensembles of the entire fashion era.

First Look: I love the characters in this story. How much fun did you have creating them?

Alvin Conway: The characters unfold as the story unfolds. It was like a magical experience with all the right people and parts coming together in this wonderful synchrony, and with poetic virtuosity. The characters brought in just the right things to say at the appropriate time, when they just happen to be nestled in the appropriate place, and all those elements greatly enriched the narrative aspects of the story. You’ll feel that rhythm in the tapestry of characters when you read the story – and you’ll get lost in the charm, and in their colorful sense of style.

First Look: Mr. Conway, thanks for talking with us today.

Alvin Conway: Thank you for the invitation.

First Look: And there you have it: All Our Days of Splendor by poet, artist, and author, Alvin Conway – I personally think is the first must read book of the summer and I was glad I was able to get my hands on an advance copy. All the staff here wants one, by the way. I love this book, and thank you for writing it.

Rose Garden 2

Where to find All Our Days of Splendor: lulu    Follow author on Facebook

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All Our Days of Splendor by Alvin Conway

 Splendor Book B

Summary: Paris 1926: Les Années folles as the French called it, “The Crazy Years.” It was the Roaring Twenties. It was the dawn of the Age of Modernism, feminism, the flappers, the birth of cinema; it was the decade of the automobile and radio. It was the reckless years of wealth and exuberance, where stock markets toyed with ideas of fanaticism, and where legends lived, loved, and died. Paris France was at the heart of a new cultural revolution that was reshaping and changing the world. Thomas E. McCann came to Paris to change his life. His life ended up changing everyone around him. There were parties, class privileges, there were flowing rivers of champagne, there was extravagant wealth, and everyone lived and loved like no one thought the wild celebrations of this Golden decade would ever come to an end.

Opinion Nothing could have prepared me for this book – not its sleek black cover, its unique literary style, its lofty poetic aspirations, it visceral moodiness and impressionist tone, its lucid foray into French aristocratic privileges during the Jazz Age, its endearing love story, or it rich dialogue. All Our Days of Splendor by newly-commissioned fiction author, Alvin Conway, is visually sumptuous – meaning words are pushed to new visual dimensions. The book is a variable literary feast for the eyes, ears, and mind. One could spend a lifetime and a half searching for a relatively new and undiscovered gem like this and never find it. The poetry is divine, the characters are quintessentially cool and likable, it’s laced with intelligent discourse and picturesque imagery, and it takes place in Paris, France of all things during the height of the Roaring Twenties. What’s not to like? I read it once, and then read passages of it aloud to friends – and it turned a dozen heads with everyone asking me, “What is that you’re reading?” I smiled delightfully. I think I have a new favorite book.  – Lisa Harding

5 Stars

(Click on link) Where to find it:  Lulu.com