“She was sunlight interrupted on the softwood floors of my mind…”
Sometimes a love affair is like a massive lightning strike. It comes out of nowhere and destroys everything in its path. This happened to me once. The destruction it caused has lasted, is lasting, for decades. Recognizing this fact, I did what any sane human being would do. I tried to silence the Gods of Mount Olympus forever by writing a novel involving this affair, some of which you may listen to below. There are many aspects to the novel, though, and so, I’ve written about another one of them below the links. (As always, left-click plays the files in your browser, right-click…Save As… allows you to save them as you will.)
There’s, of course, more to the novel than just a lightning-strike love affair, as exciting as that is. Here’s some of the background that went into those aspects of the novel.
Under the Brooklyn el, we said we’d keep in touch, my high school buddies and I, but we knew—deep down in the dark recesses of a 1990 Summer night—that that just was not true. We were splitting up and going off to college, to full-time work, to technical schools, to rehab facilities, to jail, to the morgue. Everything after that night, rain-soaked Kings Highway dark and damp and dirty and dismal, would be completely different.
And it was.
I remember stepping onto the sun-bright campus of New Paltz College and thinking, “Jesus Christ. How am I ever going to manage to get through this?”
I knew I could play baseball, and I knew I could drink a lot of beer, and I wasn’t sure if that was really going to be enough to propel me through the four-year experience of higher learning, where Shakespeare, and Socrates, and Nietzsche, and Hegel, and Freud, and all those ghosts down from dusty history reappeared, and you had to do ALL the reading, and not just skate by on CliffsNotes and boyish charm like I’d always done before.
Soon, though—after the first-semester haze of getting through class registrations and campus bookstore rip-offs and dining facility “meals”—the preferred method of getting through college was made abundantly clear to me. I was urged, in the most urgent back-alley-at-midnight way—to rush a certain fraternity, if I knew what was good for me. Being from Brooklyn, I instantly got the message.
It’s a world I chose NOT to explore back then (and I still have the scars to remember that decision by.) But I’ve revisited that sacred ground in my novel, ALMOST HOME. I have a lot of regrets about opting NOT to get involved with a shady fraternity back then, because, well… Let’s just say, I’m pretty confident I could have been a lot more upwardly mobile than I have been to this point in my life if I hadn’t passed on the opportunity.
Maybe those regrets are why I was so driven to create this weird and wild world in fictional form for ALMOST HOME. Maybe I was just trying to fully explore that world and wring as much drama out of it as I could. Maybe that’s the revisionist act of a coward. Maybe it’s the gauntlet-lifting act of a hero. I don’t know. All I know is that my blood, flesh, and sweat are on the novel’s e-inked pages, and even I was surprised where the plot-twists took me.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.