CHANCES ARE by Richard Russo: A Review


RussoThis 2019 addition to the wonderful collection of Richard Russo’s books could be categorized as a mystery or love story, but neither category would be “traditional.” The mystery is a cold case that three characters who were/are in love with the same woman are trying to solve. Lincoln, a commercial real estate broker from Las Vegas, meets up with Mickey, a has-been musician and a sound engineer from Cape Cod, and Teddy, a small-press publisher from Syracuse. The three men are 66 years old when the story opens, and each reflects back on their days as “hashers” (kitchen help provided by scholarship students) in a girl’s sorority house at tiny Minerva College. At the time, they had been best friends, but they had not been in contact with each other since graduation weekend.

Flashing back, It is the time of the Vietnam War, and the pivotal experience the three shared…

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These quotes about writing have come my way over time, and I wish to share them with my blogging friends.

“Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under their skin. The talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities, and have them relate to other characters living within him.”   (Mel Brooks)

“Most people carry their demons around with them, buried down, deep inside. Writers wrestle their demons to the surface, fling them out on the page, then call them characters.”   (C.K. Webb)

“Writing, real writing should leave a small, sweet bruise somewhere on the writer … and also on the reader.” (Clarissa Pinkola Este, b.1945, American poet who often writes poems about women)

“Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skill.” (Rod Serling, Twilight Zone)

And, finally, good advice for 

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My Soul is a Burden for the Universe – Antheias Ghost

I’m your orbiter
beyond the sky and stars
beyond time itself

I’ve always been here
waiting for you to come back home

I’ll keep the dust away, because I know it makes you sneeze
I’ll set the table one more time, and make sure your bed stays smelling fresh.
I know how much you love the feeling of a clean bed.

and I’ll play your song one more time
echoing it through all of space itself

my heart

crying out for its lover

a single moment
and everything stands still

the dust settling again
and I’m back to work

bracing my heart, for the impact of your arrival
and making sure, the dust never sits too long.

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The Last Prayer – Poem

From my lovely blogging friend

Bookish Fame

You know

When I’ll be spent and cold

In the days when I’ll be inching closer

To the truth so old

To my inevitable closure,

I’ll dream of you and pray for you

Because you’re beautiful.

In the end,

When I’ll meet my eternity 

I want to be the mute spectator

Of everything nice and good

And so I want to behold you 

Because you’ve been the most beautiful.

When time would arrive finally 

To say the last goodbye of my life 

I want to say that to your being

In which I reveled all my life.

As my eyelids would drop 

Becoming heavy and lifeless

I want to make the last prayer 

To be with you in all my lives 

I’ll live ever!

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7 – Walking Destiny’s Fine Line

We didn’t mention it that day,
the limp, the odd drag of the left foot
its sound like an after-thought…

Second thoughts now
and too much time passed
to make a difference

She never listened anyway
and who was I to
preach or teach or cajole?

We each bear our own weight
carry with us the things
we can’t put down and

after a while they just break us
one day or the next, this fragile vessel
cracks or tips or teeters off the edge

breaks into a thousand pieces

Our destiny is all of that, right there,
following us around with an odd echo drag
few of us ever, ever mention.

Image: Feet, Vincent van Gogh. Poem ©2019, Jen Payne. National Poetry Month #7 and NaPoWriMo poem. #NaPoWriMo. For more poetry by Jen Payne, purchase a copy of Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind! BUY THE BOOK…

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THE SUNKEN CATHEDRAL by Kate Walbert: A Review


This 2015 novel’s colorful cover displayed at the Alvin Library attracted me and “forced” me to check it out. I knew the Impressionistic cover depicted the sunken cathedral of the title, and it “looked like” music. Although I had never heard of Debussy’s score, “The Sunken Cathedral” (described as the composer’s ” musical version of Impressionism”), I was moved by just looking at the cover.

All this from just the cover and title! According to the blurbs on the back, Walbert’s story follows a group of characters, “as they negotiate one of Manhatten’s swiftly changing neighborhoods.”  The New York Times calls it, “a stunningly beautiful, profoundly wise novel,” and describes Walbert as “a wickedly smart, gorgeous writer.”  It opens with a strange prelude, written in italics. Flood waters swirl and drown all things, engulfing the city.  We do not know what city it is until later.

We meet in the first…

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