September 23, 2015

Novel Excerpt: “Ghosts on the Red Line” by Peter David Shapiro

Novel Excerpt: “Ghosts on the Red Line” by Peter David Shapiro

Editor’s Note: Peter David Shapiro has entertained the Fictional Café habitués on several earlier occasions, for a simple reason: he is a prolific author with three novels to his credit. Debuting now is his first novel, Ghosts on the Red Line. It was followed by The Trail of Money and most recently Portrait of Ignatius Jones. Peter’s books are available in Boston area bookstores and on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats. An innovative author, Peter has made Ghosts available as an audiobook/podcast as well. Peter is an innovator in another important way. It’s sometimes said an author writes the same book over and over, but this is definitely not the case with Peter’s novels. Each is distinctly different in subject matter: ghosts in the subway tunnels; crooked financiers laundering money in Hong Kong; an ignominious psychic out to fleece old…

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September 21, 2015

Novel Excerpt: “A Hoarse Half-Human Cheer” by X. J. Kennedy

Novel Excerpt: “A Hoarse Half-Human Cheer” by X. J. Kennedy

Editor’s Note: We’re extremely pleased to publish an excerpt from X. J. “Joe” Kennedy’s novel, A Hoarse Half-Human Cheer. It’s a ribald story of post-World War II America that rivals another Joe’s novel – Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Joe Kennedy’s novel is, in our opinion, a more finely wrought work, and perhaps even funnier, which is as it should be from a man for whom literature has been his life work. Earlier this year, Joe was awarded the Jackson Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry. The judges wrote: “X. J. Kennedy’s forms are perennial, his rhetoric is at once elaborate and immediate, and his language and diction are always of the American moment. He translates the human predicament into poetry perfectly balancing wit, savagery, and compassion. His subtly dissonant rhymes and side-stepping meters carry us through the realms…

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September 2, 2015

Dory Fiamingo’s Sensuous Nude Paintings

Dory Fiamingo’s Sensuous Nude Paintings

Last October we featured an excerpt from Daughter of Fire, a novel in progress by Dory Fiamingo. Shortly thereafter, Dory received an invitation to exhibit her art, a series of sensual and erotic nudes, at Westwind Frame and Gallery in The Dalles, Oregon. She told us: “Every time I think my work isn’t a big deal, not really, I think, yeah, how many artists get told by a gallery that they want 11 paintings to display!?! You should have seen the owner greedily grabbing canvases and saying, “I want this one and this one, and definitely this one!” Dory likes to paint nudes, and she reports the show was a smashing success. When the show ended, Dory had sold one and gotten three commissions. More commissions have followed. Most recently, Dory has submitted a few pieces in the Artists of the [Columbia River] Gorge competition taking place October…

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August 25, 2015

“In Leather Chaps,” Another Jean and Rosie Novel and a Special Offer!

“In Leather Chaps,” Another Jean and Rosie Novel and a Special Offer!

Editor’s Note: Last year, we published an excerpt from Catherine Dougherty’s first novel, in Polyester Pajamas. Since then, she has been nothing but prolific, publishing the follow-up in Woolen Bikinis and now the third Jean and Rosie novel, in Leather Chaps, from which we feature an excerpt. For the next two days, August 26 – 28, Cathy is offering her first novel, in Polyester Pajamas, Kindle edition, to readers absolutely free! Here’s a great way to get into the Jean and Rosie series without spending a dime. If you like the first then you’ll probably like the second and be eager to pick up the third, in Leather Chaps, causing both author and readers to rejoice! in Leather Chaps When Life Gets Tough, Women Get Tougher . . . Jean can handle the upcoming divorce, the constant hot flashes, the unemployed son, even…

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August 11, 2015

“A Ghost of an Idea” by Beth Roper

“A Ghost of an Idea” by Beth Roper

Editor’s Note: As Rod Serling, host of “The Twilight Zone,” might have said, “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into…” Beth Roper’s delicious short story of revenge from beyond the grave, “A Ghost of an Idea.” *     *     * Gavin Van Dam smiled faintly as he heard her high heels clacking down the entry way and the soft click of the door. His wife Amanda was leaving for her girl’s night out after many kisses and apologies. Van had finally assured her he would perfectly fine left to his own devices, and settled…

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July 24, 2015

Randy Cade’s New Thriller is a Western

Editor’s note: We published an excerpt from “Call Me Harry,” from the the prolific Mr. Cade, in May, 2014. His new novella is a Western. The trick question in the title, “At the Request of James Dougle,” may keep you wondering for a while, but wait – it’s a zinger. This is an old-fashioned Western, and I love the genre. Maybe because I grew up wearing cowboy boots, but more likely because in many ways the Western was the progenitor of the mystery and suspense genre, in which I dearly love to read and to write. The tales James Fenimore Cooper told of Matty Bumppo [aka “Leatherstocking”] were thrillers set in an untamed America, which translated forward into the wild-in-the-streets American cities where cops and private eyes fought crime. Race, it seems, has always been…

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July 4, 2015

365 Docobites: “A child’s life in my hands” video

A few months ago, The Fictional Café made a pledge to an enterprising young couple of video documentary makers, Epiphany Morgan and Carl Matson. They’re from Sydney, Australia, and have been touring the world making a video documentary a day – “365 Docobites.” Our contribution has come back to the coffee shop to roost in the form of a video gift, which you can watch here. We’re very proud to have supported this creative endeavor and hope to publish a few more of the 365 Docobites here in the future. For the nonce, you can go watch a few yourself at their website. Again, congratulations to Eppie and Carl on a very big project, well done. Hey guys, please stop by the ole Fictional Café for a cuppa next time you’re in town! Jack, Mike,…

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July 4, 2015

Film Review: “Ex Machina”

Film Review: “Ex Machina”

  The box-office success of “Mad Max: Fury Road” [reviewed by Jason] and “Ex Machina” is the quintessential personification of lowbrow versus highbrow films. We Americans – indeed, most of the world, civilized or no – love both types. I have come to pick up Jason’s gauntlet and praise the latter film, but not at the expense of the former, for I, too, loved them both. And as writers and artists and students of the craft of storytelling, so should you. “Ex Machina” begins by celebrating the brilliance of the creative lions of Silicon Valley, in this case Nathan [Oscar Isaac], and the wonders of technology, like the Google-like empire he has built. Yet Nathan is now, not unlike Thoreau, retired to the woods to contemplate his next brilliant move, for nothing less than topping his earlier triumph will satisfy this…

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June 30, 2015

“Diplomacy” by Jane Ward

“Diplomacy” by Jane Ward

Editor’s Note: We welcome Jane Ward back to the FictionalCafé ‘zine pages with a new short story. Her first, “Balancing Act,” appeared in the June, 2014 issue. * “It’s not like that,” she said. They were sitting on the steps of the old house where Raynor had grown up, looking out at the moss-covered rocks on the front lawn, and trying to get the bottle caps to land on top of the biggest rock the way they had done when they were children. The house still reminded Tara of the house in Forrest Gump, the way its size was somehow mediated by its straightforward shape and layout, so that the place managed to appear unassuming. “It sounds pretty much ‘like that’ to me,” he told her, keeping his hand in the air after it let…

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June 3, 2015

Barry Zaltman: Ojos de Tango

Editor’s note: “Ojos de Tango” is the title of a new photographic exhibition opening Friday, June 5, 2015, at the Movimiento Gallery in Boston. It translates into Tango as seen through the eyes of a photographer. And what a feast is Tango for the eyes of the viewer as well! Barry Zaltman is one of the photographers whose work will be on display at the Movimiento Gallery through August 1st. He has graciously allowed us to present several of his stunning Tango studies here in the Fictional Cafe. Note Barry’s photographic style of using pure black and white. Please click on the images for a larger view.                     Barry Zaltman, a travel photographer, tanguero, bullfight aficionado and educator, recently spent four months in Buenos Aires studying Tango at the…

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