Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Billy Kagan - French Pond Road (excerpt)

  In the throes of getting my "platform" together in order to get the word out about my new book LATITUDES - A Story of Coming Home. But as part of that I've been trying to organize my presence on the web and so increasing the visibility of previous work. This book, French Pond Road, was written under a pen name a few years ago, but it traces the wanderings of the same character from Birdman, Billy Kagan, once back on home soil from his journeying in Ireland.

As a side note, I have to admit it's an intriguing process getting up to speed with the different social media protocols and the collaborative, crowd-sourced nature of book marketing today. The difference between self-published and "trad" published authors has shrunk to the vanishing point, with some in both camps taking to the new medium like ducks to water. I am not one of those, but am working hard to make up for my slow and halting, painful awakening. Is there an emoticon for self-pity? Wink, wink.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from French Pond Road:

When he came back to Boston it was 1992, December, and snow blanketed the roofs of houses on the North Shore. He’d called his sister - the number he still had for her in Brookline. Kagan had a mental picture of May with Jimmy and their two girls. The girls were thin like their mother with long arms and wrists that hung like shellfish dangling from their knees when they sat on the sofa together. They were all Jehovah’s Witnesses now.  May had been attracted to the certainty and penchant for hard work, so like their own father, Hiram Kagan, although the root of his certainty had been a mystery and Kagan had always suspected, even hoped it was bogus. But the rigidity ate at the girls, all very tense with twisted uncertain smiles mirroring the hardness of Jimmy’s face and poor eating habits from Hiram via May. He’d pictured their hearts beating in unison, the enflamed tissues palpitating, as he dialed at the bank of public phones at the airport and waited. The air had smelled of cigarette smoke and metal and a forty year-old winter as if it was 1952 and he was his own father returning from duty in Germany and calling his wife in Windsor.
“Hi. May?”
“Is it? Billy? Is it you?”
“Yes, May. Yes, I’m sorry. I…”
“Don’t be sorry. Where are you?”
“I’m at the airport.”
“Patricia’s dead, Billy. Did you know that? We didn’t know who would tell you. Angela has your boy. She’s somewhere in California. California or New York. I’m not sure. Jimmy knows.”
He’d already known that Patricia dead no longer made an impact on him. His fingers were cold. He needed to find a warm place. Then he could think of the disaster that he was coming home to and ways to bend himself to it again.
“I’m wondering where’s a good place to go now, May.”
“There’s nobody in Windsor anymore. Wayne Jefferson is in Penacook. Outside of Concord. You remember him?”
“Yeah. He was in my French class.”
“He works for Sylvania up there.”
“Okay. I haven’t talked to him since high school.”
“But you were pretty good friends. That’s the only person I can think of, Billy. You could come here, but we don’t have a lot of room.”
“How are the girls?”
“They’re fine.”
“That’s good. That’s good.”
They talked on, mouthing platitudes, but May’s advice was enough for him, a direction in the darkness, good enough to get him moving. Any direction would do. 

French Pond Road (Kindle Edition)

Anthony Caplan is a writer, blogger, teacher and homesteader in New Hampshire. He is the author of the novels Birdman, French Pond Road, and the forthcoming Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home, due out at the end of June from Hope Mountain Press. Find out more about him and his work at 
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