Dementia House

Are you tired of old age? Has the novelty worn off? Do you want to return to those happy days of your childhood?

Fortunately, the path that leads back to your youth is easy to find. It’s steps away from wherever you are, at a wonderful place without walls or doors called Dementia House.

Everyone is welcome at Dementia House, there are no initiation fees or monthly dues. Escape the strains of decrepitude without obligation. DH is a non-profit, equal opportunity resource that is personalized to your special desires and will never turn you away.

Join the millions of happy life members who have found serenity at Dementia House. All it takes is to follow three simple guidelines with all your heart and what’s left of your mind: renounce responsibility, forget obligations, and let go of all associations.

Imagine the joy of reliving your past for the rest of your days! At Dementia House the past is just the beginning.

No one will stop you from joining Dementia House. You will not experience any regret. And once you are there, no one can force you to return to the pains and embarrassments of old age.

So Near Yet So Far

After most of a lifetime being near sighted, I’m suddenly far sighted.

The change came about through a pact with ophthalmology. “We’ll remove your cataracts and install an artificial lens in each eye,” the doctor said. “You have to choose how you want to see for the rest of your life; near or far.”

The doctor recommended far sightedness. “Better for driving and generally getting around,” she said. “It’s what most people choose. For everything closeup, readers are cheap compared to getting prescription distance lenses and you don’t have to worry about expensive prescription sunglasses.”

Made sense to me. My new 20/20 distant vision turned out as sharp and brilliant as promised and I celebrated my return to a focused world, until I picked up a book.

This doesn’t work! I exclaimed to myself, squinting at pages of blurry lines and photos of unidentifiable faces.

“I said you would need readers, remember?” My optometrist soothed my worried mind. “We’ll fix you right up with a prescription. Now, look at these letters. Which is clearer; this. . . Or this.” After many repetitions she handed me my ticket to read. “Take this prescription to CVS and buy a pair of readers.”

That worked fine until I stared at my computer screen. “This still isn’t working!” I exclaimed again.

“Oh yeah,” soothed the optometrist a second time. “We can give you another prescription or we can fit you with graduated lenses that will correct for both computer and book reading for more money. You can also get bifocals. They’re cheaper, but less effective.”

My vision was getting complicated. “So,” I replied. “I either get expensive prescription lenses anyway or I carry around two pairs of readers?”

“That’s right.” My perky optometrist smiled like she was doing me a big favor. “We recommend you get different colors so you can tell them apart.”

I’ve come to realize I spend a lot more time looking close up than I ever did gazing at distant sights. I’ve also learned I’m too absent minded to keep track of just one pair of each prescription.

Welcome to my house full of glasses. Watch your step.

By the way, have I told you about my hearing aids?

Book Reviews

Donna Stramella, author of Coffee Killed My Mother, reviewed my novella, Ransoms Are For Amateurs

There’s nothing ordinary about James White’s novella, Ransoms Are For Amateurs. Actually, the unexpected reveals to both the reader and the characters alike. Clearly, the title suggested a kidnapping, but everything else about the book was unexpected. The kidnapper, police detective, and process–all unexpected. Even the kidnapping victim, little Henry was not the expected target. But the terrified and weak three-year-old was one of the reasons I couldn’t put the book down. What would happen to Henry?

Set in San Francisco in the 1980s, the criminal mastermind behind the kidnapping is Cisco, an evil man who cares not if Henry lives or dies. Like other characters carefully crafted in the story, White develops a unique, multi-sensory character in Cisco. We can feel his large, cruel presence; see his oily skin; hear his afflicted speech. He communicates by handwritten notes and in his own dialect, seemingly a result of his unrepaired cleft pallet. In another unexpected attribute of the character, he is also able to speak clearly, a type of “bilingual” skill that he uses as part of his disguise.

A female police detective is assigned to the case, and with a recent promotion, her lack of experience leading such a high-profile, high-stakes case is overcome by her motivation–even at extreme risk to herself. Identifying the kidnapper becomes a puzzle, even with an eye witness. Were there two men? Was there a single man? Was he young or old?

The pages turn faster and faster, with the reader belted in tightly on an action-packed ride with unexpected turns over and over again. Once you start, you’re in for the full journey. Expect to finish this one in a single 100 MPH sitting!

Thanks Donna!

Elizabeth Gauffreau
, author of Telling Sonny reviewed my novel, Borders In Paradise

James White’s Borders in Paradise opens in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom bungalow in West Hollywood, California. The year is 1939. The tiny bungalow is the Gaines family’s version of paradise, after twenty-two-year old Juno (John) and his brother Chassy (Charles) “ran away from that den of thieves and malcontents in Texas to start a new life in

California”–the den of thieves and malcontents being their extended family, of course. Their mother and sister Anita (Neet) join them shortly thereafter.

The novel is divided into four parts, with several changes in narrative stance to provide the reader with multiple perspectives on the Gaines family dynamics and the brothers’ coming-of- age struggles.

Part I is narrated in first-person, alternating between Juno and Chassy. Given the resentment Juno expresses toward his “tall, blond, and handsome” younger brother, alternating first-person narration between the two of them was a wise choice on White’s part. Is Chassy as irresponsible and selfish as Juno says, or does the root of Juno’s discontent really lie elsewhere?

Chassy immediately gets himself ensnared in an ill-advised marriage with a young woman from a well-to-do family who works hard to smooth over his Texas roughness. When Chassy realizes that she has had an ulterior motive from the start, he reacts badly and has to beat feet out of town. He joins the US Border Patrol, where he is blown far from paradise to the Arizona desert.

Parts II and III are in third-person from Chassy’s point of view. He is referred to in these two sections as Charles, reinforcing the need–if not his own desire–to extricate himself from his youthful mistakes and forge some kind of future for himself. By the end of Part III, the Draft Board and another ill-advised encounter with a woman put that future in question. Part IV is narrated by Juno in first-person to bring the novel full-circle to its surprising and satisfying conclusion.

Ultimately, Borders in Paradise is a novel about belonging and personal identity, with family, lovers, and even the government all working to make us over into someone we’re not sure we want to be. The question is, when we finally come to that realization, will it be too late? In the case of the Gaines brothers, you will have to read the book to find out. I would strongly encourage you to do so!

Thanks Liz!

A Journey of discovery, one cup at a time

Coffee Killed My Mother opens with a dream. Author Donna Stramella uses first person to introduce us to the story’s main character, Anna Lee, leading us through a young girl’s nightmare of abandonment and despair. Or was it a dream?

Building from a dramatic opening, Stramella takes us on a coming-of-age story wrapped around a road trip along the Atlantic seaboard with stops at resorts, motels, restaurants and coffee shops. A lot of coffee shops. Along the way, Stramella uses an intriguing mix of dialogue and backstory to introduce Anna Lee’s troubled past; divorced parents, a stolen friendship, and fears about her mother’s mental health. But when they stop at Virginia Beach, the trip takes a sudden turn off the narrative’s main highway. After a mysterious accident, the story heads onto side roads that expose the roots of a conflicted past that convinces Anna Lee it’s time to leave her mother. Then, a few coffee shops later, while visiting her mother’s hometown, another turn in the road follows a new route that leads toward reconciliation.

Anna Lee’s mother, Jacqueline Pierce, is the enigmatic element in the story, a perfect foil to her teen-aged daughter’s fears and self-doubt. Stramella does a wonderful job of doling out Jacqueline’s persona from behind a curtain of secrets and half-truths that drives the story’s pacing to its unexpected conclusion.

You’ll be turning the pages reading Coffee Killed My Mother wondering what the next roadside stop will uncover about the lives of Anna Lee and Jacqueline while asking yourself; Just how many coffees can that woman drink?

Telling Sonny Is A Tale Of Romance, Adventure and History

Author Elizabeth Gauffreau resurrects the forgotten childhood fantasy of running away to join the circus with a twist in her novel, Telling Sonny.

Set in America’s idyllic early 20th century, a time of outwardly polite courtesies and thoughtfulness, Telling Sonny follows a young girl’s tragic fall from respectability to a life of white-knuckled survival among society’s counter-culture of traveling vaudeville entertainers.

Young Faby Gauthier, fresh out of high school wonders what’s to become of her life when the annual vaudeville show comes to her home town of Enosburg, Vermont.

Despite the drab setting in the Enosburg’s Opera House, Faby, accompanied by her sister and best friend, Josephine, is captivated by that year’s cavalcade of acts especially a song and dance number done by ‘America’s Favorite Hoofer,’ a tall, lanky fella known by his stage name, Slim White.

Gauffreau’s attention to setting details and language throughout the novel is exemplary. Faby and Slim are a study of contrasts and Gauffreau does a great job of setting them apart not only by their personalities but also by showing their differences in social customs, colloquial expressions and behaviors. Along the way, Gauffreau entertains us with enlightening anecdotal observations about early 20th century American life in small towns as well as urban centers. All through the story I felt informed and captivated with Faby’s efforts to keep up with her thoughtless, but dashing beau during a perilous time in her life.

Telling Sonny will keep you engaged from the start and you’ll finish the story satisfied, not only with the novel’s surprising conclusion, but also for having learned about a unique chapter in American social history.