The audio book of THE ROCKY ORCHARD has been recorded and is in the final stages of production. Actor and voice artist Danielle Joy Foley did an outstanding job narrating the book — bringing life to the characters and beautifully capturing the spirit of the book.
Watch for details about the audio book release, and take a listen to the sample below:
I am actively working on my next book, a novel with the tentative title The Reading. The book opens with an older author named Esme reading her work to an audience. An unexpected — and unrecognized — visitor attends her reading and brings events of forty years past squarely into her present. The foreground story of Esme reflecting on a year of her life is loosely based — in theme and in structure — on the J.D. Salinger short story for which the character is named (“For Esme — with Love and Squalor”). Running in the background is the idea that the author bore witness to things in that one year of her past that she believes foretold the awful mess we are in today (Trump, divisions and their resulting strife, inequity, the handling of Covid-19, etc.). Hence, the title The Reading also implies an experience that divines the future. The J.D. Salinger short story and The Reading are ultimately tales of hope and recovery, though set against a background of loneliness, alienation, and trauma.
Here is a sample from the new book:
“Are you like her at all?”
“Would it kill you to talk in complete sentences, with complete thoughts and all?” I said to Tom. He had come over to where I sat — happily alone at a dining table in the massive dining hall — set his tray down and stood behind the chair, as if his final decision to sit rested on my answer.
“’I purely came over because I thought you looked extremely lonely,’” he said.
“Oh my lord,” I said. “Do you seriously have the entire story memorized? The whole thing? It sure seems like you do.”
“Nah,” he said.
“It’s weird. Kids our age don’t know that story. Generally speaking.”
He shrugged, pulled out the chair and sat down.
“Are you a Salinger fanatic or something?” I asked him.
“Nah,” he said. “I wouldn’t say so.”
“I still think it’s highly odd. Seems like someone who’s got such an exceptionally close relationship with a lesser-known J.D. Salinger story is the kind of person who should be in my English seminar thing. God knows it’s a whole passel of weirdos in there. Not in an awful way, really.”
Tom took a salt shaker from his jacket pocket and proceeded to pour an ungodly amount of salt across every single thing on his plate. “It would save time if you just took the top off,” I said.
“You didn’t answer the question,” Tom said.
“Are you anything like her?”
“Like who?” I asked.
He cocked an eyebrow and stared at me.
“I’m wondering if I might be able to get credit for this. Deciphering the subtle cues and clues of Tom…hey, what’s your last name?”
“Donahue,” he said.
“…deciphering the secret language of Tom Donahue. 101.”
“You’re witty, then,” he said.
“Please notice that I have four cups of coffee on my tray, whereas you have three glasses of milk,” I said. Which means that I have not forgotten your question. I think you are asking me if I am anything like Esme, the character in the story Esme, at least that’s what I think you meant.”
Tom winked at me while shoveling forkfuls of differently flavored salt into his mouth.
“I have a decent vocabulary,” I said. “Otherwise, you’ll have to decide for yourself.”