Fleeing New York City and an abusive partner, would-be writer Marc Nugent finds work at HomePort, the Provincetown mansion of Lola Staunton, a fabulously wealthy recluse. Aided by an attractive-but-unattainable artist and an all-too-available cross-dresser, Marc investigates accusations of rape and murder that have estranged Lola from a childhood friend for more than sixty years. Past and present converge when a long-lost journal reveals tales of infidelity, adultery, and passion that mirror the life Marc has recently abandoned. When his ex-lover arrives in search of revenge, Marc must confront his past, his notions of family, and his capacity for love.
I was just at Pilgrims' Park this morning, walking my golden retriever, Dori. She's named after one of the characters in the HomePort Journals, where a canine character, also a golden, plays a supporting role. The park memorializes the site where the pilgrims landed, as well as beloved townspeople and others who have passed on. In the scene I've excerpted, two men, who clearly care for each other but can't muster the courage express it, are standing in front of one of the commemorative granite markers. The marker is still there with its poignant message. . . "Some Other Spring." Just that and the inscription "To Alex." I stood in front of it again this morning. It always speaks to me of opportunities lost; words and moments deferred to "Some Other Spring." I hope its message reminds those who see it that they should live every day as if it were their last.
I've had several neighbors over the years who were plain-spoken, feisty women. Some never married, some were married to fishermen who were away for days on end. What they all had in common was a "tell it like it is" approach to life. There was no dancing around a subject with these women. Everything was put out in plain sight. The other unusual quality was that while they loved gossip more than anyone I've ever met, they seldom made value judgments. At a time when gays and lesbians were harassed, these women treated me as just a neighbor. Nothing more, nothing less. It's hard to describe the way this affected me during the days when my partner could have lost his job had his employers found out we were a couple. I imbued Dorrie Machado with the brusque, no-nonsense character of these women. She stands as a tribute to them as they've all passed on. The excerpt presented here is her introduction to Marc Nugent and the world...
As a "year-rounder" in Provincetown, I'm privileged to experience the town in different seasons. I use the term privileged rather loosely; the winters here can be difficult. When summer ends, and there is no one around any more, it's a whole different world. The wind can cut through you like a knife, and there are only a few places that stay open should you want a drink or a bite to eat. As Marc Nugent writes the journal entry excerpted here, he's high up in the tower of the HomePort mansion, with spectacular views out over Provincetown Harbor and the Atlantic. Looking back on how much of a role the elements play in The HomePort Journals, it comes as no surprise that Marc shares my fascination with them. The Atlantic House (or the A-House is it is popularly known) was built in 1798. It's "little bar" is almost a time capsule with its carved beams and low ceilings. One of the few bars to stay open in winter, it's a natural gathering place.
Crammed with sun-worshipers on a summer's day, Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown is also a great place for early morning introspection. If you go early enough, you seldom see a soul. Marc Nugent, having just escaped a disastrous relationship, drives out to Herring Cove to collect his thoughts. This excerpt from The HomePort Journals describes what greets him that mild November morning. I often visit Herring Cove in the off-season with Dori, my golden retriever. Especially in spring when the whales swim so close to shore you can hear their breath. I do some of my best thinking while walking the beach, so it was import to me that Marc get some alone time in one of my favorite places. On a morning such as the one in this excerpt, sound takes on a different dimension. When the fog is close to shore, sometimes you can't see more than a few feet in front of yourself. At times like this the ocean can seem incredibly mysterious--an enormous void filled with secrets. It always makes me think of another time and place. Of those who have come before. Many people savor a beach only in sunlight. While in no way averse to a beach crowded with gay men, I'll take a foggy morning any time I can.
Described by Book Viral as a "Seductive, twisted and highly engrossing," "Last Chance" explores the psychology of identity, the power of desire--and the mechanics of revenge. Detective Paul Beston is a hopeless romantic who hides behind his notion of masculinity. Smug, self-confident, and extremely judgmental, he doesn't always see what's right in front of him--especially when it's the man of his dreams. When multi-millionaire Vaughn Kreisler is reported missing from his yacht, the "Last Chance," Beston's prime suspect is the only person left aboard, the mysterious Amanda Mueller. Beston doggedly investigates Kreisler's disappearance, even when a homophobic officer threatens his life. What Beston finally discovers will change his beliefs about love, truth--and, most of all, what it means to be a man.
When I wrote this scene, I was concerned it might seem like something from the past. Now, in today's changing climate, I'm not so certain. Here is some background: Scavela is a fellow officer who has discovered that Detective Beston is gay and made his situation at work a living hell. Having been ostracized and belittled by his colleagues, Beston is bitter and conflicted. His self-loathing and internalized homophobia have begun to surface. Amanda Mulher is under investigation for murder.When they have dinner together, Beston finds himself drinking and saying too much about his frustration, loneliness and cynicism. The scene picks up when he is heading home drunk.
Here in Provincetown, we have a strict delineation of identity. If you were born in Ptown, you're a "townie." If you moved here, even as a child of 3 months, you're a "washashore," and you can never change that. Amanda Mulher is a washashore on Grand Bahama Island - a mysterious, if elegant, figure with only a skimpy paper trail of visits to other islands. This lack of identity immediately raises questions for Detective Beston, who is also a washashore; he has been running most of his life. Beston is cynical, sarcastic, and brilliant, if he does say so himself. He's also a hopeless romantic. I've enjoyed writing this scenario where a sophisticated person is forced to endure hours of questioning by a crusty detective of the Raymond Chandler type. They could not be more different people. Beston is a closeted gay man, Amanda a citizen of the world with style, beauty, wit, and every advantage. Who could ever imagine they'd become attracted to each other. Well, actually, I did, and from that discovery my two "washashores" took me for quite a ride. Enjoy Last Chance
We all keep secrets. Even from ourselves. A Book of Revelations explores the tipping point—when the truth offers liberation and continued self-deception perpetuates the status quo. -Private Quarters: A coming of age story. With cocktails. -Curtain Call: A spurned "mistress" crashes a memorial for her ex-lover's wife. -Götterdämmerung: The complex relationship between a maestro and his protégé. -Convergence: An aging artist and would-be socialite hosts a disastrous dinner party. -The Honoree: A local saint’s past unexpectedly threatens her future. -Last Chance: A gay detective investigates a murder case where nothing is at it seems. -The Midnight Suitor: A nephew unearths an old family secret--with a modern-day twist. -Even In Death: Mourners who are strangers “bond” at a charlatan’s wake. “Drag performers, detectives, and community moguls meet in Burch’s (The Homeport Journals, 2015, etc.) collection, which features coming-out stories with a twist.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A Book of Revelations delivers on its promise. It will surprise, sadden, delight, shock, and most likely bring you to tears more than once.” GGR Reviews. Available in E-book or Paperback
“Götterdämmerung” is one of the first short stories I ever wrote, and it remains a favorite. I think that’s because it recasts some of my musical experiences in a different medium. This tale of a concert violinist and his maestro has its origins in two distinct impressions. First, the memories of my favorite trumpet teacher and raconteur, John Coffey, and second, the operatic works of Richard Wagner, primarily Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), with a nod to Tristan und Isolde and Lohengrin. John Coffey was plucked from the ranks of the orchestra at Radio City by Arturo Toscanini who asked him to join the famed NBC Symphony for a South American tour. John also played the burlesque shows at Boston's Old Howard Theatre. It was John who told me an anecdote of how the temperamental maestro shamed his colleagues by saying, “part of me died today.” Who could resist including such drama in a story? Not this author. Richard Wagner used a technique known as Leitmotifs or, as Anna Russell called them, “signature tunes,” to round out his drama in “The Ring.” There are motifs for nearly everything that appears more than once. In my story, named for the final opera in that cycle, I’ve made use of those that suited my narrative.
Private Quarters, the first story in A Book of Revelations is one of my favorites. Matt Atwood moves into a decrepit house with a ramshackle tower. Every sound can be heard throughout the place. The ceilings are canvas, and the walls paper-thin. While these conditions spawn several humorous episodes, they expose much that is better left unknown. Caught between the expectations of his marriage-minded girlfriend and the ever-increasing demands of his downstairs neighbor, Matt is drawn into dysfunction and drama well beyond his tender years. The whole experience leaves him questioning everything. Especially his sense of himself. This is a coming of age story in more ways than one. Matt grows into adulthood, comes to know loss and disappointment, and finally discovers what he wants out of life.
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