A post containing a book listing.

Rain, snow and graupel (sleet) showers

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY: A wave of moisture and a warm front will be moving through. Snow is likely in higher elevations. Otherwise, rain, snow and graupel (sleet) showers A good day to read a good book. All day. To kick off a luxurious day of reading, perhaps in bed, the story of Eric Newby, a British soldier captured in Italy by Mussolini’s army who was sheltered and protected by local mountain people in the Apennine Mountains for over a year from Fiet’s Vase and Other stories of Survival, Europe 1939-1945:


AIthough there had been no anti-Semitic tradition in Italy as there had been in Germany and other parts of Europe, Jewish killings and deportations finally began in Italy in 1943. They started in Rome and moved north. In flight, Jews dispersed toward the north. Many Jews or opponents of Mussolini or the Fascist regime who were caught by the Gestapo were sent to prisoner-of- war camps north of the Apennines. The catch of Jews was small indeed because so many Jews and partisans and other opponents of Fascism had found hiding places in small villages and in the mountains.

One of these, protected by mountain people and villagers, was neither a Jew nor a partisan. He was in the British army and had been smuggled into Italy to blow up an airport. The plan had failed and he’d been captured by the Italian army. The soldier’s name was Eric Newby. and he returned to the mountains and forests of the Apennines twelve years after war’s end with his wife and two children, to find, visit and somehow thank the various men, women and children who’d sheltered, fed and protected him for more than a year after his escape in 1943 from a prisoner-of-war camp outside the village of Pianura Pada, not far from the city of Parma. All who had helped him, and those who had helped Jews and other “out- laws,” had done so at the risk of their own lives.

Over the course of that year, separately and together, a human lifeline had been spontaneously created that sustained Newby’s body and kept his spirit alive. As he wrote in Love and Death in the Apennines, all help “was given freely at the time, out of kindness of heart.” The first link in his human lifeline was a tall Italian farmer with a florid face, Signor Merli, who allowed Newby to spend the first night after his escape hidden in his hayloft. He was impressed by the farmer’s large Roman nose. Although he’d managed to acquire an Italian phrase book before escaping from the camp into the countryside, Newby and Merli couldn’t speak to each other. Because Newby had a broken leg and because it was daylight and dangerous, Merli hurriedly helped him up a steep, rickety ladder into the hayloft. He gave him a bottle filled with fresh water and left him. Suffering severe pain in the broken leg, Newby listened to the sound of explosions in the foothills of the Apennines that – he correctly assumed – were being made by the advancing Germans.

When dark, accompanied by a heavy mist, had entirely fallen, Newby was helped into the farmer’s house and the farmer’s small, dark wife fed him pasta and salty cheese, which he washed down with frothing purple wine. As he wolfed down the food, the farmer’s two children studied his unusual uniform and boots. Then he was put to bed on feed sacks in the cowshed. In the morning, an Italian doctor came to look at his leg and arranged to have him taken to hospital. When Newby gestured goodbye to Signor Merli and his family, Signora Merli began to cry. He was taken by the dissident doctor to the Ospedale Peracchi near Fontanellato and hidden in a bed in the maternity ward. His helpers had agreed that if he didn’t get his leg set – couldn’t walk, couldn’t run – he didn’t stand a chance of escaping. Cheese, fruit, eggs, cigarettes and civilian clothes were brought to him by women and young girls who arrived out of nowhere on bicycles. Immediately he was visited in the hospital by a slim, blue-eyed young woman named Wanda, a Slovene from a place close to Ljubljana, who had lived in Italy with her father for a long time and obviously was connected to the dissidents who were helping him. She insisted that he learn Italian, which she would teach him. Neither could have imagined at that moment of meeting that they would be reunited after the war and would marry each other. The doctor set his leg in a plaster cast, and while the bone mended, Wanda’s Italian lessons began.

When the Germans discovered Newby at the hospital, he was put under armed guards. After several days a note was left under his lunch plate: Tonight, 22:00, if not, Germany tomorrow, 06:00. Go east 500 metri across fields until you reach a bigger street. Wait there! Don’t worry about clothes and shoes. That night, feigning diarrhea, he went back and forth to the bathroom. When the hallway was clear, he climbed down a drainpipe outside the toilet window and hobbled away per the instructions. Waiting at the crossroads was an old car that had the Red Cross symbol painted on its door. Inside sat the doctor who had already helped him, along with a schoolteacher, referred to as “Maestro,” who happened to be Wanda’s father. They drove Newby toward the large outlines of the Apennines, and after a night in the woods near the Po River, he was taken in hand by a large limping man with a scar along his nose. This was Signor Giovanni, who left him in an underground hole with a promise to return. The hole had recently been dug by the gnarled hands of Giovanni and his very old father. It was fortified with sacks and a few provisions that included a blanket, water, cheese, wine and a can into which he could evacuate. All night, rain fell on the makeshift roof and dripped through the air hole until late the next day – the coast was clear and Giovanni and his father came to retrieve him.

His next shelter was two villages farther up, on a mountain- side. It was a stone hut the size of a cowshed that he first saw illuminated by fierce lightning. It belonged to the Zanoni family Fearing expulsion when Signor Zanoni told him he couldn’t sleep in the hay, his heart sank. But then Zanoni announced that he could sleep in the house in a bed after he finished milking his cow. With relief. Newby was shortly brought there. Zanoni’s house seemed more a cave than a house. The stones glowed red from hanging oil lamps. Zanoni, his wife, their three children and a small and wrinkled aunt who watched him constantly through thick glasses – six people in all – lived in this cavelike residence. Newby was fed potato gnocchi and given red wine to drink, then he was put into the warmest, softest bed in which he’d ever slept- before or since. The knitted vest they gave him smelled strongly of sheep. He fell asleep to the sound of crashing rain and woke to sounds of cows and hens in the yard below. It was September 1943, and the reward for denouncing a fugitive like himself or a Jew or a partisan had just risen to eighteen hundred lire, at a time when a thousand lire meant a comfortable life for a month. The sentence for aiding or abetting anyone of these outlaws was execution.

Newby’s next shelter was several hours by foot through the woods, higher in the mountains. His shelterers were a thin, erect farmer, Signor Luigi, who always wore a hat; his wife, Agata, who had a booming voice and was missing a tooth; their daughters, Rita, thin and dour, and Dolores, Amazonian and lusty; a plowboy, Armando; and a ferocious dog named Nero. These mountain people spoke a mountain dialect. Despite the risk, the arrangement was that Newby would be fed and sheltered at Pian del Sotto – as the place was called – in exchange for field work. Since he would be working outside most of the day, a story would be circulated that he was deaf and dumb, a bombed-out fisherman originally from Genoa.

The next link in Newby’s chain of helpers – albeit an accidental protector – was encountered after Newby had spent a sun-drenched autumn Sunday gathering mushrooms near a cliff that was about five or six thousand feet above the valley. He was lying on a spot of soft underbrush soaking up the afternoon heat and had let the lazy sounds of bees, insects, sheep bells and even a tolling church bell in the valley lull him to sleep. When he opened his eyes, a German officer – armed, in uniform – was towering above him. His name was Oberleutnant Frick. Flat on his back, Newby was frozen to the spot on which he lay. He was shirtless, bootless, sockless, weaponless. He thought about the choices available at that instant – murder, combat. One quick shove might send the German tumbling off the high cliff behind him. Or? Or? Or he could act the part of the Italian deaf-mute. However, he couldn’t will himself into action, he simply lay where he was, frozen. He realized that the German was also frozen. After a decisive moment, rather than fight to the death, the two soldiers continued doing nothing, continued staring at each other. Then Newby noticed the butterfly net that Frick was toting and the moment of jeopardy dissolved and they began to converse.

This German was a professor of entomology from Gottingen who was in Italy lecturing on Renaissance painting and architecture to soldiers who were engaged in destroying these very things. Newby and Frick drank a beer from Munich together. They discussed the war, the impending German defeat. Before leaving Frick told him, “Do not be afraid. I will not tell anyone that I have met you. I am anxious to collect specimens … specimens with wings.” Strange as it felt, Newby shook the hand that was offered and – still seated, agape – watched Frick, the sworn enemy, take off across a field, his net lunging at a butterfly unseen to him.

Forced by the tightening German noose to move again, Newby next met Abramo, a huge man with mottled skin and a viselike handshake, a shepherd who lived even higher in the mountains to the west of Pian del Sotto, among gray cloudbanks, with flocks of black and dun-colored sheep and dogs in an area peppered with dwarf beech trees. Abramo’s hut smelled of sheep, was less than ten feet square. Abramo gave Newby grappa to drink, polenta, hare stew flavored with mushrooms, herbs and giblet gravy to eat. The stay here lasted only a few days. Next – because it was becoming too dangerous for him to be sheltered in anyone’s house at all, six male members of the community built a secret house for him. A lean man with a sharp nose named Francesco was in charge. A very old man named Bartolomeo and four others, including Francesco’s boy Pierino, and a mule climbed very high into the mountains together and worked all day When the outside of the makeshift house/cave was finished, the helpers stacked wood inside and created a chimney in the cliff wall. Late in the day, the wives of the men appeared at the building site loaded down with backpacks filled with cheese and rice, bread, salt and acorn coffee purchased at exorbitant prices – which none could afford – on the black market. And of course they’d brought wine. A password – “Brindisi”- was agreed upon. Gathering their tools, the Italians wished him luck and led the donkey down the mountainside, disappearing quickly.

Entirely alone, Newby undraped the sacking that covered the entrance. He climbed behind the tangled beech tree roots and stepped inside his cave home. Once inside he let the sacking fall back behind the roots, rendering the door to his refuge entirely invisible. While inside he could hear the hoot of forest owls through the long, lonely winter months he spent based at this refuge in solitude except for visits from the children or grandmothers of his shelterers, bringing him food – eggs, sausage, but more often bread, milk and soup. “Almost always they came when it was just growing light; but I was always awake … Then they would hand me the pot – and after I had handed back the pot, I would receive words of encouragement, and usually, in answer to my question, they would say that there was niente di nuovo – no news. This meant in the comune rather than the world, although they sometimes would add – dabbing their eyes – that there was still no news of the boys in Russia, whose grandmothers some of them were, and then they would go back down the hill, very black and respectable, with the pot concealed in a black bag made of American cloth.”

So he remained when fierce rain, then blizzards, came to the mountains, when bombs began to fall on Genoa. One day the son of one of the protectors arrived in an anxious state. He told Newby that he must leave in less than an hour, that the milìzia was coming for him that very night. He took rice and other supplies and was guided to a rendezvous with a boy – Alfredo, slim, shy, whose lips were blue from cold – who led him safely around frozen waterfalls, iced gorges, through a night of wailing winds, to the hut of a family of charcoal burners whose faces were dusted black from charcoal. There he was given bracing grappa and the warmth of a hot fire. From this refuge he was led by a boy to a barn where an almost blind man, Amadeo, awaited them, as well as a small girl carrying a crock of hot soup. While Newby ate, Amadeo told him, “I, too, will give you food and shelter for as long as you wish to stay here.”

The chain of human kindness held firm during his time in the mountains.

[Big thanks to Jo for the discovery of the drawing used in this posting]

… and I highly recommend!

Read this touching five-start review left on for The Devil’s Mistress by reviewer Jojo Rose:

“Alison Leslie Gold’s fascination with the Holocaust has led her to try and imagine the inner life of Eva Braun (Adolf Hitler’s mistress). Alison sheds reality and tries to create from the bare bones of history a fleshed out inner life of Eva Braun. Her tool for entering the mind of Eva is a fictional diary written first hand from “Eva’s” point of view.
Alison Leslie Gold’s other books on the Holocaust are non-fiction, and I highly recommend them. This book is a fictionalized account and must be read and relished as such. She brings to life the desperation of a young seventeen year old Eva, desperate to prove herself to her family, desperate to excel at something, anything. Her only form of valuable currency is her youth and beauty.
Alison Leslie Gold in no way romanticizes her characters, in fact her strong distaste and disapproval of the characters about whom she writes comes though clearly. You could say that her repugnance of Eva and Herr Hitler are a character in themselves that runs through the book like a dark thread.
This dark world entrances and revolts in equal measure. Ms. Gold finds success in the difficult task she laid herself. I recommend this book for all who seek a deeper perspicacity on the possible motivations of those people reviled by history.”


For the next course

Peel THE POTATO EATER and marinate in CLAIRVOYANT for 5 hours. Crush THE POTATO EATER and add the soaked LOST AND FOUND, making sure MEMORIES OF ANNE FRANK has been squeezed out. Put in 2-3 spoonfuls of CLAIRVOYANT  and LOVE IN THE SECOND ACT and beat the mixture adding DEVIL’S MISTRESS drop by drop. If the mixture appears too thick, add a little MEMORIES OF ANNE FRANK and mix.

Serve garnished with FIET’S VASE on a shallow plate.

Variation: 1. Half a cup of THE WOMAN WHO BROUGHT MATISSE BACK FROM THE DEAD, finally chopped, may be added, if desired. 2. Instead of LOVE IN THE SECOND ACT, 5 medium-sized POTATO EATERS (boiled first, of course) can be used.

Chew slowly. Don’t gulp.

Why TMI?

They’ve got guts.


They’re willing to stick their neck out to publish innovative work that mainstream publishers (so worried about sales figures) rarely will.

Like who?

Like me.

Innovative in what way?

My novella THE POTATO EATER is more akin to a PowerPoint presentation than a piece of conventional fiction. It’s raw, ribald, gritty; true to the vernacular of it’s gay hero’s pre-AIDS world.


And, to be published shortly thereafter, my novel in versts, NOT NOT A JEW, that happens to be entirely experimental, surreal, a mix of Jewish humor and pathos.

Must you?

Not really, but these two pieces of fiction are love children. Both conceived/reconceived/deconstructed/reconstructed over long periods of time, out-of-wedlock in some sense in that neither was undertaken within the safety of a contract or advance or guaranteed publication. Which brings me back to TMI ….

Excerpt from Part III — “It’s Possible to Lead a Cow Upstairs But Not Down” – The Woman …

The taxi drove along Lexington Avenue to 42nd Street. His mother had always spoken about Justina as an angel. No photo of Justina survived. No photo of anything, even his mother and father’s wedding, had survived World War I. Julia’s descriptions of Justina had varied so much during the years that he could not help but wonder if Claude was like Justina in some way. There was no other way to explain his mother’s attachment since Julia had not made one other friend since coming to live with him, had no desire for friends.

When the taxi stopped, they crossed 42nd Street, stepped over spilled fruit and went inside a penny arcade that was noisy with the sound of electric pinball machines. They passed a row of pokino machines, a line of skee-ball machines, walked to a counter at which a ruby-haired woman wearing a white captain’s hat with a shiny black brim was redeeming coupons won playing skee-ball. She was upset, kept pointing up at a cream and red alarm clock, her skin bright fuchsia.

“I want the alarm clock.”

The attendant behind the counter was breaking down rolls of quarters. He did not look up.

“You don’t have enough coupons for the clock.”

“I do.”

The attendant pointed to a lower shelf that contained large foam dice in several colors – blue, pink, yellow, green – also green plastic back scratchers, tiny brown monkeys at the end of key chains.

“This is your shelf, miss.”

The highest shelf that displayed alarm clocks also held piggy banks, various stuffed animals – stuffed sheep with curly coats of black fur, a row of large silky black and white stuffed panda bears. The attendant took three $20 bills from Andy and handed back a cardboard bucket filled with quarters. Andy went over to the photo booth. Spinning the hard, round, plastic seat counter clockwise to raise it, he instructed Claude.

“Sit on the seat.”

Since her hair was dark with streaks of gray threading through the brown mixed with strands of hunter green, he chose dark on light and pulled back the azure curtain, revealed the white wall.  

“Sit inside.”

She did, straightened her back.

“Look at the small glass window. Hold a pose when the green light goes on. Change it after it turns to red.”

Quarters clanged as they dropped into the machine. A little green light lit, flashed. He spoke in a flat voice.

“Don’t blink!”

“Turn to the right.”

“Look up.”

“Make a face.”

“Make another face.”

He was not sure if she understood English. When she did everything he asked, he gathered that she did and, as his mother had told him, had followed an artist’s orders before. After the light had flashed four times, he stuck his head inside.

“Wait. It’ll go again”.

He was surprised that a heavy sexual atmosphere was now surrounding her.  


At the sound of more coins, she opened her eyes wide and the light flashed red, each flash an ember of fire. She changed positions before each flash, sniffed, tossed her head like a ram. Not only had she followed directions, she had obviously done quick poses too.

“Don’t blink.”

When the light stopped flashing, he reached his long white hand inside and pulled the curtain behind her head to give an azure background.


Quarters dropped into the machine


The lights went on and off and on four times, four times, four times, four times. Finally he stepped back.

“That’s it.”

Claude mumbled a prayer of petition, stepped out of the booth. She drifted toward the counter, looking up at the stuffed animals, while Andy leaned against the photo machine. He followed her with his eyes, chewed his thumbnail as she looked longingly at the stuffed animals. In ten minutes, black and white photos, four to a strip, began to drop out of the machine one after the other. Because they were still wet, he gripped their edges, lined them up along the glass top of a horse racing machine to dry. Images appeared.


Claude came to look at the strips. Each contained four images of a face that did not always seem like the face of the same person. Once dried, he dropped the strips one by one into a paper bag.  

“May I look?”

He handed the bag to her and walked away. She pulled out the strips, looked at her many faces. None of these faces belonged to a nun. He returned and put a black stuffed sheep into her arms. She wrapped her arms around the sheep’s belly and followed him into the street. While he hailed a checker cab, she rubbed the sheep’s fur.

“Where can I drop you?”

“At St. Patrick’s church.”

He sat on the jump seat, stared at her face. She could pass for Jeanne Moreau’s older sister.

“If you pay me in cash it would be better. I worked one hour.”

“Let’s make it a half day – four hours. I pay one-twenty-five an hour.”

He handed her five dollars. She looked distastefully at his jacket, his dark glasses; his tight black trousers were like a Nazi SS. He had once seemed such an effete boy, but now he was dressed like a Nazi.

“Here, please.”

The taxi stopped, and she got out at the statue of Atlas holding up the world. The taxi drove on. Before returning to the house to change his clothes, he had the taxi driver stop twice – once for pastries and once to pick up the Czech newspaper for his mother.2015-02-13 15.33.31

Excerpt from Part II — “String of Pearls” — THE WOMAN WHO …..



When Claude arrived with her American, Matisse was cutting paper with a long scissors, he was wearing an old gray sweater on top of his old blue and white striped pajamas, had bare feet. The shape of a leg in an arabesque emerged from the heavy paper that had been painted jet black. He was in the wheelchair, his lap covered with a wooly throw that was sprinkled with snippets of black paper. Cuts of black painted paper lay scattered on the floor around the chair.

He shook hands and looked closely at Claude’s man – Roy Foot. What a strange name, a man named after a body part, a man with full, wine-red lips, lime-green eyes carrying paintings strung together with brown rope. Something about him was like a Great Dane. His hair was chrome yellow, had been cropped close to a flat skull.

Roy’s eyes scanned the walls. Pinned on the one that faced the bed were works in progress. Among them two drawings of his future wife wearing a Russian blouse.   In the drawing she was ravishing. Claude looked up at it too. She had no idea she looked like that. She had never thought of her eyes as distrustful before. Gazing at herself, seeing herself through Roy’s eyes, she understood why men wanted to take her to their beds. But did they not see how bad her teeth had become? Roy took in the room, the plants, the knick-knacks. He walked over to the wooden cage belonging to the turtledoves and saw the great drips of yellow-green slime on their wooden perches.

Lydia explained that the household would be leaving Paris shortly to travel south because Matisse must work on designs for the famous chapel that contained St. Veronica’s kerchief with Christ’s face imprinted on it. Lydia asked Claude, “Would you like a glass of eau de Vichy?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“And you?”

“Beer, please.”

Large incomplete drawings for the chapel were pinned on the opposite wall. Matisse had been able to work life scale because the two rooms in Paris corresponded to the interior size of the chapel in Vence. He commented, “I’m not yet sure of what I will design for the window.”

A nurse crossed the room carrying a metallic tray on which various medicines were laid out. Matisse swallowed one after the other. He uttered, “Merci, Denise.”

He examined each of Roy’s paintings. After scrutinizing the final painting, he wheeled his chair over to the table, took pen in hand and scribbled a letter of recommendation on a sheet of off-white paper.

“Eh bien.”

He folded the letter in thirds, slid it into an envelope. Roy’s lime-green eyes leaked glee. Matisse said, “I think you might find it helpful to go to the Louvre and study the Egyptian antiquities.”

At that moment, Matisse’s face went deathly white. Shutting his eyes, he whispered “I’ll be myself in a moment or two.”

After a while he opened his eyes.

“I’ve got much work to do.”

Relieved that he had not died during his visit, Roy asked, “How do you make yourself work if you’re so ill, Monsieur?

“Nothing interferes with my work. I don’t have much time left and there’s more to do. I dearly hope your wife will not forget me in her prayers. Perhaps it is she who has been keeping me alive. Do you have another question?”

“How many colors did you use on your pallet when you paint?”

“Never more than 12 but I can’t really paint anymore because of my health.

“Do you make much use of black?”

“Yes … I use it to cool the blue.”







Excerpt: The Woman Who …..

Following, a short excerpt from Part I – “Pearls Melt in Vinegar” — THE WOMAN WHO BROUGHT MATISSE BACK FROM THE DEAD:


He finished drinking café au lait while Sister Paule poured additional doses of glassy-gold fluid into a metal spoon. She noticed the bread thick with butter left uneaten on a plate decorated with gold geese. She looked to see if her hands were clean, decided they were. He sat surrounded by pillows. The housekeeper was dusting. He said, “I can’t imagine that rat poison tastes any more unpleasant.”

He swung his feet onto the floor. When he tried to stand up, she reached out to assist him.

“Are you suffering, Monsieur?”

“Cramps. But so what, the pain will ease once I shuffle around the room a few times. If this is the price of living on borrowed time, I’m happy to pay in full.”

And this he did while the housekeeper turned down his white-on-white bedcovers for airing. His sheets had daisies embroidered with sand-colored thread. Sister Paule washed him and serviced his intimate needs. He appreciated quickness in these matters. She laced the stiff corset he was forced to wear, helped him dress and suggested he add something under his shirt to keep the chill from his kidneys. He picked an undershirt, one that was apple green. The pressed shirt he had chosen to wear that day was bright pink. She who had spent most of her life in black and white and gray was so was surprised to see colors like these. His trousers were burnt brown wool and it pained him to bend to ease them on. She held up the beige jacket that had been hanging on the back of a chair so that he could slip his arms into its sleeves. Where did one find clothing in such colors? The fabrics were soft to the touch, the colors were like she imagined God might have used in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness in the Book of Exodus.

“Your shoes and socks! I will help you …”

He shrugged and shuffled away on bare feet. Through the course of the morning she moved freely through the apartment bringing medicines at the allotted times, checking his pulse, his temperature, adding numbers to his chart, washing and rewashing her hands in between. He drank café au lait with a small blond woman who smoked one cigarette while lighting another from the end of the first. Sister Paule wondered if this was his daughter until the blond woman was introduced as Madam Lydia.

A charcoal-gray cat brushed against his calves, back and forth many times. He did not mind. He smoked a forbidden cigar during the brief time he was able to stand up among bright green cactuses and blood-orange jungle-like plants in pots arranged on the open balcony, bracing himself with a hand on the railing. Nothing of the city could be seen because the rooftops were shrouded in fog. Sister Paule came up behind him, looked out too. His eau de cologne was appealing. He quietly laughed, “We live above the fogs.”

With great difficulty he walked to the aviary, told her to follow, picked up and held a white turtledove on two fingers to show her and brought the subdued bird to his lips. If it had been anyone else she would have shaken a finger and reminded him that birds were carriers of vermin and germs, but since he was not long for the world, why reprimand? And, dirty as her hands often got, who was she to shake her finger?

After breakfast he inched his way through the apartment half-bending despite the pain it caused, retrieving things that had been discarded in the various trash bins. It seemed that he enjoyed collecting all manners of discards like she did. Of course there was no one to stop him from hoarding whatever he liked. Madam Lydia prepared the workroom. At 9:30 he sat on the side of the cushion-filled Empire bed in his studio. His bare feet were placed side-by-side flat on the floor. He smoked a second cigar. The screams and whistles of his birds in their cages were ear-splitting. Sensing that he was suffering, Sister Paule administered a dose of pain medication.

A visitor arrived at 9:45. As Sister Paule greedily ate bread, butter and salty cheese, she got a glimpse of a dark-haired, foreign looking girl. The cook told her, “She is his model. These days he uses film extras.”  

Sister Paule saw the girl remove her clothes and saw Matisse begin a drawing using charcoal. His face and the girl’s entirely naked body were very close. The girl’s hair-covered private part was directly in his line of vision so that he could easily have looked inside if the girl widened the space between her thighs. If she got any closer, Sister Paule could easily have looked as well. In all her life, she had never seen a naked woman in a state of shame-free repose.

Later, when the day had cooled, Sister Paule brought a blanket for his lap, also his pills. He was sitting on a chair, his easel facing the window. The gray Angora cat had curled up against a bolt of golden fabric, fast asleep; Matisse’s coloring had gone from pinkish to biscuit-colored. The model was gone and the assistant was standing on a ladder pinning a drawing to the wall. Matisse was complaining that he needed canvas and pigments, but the assistant reminded him, “There’s a war going on, nothing can be found anymore.”

Sister Paule watched him wrap the blanket she had brought around his shoulders, heard him say, “It’s prostate cancer Rouault has. Pin that a little higher, Madam Lydia.”

THE WOMAN WHO BROUGHT MATISSE … – a favorite with Book Clubs



1. Matisse in old age

2. Note from Matisse to Claude, the model whose life story is told in THE WOMAN WHO BROUGHT MATISSE BACK FROM THE DEAD

3. Claude in old age

THE WOMAN WHO BROUGHT MATISSE BACK FROM THE DEAD has become a popular choice with Book Clubs. I shouldn’t be surprised since it’s tasty, sexy, atmospheric, evokes wartime and postwar France, New York in the 60, an insiders look into the art world from Matisse through Warhol. etc. One Book Club upstate New York invited me to their dinner meeting held at a popular B & B — The Arbor — in High Falls* (*!) and while I was being stuffed with delights smothered with fragrant herbs right from the owner’s garden, the club’s members were also digging their spoons into my book by way of desert — questioning, quibbling, challenging me, sympathizing, dissecting, stirring up my prose. It was lots of fun, a perfect book for this sort of occasion. No, I’m not surprised, just delighted that this unusual story is being invited into the homes of these stewards of literature.

Thanks to all the Book Clubs who have and will honor Claude, Matisse, Lydia, John, Alice, Andy and me this way.

Available on Amazon:


On James Joyce’s birthday, remembering a loyal father

Clairvoyant Kindle Cover2015-02-02 08.47.41Joyce’s birthday was always a family event. Following, a short excerpt from newly reissued (TMI Press) CLAIRVOYANT available now as a kindle or book, including a New Author’s Note. Despite being diagnosed as schizophrenic, Lucia’s father saw her as a genius like himself.

Like a jewel I showed new and incompatible sides, which were breaking off from each other, but diamonds are diamonds.

I watched a girl dressed in my clothes throw a chair at Mother’s italics on the day of Father’s fiftieth birthday on 2 February 1932.

I saw a girl dressed like me become engaged to Alex Ponisovsky at a big party at Drouand’s restaurant then go to the home of Lucie and Paul Leon on the rue Casimir Périer and stretch herself out on the sofa. I lay this way, taking doses of Veronal and phosphate of lime in a catatonic pose, isolated and paralyzed with the weight of so much clairvoyance, while Father blamed Paul Léon for encouraging this engagement.

A girl dressed like me was seized by a vision at the Gare du Nord.

Another girl dressed like me while staying with Mother’s closest friend Mary Colum slept with her nightdress pinned to that of Mrs. Colum.

Giorgio tricked me and got me to get into a taxi, which took me to a maison de santé . This time in L’Hay-les-Roses where the doctor, Dr. G. Maillard, labeled my feverish clairvoyance ”hebephrenia.”

Knowing better, Father was convinced that soon all others would come to realize the voices being spoken by girls dressed like me were other people’s voices trying to be heard, not my own. He blamed everyone for instigating my state and all men especially who had betrayed me. Mother particularly blamed Mr. Beckett.

Hat’s off to a loyal and loving albeit helpless father.


Buy book from Amazon here