New Adult – Literary – Contemporary fiction – Women’s fiction
Publisher: Mapleton Press
This novel about friendship, nostalgia, and finding oneself is funny and tender, moving and poetic, while standing firmly in hope and love. The characters are thinkers, overthinkers really, who are trying to find their way by asking the deep questions of life with wide-eyed wonder and talking through life's uncertainties. They fearlessly confront the choices they've made, examining their desires and their mistakes. The result is a smart, engaging novel depicting a young woman's search for the people and place she will call home.
A RECOMMENDED read by the US Review
The inside of the White Tavern was dark and smelled like stale cigarettes and grease. A server came over, wearing tight black skinny jeans and an old Van Halen concert tee.
Dylan turned sideways in the booth to stretch his legs out. “Tell me about this beer that’s cheaper than gas.”
“Dollar eighty-four,” the server said, which was, in fact, cheaper than gas.
“Do you have any fries to go with those competitive beer prices?”
It had been a long time since I’d had my favorite sandwich. Pimiento cheese. Pickles. Ham. I sunk my teeth into a yummy bite of teenage years and moaned out loud.
Dylan looked up from his double order of fries and raised an eyebrow. “Do you and that sandwich need to be alone?”
I ignored his comment. “Was there anything else in that car? Anything that might indicate a drug deal gone bad?”
“Nope. Just the cooler and the rock.”
Dylan locked eyes with me. “That rock means something, Skye.”
The dining area was empty except for us, and one other table near the back with kitchen staff. Still, Dylan leaned across the table and whispered urgently, “It’s like that scene in Pulp Fiction with the briefcase in the diner.”
I furrowed my brow and gagged on a sesame seed. “With Honey Bunny?”
Dylan leaned back and shrugged. “The guy’s name was Pumpkin. Honey Bunny and…”
“I know. I’ve seen it thirteen times. I’m just wondering why we’re out here in the middle of the desert with you drawing comparisons of your life to a film that came out when you were seven years old.”
“You—you, you mock me, Skye, but there’s a connection.”
“Between a film and that glowing rock?”
“Yes.” He clasped his hands together firmly and laid them on the table.
“There’s no rock in Pulp Fiction.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yeah, it is. It’s in the briefcase.”
“We never see what’s in the briefcase.”
Dylan squirmed in an exaggerated way and said, “God, use your imagination, Skye. It’s a glowing rock.”
“Okay. Say it is a glowing rock. What does that have to do with us?”
“It’s our time to finally make sense of our lives.”
“That’s what I’ve been doing.”
“No, you haven’t.”
I grabbed the ketchup bottle and whacked the bottom. “How do you know?”
“Because you’re here. Right back where you started. Look, don’t get me wrong, I love sitting out in the desert drinking Miller High Life, listening to the coyotes howl, playing charades in the firelight with your sister, but I’m glad you’re home.”
“You played charades with my sister?”
“Sure. Isn’t that what you were doing back east? Playing charades? Sounds like? Feels like? Rhymes with?”
“You saying those six years were nothing more than a game?”
“We were all playing a game. It’s okay to admit the truth, even if it’s hard.”
His answer was so simple and earnest, I didn’t know whether to kill him or cry. I looked down at my plate with a strange mixture of surrender and hunger. “What do you think I was doing on the East Coast?”
Dylan inhaled and shrugged, “Trying to escape this place and burn Trevor out of your mind with hot yoga and gluten-free buns.” He touched my greasy hand and said, “It’s not a judgment. Look, I don’t know what you were doing out there. You didn’t exactly call. But you’re here now, and so am I, and I believe this is some kind of strange gift.”
“If the rock is so important, why haven’t you moved it?”
“It’s really heavy. I’m going to have to dig it out. That’s where you come in.”
Dylan was always a crazy trailblazer adjusting his tinfoil hat, but he’d leveled up the weird while I was gone.
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
If I stood perfectly still in the stall, I could hear the sound of the end coming. A sharp chapter break pushing forward. Tracks winding into a new future. One I couldn’t see, because I was still stuck in the backseat of my past life. I sat on the toilet and thought about escape. The problem was I’d been escaping my entire life. Running from everything. Destiny. Relationships. Myself. I looked down at my jeans bunched up around my knees. I’d already managed to get stuck in a hole, might as well grab a shovel and dig.
About the Author
Lis Anna-Langston was raised along the winding current of the Mississippi River on a steady diet of dog-eared books. She attended a Creative and Performing Arts School from middle school until graduation and went on to study Literature at Webster University. Her novels have won the Parents’ Choice Gold, Moonbeam Book Award, Independent Press Award, Benjamin Franklin Book Award and NYC Big Book Awards. A three-time Pushcart award nominee and Finalist in the Brighthorse Book Prize, William Faulkner Fiction Contest, George Garrett Fiction Prize and Thomas Wolfe Fiction Award, her work has been published in The Literary Review, Emerson Review, The Merrimack Review, Emrys Journal, The MacGuffin, Sand Hill Review and dozens of other literary journals.
Hailed as “an author with a genuine flair for originality” by Midwest Book Review and “a loveable, engaging, original voice…” by Publishers Weekly, you can find her in the wilds of South Carolina plucking stories out of thin air.