Today I welcome author, Arthur Rosch,
Esther Kantro has four children. She hates all of them and the hatred is reciprocated. The oldest son, Aaron, finds refuge in music. As he grows up, he learns that art can be the key to healing his most grievous emotional wounds. This is a book about a family of individuals who can be monstrous in their cruelty yet sublime in their ability to create works of art. The word dysfunctional is inadequate to contain the scope of the Kantro family's problems.
The most apt expression with regard to the narratives in this book is simple:
"You have to laugh to keep from crying."
Let's take a look inside the book...
September, 1967. Detroit, Michigan
Aaron Kantro follows his colleagues through the labyrinth of the nightclub’s kitchen and out the back door. A waft of cool air hits his face as he steps onto the concrete platform next to the loading dock. His sweat instantly begins to dry and he can see steam misting from the other musicians’ tuxedos. It’s the band’s third break. They will play one more set of forty five minutes. Then their work for the night is done.
There are nine or ten people gathered around the rear entrance to the club. They are either jazz fans who want to hang out or they are so loaded they don’t know how they got there.
A man with his shirtails dangling from his suit stumbles into Aaron. “I wan’ shake your hand,” he announces. He extends his unkempt digits and then pulls his hand away as if to recalibrate his arm’s trajectory. Aaron, when he puts his hand out to respond, feels like an idiot. He puts his hands in his pockets and hopes the man will go away.“I tell you somethin’“, the man says. “You play some drums for a white boy. Some fuckin’ drums. I close my eyes, can’t tell the diff’rence. Sound jus’ like a real drummer.” He tries again to extend his hand and stumbles across his own feet.
“Excuse me”, a young lady says as she passes between Aaron and the drunk. She wants an autograph from the legendary saxophonist, Zoot Prestige. Aaron’s boss transfers a cheroot from his hand to his mouth. He leans down to inscribe his signature into the lady’s little book, while trying to keep his eyes averted from the cleavage that is so conspicuously thrust into his face. Aaron notes this little drama and loses his anger. Zoot Prestige is just too funny. Aaron quietly moves behind the imposing figure of his boss. The drunk rambles away, talking to himself.
Aaron is the only white person beneath the scalloped awning. There are perhaps ten white people in the club. It bothers him more than he likes to admit that he longs to see other white faces. It has been his decision to play jazz, and his brand of jazz carries him to black clubs in black neighborhoods. Sometimes, the moment he walks into a place, he feels the air freeze with racial tension. Sometimes he is scared. The only way through it is to play the music.
As the little throng disperses, Zoot butts his smoke in the sand of an ashtray. He steps off the concrete pad and walks across the lot towards his car.
After waiting about thirty seconds, the group’s organist, Tyrone Terry, follows the lanky figure of his boss. Aaron waits another thirty seconds and follows his colleagues to the cream-colored Continental. This precaution seems a little silly but there are probably narcs in the club and Aaron has to admit that it is pretty obvious what’s happening when three jazz musicians get into a car and don’t go anywhere.
Soon the men are engrossed in the ritual of the pipe: lighting, inhaling, holding breath, exhaling. It’s cozy in the Continental’s plush interior. Air comes sighing through the upholstery’s leather seams as the musicians’ weight compresses the seat cushions. Zoot and his side-men are settling down, recharging their nerves for the next set, the last set. It is one o’clock in the morning.
“She wanted you to look at ‘em,” Tyrone says to his employer.
“I know,” responds Zoot, “but it seems so...I don’t know...un-chivalrous to put my nose right into a lady’s cleavage. Besides, it’s redundant. I seen titties before. Wan’t nothin’ special about hers...they’s just....”
BANG! There is a huge sound, an explosion. The men’s bodies react instinctively. They duck, and their arms rise to cover their heads.
The car lurches as a man dives across the hood, holding a pistol in his right hand. His legs swim wildly as he fights to stop his momentum. Whatever tactic he has in mind, it isn’t working. The car’s sheen and finish turn the hood into a sliding board.
“Jesus fucking Christ!” In the back seat Aaron curses loudly without thinking. He has never before heard a gun shot. In spite of this fact, he recognizes the sound. It is rounder, weightier, and more final than the sound of a firecracker.
The man on the car’s hood waves the pistol frantically. Slithering to get his balance, he clutches at the windshield wipers and misses. Gravity and car wax slide him across the polished metal until he lands on the ground. The pistol fires as he hits the gravel. The bullet penetrates a tire with a loud hiss.
Where can I buy this fabulous book?
About the author
The greatest thing that ever happened to me was my awful childhood. I had no choice but to get angry, rebel and follow my path to becoming an artist. My first duty as an artist was to cultivate obsessions. I proceeded to do this with gusto and learned that there is no substitute for a good obsession, compulsion or addiction to gain insight into human nature. I managed to stay out of jail (except for a single night when the Detroit police busted every member of The Artist's Workshop), and I managed to stay out of the loony bin. Of course it was a girl who inspired me to write poetry. It wasn't until I was twenty six that I realized I could write novels. Prior to that I had been a jazz musician, a drummer/keyboard player/composer with an immense curiosity. I figure the description "artist" covers whatever medium is inspiring at the moment. Writing is really the refuge of my "later" life, after forty. It took me that long to wear out the obsessions. They had really gotten out of hand. Not that I regret a single one. Part of a writer's apprenticeship is to spend at least twenty years being mentally deranged, so I got to have my ticket punched on that one. It took twelve years of intense therapy to pull myself back into the functioning world. Did I tell you I love astronomy? Oh, I love astronomy! I got some lovely recognition as a photographer by doing creative work at night with cameras. Please visit my photo websites at 500px or artsdigitalphoto. I make about half a living doing photography. Writers don't want to hear about my books. They want to hear about their own books. If you're a reader, however, you might find my oeuvre interesting. I love science fiction, literary fiction, Rumi's poetry, travel, history, dogs and cats and my wife, who is half Apache. She can be very eerie when she goes dipping into the shaman's world. She invokes the spirit helpers called "The Grandmothers". Those ladies have helped us out of a lot of jams. Stories of weird miracles are told in the travel memoir THE ROAD HAS EYES,, AN RV, A RELATIONSHIP AND A WILD RIDE. This book is available at Smashwords dot com. My younger and musical life is described in CONFESSIONS OF AN HONEST MAN, which is about to come out as an e-book.. Everything else I either know or don't know is in the sci fi epic THE GODS OF THE GIFT. Then there's the new trilogy, THE SHADOW STORM. Oops, there I go talking about my books. Sorry,writers. Tell me all about yours!