Shades of Persephone is a literary mystery that will entertain those who delight in exotic settings, foreign intrigue, and the unmasking of mysterious characters. Crete in 1980-81, more specifically the old Venetian harbour of Chania, provides the background against which expat Canadian Steven Spire labours in pursuit of David Montgomery, his enigmatic and elusive mentor, who stands accused in absentia of treachery and betrayal. The plot has many seams through which characters slide, another of them being the poet Emma Leigh, widow of Montgomery’s imposing Cold War adversary, Heinrich Trüger. In that the setting is Crete, the source of light is manifold, but significant inspiration for Steven Spire comes from Magalee De Bellefeuille, his vision of Aphrodite and his muse. “Find Persephone,” she directs him, “and you’ll find David Montgomery.” Her prompts motivate much of the narrative, including that of the Cretan underground during the Nazi occupation, 1941- 45.
Shades of Persephone presents a story of love and sensuality, deception and war, spiritual quest and creative endeavour. The resolution takes an unanticipated turn but comes as no surprise to the discerning reader. Like Hamlet who must deal with his own character in following the injunctions of his ghostly father, Steven Spire discovers much about the city to which he has returned, but much more about himself and his capacity for love.
Shades Of Persephone/Amazon.ca/Reed Stirling/Books
Published excerpts from Shades of Persephone
“Inchoate Shapes” in The Nashwaak Review, St Thomas University
“Magalee” from a chapter titled “Grace and Scourge” in Out Of The Warm Land III, an anthology
“Shell Game” in Fickle Muses
“On The Road With Persephone” from the chapter “Thigh Friendship” in Paperplates Magazine
“Déjà Vu” from a chapter titled “The King Must Die” in Green Silk Journal
“Ikons, No Halos: An Interlude” from “Trompe L’Oeil,” feature fiction selection in Fickle Muses
“Song of the Cicadas” in The Fieldstone Review
“Sprung Fulky Charmed” in Fictuary
“Like Odysseus” from “Hydra-Headed Beauty” in Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Carlton University
“Naiad of the Lefka Ori” in Fickle Muses
“Knossos, Kazantzakis, and Thereby Hangs a Tale” in Fictuary
“Montgomery, Magalee, and The Maji” in Hackwriters Magazine
“Magalee’s Cloak of Darkness” in Paperplates Magazine
“Local Knowledge” in Fictuary
“Requiem For A Hero / Tiresias” from the concluding chapter titled “Infallible Messenger” in Hackwriters Magazine
“Mistress Muse” in Filling Station
“Tempting Fate” in Feathertale
Lighting The Lamp dramatizes the efforts of Terry Burke, a sympathetic, at times caustic and critical, but ordinary old guy, to come to grips with who he is and what his life has been. His struggle to accept retirement and to interpret the iterations of the voice in his head spreads to concern over the mysterious death of a wanderer. Terry’s obsession to solve the mystery fuses directly with his personal history and leads him in and out of fascinating, half-remembered mythological landscapes.
A restive Terry is enjoined to revisit the haunts of his youth. Family dynamics of the present, mirrored in Irish heritage of the past, come into play as do contrarian opinions encountered among cronies, distant friends, and lost loves. Motivated by his muse to tell all, what he seeks in addition to understanding is truthful voice and the purest possible point of view. Aware that remembrance of things past in not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were, this quixotic Everyman eventually reaches beyond self, beyond mystery, and beyond theodicy to a philosophical embrace of cosmic apotheosis. In Lighting The Lamp, Montreal provides more than a background for potential jihad-sponsored terrorism, or ghosts out of the past, or a romantic trip down memory lane; the many-layered city takes on the function of a defined and demanding character and declares in a voice Terry hears clearly: “Know me and know yourself!
Published excerpts from Lighting the Lamp
“Snow Falls” Ascent Aspirations
“A few Phrases” The Valley Voice Issue 17
“A Phrase Or Two Further” The Valley Voice Issue 20
“Phrased Another Way” The Valley Voice Issue 22
“There But For The Love Of Grace Go I” Out Of The Warm Land II
“Gravity, The God Gene, And Grace” The Eloquent Atheist
“The Plateau Revisited” StepAway Magazine
“Backtrack” The Danforth Review
“Walkabout” StepAway Magazine
“Shades of Liam Hughes” Nashwaak Review
“Eye Of the Needle” Senior Living Magazine
“Ma Maggie’s Legacy” Hackwriters Magazine
“No Fury” Island Writer
“Noise” Dis(s)ent In Words (forthcoming October 2018)
“Perspectives In White” Montreal Writes Literary Magazine
“Glorious Disorder” Humanist Perspectives (Sept 2019)
Montreal in late nineteenth century, a gifted young poet falls victim to madness.
Today, a struggling father is driven to drink over the intransigence of his music-obsessed teenage son. An equally conflicted wife and mother threatens separation.
What connects these two worlds?
The Victorian fountain in Square Saint-Louis, a series of seemingly random incidents in the city, a bronze bust on a white plinth, and a school reunion where myth, art, and mysterious e-lixar fuse into dramatic reflections of family dynamics. Through mirroring, resolution proves possible.
“Stirling does it again, entertaining the reader with a parade of engrossing characters. Through a complexity of allusion simple truths are revealed. Contemporary, relevant, challenging, Séjour Saint-Louis is fused with ambiguity and subtle humour.”