It’s such a pleasure to have Anthony back with his latest story!
Yet Today by Anthony Caplan will release Sunday in the Contemporary Family Thriller genre.
School’s out for summer, and that’s when Gillum Kaosky heads for the exits. Poised somewhere between neediness and nothingness, Kaosky sets out for summer adventures.
Gillum is a Spanish teacher. He’s been married for twenty years and has three children with his wife Sibyl. They have raised their family on a farm in central New Hampshire. But this summer, Gillum lands a job that will change everything: wire-tapping the Dominican crime families responsible for bringing heroin and fentanyl into northern New England. Meanwhile, his son, Jonah breaks into the Department of Defense in a hack attempt that lands him in jail. Nothing remains the same, and love does not always conquer all in Yet Today, a thrilling, contemporary family saga from Anthony Caplan.
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Outside, on the streets of the town, there was an odd calm, as if the panic he felt were truly an illusion. The rest of creation seemed to be awaiting the further development of nothing extraordinary. He stopped at a traffic light and checked the faces of the oncoming motorists. They seemed astonishingly ugly in their cheap, mirrored sunglasses, their cheesy grimaces protecting against the glaring noonday sun. Out on the ruined strip, with its line of closed, boarded up storefronts, was a Dollar Store and several ancient fast food restaurants. On the corner was the multilevel furniture outlet blaring deals in some ballooning white lettering from its glassed front. It had been there forever, surviving downturns and boom times with an equanimous allegiance to the balloon font, attracting shoppers from as far afield as Quebec and New York State with its specials on Chinese futons and designer mattresses. The yearning for a good night’s sleep was apparently a constant through thick and thin. Next to it was a new vape shop with the logo of an aquamarine unicorn that already seemed tawdry and dated, as if that was part of the appeal. He parked in the lot next to the vape shop. The clientele here had moved beyond yearning for sleep to hankering after the deep six. It seemed to Kaosky a logical if somewhat depressing progression. Next down was the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine outlet. Out the door of the vape shop stepped a young woman with thin arms and an illegible tattoo sprawling across one shoulder, barely covered by a thin spaghetti strap. Her pelvic bones extended above her jeans. They avoided eye contact, but her tilting step caught Kaosky by surprise, as he tried and failed to evade her.
“Excuse me,” he said.
“Jesus Lord. I’m sorry,” said the young woman in a raspy, high voice, like compressed air releasing from a leak.
“That’s okay,” said Kaosky.
“Wouldn’t have a fiver, would you?” she asked. Her head seemed to wobble for a second as if she was about to fall.
“No, I’m sorry. I don’t carry cash.”
“That’s not great.”
“You already said that. You think I didn’t hear you?”
“No. You heard me fine, I’m sure.”
Kaosky stepped by her on the sidewalk and checked himself mentally. He turned to the girl. She glared at him, but despite her anger there was something in her look, a weakness that seemed almost pure in its acceptance of infirmity. She wasn’t hiding her desperation and lack of recourse to anything beyond her words and sharp anger.
“You want something to eat?”
“Well, I’d go into the Burger King there and get you something.”
“That’s across the street. Why didn’t you park there?” She was disgusted by him.
“I would go there if you were interested. I’m sorry.”
“Holy shit, you really are a creep. I’m looking for some cigarettes. I’m sure you don’t smoke.”
“I used to.”
“You quit or something. Right? Nothing worse than a quitter.”
“It’s been a long time. What do you smoke?”
She must have been no more than eighteen or nineteen despite the lines around her eyes and the sunken cheeks.
Kaosky picked out a six-pack of something called Jackman’s Victory Ale, a local craft beer with an alcoholic content of seven percent. At the checkout he asked for a carton of mentholated cigarettes. He looked to the sliding front door. Two older men walked in, both wearing Patriots ball caps, plaid flannel shirts and olive green Dickies despite the weather. He thought he saw the girl, but he wasn’t sure. She could have gone already. But when he walked out there she was, waiting around the corner, leaning against one of three yellow steel bollards installed in front of the parking lot, some subliminal iteration of state power.
“I got you these,” he said, holding up the pack of cigarettes.
“Sweet,” she said, but stayed leaning against the bollard. Her frailty had a stink to it.
“But I got a question for you.”
“Anything you want, mister. That’s real nice of you.”
“I want you to do something with these. Not just smoke ‘em.”
“What else you going to do with cigarettes?” she asked teasingly, her curiosity piqued.
“I don’t know. Go home and talk to your family.”
About the Author
Anthony Caplan is an independent writer, teacher and homesteader in northern New England. He has worked at various times as a shrimp fisherman, environmental activist, journalist, taxi-driver, builder, window-washer, and telemarketer, (the last for only a month, but one week he did win a four tape set of the greatest hits of George Jones for selling the most copies of Time-Life’s The Loggers.) Currently, Caplan is working on restoring a 150 year old farmstead where he and his family tend sheep and chickens, grow most of their own vegetables, and have started a small apple orchard from scratch His road novels, BIRDMAN and FRENCH POND ROAD, trace the meanderings of one Billy Kagan, a footloose soul striving after sanity and love in the last years of the last century. His latest fiction effort, LATITUDES – A Story of Coming Home, to be released on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords and paperback in the summer of 2012, is a young boy’s transformative journey overcoming dysfunction, dislocation and distance.
Hi Anthony, and welcome back!
Are your characters based on real people or do they come entirely from your imagination?
This is an interesting question and one I really have to tackle and be upfront about. I will start by quoting the disclaimer at the beginning of Yet Today.
“This is a work of fiction. Consequently, any resemblance of the characters herein to the living or the dead is unintentional and random.”
But there is a larger picture that does not negate the disclaimer. Instead it opens the story up to the subconscious realms that you need to draw from in order to really reach down and grab something meaningful as a writer.
My family and lived experiences seem to form a large part of the material of the story: the type of characters, the details of their lives, their personalities and conflicts. I think of it as a scaffold, a trellis for the story to take shape and grow on. The final product is fiction, it’s a made up story with an invented narrative that in some almost magical way, in the way of storytelling, tells about a larger truth.
But my process is heavily dependent on what I know, especially when it comes to writing a contemporary story about a unique family living in unique times and how the larger world comes to bear on their relationships and the decisions they make as individuals. At times it might seem like I’m writing what some would call autobiographical fiction, but I call it semi-autobiographical because it is purposely distanced from reality in that my aim is not to mirror the obvious but to reflect on deeper questions.
The story of Yet Today has definite echoes of my real life — the main character is a high school Spanish teacher, check. He has three children, check. He spends a lot of time reflecting on the direction of his life, his relationship to his wife and children and hoping for a better world, check. But things get a lot crazier in Gillum Kaosky’s life whereas I have a relatively boring, sedate existence.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? Convince us why you feel the book is a must read.
There were times in the writing process that my characters definitely took over and surprised me. I’m thinking of the children in particular. Gillum Kaosky’s older daughter lives the tension in the family and acts out in strange ways. His son ends up in jail, and the choices he makes when he gets out are unforeseen, because I had no idea that he would make them before it happened in real time as I wrote that part of the book. But that is the beauty of writing, the fact that your characters will take on a life of their own if they have something that brings them to life in your imagination.
The fact is that I write in large part as some kind of fortune telling to help me look into the future. That’s an obvious byproduct of writing my science fiction trilogy The Jonah. But even in a contemporary story such as Yet Today, I wanted to see what would become of the family, of the marriage between Gillum and Sibyl, of the children, just the way anybody in real life would like to know how things will look in one year’s or ten year’s time for their loved ones. Having said that, I’m not at all sure what will happen to me and my family, but one thing is for sure, the writing of Yet Today was a lot of fun, and I can only hope that readers will get out of it as much pleasure as I got in writing it.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
This brings up the question of identity in literature which has taken on such a recent controversial air recently. Can someone from a particular background even claim to be able to tell a story from a point of view with which he, or she, or they have seemingly nothing in common? That’s the question that many seem to have such a hard time dealing with. I would argue that of course it’s possible to tell a story from another’s point of view. That’s the whole point of fiction, to open us up to the world through other eyes. Imagine if only white males could be depicted in stories by white male authors, or black females in stories of black female authors. The literary world and our culture would be greatly impoverished, in my humble opinion.
Is it easy to write from a female perspective if you are not a female? Of course not. Yet Todayis about a white guy coming to terms with his privileged perspective as he gets older and his wife and daughters’ stance towards the family change in ways that reflect the larger society. But I would say that an intentional writer can lay claim to another’s perspective. We are all related to each other and consequently are hard-wired to understand and see ourselves and the world through the eyes of the people we care about. The crucial element is to care for each other.
- $50 Amazon
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