The Phantom Glare of Day
by M. Laszlo
GENRE: Historical (Metaphysical) Fiction / Coming of Age Fiction
In this trio of novellas, three game young ladies enter into dangerous liaisons that test each one’s limits and force them to confront the most heartrending issues facing society in the early twentieth century. The Phantom Glare of Day tells of Sophie, a young lady who has lived a sheltered life and consequently has no idea how cruel public-school bullying can be. When she meets Jarvis, a young man obsessed with avenging all those students who delight in his daily debasement, she resolves to intervene before tragedy unfolds. Mouvements Perpétuels tells of Cäcilia, a young lady shunned by her birth father. She longs for the approval of an older man, so when her ice-skating instructor attempts to take advantage of her, she cannot resist. Not a month later, she realizes that she is pregnant and must decide whether or not to get an abortion. Passion Bearer tells of Manon, a young lady who falls in love with a beautiful actress after taking a post as a script girl for a film company—and is subsequently confronted with the pettiest kinds of homophobia.
London, 29 September, 1917.
Sophie paused beside a stock-brick building, and she listened for the unnerving rumble of an airship’s engine car. How long has it been since the last bombardment? Sometime before, as she had stood in this very spot, she had heard the Zeppelin clearly enough.
At that point, a Royal-Navy carbide flare had streaked heavenward. Then, from the neighboring rooftops, fifty or more pom-pom guns had opened fire–and the night air had filled with the odor of something like petroleum coke.
Yes, I remember. Now she braced herself for a salvo of fire.
No deafening tumult rang out. Neither did any sickening, stenchful fumes envelope her person.
No, it’s just my nerves. She glanced at the sky, and she whispered a simple prayer of thanksgiving.
From around the corner, an omnibus approached.
She climbed aboard and rode the way to Mayfair Tearoom.
The establishment had never looked so inviting as it did that night. By now, the proprietress had decorated the tables with Michaelmas daisies the color of amethyst, and she had adorned the china cabinet with ornamental cabbage. Moreover, how appetizing the scent of the fresh Eccles cakes.
The tearoom had attracted quite a crowd, too, the young ladies all decked out in silken gowns.
I wonder why. Sophie removed her coat, and she suddenly felt underdressed—for she had not worn anything too fancy that evening, just a puffed blouse and a fluted skirt. At once, she sat down at one of the last available dinette tables.
An eclipse of moths fluttered through the transom, meanwhile, and even they looked better than she did. What beauty the creatures’ wings—a fine royal purple.
Don’t look at them. Alas, when she turned her attention to the doorsill, a dull ache radiated up and down her left arm.
Not a moment later, a tall, gaunt lad, his eyes a shade of whiskey brown, entered the tearoom.
For a time, he glared at the patrons—as if at any moment he might remove a musketoon from beneath his frock coat and shoot everyone.
A Word With the Author
Can you describe your dream home?
A cottage beside an ocean beach where lots and lots of seagulls regularly congregate and call to one another.
If we were to come to your house for a meal, what would you give us to eat?
Pancakes. They’re not just for breakfast. They also happen to be the perfect supper.
Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.
A young lady once wrote me to tell me that she really believed in me—that she really believed in what I’m doing. She understood that it was my purpose or fate to really try to find the meaning of things and to explicate that meaning via the written word.
Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
The Wave, Arizona (the Coyote Buttes North area.) It would be great to live there and to imagine that the whole place is Planet Mars. Of all the possible settings in our solar system, it’s hard to imagine one more alluring than Mars.
Who designed the book cover for the book you are touring?
Julie Metz (of metzdesign.com) designed the cover. The greatest thing about the cover is that it shows two young women of the WW-I era, but despite the trying times in which they are living, there can be no doubt as to their indomitable spirit. In their faces and body language, it seems clear that these women believe in something—and it looks as if their beliefs can and will sustain them.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
M. Laszlo is the pseudonym of a reclusive author living in Bath, Ohio. According to rumor, he based the pen name on the name of the Paul Henreid character in Casablanca, Victor Laszlo.
M. Laszlo has lived and worked all over the world, and he has kept exhaustive journals and idea books corresponding to each location and post.
It is said that the maniacal habit began in childhood during summer vacations—when his family began renting out Robert Lowell’s family home in Castine, Maine.
The habit continued in 1985 when, as an adolescent, he spent the summer in London, England. In recent years, he revisited that journal/idea book and based his first work, The Phantom Glare of Day, on the characters, topics, and themes contained within the youthful writings. In crafting the narrative arcs, he decided to divide the work into three interrelated novellas and to set each one in the WW-I era so as to make the work as timeless as possible.
M. Laszlo has lived and worked in New York City, East Jerusalem, and several other cities around the world. While living in the Middle East, he worked for Harvard University’s Semitic Museum. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio and an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.
His next work is forthcoming from SparkPress in 2024. There are whispers that the work purports to be a genuine attempt at positing an explanation for the riddle of the universe and is based on journals and idea books made while completing his M.F.A at Sarah Lawrence College.
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