Announcement of a reading at Carmichael’s 2720 Frankfort Ave.
Thursday, May 4th, 7 pm
I am delighted to be reading from my forty year collection of short stories, Love is a Fireplace. The first story, Sorghum, began in my first Creative Writing class in 1977.
Finished in 2017. Here is an excerpt: It happened like this. I looked up when I heard the hiss of the Greyhound air brakes out front and saw him step off the bus. His hair looked dark brown—not mousy like mine—until he stepped out of the shadows. Then the late afternoon sun turned his hair into a dark red fireball, the color of sorghum molasses poured out of a jar onto hot buttered biscuits. I watched him turn to the bus driver and wave a sweeping semi-circle with his free hand. Under his other arm he carried a torn, cardboard box like he didn’t care if anything spilled out or not. He wore his jeans low, and strolled toward the store in scuffed-up boots, with confident, long steps.
A big thank you! to Marian McClure Taylor who wrote the following review for amazon.com I love it!
Love is a Fireplace — A gold mine of love tales
Mary Popham’s new book of fiction offers vignettes and stories that delightfully explore the foibles, fidelities and fantasies of love. The author herself may well be the fireplace in the “Love is a Fireplace” title, because with characteristic humor her tales warmly embrace a wide range of human situations. We see men and women deal with teenage passions, families and priests who oppose their choices, betrayals, workplace romances, and very often, a patient determination to care for and rescue each other.
Popham ably uses vivid images to invoke the heart of a story. In “Three Secrets,” the protagonist who harbors abortion secrets is hand-washing a red blouse because otherwise it “bleeds onto everything.” In “The Barn Painting Job,” two painters can’t get their bearings from road signs just before entering a home situation that is just as confusing. And in “Last Day in Paris” a woman holding a book about Marcel Proust finds that a cinnamon aroma powerfully reminds her of the man who ended their engagement just before the wedding.
Many of the “Love is a Fireplace” tales feature one or another employee or veteran of Gold Plate Catering. That company’s name mainly serves to alert us, however, to the symbol of gold-platedness that appears throughout. Gold plates appear in a professor’s lecture about the British upper class and help stoke a student’s fantasy about him. A gold-plated rose is the wedding gift that a stable provider gives to the sleep-walking wife he is determined to protect. A trucker is worried about giving a woman a ride until she starts telling him about fishing with a “Silver Buddy lure with a reflective gold plated blade.” A poor woman who has given birth only to sons feels she’ll have no one to whom to bequeath the gold plate she inherited. A nouveau riche woman sees her gold-plated flatware in much the same utilitarian way she sees men. A gold plated Communion paten symbolizes the community that a young woman will be fatally denied when she marries a Protestant boy. The gold-plated mirror at a wedding frames the parents of the bride as the caterer watches and wonders which are the men who are tender-hearted and faithful.
All readers know that “not all that glitters is gold.” But underneath the glow of Mary Popham’s gold obsession one finds successive layers of wealth she has mined for us from life well understood. -Marian McClure, Shelbyville, Kentucky