I met Joe through friends of writer friends. He is a contributor to the esteemed Pen of the Damned writing collective, a friendly commentor on my blog, and has the sweet charm and humor found most purely in horror authors. He asked if I would host him as part of a blog tour to announce and celebrate the publication of his newest book, DUSK AND SUMMER, and I agreed because I like Joe, and I enjoy his work with Pen of the Damned. I didn’t know what to expect of DUSK AND SUMMER, but what I got was a new perspective on aging, life, and learning how to live with the specter of mortality.
If you haven’t read Joe’s guest post, please do! If you haven’t read DUSK AND SUMMER, you can puchase it here:
Joe is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
Please leave a review for Joe on Amazon or Goodreads!
There are two types of coming of age stories. The common one, with which we are all familiar, examines the psychological and emotional landscape of a boy becoming a man. The less common concerns the next great leap, a transition for which we have no name, but which happens when our parents pass away and we are left to understand a world in which we are the elders, the guardians, the guides. DUSK AND SUMMER, a novella by Joseph Pinto, is of the latter type.
In the forward, Pinto reveals that he lost his father to the ravages of pancreatic cancer. DUSK AND SUMMER is Pinto’s tribute to the man who loved, raised, and inspired him. It is a beautiful elegy that transcends the personal nature of the content to reveal something essential about life: DUSK AND SUMMER shows us the unselfish nature of love. Love, in Pinto’s narrative, is about shared moments as much as it is about knowing when to let go, and intuiting the wholeness that only death can restore. Eons ago, Epictetus advised “never say about anything, I have lost it, but say I have restored it.” People of faith have ritual and community to guide them to acceptance. If there is a hereafter, then Omega is Alpha, and the only reason we cannot recognize that in the same dry, factual way in which we recognize the elements in the periodic table is because we are limited – locked into – our Now, our Here. The challenge of discovering faith in a “beyond” is the hallmark of this second, nameless coming of age. DUSK AND SUMMER is the story of moving to the acceptance that what is lost, who is lost, is restored to wholeness in a way we cannot rationalize, touch, or mentally conceive.
***Spoiler Alert! Some plot points are revealed in the next paragraph, but the true magic of the myth is preserved. You’ll love the way Pinto brings it all together, so get the book!***
Pinto presents his theory of this transition as a myth. Myth is the most natural means humans have to absorb ideas that exist outside of reason. DUSK AND SUMMER leads the protagonist, an intentionally unnamed Everyman, on a mystical journey from the symbolically laden memories of the Tolten, a sunken ship, to the concrete locale of 141 Sea Cargo Drive. His dying father sent him there, with instructions to do what must be done. A woman of otherworldly beauty meets him on the beach. The protagonist understands, with a soul-shock, that he is tasked with helping her guide his father’s soul to the other side. Initially, he fights the idea of his father’s departure. This is the vestige of the child in him, crying and gripping his father’s trouser leg. It is this sentimental attachment that must give way to unselfish acceptance in the second coming of age. His father gave him everything he needs to enter the second stage of adulthood, and to honor all his father gave, the son must let go. The son fully takes on the strength which was in the father, and uses it to carry his father across the threshold to a new life. The end of a life, and of DUSK AND SUMMER, is bittersweet. The myth is completed, and the narrator arrives in the next phase of his maturity. DUSK AND SUMMER is a beautiful tribute, and a salve for all psyches battered by the loss of a beloved parent.