by Charles Gill
Eats at Point Shirley.
These are lines from Sylvia Plath's Point Shirley, a mournful poem of decay and transformation set in a little girl’s memories of her grandmother's oceanside cottage.
Point Shirley, the place, is a coastal neighborhood of Winthrop, Massachusetts… an urban peninsula that fingers into Boston Harbor. It is the setting of this novel, which begins with the story of six teenage friends who, on the Fourth of July, 1974, boat from Point Shirley's Yirrell Beach to nearby Deer Island. There they dig a hole at an Irish pauper’s cemetery in which to bury a case of whiskey… an errand run for a local hood soon to be committed to the the island’s drunk tank. The novel eventually returns the friends to the same graveyard twelve July 4ths later… to a place and time where acts of betrayal, loss, lies and redemption are finally interred. Or have they dug a hole too deep and dark for anything but greater sadness?
Point Shirley tells the story of the aimless Ramsay Novak, a high school dropout who, as his father warns, is “one bust away from big boy jail”; Paul, his adoring, but mentally disabled younger brother, who always pays attention, “which is easy to do when people think you’re invisible”; Leola, the beautiful dancer, “good in every way”, she loves Ramsay, but is drawn to Ramsay’s best friend, the magnetic and willful Staunton … the scion of a ruthless Irish gangster; and Ping, the dutiful son of a the mysterious Billy Wang... restaurateur and rival of Staunton’s father, Tabba Daugherty. Their stories are witnessed (and told) by one who stood outside their circles... Liesl, the self-described “gothic whore”... who charts the collisions of their lives from cards turned from a Tarot deck. Is Liesl revealing their stories or creating them? Conjuring the fates of others is risky business, indeed, when a terrible betrayal and brutal murder spins a constellation of futures out of control.
A coming of rage story that explores the utility of lies and the ricochet of their unintended consequences, Point Shirley is a place from where one watches,
The sun sink under Boston, bloody red.
I’m a full-time lawyer and first time novelist who grew up (along and with the people, places and things which inspired my story) on Boston’s North Shore. I've always been interested in the tension between truth and falsehood, fate and free-will, art and artifice. Inspired by the works of Robinson Davies, Virginia Woolf and of, course, Sylvia Plath, Point Shirley explores the clash of these ancient themes and forces.
Hope you enjoy!
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