Here Comes the Dreamer
by Carole Giangrande
Alastair Luce is a dreamer, one of three who tell this tale.
A Canadian expat in the 1950s, he lives in a New York City suburb with his wife, Nora, a passionate American who misses the excitement of wartime life and finds an outlet — and a lover — during the Red scare. Alastair’s an artist, a quiet man who paints houses for a living, fears atomic holocaust, drinks too much and worries about his suffering child Grace. Just before the accident that kills his daughter’s best friend Todd, he offers a ride to their teenage neighbour, Claire Bernard. She continues the story as a witness to tragedy, a wry observer of suburban mores and a compassionate friend of Alastair, whose talent and politics she’d long admired. Yet in the era of Vietnam, she’s not prepared for his love or his anguish as she marries and leaves for Canada. In Toronto, it’s Alastair’s exiled daughter Grace who speaks, giving voice to her fury, an artist who works to “burn” the city down with brilliant colour, who resents Claire for hurting her dad, and still grieves the loss of young Todd. Yet Grace, Claire and Alastair are bound together by their history, and a crisis draws their painful stories to a climax. It’s then that Grace ventures homeward for the first time, into a startling vision of the unknown.
Here Comes the Dreamer is a moving account of how a tragic accident changes, and haunts, the intertwined lives of a painter, his gifted and troubled daughter, and the young woman who befriends them. It astutely probes the moods and mores of suburban America in the ’50s and ’60s, and later, of Toronto. Combining rich lyrical language, inspired narration, and sensitive psychological insight, this is fiction of the most darkly illuminating, deeply touching kind. —Allan Briesmaster, author of Against the Flight of Spring and Confluences
Giangrande’s writing is warm and intelligent, honest and kind. Here Comes the Dreamer is filled with the richness of character and intersecting lives. —Irene Guilford, author of The Embrace
“Times were good and one neighbour bought a Chrysler with vast, gull-like fins. Soon there were more in the neighbourhood, as if the first one had laid eggs and hatched a flock.”
“He took her in his arms and held her with care, as you might hold silence.”
“With Betty-Ann, it always happened that her soul would sizzle and fry on a burner of pain and disappointment, then flip right over into a heaping mess of sarcasm and cruelty. Betty-Ann could never just be sad.”
“There was an odd translucence about her as if she were made of light-enhancing substances; silks, opals, rain. I felt as if she were a curtain and that if I were to draw her open, I’d float through her and into the sky.”
“She took the ring and held it, feeling in its slight form the endless circle of lost generations and forgotten hopes. He’d carried inside of him the chill hardness of the boreal forest, more pain than anyone could bear. She remembered his unheeded books and the eerie light of his paintings. More sorrowful than either of these was the friendship she’d hungered for, the price that Alastair had paid for it. What grave things their dreams had been.”
This book may be short in length, yet it required considerable thought and mental energy to process and digest. The wording was poetic, beautiful, and ethereal; while the writing was often melancholy in mood as well complex and multi-layered. The story was highly textured with complicated and highly descriptive sentences that caused me to feel somewhat unworthy and limited in my ability to fully comprehend what was truly meant, as if it was near my fingertips yet just out of reach.
Told from three different points of view, the emotions were always close and simmering, and spiraled into bitterness, regret, resentment, anger, and despondency. After I finished the story and before I could write my review, I felt the need to push back from it and gather my thoughts. I took a long hot soak with a glass of wine and as I thought about poor Alastair, I began to weep. Did he and his ancestors before him actually have precognition or the “knack for extraordinary visions;” or was it mental illness? I concluded he suffered from both, as well as a lifetime of disappointments and a repeatedly battered heart.
About Carole Giangrande
Born and raised in the New York City area, Carole Giangrande is a Toronto-based novelist and author of eight books, including the award-winning novella, A Gardener On The Moon, the novels An Ordinary Star and A Forest Burning, a short story collection, Missing Persons and the novella, Midsummer. Her new novella, Here Comes The Dreamer, will be published in September. A former broadcast-journalist, she worked for CBC Radio (Canada’s public broadcaster) as co-host of the popular Radio Noon program. She’s read her fiction at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, at the Banff Centre for the Arts (as an Artist-in-Residence), the University of Toronto, on radio and at numerous public venues. Her fiction, articles and reviews have appeared in Canada’s major journals and newspapers and her 50-part literary podcast Words to Go has been downloaded over 20,000 times in 30 countries. She is currently at work on a novel.