The Twilight Bar by Frederic Tuten

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By Lynette G. Esposito

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the twilight bar by Frederic Tuten published by Bellevue Literary Press, New York in May 2022 is a selection of seventeen short stories that cover the range of universal themes including love, loss, and grief.

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In the title story, the twilight barbeginning on page seventy-nine, Tuten begins with:

He walked into the bar, twilight on his heels, and without thinking ordered a straight Scotch.

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The scene is set. Tuten explores the character’s conversations for a while as if this were a normal bar, hinting at the importance of it being twilight and that the bar has a ghostly history. As the reader nears the end of the story, he carefully guides them through the snow to a boat that carries the bar’s occupants out to sea. Tuten has explored the themes of love, loss, reconciliation, hope, despair, and much more in this short work of fiction.

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The language is both common and sophisticated as the participants in the bar reveal themselves and each character becomes an individual with a story as they get to know each other. The rhythm is well controlled and focused, bordering on mythology and reality while the occupants drink their liquor.

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In the ghost tower Beginning on page one hundred and eighty-five, Tuten explores a boy’s relationship with his father and how the world is understood. The boy asked his father. What is the world made of? his father answers Made of nothing and is nothing. Tuten uses a dream sequence to show the boy who has become a man climbing a ghost tower while his wife calls him down. when the father buys the boy books and tells him he has reached the age of reason, The reader is warned that this is a story about finding oneself in the world and climbing the ghost tower in a dream that leads to discovery. The subtlety of this narration is wonderful.

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On page two hundred and fifty-six, the story Coda, some episodes in the history of my readingIt is divided into mini chapters like those of a book: The bed, The seduction, The poisonous book, Another book, Another madness and A new love. For those who love to read books, this story details how it begins, how it continues, and why one appreciates reading.

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Tuten is a skilled storyteller. I especially like the titles that Tuten has chosen for his stories. They are clean, tidy and focused. Winter, 1965 suggests time and place. THE SAFE, THE SEA, DEAUVILLE, 1966 it also suggests time and place, but hints at a relationship between all three. The Restaurant, The Concert, The Bat, The Bed, Breakfast it appears to be a layered title that focuses on details within the story. Tuten chooses the titles of his stories so that they enrich the fiction.

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The tome is made up of two hundred and seven and three pages of short reads good for a cold winter in front of a warm fire or on a break from work. Well worth the time to explore.

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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County College, and Camden County College. She has taught creative writing and held workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Ms. Esposito has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in creative writing and English literature from Rutgers University.

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