Category Archives: Frankie Styne & The Silver Man

Spring Readings on the West Coast

 The snow has long ago melted (or never really settled) here on the West Coast, and the nights are longer, yet not so warm that you want to stay  out gardening: a perfect time for literary readings. I’m taking Frankie Styne and the Silver Man to some great local libraries and bookstores. 

29th March, 7 pm,  Kathy Page reads with poet Alexandra Oliver at Book Warehouse on Main in Vancouver

5th April, 7 pm, Kathy Page reads with  Douglas Gibson at Cowichan Library, 2687 James St, Duncan

6th April 7.30 pm, Kathy Page reads with Douglas Gibson at Russell Boooks,  734 Fort St, Victoria

23rd April,  Kathy Page reads in Sechelt

27th April, 7.30 pm, Kathy Page  reads with  Tricia Dower  at  Mulberry Bush Books, 28o Island Highway, Parksville

29th April,  10 am, Kathy Page on air with Sheila Peters on CICK 93.9

 

An Evening with Douglas Gibson (Across Canada by Story)

& Kathy Page (Frankie Styne and the Silver Man)

frankie-styne-cover-sqrFrankie Styne and the Silver Man

When Liz Meredith and her new baby move into the middle rowhouse on Onley Street – Liz having lived for years off-grid in an old railcar – there’s more to get used to than electricity and proper plumbing. She’s desperate to avoid her well-meaning social worker and her neighbours Alice and Tom, who, for reasons of their own, won’t leave her alone.  And then there is her other neighbour, the disfigured and reclusive  John Green, better known to the world as Frankie Styne, the author of a series of violent best-sellers. When his latest novel is unexpectedly nominated for a literary prize and his private life is  exposed in the glare of publicity,  Frankie plots  a gruesome, twisted  revenge that threatens others who call Onley Street home.  Frankie Styne and the Silver Man is unforgettable: a thrilling novel of literary revenge, celebrity culture and the power of love and beauty in an ugly world.

           “A fierce writer; her relentless imagination and pure writing skills bring a broken, nightmare world fully to life.”Kirkus Reviews

            “Page’s monsters display a more complex relationship between inner and outer ugliness and find redemption in responsibility.”The Globe & Mail

            “Frankie Styne offers a terrific showcase of Page’s singular style (with its attractive high-low mixture of genres), quirky unexpected invention, and attention to the nuances of psychology.”

Vancouver Sun

           “This book has the trappings of great pulp … Page’s prose is vivid and alive, with nary a scrap of throwaway writing to be found.”Publishers Weekly

           “Frankie Styne is a taut examination of the complex emotional ties that bind, the methods we employ to distance ourselves, and our ambiguous powers of imagination.”Time Out UK

           “Fresh and engaging. Her writing is crisp and her insights into human behavior are acute.”

—Lynne Van Luven, Monday Magazine

 

 Across Canada by Story

Acclaimed McClelland & Stewart Publisher and Editor, Douglas Gibson, crossed “no man’s land” and entered authors’ territory when he wrote Stories About Storytellers in 2011. The memoir is a fond remembrance of Canada’s elite “literati”: Alice Munro, Alistair MacLeod, Hugh MacLennan, W.O. Mitchell, Barry Broadfoot, Mavis Gallant, Pierre Trudeau, and others. Gibson calls it “a cheerful personal memoir of working with 20 famous Canadian authors, some of whom are still with us.” Gibson’s 2015 title, Across Canada by Story invites readers on a coast-to-coast journey following the Scotsman as he tours the nation with a stage show telling more tales. Often witty, at times tender, and always amusing, the memoir paints a portrait of Robertson Davies, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Terry Fallis, Myrna Kostash, Trevor Herriot and others, with accompanying illustrations by Anthony Jenkins.

  His legendary stage presence radiates on the page and his wit, sincerity, and eloquence – a trait that earns him instant rapport with the reader – makes readers feel they are gossiping with an old friend returned from life on the road. Gibson absorbs the landscape, culture, and history of each province he visits, while treating readers to some amusing rendezvous with authors and other locals along the way: He rediscovers James Houston’s riverside distractions in Haida Gwaii; tastes the wine his wife, Jane, is partial to in Prince Edward County; munches succulent peaches and apricots on the Sunshine Coast; daydreams in the Deer Creek sunshine; goes bird-watching with Trevor Herriot on Last Mountain Lake; visits Anne of Green Gables sites in PEI; and you come along for the ride.

 

Frankie does time travel

450px-Street_of_terraced_housingI  began work on Frankie Styne and the Silver Man in Norwich, in 1990, and it was inspired by both my  interest in  monsters and my living situation at the time: a terraced house, as it is called in England (row housing), with very thin walls.  Most of these houses were built in the late nineteenth century as housing for railway workers and other working class people. Little thought was given to privacy, and  just a single course of bricks and a  skin of plaster  divides one home from the next. I could hear  a great deal  of my neighbours’ lives – and they mine, no doubt, though I was fairly quiet, due to writing so much. It was sometimes hard to reconcile what I had overheard with  our polite exchanges in the street or over the fence. I began with the  characters,  and they, especially former runaway Liz and her baby Jim,  came quickly to life.  

I plotted out the basics  of the story on  flip chart paper. Once I began to write (on my  Amstrad PC with its grey screen and blurry green type)  the story unfolded at a fair pace.  I was soon deeply into  themes that have always interested me: how people  use language to connect (or don’t), how the mainstream culture deals with outsiders, what makes us human,  the complications of sexuality, how we depend on stories to make sense of our lives,  and so on.  I  had a lot of fun writing  Frankie Styne. It’s a literary novel,  but there are elements of horror and touches of speculative fiction throughout, and, to my mind at least, large doses of a dark humour.  I write in both a realistic and a  more fantastic mode, and in this novel, I was able to combine both. I was also able to pay homage to Mary Shelley and, less directly, Fay Weldon,  two literary heroines of mine.  Frankie Styne came out in the UK in 1992 to great reviews, but quickly vanished in the publishing upheavals of the time. I always wished it had had more of a life and  so I was both  delighted and just a little apprehensive  when, over twenty years later,  Bilbioasis proposed to publish it for the first time  in Canada and the USA.

This meant that I had to read it. Reading my own books is something I, like many authors,  tend to avoid.  By the time a novel is complete, I  virtually know the text by heart and am heartily sick of it.  The passing of time helped with this. I read Frankie Styne and the Silver Man, and  even though (or perhaps because)  I am in by now in many ways a different person to the one who wrote it, I did enjoy it.  Still,  I had to ask myself whether  it was it still relevant, and did it matter that the characters use landlines and watch  television, that a crucial scene would have been  different if  Viagra had  been invented, and so on? How much to revise?  I’d written this novel,  which features a mother and baby, before having children of my own,  and while it  was mostly well imagined, there were places where I had things to add, and there were  several  important scenes I wanted to improve, but I left the era and as it was, and  decided I was not the best judge of the book’s continued relevance.

Early reviews, see below, have answered that question.  I’m delighted that Frankie Styne and the Silver Man  is  now finding  such enthusiastic twenty-first century Canadian and American readers.

frankiestyneARCcoversmallFrankie Styne and the Silver Man is dark and funny, painful and uplifting, marvellously satirical but never cynical, and thoroughly invested with good faith. Kathy Page is a marvel. This is the very best book that I’ve read in ages, and if I read another half as good in the next few months, that will constitute an extraordinary literary year…     Read more: http://picklemethis.com/2016/02/10/frankie-styne-and-the-silver-man-by-kathy-page/

“Page (Alphabet, 2014, etc.) builds layers of meaning into her exquisite writing. Her favored themes are here—the stark dichotomies of life, the power of language, the way the social system tries and fails to help people, and how saving grace can come from unseen places.” Kirkus starred reveiw

“Frankie Styne and the Silver Man by Kathy Page is a fantastic novel. Character driven, claustrophobic, and deeply weird, it has a haunting, discomfiting quality that lingers with a reader….”   Read more: http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/books/2016/02/08/kathy-pages-frankie-styne-excellent-oddball.html

frankiestyneARCcoversmallFrankie Styne offers a terrific showcase of Page’s singular style (with its attractive high-low mixture of genres), quirky unexpected invention, and attention to the nuances of psychology. Mere words on a page, her creations linger in the mind long after the reading’s done….” Read more: Frankie Styne in Vancouver Sun

“Five years before The Post-Modern Prometheus aired, Page published her own twist on the Frankenstein story in her native Britain (Page moved to B.C’s Salt Spring Island in 2001), now published in Canada for the first time. In her novel, Page draws on similar pulp material – monsters; aliens; an unhappy, childless marriage – and takes her characters to equally dark places. What’s different is how Page’s monsters display a more complex relationship between inner and outer ugliness and find redemption in responsibility….  Frankie Styne still holds up almost 25 years later.”  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/book-reviews/review-new-fiction-from-gemma-files-kathy-page-and-more/article28743088/

frankiestyneARCcoversmall“Kathy Page’s imaginative and crisply written  Frankie Styne and the Silver Man is one of the creepiest novels I have ever read.” Largehearted Boy 

“An amazing and unique read from beginning to end, Frankie Styne & the Silver Man by Kathy Page is a deftly crafted work of truly memorable literary fiction that is especially recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Fiction collections.” Midwest Book Review Bookwatch

 

 

 

 

 

Frankie Styne and the Silver Man

frankiestyneARCcoversmall

“Page’s imaginative powers are electric. She has the ability to analyze the often nightmarish qualities of the human psyche and as a result, Frankie Styne is a taut examination of the complex emotional ties that bind, the methods we employ to distance ourselves, and our ambiguous powers of imagination. She is at once poignant and provocative, stomach-churningly distasteful and yet compulsively readable.”  Time Out

Page is a fierce writer; her relentless imagination and pure writing skills bring a broken, nightmare world fully to life.Kirkus starred review

 I’m delighted to learn that Frankie Styne and the Silver Man is due for release in Canada and the US in February 2016 and has already earned a Kirkus starred review  https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kathy-page/frankie-styne-and-silver-man/.

 I’m very fond of this novel, which  combines fantastic  elements with a (mostly) realistic narrative, partly because it is funny as well as serious, stomach-churning, etcetera.  It’s set in  a  terraced street in small town in the UK, where some very distinctive characters live side-by side and sometimes overhear  and/or try interfere with each other’s lives.  More details will follow, but here’s what the UK edition said: 

“Frankie Styne, the successful author of a series of gruesome killer novels,  has lived  at 125 Onley Street for many years. Meticulous and obsessive, he lives a life of isolation, managing to keep both future and past at bay.

Next door, live Liz Meredith and her new baby, Jim. Liz has been told by her social worker Mrs Purvis that Jim has a rare disorder, and will never be like other children. But Mrs Purvis can’t see, as Liz can, that Jim already knows things no ordinary person could. Besides, Liz doesn’t want any help from the social services, or from Tom and Alice, the couple at number 129 who seem to want to adopt her – or is it Jim they really want? In any case, Liz  yearns to be left in peace so that she can imagine her way out of how things are.

When Frank’s solitary anonymity is threatened, he hatches a real-life plot which, as he begins to enact it, unexpectedly changes not only his own life, but also those of Liz and Jim. Sifting through our collective nightmares, Kathy Page has written a novel that is powerful, humorous, tragic and thoroughly surprising…”

My recent novels, The Find, Alphabet and The Story of My Face, are suspenseful narratives about characters who struggle not only with circumstances, but also with their own natures.  It was in Frankie Styne and the Silver Man that I began to  explore questions about the nature of identity which have continued to animate my work, and to develop a fascination with  the inner lives characters who are marginalized, extraordinary or in some way “other.”

Exquisite writing .. Page is a fierce writer; her relentless imagination and pure writing skills bring a broken, nightmare world fully to life. Kirkus starred review

“Frankie Styne & the Silver Man resists being put down for the night… I read 
on, captivated and creeped-out. But this being Kathy Page, I always trusted 
I was heading away from a nightmare, towards a happier place. This is 
Felicia’s Journey, with a big dollop of hope.” Caroline Adderson,  prize-winning author of  Ellen in Pieces.

“Fresh and engaging. Her writing is crisp and her insights into human behavior are acute.” Lynne Van Luven, Monday Magazine

“Great story. Great writing too. You render down the monstrous, gently fold the abnormal into an embrace and make it human… fantastic!” Helen Heffernan

“Each  character in the book is horrific, but each in a different way. I was even afraid of the baby! Was absolutely certain that a truly gruesome ending was in story but couldn’t put it down anyway. Ending was perfect. It’s a keeper. Will read again.” Barb Egerter

“Exquisite writing:” a Kirkus starred review of Frankie Styne and the Silver Man

frankiestyneARCcoversmall

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kathy-page/frankie-styne-and-silver-man/

KIRKUS REVIEW

Kirkus Star

FRANKIE STYNE AND THE SILVER MAN

 A pulp-fiction writer, an unwed mother, and a couple with marital problems live as neighbors in connected town houses and correct course in their contiguous lives.

Page (Alphabet, 2014, etc.) builds layers of meaning into her exquisite writing. Her favored themes are here—the stark dichotomies of life, the power of language, the way the social system tries and fails to help people, and how saving grace can come from unseen places. Page sets a theatrical stage of three connected homes, with young unwed mother Liz Meredith living in the middle under the watchful eye of a social worker, Mrs. Purvis. Liz stays up late at night listening to the arguments, the sex, and the reconciliations of her neighbors Alice and Tom while feeding her newborn son, Jim. On the other side of Liz’s house, novelist Frank Styne, disfigured from birth, follows precise routines and writes another book. He is shortlisted for the Hanslett Prize and dreads it, fantasizing a hideous revenge on his agent for the embarrassment of his now-very-public persona. While he writes his pulp, Liz ruminates about her son’s silence. Jim has Spinney’s syndrome and will never speak. She adores her baby in spite of this hardship and calls him the Silverboy who will one day become a silver man—the silver lining her beloved Grammy talked about. This is a pained and damaged clutch of people living within hearing distance, drawn into each other’s lives. “Other lives. It was frightening to think of. Because anything was possible. Really anything,” Page writes. The options come quickly at the end, and “anything” does transpire, all because Liz stayed the course, true to herself and to her “silly boy.”

Page is a fierce writer; her relentless imagination and pure writing skills bring a broken, nightmare world fully to life.

 

Frankie Styne & the Silver Man

 Here’s the original UK jacket for Frankie Styne and the Silver Man.  Biblioasis will be publishing this novel in Canada and the US in 2015/2016.

Frankie Styne, the successful author of a series of gruesome killer novels,  has lived  at 125 Onley Street for many years. Meticulous and obsessive, he lives a life of isolation, managing to keep both future and past at bay.

Next door, live Liz Meredith and her new baby, Jim. Liz has been told by her social worker Mrs Purvis that Jim has a rare disorder, and will never be like other children. But Mrs Purvis can’t see, as Liz can, that Jim already knows things no ordinary person could. Besides, Liz doesn’t want any help from the social services or from Tom and Alice, the couple at number 129. She wants to be left in peace so that she can imagine her way out of how things are.

When Frank’s solitary anonymity is threatened, he hatches a real-life plot which, as he begins to enact it, unexpectedly changes not only his own life, but also those of Liz and Jim. Sifting through our collective nightmares, Kathy Page has written a novel that is powerful, humorous, tragic and thoroughly surprising.

Published by Methuen UK, in 1990.

 “Page’s imaginative powers are electric. She has the ability to analyse the often nightmarish qualities of the human psyche and as a result, Frankie Styne is a taut examination of the complex emotional ties that bind, the methods we employ to distance ourselves, and our ambiguous powers of imagination. She is at once poignant and provocative, stomach-churningly distasteful and yet compulsively readable.”  Time Out

“Frankie Styne & the Silver Man resists being put down for the night.. I read 
on, captivated and creeped-out. But this being Kathy Page, I always trusted 
I was heading away from a nightmare, towards a happier place. This is 
Felicia’s Journey, with a big dollop of hope.” Caroline Adderson, Giller-listed author of Pleased to Meet You & winner of the Marion Engel Award.

“Fresh and engaging. Her writing is crisp and her insights into human behavior are acute.” Lynne Van Luven, Monday Magazine

“Great story. Great writing too. You render down the monstrous, gently fold the abnormal into an embrace and make it human… fantastic!” Helen Heffernan

“Each  character in the book is horrific, but each in a different way. I was even afraid of the baby! Was absolutely certain that a truly gruesome ending was in story but couldn’t put it down anyway. Ending was perfect. It’s a keeper. Will read again.” Barb Egerter