LAWRENCETOWN, NS - Dave Bent has a storyteller’s voice, so when he read Butterflies Don’t Grieve at the launch of his brother’s new book it was pure gold. He had a hitch in his voice as he tried to finish the short piece of fiction.
It was poetic prose so concise and emotionally charged it alone was worth picking up Bob Bent’s new book called The Last Time I Saw Alice – A Collection of Stories.
He deferred to brother Dave to read Butterflies because he didn’t think he’d make it all the way through. It was a lump-in-the-throat recitation that shows Bob Bent as a writer of worth. And there’s much more good writing in that book as the stories unfold so honestly and naturally you’ll wonder that it’s even fiction.
You could walk out your back door and right into one of Bent’s stories – if you live in rural Nova Scotia. The characters are as solid and real as the people you know, and their dreams and desires are just like yours.
There’s hope and reflection in his pages as he creates vivid settings and projects his characters into them like they were your friends and neighbours. There’s humour, gentleness, and a deep understanding of the human condition -- needs, desires, foibles, frailties. Regrets. You come away with the understanding that every day is precious and there are no do-overs.
And in Bob Bent’s writing there is nothing contrived. There’s the wisdom of children, the resignation of the fisherman’s wife, and the satisfaction of getting the hay in while a storm broods over the Fundy.
A small crowd gathered at the public library in Lawrencetown May 29 as Bob Bent read from the book and signed copies. Those attending heaped praise on their friend and local author who delves into some of the universal questions of love and life in a series of short stories and a novella.
Bob Bent dedicated the book to his four brothers Larry, Steve, Alan, and Dave. All but Alan were able to attend the book launch and presented him with a card.
“We also wanted to do a little something to express our congratulations, and our admiration, and our thanks to you for enriching our lives in so many ways, particularly on this date perhaps,” said Dave Bent as he handed over the card. “This is just a small token of our thanks, and congratulations.”
Was there a gift card from Pearle’s in Paradise? Bob Bent said there was.
Bob Bent read his short story Animal Noises during the book launch, a young boy’s unwitting discovery that relationships aren’t always rock solid even though the people involved can be.
The book is named for the first story The Last Time I Saw Alice, a story real in its portrayal of regret – about how life gets away on you and you become the sum of your choices. But in Alice there is a bit of redemption, whether deserved or not.
Bob Bent’s novella The Strip Tease explores the state of the world today, individual fears, global unrest, and how actions and consequences impact in unexpected ways as the rise of social media serves to distort reality and sometimes punish the innocent.
And it’s about love and jealousy, the courage to move on, and reverting to life before smartphones, Facebook, YouTube, and social media. That life in Amiraults Hill in Argyle was perhaps the best type of life.
Bob Bent writes about life’s choices and living with those decisions. To read a Bob Bent story is to think about it long after you’ve turned the final page.
Bob Bent, originally from Amherst but now living in Middleton after many years in Lawrencetown, has been published in Nashwaak Review, All Rights Reserved, Featherdale Review, and The Barnstormer. He’s also contributed a series of travel/running stories to Run Nova Scotia Reconteur. His book Have Yourself a Silly Little Christmas was published in 2013.
The Last Time I Saw Alice – A Collection of Stories is available at Shelf Life in Berwick, The Inside Story in Greenwood, Blue Griffin in Middleton, Endless Shores in Bridgetown, and The Mad Hatter (Baintons) in Annapolis Royal.
Bob Bent will be doing a reading from The Last Time I Saw Alice – A Collection of Stories on June 16 at 11 a.m. at The Mad Hatter at 213 St. George Street in Annapolis Royal.