Read by the Author: The Heart of Sitnatia

Adam Biggs reading an extract from his novel The Heart of Sitnatia

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Read by the Author: Cross Currents

Barbara Masterton reading an extract from her novel Cross Currents

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Cross Currents: the paperback version

The paperback version of the novel Cross Currents by Barbara Masterton is now available for sale on Amazon!

“It had taken Bruce six, unrelenting months to convince Julia that she had much to gain by marrying him and another six months for her to realise how much she had lost by acquiescing. How foolish and selfish she had been, how easily flattered and deceived. Not that she had thought herself to be in love with him. Physically attracted, yes, very much so, as if her body craved a reminder of an almost forgotten pleasure, but she knew what it was to be truly in love, to have that love fulfilled and then to be deprived of it. She also knew what it was to be loved and not to be able to return it.”

Cornista

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Happy New Year!

Out with the old, in with the new: may you be happy the whole year through.

Happy New Year!

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Il primo libro cartaceo del Moscardino

Il 26 aprile esce il primo libro cartaceo “quasi tascabile” del Moscardino: L’ultimo concerto del cornista e altre due novelle, di Marina Joffreau, che riunisce in un solo volume le tre novelle a sfondo musicale precedentemente pubblicate in formato digitale.

Così reca la quarta di copertina:

Tre divertenti novelle a suon di musica.
“L’ultimo concerto del cornista” vede un bizzaro musicista, affetto da aracnofobia e perseguitato dalla malasorte, tentare un gesto estremo dietro le quinte… ma anche un giorno infausto può, con inattese epifanie, riscattarci da una vita inetta.
In “Eccessi canori” la smania di protagonismo di un melomane aspirante solista mette a dura prova un rapporto coniugale già compromesso. Quando anche la musica può essere letale…
“Il saggio di pianoforte” è la storia di una coppia di narcisisti con l’ambizione di avere un figlio pianista da esibire nei salotti. La loro mania innescherà meccanismi perversi che condurranno all’inevitabile catastrofe.

In vendita su Amazon!

 

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The picnic…

By the time Justin made his appearance on Lillie’s birthday, they were packing away the picnic. He came, as he had told Dinah he would, to take the last photograph on his roll of film. He meant to capture a likeness of his favourite, to place in his wallet when he returned to university.
Just why Aphelandra Lee-Simmons, three years his junior, should be such a favourite with him, Justin did not know. He was captivated by her as one is by a charming puppy, which is as likely to lick your face with affection as to bite your hand with excited perversity. He admired her character as well as her prettiness. She was witty, out-spoken, generous in an off-hand manner like her father, and impetuous; she could also be irritatingly provoking and there were times when she angered him with her cynicism, which he deplored in one so young. He enjoyed teasing her in a light-hearted, patronising young man to exasperating girl-child way and she responded with taunts and blushes of annoyance, not embarrassment. Like a fond older brother, he had always felt the urge to protect her from her youthful follies and had never understood how her family had ever been able to punish her severely. When Affle smiled at him, her blue eyes gazing levelly into his, daring him to be annoyed with her, Justin forgave her anything.
Approaching the picnic spot, he easily picked out Affle’s voice from the medley of others. She was arguing with Curtis and being reprimanded by her father. Nothing changes, Justin thought with a grin. He was keenly anticipating her look of pleasure when she set eyes on him, comfortably assured in the knowledge that she returned the affection he had for her, but he would have been less complacent had he known the warmth of that affection.
Affle would have welcomed more ardent kisses and embraces from Justin than the peck on the cheek and quick hug he usually administered as a form of pleasant duty whenever he came to say goodbye to her for a long period or when there was a gathering of their respective families on special occasions. Then he had to kiss and be kissed by all the females. (…)
There is something about Oliver Wenston that persuades people into acceptance of what they do not understand. Curtis would rather please his sister on this matter than tackle his devious friend, yet Curtis is basically brave and honest and remains uneasy with the pact he has made with Affle.
“Lillie and Oliver are back,“ Dinah informs them, returning with three very desirable stones, which she shares out. “One last throw and then I’m going to take the last photo, no the one before the last, the penultimate.”
This she does. She lines up Affle, Curtis, Lillie and Oliver against a background of the lake and spent rhododendron bushes and orders them to smile, which they do, even though at that moment not one of them is happy. Lillie, whose hand is firmly in Oliver’s, has been crying. He has exacted some kind of vengeance from her in the woods for going off in the boat with Aidan and leaving him on shore, where, after all, he preferred to be, but Lillie does not know that.
Curtis is worried because he believes that Oliver is an arsonist, even though Oliver has hotly denied being any such thing and has actually put the blame on him. Should he confide his suspicions to his father and risk Oliver’s anger? How annoyed would Lionel be to discover that his son had taken up smoking? Curtis is going to make an effort to stop, partly to show Oliver that he can and partly because he does not want to upset Alicia, who always gets everything out of proportion and will imagine his being carried off by some dreadful disease every time he clears his throat.
Affle is anxious for Justin to turn up and worried that he will not come after all. She is wrestling with her conscience as well. Should she tell her father about Curtis and Oliver? Perhaps she should just mention the smoking and forget about the fire, assuming that it was an accident. Surely it is unlikely that either of them will be as careless again and burn down Kupton Hall while they are all fast asleep in their beds.
“Tea time,” Alicia calls gaily, her own problems momentarily put aside for the benefit of her small niece, whose birthday treat it is.
Dinah shouts again, “Smile!” The group rises to the challenge and she hurriedly presses the button on the camera.
This is the snapshot. The one that Oliver is to produce many years later as proof of how happy the four of them were when they were young.

From the novel Snapshot Smiles, by Barbara Masterton – Il Moscardino

Cornista

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The coast was being battered by the first full-blown storm of autumn…

The coast was being battered by the first full-blown storm of autumn.
From her fourth floor window she could see across the wide bay to the town and the cranes of the small harbour beyond it. Safe and warm in the stillness of the apartment, she watched as the sea raged towards the yielding trees and grasses of the wetlands. The last traces of summer were being blown away, reducing the modest south coast resort to an abandoned bleakness; abandoned by youthful visitors, but not the elderly, who would continue, once the weather calmed, to mooch along the promenade and into the half-empty gift shops for several more weeks, in dribs and drabs, sensibly clothed, slightly disgruntled with the leftovers of the holidays season. Today there was not a soul in sight and few cars ventured along beneath the sea wall, a sturdy construction that had been built several years earlier to prevent pebbles from being hurled onto the road by such mighty seas. There were strong cross-currents in the bay. Far out on the murky horizon, waves boiled and tumbled from east and west, colliding in mountains of grey water before hurling themselves shore wards. Pebbles became heaped at the base of the wall, which was an extension of the promenade edging the town; a pleasant walk in clement weather with seats for the weary and those who enjoyed watching, rather then participating in, the antics on the beach below. At the town end, where the promenade was wide, the beach was of fine yellow sand sloping gently into shallow water, ideal for paddling and messing about. Serious swimmers and boating enthusiasts favoured the steeply shelving pebbles on the east side of the amusement pier, where the waves on fine days rolled seductively beneath bobbing heads.
The world in turbulent movement before her suddenly made her feel dizzy; the result no doubt of gazing too fixedly at one point. She shut her eyes for several seconds, before looking once again at a certain spot midway along the wall. There, every so often, in what appeared to be a random rhythm, a massive wave, made up of many smaller ones which had embraced far out in the bay, roared onto the beach, swept across it and leapt at the wall, as if determined to breach man’s puny efforts at defence. Thwarted, it shattered and fell back into the seething tide, leaving an even larger mound of gleaming stones.
If anyone were foolish enough to venture along the top of the wall that day, surely they would not survive such a furious onslaught. Sensible people would use the bus or walk along the footpath beside the road, sheltered from the blast. Only a person of stubborn habits, arrogant in pride, revelling in their physical fitness, would battle out from the town along that exposed rampart in the teeth of such a gale. Julia was waiting, intently watching for that very person.
A single-decker bus appeared followed by a slow convoy of three cars. They approached and gradually disappeared from her arc of vision. The bus had not stopped at the shelter next to the car park belonging to the block of flats. She had not expected that it would. She stirred slightly in anxious excitement and wrapped the long cardigan more firmly around her slender body, hugging herself protectively. One of the monster waves was forming out near the horizon beneath a black cloud, which had joined the madcap race to the land. Faster the wave sped, gathering force and height as it drove nearer, rolling beneath a head of turbulent white water, her mounting excitement riding with it. It roared onto the beach, herding the groaning pebbles, flinging itself upwards to explode high in the air against the wall, before subsiding with a mighty crash.
Julia shuddered with anticipation. Leaves and litter were flying past the window, blown inland with the clouds. A grubby plastic carrier bag, a grotesque balloon with ears, wrapped itself around the wrought iron railings of the balcony, clinging on as if for dear life, writhing and flapping like a wraith in torment. Julia became irritated by it. It was distracting her from her vigil. Her eyes kept going back to it until she could stand it no longer. She wrenched apart the heavy glass doors allowing the wind to tear past her into the living room, blasting noise and cold air into the carefully controlled environment. It tore at her hair and clothing, forcing the breath back into her lungs, trying to whip her up and away with the rest of the detritus. Gasping, she braced herself against the blast and managed the few paces necessary to reach the railings. Hanging onto them with one hand, Julia fought to release the bag with the other, but as fast as she untwisted, so it twisted again, slippery and cold in her numbing fingers. At last it was free. It tore away on the instant, sailing up and across the road towards the flattened sedges of the narrow strip of salt-marsh, like a giant bird in the leaden sky, at the mercy of the wind. It would come to rest sometime, as everything must, one more piece of rubbish in a landscape littered with dead things.
Julia regained her post, once more calmly immured behind double-glazing. She scanned the length of the beach and there, there at last, was the object of her vigil. She was certain of it. A sudden flurry of raindrops pattered against the glass, annoyingly blurring the scene for several minutes. Then she was able to spy, at the far end of the curving wall, a black comma, slowly resolving into a human shape as it approached, leaning into the wind, wound about by dark clothing. Even at that distance, Julia recognised the familiar defiance in the posture. The figure kept lifting its face to take the full blast of the lashing air, when most people would have plodded on wearily with their eyes to the ground. (…)
From the novel Cross Currents, by Barbara Masterton – Il Moscardino

 

Cornista

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2015! “Un meraviglioso caos regnava ovunque…”

Il pavimento del salottino dei Masoero era cosparso di teste d’insalata, pomodori di varia grandezza, cetrioli, carote e peperoni, mele rosse provenienti dall’Argentina e cocomeri ben maturi. Sembrava una bancarella del mercato ortofrutticolo. Al centro del salotto dominava una casa da bambole che era in realtà abitata dal porcellino d’India di Felicino.
La bestiolina passeggiava indisturbata in mezzo a tutto quel ben di Dio che le era stato messo a disposizione; il ragazzo, inginocchiato, stava ricoprendo con del foglio d’alluminio da cucina le gambe del tavolo e delle sedie. Il padre, in canottiera e calzoni con le bretelle, si guardava intorno soddisfatto per quella libertà quasi insperata. La casa era tutta sottosopra, un meraviglioso caos regnava ovunque!

Dalla novella Il saggio di pianoforte, Marina Joffreau – Il Moscardino

Auguri ai nostri affezionati lettori per un felice anno nuovo!

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Happy 50th birthday, Mr Glover!

Il Moscardino wishes a very happy birthday to actor Crispin Glover.
May all your dreams come true, Mr Glover!

Crispin

 

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What is a Gibberic?

What is a Gibberic?

Reginald and Seamus stood about brushing themselves down while Sid pulled cactus spines out of his behind.

“Lucky we landed on something soft there, I’d say,” remarked Reginald as he handed the now reverted hat back to Seamus, who nodded in agreement.

“That soft landing was me!” exclaimed Sid in a very exasperated voice.

“Yes, my dear chum, and we’re most grateful to you, aren’t we, Seamus?”

Seamus just winked sarcastically.

“Why you little…” Sid turned and grabbed what looked like a coconut hanging on the blackened branches of a nearby tree. Just as he pulled his hand back to his ear to throw it at the little green pest, he was deafened by a high-pitched scream and the sensation of something moving in his hand. Turning his head to the right he came face to face with a brown, furry, cross-eyed creature with eight very short legs and a big eyebrow that stretched from one eye to the other…

From the novel The Heart of Sitnatia by Adam Biggs – Il Moscardino

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