As I walked out under the Los Angeles sky, the possibility of becoming something more than a short order cook, living in the valley, and resenting my dysfunctional family occurred to me...
A young man, torn between two women, struggles to find his way in the world in Michael D. Dennis's touching new novel, A Native's Tongue.
Charlie Winters is used to just getting by while living with his single mother and working a dead-end job. Meanwhile, he's constantly grappling with the voice of his sister, who died in a tragic car accident years earlier, echoing in his head.
Soon Charlie finds himself immersed in a destructive relationship with an older woman who still fails to fill the void within him.
But then he meets Jennifer, whose energy and life convinces Charlie to pursue her-even through the darkest corners of Los Angeles.
Escaping to the California coast, Charlie and Jennifer finally find what they've always needed. But a sudden illness quickly pulls them both back to LA.
It is there, amid the sex, drugs, and split-second decisions that pulse through the city, that tragedy strikes-threatening to tear Charlie and Jennifer apart forever.
|Publisher:||Ocean Street Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)|
About the Author
Michael D. Dennis is an author and playwright who earned a degree in English literature from Loyola Marymount University.
Winner of a LMU Playwriting Award for his play Death of a Watchdog, Dennis also had his play Hen in the Field produced at the Whitefire Theatre in 2012.
Dennis currently lives with his girlfriend in Santa Monica, California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Aubrey Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book The writing was really well done and I enjoyed reading this novel. I really liked that it was written by a man since I tend to stick to female authors. But I had a hard time following what was going on and didn’t want to read for any length of time. The story line skipped back and forth without a coherent thread of reference. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I read and rereading paragraphs and whole pages to try and figure out what I had just read. I tend to want to get lost in books. I don’t like to have to think too much. The story line was well written and the characters were interesting but I just didn’t care for the actual story. It read more as a movie than a book. I’m thinking it could just be because it is out of the realm of story lines that I normally read. The love triangle was made up of 3 characters that were broken. I didn’t feel like there was room for redemption or for the characters to change the way they were. I could not tell you if the life they led was accurate or not. It seemed quite over the top to me. I wanted to keep reading to find out what was happening next which is what made it bearable and an enjoyable read but I just did not feel connected to any of the characters or the story line. I really wanted to and felt the writing was so clever and avant garde.
“Did the endless portrayals of love and romance in novels really exist?” (6) Each chapter relays the POV of each character. It was odd that some were written in the 1st person and others were in the 3rd person. The chapters with Charlie were in 1st person Pre-Violet/Jennifer; and the chapters with Violet and Jennifer were in 3rd person Post-Charlie. Sometimes the POV would switch within the same chapter, but it wasn’t at all confusing. The enticing part was the mystery in the Post-Charlie segments that begs to answer the question: What happened to Charlie and how did Violet end up in prison? The whole story mainly revolves around Charlie and his battle with loneliness, depression, and substance abuse. He was never able to deal with the loss of his sister. “After her death, time disintegrated. Each second pulsed through my body in passing immobility: my lungs ceased to expand and I curled like a contortionist in the circus of my own dreadful reality. I was a captive to this pain and the memory. All I wanted was for death to inject me with a taste of its poison.” (42) The author takes the reader on a wild ride through L.A.’s seedy underside paved with deception and debauchery. “For some reason, few people even believed dying was possible in this city. The fountain of youth flowed so freely that no one ever talked about lying down in the earth forever…In my opinion, there were those of us who feared death, those who had experienced it and still feared it, and those, like me, who welcomed its presence.” (59) Charlie was trapped in the hard clutches of Violet when he meets the fragile, innocent beauty, Jennifer. It was sad how he got dragged away without knowing her name. This scene was tragic and lovely—almost Shakespearean. Poor Charlie couldn’t stand Violet, a manipulative, cold woman. “How does someone own a human being? How was it possible to capture a human spirit? My body had separated and my spirit had gone somewhere, wandered off into a distant space, like a specter or wraith. I was owned. My body belonged to someone. She had taken what was, innately, the only real property I had.” (77) Charlie is a lost, sensitive soul. He may seem like any other young, arrogant douche bag, but his heart resonated a soft empathy. Charlie’s love for Jennifer was enigmatic; it was definitely a love taken from the pages of the Dark Romanticism era—everlasting and naïve. The ending, of course, left me with puzzled unfulfillment. I didn’t understand the reasoning behind it or what exactly happened. On top of that, I didn’t get the meaning of the title: A Native’s Tongue. That was a head-scratcher. Captivating and well-written! Sprinkled with dark humor, the story contained a mixture of emphatic beauty and brutal sensitivity.
A Native's Tongue by Michael D. Dennis Charlie Winters is an average man, he comes from a broken home. He is forever haunted by his sisters tragic death, he never got over it. Basically he lives a carefree life. Then he meets an older woman, Violet they have a brief relationship, but she is not ready to let Charlie go. When he meets young mysterious Jennifer he falls for her hard. He is determined to pursue her and make things work for the two of them. Then a tragic event brings them back home, soon things turn dark. Will he be able to face the demons of his past? Will Charlie and Jennifer be torn apart and will their relationship last? A psychological drama filled with twist, turns and shocking surprises. Each character is flawed in their own way. Charlie was so "lost" he was a bit of a tortured soul, but Likable. I wanted Charlie to find happiness. Violet was very eccentric and definitely had her "issues". Then young Jennifer naive yet wise for her age, she was quite likable as well. The story was well written, I felt dragged into the story and not able to let go. Just when I thought I had things figured out , a new twist, or shocker caught me by surprise. I love that in a book. I strongly recommend to those who like psychological-drama/suspense.
“A Native’s Tongue” is a story of two kinds of love—obsessive love and true love, and the path each takes in one man’s life. Charlie is lost in his own existence; he’s haunted by the death of his sister and looking for something or someone to take care of him. While visiting his best friend Tenny, he runs into an older woman named Violet who pursues him relentlessly, and soon Charlie has fallen into a relationship with her. She’s possessive and domineering, and Charlie begins looking for a way out, especially after a chance encounter with a beautiful girl at a party. That girl is Jennifer, who has demons and a past of her own, but they both recognize each other as soulmates after another chance encounter brings them together. Their path is not an easy one, though, as Violet is not willing to give up on Charlie, even if it means desperate and violent measures to bring him back to her. The book is told in alternating perspectives, and I really enjoyed how that allows you to get to know each of the characters. The whirlwind of the relationship between Charlie and Jennifer, especially how fate seems to bring them together, is exciting and keeps the book suspenseful, and so does the slow unwinding of Violet’s insanity and the action she ultimately takes. Some of my favorite scenes in the book were actually those with Violet reliving her memories with Charlie, or what she thinks are her memories, and how those conflict with what Charlie remembers and felt. Each of the characters is complex, and you can tell the author has taken a lot of care in crafting them as people who are realistic but still memorable. I would recommend “A Native’s Tongue” to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction in general, especially fiction that weaves in elements of romance, suspense, and the fragility of human nature.
I think this book will soon be famous as the equivalent of 'The Catcher in The Rye' but for the California-type "lost" youths of today. Once into it, I could not put it down until finished. It is generations away from me and opened my eyes to much that happens in the lives of some young people today. I feel it will become a cult must-read.
Finally a new writer breaks the mold of the Sedaris type contemporary authors. This book really gets away from the redundant dialogue and overused analytical mindset of boring characters. It brings a fresh voice and interesting narrative structure. I am not fully done with the novel, but was compelled enough to write this review.