Red Hat hijacks a yoghurt truck and barrels into the Chester Walz Bank at full speed, desperate to open a safety deposit box.
The twins, beckoned by an ominous streak of light across the sky, climb Harper’s Hill to encounter an apparition of their missing father.
The reverend stands on a muddy ridge, the barrel of the rifle in his neck, looking down on a Vietnamese village, scarred by war and regret.
The stories come to Margaret at all times, but they are anything but random. A fractured view of Michael Cheevers’ red hat through a discreetly cracked door sends her off on adventure. A glimpse of the Johnson twins from apartment 2D takes her to the lonely hill on a Midwestern prairie in 1887. The regular letters from Reverend Davies, who has tried to look after Margaret since the death of her mother, brings her to the brink of exhaustion, staring intensely into the heart of war deep in the jungle of Vietnam.
Margaret is not insane, at least not in a clinical sense. She’s like a midnight raccoon, painfully aware of her surroundings, gleaming crumbs of information at every turn; eyes peering incessantly in the night, stealing glances of neighbors behind partially opened doors.
But the tales that she weaves were not meant to merely hold empty court to the receptive dead air of her apartment. Her stories were meant to embolden the lives of the inhabitants of that drab apartment block because her story is also their story—and everything would be different if they could only hear her stories.
The Recluse Storyteller weaves five stories into one as the loner Margaret not only searches for meaning from her reclusive life, but also gives meaning in the most unexpected ways to the troubled souls of her apartment complex. Part adventure, part tragedy, and part discovery, The Recluse Storyteller bridges genres, bringing hope, life, and redemption to the broken relationships of modern society.
|Publisher:||Mark W Sasse|
|File size:||3 MB|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Mark W Sasse is a novelist and award-winning playwright and director. He vacillates on a daily basis between which genre of writing he enjoys the most. Luckily, he doesn’t have to choose! Sasse’s novels have been featured on curated sites such as Bookbub and Noisetrade, and his plays have been produced in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney, Australia. He is a three-time winner of the Best Script Award at the Penang Short & Sweet Theatre Festival. His plays have won multiple other awards such as Best Overall Performance and Audience Choice Award. He won the Festival Director’s Award at the 2016 festival. Sasse’s interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – from culture and language – from history and religion, making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy a page-turning good story injected with doses of Asian culture, history, adventure, and unexpected humor. His latest novel, Which Half David, is a powerful modern-day retelling of the ancient tale of King David – this one set in Southeast Asia. Watch out for the many lovely twists and turns! And just to change things up, his soon-to-be published sixth novel, A Man too Old for a Place too Far, is dabbling in the fantastical with a little magical realism, history, and time travel thrown in alongside the requisite human stories. Look for it in 2017. As for his plays, he’s fond of both the short play (10 minutes or less) and full-length formats. From 2011-2017 he wrote and directed the drama ensemble The RLT Players, a passionate group of dramatic storytellers who specialize in the short play format. In September 2016, his experimental theatre piece “How to Build a Dictator” was featured as part of Penangpac’s Black Box Experiments series. In January 2017, his new play “The Last Bastion” was featured in a staged-reading in collaboration with the Penang Performing Arts Centre. His goal is to have it go into full production somewhere in the world. Any takers? HOW DID HE FINALLY GET HIMSELF WRITING? Sasse remembers writing his first play when he was about thirteen. It was about Queen Esther and the only person he ever showed that play to was his mother. In college, he wrote lots of poetry, even love poetry for a certain girl. But once he graduated, his writing confidence was shattered, so he gave it up for the next twenty years. He doesn’t recommend doing that! He went to China to teach English in 1992 and eventually moved to Vietnam to do the same in 1994, shortly after the U.S. lifted the embargo against their former enemy. He lived in the exotic Vietnamese culture with his family for nearly ten years. After many life-changing experiences there, Sasse’s new-found taste for history sent him back to school to pick-up a second Master’s degree, this one in Humanities. This led to a shift from teaching English to history as he moved to Malaysia in 2006. Little did he know, however, that all of this was building up to another major shift, which would get him back to writing. On a whim in 2007, he embarked on a collaborative project with a group of students to write and produce a play, resulting in the original stage play “Monkey Love Potion.” It was such a fun and rewarding experience that he decided to try it again the following year. Before he knew it, he was hooked and that was the beginning of his love affair with live theatre. After writing and successfully producing four original full-length scripts, he finally got the nerve to try his hand once again at a hidden desire which had defeated him many times over the years – novel writing. In the summer of 2011, he embarked on the journey of writing his first novel. His greatest worry was reaching the magical 50,000 word mark, so he could officially call himself a novelist. When the story, “Beauty Rising,” clocked in at over 60,000 words, he was shocked and happy. But not content. He didn’t know what to do with the novel, and he convinced himself that it would sit idle until he wrote a second novel. He hated hearing the words “one-hit wonder” echo in his head. So in the summer of 2012, he wrote “The Recluse Storyteller.” Feeling a little more confident, he decided to focus on exposing his work to the public in order to receive some feedback. In December 2012, he independently published “Beauty Rising.” When the first review from an online book reviewer was posted and it was over-the-top positive, he was flying high, and if he never wrote another word in his life, he would have been content. But that contentment was not to be. He was now hopelessly hooked on both playwriting and novel writing, and he hasn’t looked back since. He has published five novels with six already finished and ready for publication in 2017. Number seven will be his first sequel and will be available sometime in 2018. He is grateful for all the readers who have joined him on this journey of creativity. ON A PERSONAL NOTE Sasse loves to cook everything from pizza to Thai. He’s coached softball or baseball for the past ten years, and he’s been a much too loyal fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates since he was 9 years old—another item he’s hopelessly hooked on. He enjoys travelling, visiting historical sites, and sitting by the beach or other scenic spot with a laptop, an idea, and a lot of time. He has a lovely wife and three wonderful children and one really cool son-in-law – he’s Korean, keeping with the Asian theme of his life. He has an active blog (www.mwsasse.com) where he writes frequently about history, writing, culture, and life. He loves to hear from readers, so he hopes you’ll stop by his site and say “hello.” The Complete List of Published Works by Mark W Sasse NOVELS A Man too Old for a Place too Far (to be released in 2017) Which Half David: A Modern-day King David Story (2016) A Love Story for a Nation (2015) The Reach of the Banyan Tree (2014) The Recluse Storyteller (2013) Beauty Rising (2012) PLAYS The Folly of Progress (2017) The Last Bastion (2017) How to Build a Dictator (2016) The Secrets of the Magic Pool (2016) Grandparents’ War (2013) Romans on the Couch (2011) SHORT STORIES Christmas in the Trenches, 1914 (2016) If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story (2014)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
*I received a copy of this book free in exchange for my honest review. When the author first asked if I'd like to review this book I wasn't entirely sold upon it. The idea sounded really interesting but I wasn't sure if it was my type of book. In all honesty it was only the great Goodreads rating & reviews that made me say yes to The Recluse Storyteller, and by golly I am glad I did! The story was engaging and the writing had me captivated from beginning to end, I think this book is set to be one of my top reads of the year! It's a little difficult to explain what this book is about without it seeming either complicated or silly but this book is neither of these things. The story centres around Margaret, a woman who lives alone and barely has any contact with the outside world but she still sees, and hears, and knows. Margaret is a storyteller and throughout the book we see glimpses here and there, into each of the four stories she tells, and it is these four stories, plus Margaret's own, that this book is about. That sounds a lot more complicated than it is, the story itself is a lot easier to understand though in the beginning it took me a couple of chapters to get my head around which story was which. The writing was simple and elegant and I found myself immediately getting lost in the story (or should I say stories!) everytime I picked up the book. The writing also made the characters really come to life. It was easy for me to slip from the mind of one character to another and then right back again which made me feel that I'd gotten to know everyone a little better. This was just a beautiful, easy story and I think it could be enjoyed by absolutely anyone. The emotion packed into this one book is incredible, and I don't just mean the emotion I felt, but all the different portrayals of the characters and their feelings was just superb. The Recluse Storyteller grabbed me and it still hasn't let me go. The story was spell-binding and I don't believe there is anything I can fault. Ever since I turned the last page I have been recommending this book to everyone I can, this is definitely one of my favourite books for this year.
The Recluse Storyteller: Mark W. Sasse Creating scenes and events within her own mind Margaret Pritcher relates in her own unique way five stories that intertwine and weave the lives of those living within the walls of the apartment building where she lives. The man with the Red Hat who seems dangerous, has some shady dealings, wanting to eliminate those in his ways as Margaret relates the events of his story as he aims to leave his wife and daughter in order to create a richer world for himself. Within these walls we meet Sam and Pam two young twins who find Margaret quite fascinating but whose mother guards them but their story and their actions revert back to the old west as we meet Georgia and Gwen two sisters who seem guided by a streak of light and hoping that the changes they see in the sky and this bright light will bring their father back home. The past seems to mirror the present and the events that Margaret relates about Reverend Taylor strike a dangerous chord as it leads him back to Vietnam, a village worn torn by death, destruction and a picture of himself standing above a ridge with the barrel of his rifle in his neck as he peers down at this village. Recalling the incident as the author vividly describes it when going back further in time to when he returns to this village and tries to reconcile his actions as he daughter meets a young Vietnamese man who would become her husband. As Margaret’s neighbor tries to interact with her and give her the letters that have come to her apartment, Margaret’s behavior flags many warnings alerting the reader that something in her past has caused her the fears she exhibits in the present after losing her mother, shutting out the world and not wanting to deal with anyone but her own thoughts, her stories related to each and everyone one living in her building as she writes them within the confines of her home, in a trancelike state and often unaware of any sounds or presence. The man with the Red Hat is Michael Cheevers and his adventure will take readers into the world of corruption and murder. Whereas Sam and Pam will take readers into the old west and the Midwestern prairie. Real, imaginary, illusions or just what author Mark Sasse and Margaret want you to see and believe. Reverend Davies was entrusted to care for this young woman following her mother’s death so why is she afraid of him and why do his letters remain sealed. Exhausted, haggard, tired, unkempt and alone this young storyteller relates what she thinks other need to hear as she story teaches a lesson, some with regrets and everyone will make readers and listeners of these tales pause for thought and reflect on their own lives. As the reverend relives the war and takes us inside the enemy lines and what deaths of so many and the link to a man named Quan who marries his daughter stating the past is over and we need to move ahead in the present. Can he? As each neighbor leaves for work, parties, shopping or just going out our storyteller listens intently at the door, takes in the information she hears, peers at them through her window and sees them through cracks in the door and then relates her thoughts within the confines of her apartment as the words spring out, the stories come alive but just who hears them and are they real? What if these events were not a figment of her thoughts? What if they were real? Each story brings the listener closer to revealing a secret in their past that they have kept locked within the confines of their own private world. Red Hat listens carefully as Margaret relates his story but not before an accident brings it all out in the open. When trying to get into a safety deposit box he falls prey to some snags, finds what he wants and holds a whole town captive. Just how is within the imagination of not only Margaret but also author Mark Sasse who created the story and allowed Margaret to tell it. The most poignant story leads us back to Sam and Pam who not only sneak out of their apartment to hear more of Georgia and Gwen’s story but learn the significance of the light when Georgia sees her father, or did she at the top of Harper’s Hill. What is related then is sad, creates uncertainty and the end result will change the lives of the girls and their younger brother. A father that has disappeared in the past and one that seems to have done the same in the present as the author brings Red Hat front and center with more than just his past. But, Margaret retells her story about Reverend Taylor and when Reverend Davies hears it why does he rush out, what about Vietnam draws him back in time and what about what happened to Quan’s family does he know? Each character hearing his/her own story and finding their way to deal with their past, their troubles and their present. Within this extraordinary story we learn more about our storyteller who writes programs for company manuals supporting herself in order to get the simple comforts in life. A loner, not wanting anyone to enter her apartment she behavior at times triggers memories of others, their pasts and her own fears. When she looks like she is going over the edge her niece, Janice and those living in the building want to take action. Shopping during the darkest hours at night, leaving her apartment to get her bare necessities and ice cream for her two younger listeners, Margaret falls preys to her own thoughts, goes into many different trances and the end result will make you wonder just what is real, what is fiction and who Margaret really is? Red Hat or Michael Cheevers, Mrs. Johnson and the twins, Mrs. Trumble who thinks she is crazy, Reverend Davies wanting to care for her as the tales intertwine and their connection draws all of them to the same powerful light. How does she know what happened to these people? What happens when they hear their stories? The lives of all of those living in this apartment building and the Reverend intertwine as Cheevers learns what happened to his family, how he endangered so many, the murder that he supposedly committed as we hear Reverend Davies relate an incident that left him emotionally marked and Mrs. Johnson relates a truth. Weaving the stories from the present to the past and allowing readers to understand how Gwen and Georgia learned to live without their parents what will happen if Mrs. Johnson reveals her secret? All five stories are strong, each told by Margaret and each character trying to forget their past as Margaret looks deep into their eyes, their souls and help them move ahead. Within Margaret’s mind a hidden secret comes out and the past intertwines with the present and the true meaning of the light comes shining through. As each story is completed the reader will learn the fate of each of those involved: Where is Mrs. Johnson’s husband? What about Reverend Davies what is his link to the massacre in Vietnam? How does it relate to the story Margaret tells about the War? What about The Red Hat: why was the police seeking him and why was he let go? Stories so true to life yet, events reenacted so vividly and storyteller who has more to tell, just might impact more lives and an ending that will reveal something about Margaret that only readers will learn when they hear her voice, learn her secret and decide when the next story will be told. But, make sure that you have your own supply of chocolate-cherry- swirl as the door opens, Margaret might let you in and your story might begin. Once again author Mark Sasse shares his knowledge of Vietnam, his outstanding ability to weave the past and the present and create a character so strong, dynamic and unique that we hope Margaret relates more stories, so new neighbors take up residence in her building and we can all sit back with a pint of ice cream and listen to her tales. Fran Lewis: Reviewer