In the Chameleon’s Shadow
“For years he had trekked over the globe, passing everywhere under a new identity, as if at the demarcation lines on maps that signaled the boundaries of towns or provinces or countries he shed one skin and donned another. He had tried on entire pasts, entire histories, wearing them as loosely as borrowed shirts.”
–In the Chameleon’s Shadow, Fluid Stone Press, 2014
Aaron Lugner is a chameleon. A skillful con-artist hidden in plain sight, he creates camouflage by wearing his attractiveness like a kind of cloak and blends within the visions those around him desire, preying upon their vulnerabilities. He is despicable, yet why then, like the women he romances, do we like him?
When reminders from his past return Aaron to the US, he meets Myriam, a beautiful Amerasian, one of the “dust of life” orphaned by the Vietnam War. Desiring to change and convinced he is in love, Aaron vows never to lie to her. Away from Myriam, his lies begin to take on lives of their own. With her, his split selves threaten to collide.
Molly Martin, writing for The Compulsive Reader: “Happy to recommend In the Chameleon’s Shadow for those who enjoy a good fiction filled with good writing, convincing, likable characters and enough twist and puzzlement to keep the reader turning the page.” In the Chameleon’s Shadow was awarded a gold medallion award by B.R.A.G. Medallion.
Lost and Found: Stories
Lost and Found (Elk Bay Books, 2014) is an eclectic collection of twelve stories recounting tales of love and loss, heartache and redemption. It offers a ranging cast of characters, from Emily, isolated on the fog-draped Oregon coast as she confronts the loss of her unborn child a thousand miles away from her Wyoming childhood home, to Homer, an aging Colorado farmer struggling to hold onto old ways after he finds a migrant worker’s body dumped on his land. Readers will venture into the chaos of the war in Iraq and the cancerous American inheritance after Vietnam, into Colorado mining towns and Wyoming missile silos. The styles of the stories are eclectic as well, and while most are anchored in realism, others venture into the realm of magical realism–like when one homeless veteran is accused by others of believing he is a cat–and there are forays into comedy as well as dark psychological encounters with troubled narrators.
Every neighborhood has one. The crank. The neighborhood eccentric. The oddball the neighbors tell stories about. Of course it’s a bit difficult to avoid becoming the source of rumors when it appears that your house is nothing more than a freestanding door isolated in a suburban field. Difficult to help the neighbors see the advantages of natural insulation when all they can imagine is a dark hole filled with spiders and snakes. Such is the predicament of the narrator for Man, Underground who suddenly must face the assumptions of his neighbors after they force the city to instigate an official review of his underground dwelling. When unsolicited help in defending him from the city comes knocking on his lonely door, it arrives in the form of a punk-inspired seventeen year old who paints murals as her extracurricular activity. Hoping to offer the narrator assistance by providing “diversionary tactics,” Monika initiates a campaign of petty vandalism and yard art “relocation.” Before the novel is done, Monika, the striped-haired National Merit scholar/muralist, not only helps the narrator find a path back into the above-ground world, she helps pave re-entry to the tragic past he fled for his self-imposed basement exile.
This dark comedy explores the terrain of fear and perceived helplessness dominant today and dares to find that hope remains ever present. Watch for Publication!