PAINTER, SOLDIER, HUSBAND, GHOST
Lieutenant Nick D’Nofrio is back from the war, but he is not home. The dead are on the other side of the world, but they haunt him daily. He tries to be a husband to his new wife, Emma, but he can’t connect with other people. He is obligated to paint a mural at the Paradis d’Hôtel, but only horrors spring from his imagination. Nick suffers for his art, for himself, for the guilt of his painful secret…
The memory of war follows Nick D’Nofrio to the the Paradis d’Hôtel where he encounters a spectral Spanish beauty, a mysterious jazz musician, and a ghost from his troubled, violent past. As his marriage crumbles and his sanity spins out of control Nick is forced to face his demons, the worst of which may be himself.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this book every time I looked at the cover on my Kindle, but I am so glad I opened it up. I finished it in no time and will struggle to decide what place this book gets in my Top 3 of 2013. For those who’re unfamiliar with this author, Ronald Malfi is one of my favorites. He writes Horror that twists the heart instead of the stomach and in a story so beautifully written that the experience is a mixture of awe and soul-wringing catharsis.
I am amazed at how much this story moved me. It is art that is felt as art. All the details of the island hotel, the mourning people he meets, the conversation with his wife and how they are struggling to admit and forgive in order to love again, the mural he is painting in the lobby and how it illustrates his inner turmoil and the turmoil you feel reading his story, the weakness in his painting hand working both to show his self hatred, his ineptitude and his failures in a way that is real and possibly inescapable… All of this had to be read because it so magnificently blended together in sorrow and angst, a longing for a fresh start so that love and peace could heal them of their past mistakes. I’ve said before that I’d like to always have a Ron Malfi book nearby, but with books like this, I probably wouldn’t read anyone else. I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.
Timothy C. Ward has been podcasting since 2010, first as AudioTim, and now with AISFP. His first publication, Cornhusker: Demon Gene (A Short Story), is available on Kindle for $.99. His novel in progress, Kaimerus, is described as “Firefly crashes on Avatar and wakes up 28 Days Later.”