(Images provided by author)
In Michael D. Dennis’s touching new novel, A Native’s Tongue, a young man, torn between two women, struggles to find his way in the world.
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…
Charlie Winters has never been an overachiever. He is used to just getting by while living with his single mother and working a dead-end job at a cheesesteak stand. Meanwhile, he’s constantly grappling with the voice of his sister, who died in a tragic car accident years earlier, echoing in his head.
So when Violet, an older woman, sets her sights on Charlie and refuses to let go, he follows along. He soon finds himself immersed in a destructive relationship that still fails to fill the void within him.
But then he meets Jennifer, a mystical young woman whose energy and life convinces Charlie to pursue her, even through the darkest corners of Los Angeles, and sets their lives upon a path that can’t be stopped.
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.
Love and tragedy collide in Michael D. Dennis’s poignant new novel, A Native’s Tongue.
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, Michael also had his play, Hen in the Field, produced at the Whitefire Theatre in 2012. His highly anticipated debut novel, A Native’s Tongue, will be released in June 2014. Michael currently lives in Santa Monica, California with his girlfriend and two dogs, Jack and Aurora. To learn more, go to http://www.michaelddennis.com/ or connect with Michael on Facebook and Twitter. Goodreads
"Did the endless portrayals of love and romance in novels really exist?" -Michael D. Dennis, A Native's Tongue
The book starts with a preview of the ending. But we have no knowledge of the characters, previous actions, anything really. I think this help jumpstart my interest in reading this book. It caught and held my attention, making me ask all of these questions that I simply had to continue reading to answer. Not to mention the whole book was really well written. It flowed smoothly, and it was clear to hear the character's voices. It also kept things jumping and kept the readers interest.
The style of writing changed occasionally. Sometimes it was third person in which case we could expect to be seeing something from Victoria or Jennifer's perspective. And those were interesting chapters. It seemed both women weren't entirely normal(not that anyone really is normal but let's just use the word for now). It was disturbing and upsetting to see their interactions and witness their actions. Then there were some chapters written in first person, from the viewpoint of Charlie. For most of the book I wasn't sure how to feel about Charlie. It seemed that he was almost the teenager that never really grew up. Honestly I didn't really feel much beyond sympathy for him for much of the book, instead preferring the chapters with Victoria or Jennifer.
A Native's Tongue is all about a man whose life has gone downhill and he's trying to get by the best way he can. It seems as if many of the characters are on a path of destruction. We also were given a unique look into a situation that most people see from the outside as disgusting or less than the ideal. It was eye-opening and I was constantly found remembering the old lesson, never judge a book by it's cover.
A Native's Tongue is unique and gives the reader a unique look at several difficult situations. It almost seemed as if a movie was playing through my head the entire time and it gave me a fresh outlook on how good my life actually is.
Jennifer Bannister’s footsteps echoed down the hall. The uniforms of the inmates dampened the sound. Her ears tried to follow the faint sound, if only to affirm that she was still moving forward. There wasn’t anyone to hold her hand. She just trusted that each sign would guide her in the right direction.
I’ll get there at some point, Jennifer thought, trying to convince herself that she was doing the right thing. You can’t get lost in here; they don’t let you go off course. Her words slipped away. She felt the cold air settle over her skin. She glanced at a placard marked Visitors Only.
In the cool air, her skin tightened. Jennifer shivered and wished she were somewhere warmer. Seeing Violet for the first time was going to be hard enough. She was going to look the woman she hated most in the world in the eye. She didn’t want to be shaking from the cold and covered in goose bumps.
Jennifer peered through the bulletproof glass at Violet. There were markings embedded in the glass, swirls that made it harder to look directly into Violet’s eyes. Jennifer picked up the phone and listened. Violet grabbed it and began to speak, “It was never you that he loved. You know that right?” Violet’s voice was raspy.
Her expressions and mannerisms changed from static to fully engaged. She stood up and waved her hands maniacally at Jennifer, and then she slammed her fist against the glass.
Jennifer hung up the phone. Her blonde hair got caught in between her hand and the receiver as she placed it back on the black hook. Turning, she slid out of the red plastic chair and down the corridor, guided by the exit sign’s green light. In the stale air of the prison, she searched for a pack of cigarettes, unsheathed a Parliament, lit it, and smoked nervously.
Two overweight guards carrying guns in nylon hip holsters directed her to the parking lot, where they offered her matching robotic waves good-bye. The midnight blue 2005 Jaguar xk8, which her parents loaned her for this visit, was the only vehicle in the parking lot row. Her parents thought she would feel safer in their car rather than her own bright red Honda.
In either case, she seemed to fit this car, or the car fit her a lot more. Her lean physique matched the lines on the Jag, and it made her feel more mature. She was constantly trying to act older than she was. Jennifer went around to the passenger side of the car and opened the rear door. She set her oversized black leather purse on the back seat and took out a translucent orange bottle filled with tiny white pills. She slung her head back, popped two, shut the door and walked around to the driver’s seat.
The heat had melted the surface of the Jaguar’s leather seats, reducing the fabric to a buttery texture. Jennifer’s blonde hair clung to the sides of her shoulders, heavy with sweat. She retrieved her car key from the passenger seat, pressed the key into the slot, and burst into tears, suddenly unable to move.
Jennifer hadn’t eaten all day. The heavy dose of Xanax caused her to feel excessively nauseous. She blacked out and fell forward, hitting her forehead on the steering wheel. The car increased in temperature with the late afternoon heat. Her powder-white skin grew red.
“Miss. Are you alright? Miss?” A young guard, Bill Marsh, had spotted the car, and decided to go in for a closer look.
When Jennifer didn’t move, he took out his club and smashed the window. She woke up from her temporary coma and lashed out.
"You Fuck!" Her voice was barely audible, even with the window smashed. Her energy was gone.
"Miss--I, I’m sorry you didn't look okay."
"I am! What business do you have involving yourself in my business? Do you know what you did? You just fucked up my car, you moron.”
“Look, I just saw you from my station.”
To Bill, her face looked familiar, though he couldn’t place where he had seen her before.
"You have no idea. Sitting in your stupid box, behind that intercom.
"I’m sorry, I know we’ll pay for the window. Hell, if the prison won't, I personally will." Bill said.
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