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The year is 1988, the place, New York City. The gifted but mercurial Haley Barrett drops out of Princeton–forfeiting a scholarship– and takes a job as a nanny on the Upper West Side, much to the dismay of her working class family. Haley becomes smitten with the charismatic and elusive actor, Evan Candelier, despite her friends’ warnings.

She finds a sympathetic ear in the irrepressible Sinclair Wellington, a costumer and Scottish count, who confides his own story of a doomed romance from decades past. Sinclair inveigles Haley in a series of capers to win Evan. When Sinclair’s lost love reappears one snowy day, Haley witnesses what may become her own fate if she does not uncover the mystery of Evan’s reticence.

From Upper West Side brownstones and bookshops, to downtown cafes and art houses, Haley and her circle of bohemians wend their way through late eighties Manhattan, making precocious pronouncements on books, art, life, and love.

Blue Rose In Chelsea has been called “a thoroughly engaging, lovely, modern fairytale” and “an insightful and quirky story of first love.”


It has been a long time since I’ve posted to my blog, but with the release of DREAM BOY by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg, I figured it was time to start posting again.

I recognize that we are so busy that we often rush through one another’s posts without so much as a glance. But I hope you rush out to buy this book. It is well worth your time.

 Dream Boy

5 Legendary Writers’ Cafés in Europe

By Stephanie Ostroff

It’s sensory overload. The clanging of dishes, banter between artists, heavy perfume of cigars, fresh baked bread, espresso. A porcelain cup knocks against a saucer, as two hot-tempered philosophers debate the tenets of existentialism. A lone writer scribbles from a corner booth. 

Oh, European café culture of yesteryear– what modern writer hasn’t pined for you, even for just a moment. The sterile Wi-Fi setup at Starbucks just doesn’t measure up.

It’s easy to get dreamy-eyed at the thought of literary and artistic minds gathering in grand old cafés off magnificent boulevards, fueled by caffeine and alcohol and each other’s brilliance. Woody Allen indulged this fantasy in his 2011 film Midnight in Paris, in which a screenwriter (Owen Wilson) visiting Paris is transported to the 1920s each night, hobnobbing with intellectuals and artists of the era. 

Unless you have a time machine handy, those days are behind us. Writers camped out beside fist-shaking philosophers in elegant cafés live on in the works they left behind, and in our imaginations. But while that era may have come to a close, many of the establishments themselves still stand. Though the crowd has changed over the years, most of the legendary intellectual hangouts in Europe remain open for business. Yes, you can sit where Hemingway and Kafka once reclined, pull out a pen and paper, and wait for inspiration to strike.  Or at the least, you can take a virtual tour of some of these famed literary cafés: 

Café Louvre
Prague, Czech Republic 
Cafe louvre

The German Philosophical Circle, pondering the teachings of Franz Brentan, held meetings at Café Louvre upon its opening in 1902. Among its members were Franz Kafka and Max Brod. The café served as an office for writers, who used the Louvre’s letterhead when corresponding with publishers, editors and playwrights. When Albert Einstein took up his position as professor at the Prague German University, he, too, became a regular. More than just a coffeehouse, Café Louvre expanded to include an underground jazz club and wine cellar. In 1948, a communist coup saw the café all but destroyed as furniture was jettisoned out its windows onto Narodni Avenue. Fortunately for us, the building was restored in 1992 and re-opened to the public. 

Le Deux Magots
Paris, France 

Deux magots
Photo credit 

Set in Paris’ Latin Quarter, Le Deux Magots (“two Chinese figurines”) takes its name from a novelty shop that once occupied the space. Though the café technically opened in 1812, it relocated to its current address in 1873. This place was a haven for Paris’ brightest literary minds: Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway… to name a few. The café made such a name for itself in the writing community that it launched its own award, the Prix des Deux Magots, in 1933. This French literary prize is still given out today, typically to newer, offbeat works.


Antico Caffé Greco
Rome, Italy 


Naturally, Rome’s oldest coffee bar is steeped in history. Antico Caffé Greco opened its doors in 1760, and since then it’s welcomed Byron, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Wagner, Welles, Levi, and even Casanova. Hans Christian Andersen lived a floor above the café and was a frequent visitor, staking out his own sofa, which remains in the coffeehouse to this day. The café is located on the posh Via dei Condotti, a stone’s throw from the Spanish Steps and designer shops such as Prada and Gucci. It’s always had an international edge, but the evolution of the neighborhood and influx of tourists has pushed it to elite status among Italy’s coffee establishments. 


Café Bräunerhof
Vienna, Austria

Photo credit

Bräunerhof was Thomas Bernhard’s preferred Viennese café. Here he penned some of the most important works of to come out of Germany post-World War II. A glass display case on a nearby street corner contains a picture of the author and points passersby in the direction of the café. Inside you’ll find the largest selection of international newspapers in Vienna, original 1920s furnishings and fixtures, and walls covered in mirrors. On Saturdays a small orchestra fills the Bräunerhof with classical music. 


La Rotonde
Paris, France 


During the height of America’s literary expat reign in Paris, intellectuals such as Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot and F. Scott Fitzgerald congregated at La Rotonde. It was here that Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin met regularly in the spring of 1932, setting the stage for a love affair between the two writers. Hemingway was also a patron. The café made such an impression on him that he memorialized it in The Sun Also Rises. The reference hints that the place may have gained a bit too much popularity: “No matter what cafe in Montparnasse you ask a taxi-driver to bring you to from the right bank of the river, they always take you to the Rotonde,” his character Jake Barnes laments. 

Short Story Saturday Review 013: The Little Man Who Was Almost There by Thomas Locicero


Welcome to the Short Story Saturday review slot and the thirteenth review in this series. This week’s review is of the 2,230-word story ‘The Little Man Who Was Almost There’ by Thomas Locicero. The story appears first (and therefore available in the free preview!) of his collection Under the Tree.

In the five-word first sentence we’re introduced to the protagonist immediately and ‘Clete’ is a fantastic name, and as it turns out a character with a colourful past.

Throughout the story we have ‘Chinese whispers’ where in some cases his memory lets him down, other times its embellishments and that just goes to add to the charm of the piece.

The writing itself is very descriptive, graphic in places, a very ‘educated’ read. There’s humour, I love that he’s in his eighties and his mother is still alive, and the banter between husband and wife.

Initially his wife, Greta, was my favourite character; as she was very calm and soothing, and having been married for so long knows exactly what to say to Clete, but (I have to ‘pick’ – this is a review after all), I was  disappointed with what she tells Clete the morning after the late news programme, and turns it to her benefit. I felt up to then that it was out of character, however (without wishing to give too much away), it does end up being to their mutual benefit so she redeems herself. :)

Thank you, Thomas, for inviting me to read your story.

Thomas Locicero is an award-winning short story writer, poet and essayist, as well as a playwright and monologist. His work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Boston Literary Magazine, The Long Island Quarterly, riverrun, Omnibus Arts & Literature Anthology, A&U: America’s AIDS Magazine and Beginnings, among other literary periodicals. Originally from East Islip, Long Island, Thomas resides with his wife, Lil, and their sons, Sam and Ben, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Under the Tree is his first short story collection.

Thomas says, “From my earliest recollections of childhood, the one constant in my life has been my desire to be an author. I remember being in fourth grade at Timber Point Elementary School in East Islip and writing a poem for a girl named Jennifer Herman. While the class was watching a film, I was sneaking my way toward Jennifer’s desk to hand her the poem. Mr. Biangardi caught me and snatched the paper from my hand. The class was giddy with joyful anticipation because, as was the custom, Mr. Biangardi was going to read the ‘note’ aloud to the class, using my embarrassment as a weapon to deter future note passers. After reading the poem to himself, he said, “You wrote this?” I answered, ‘Yes, just now.’ To the dismay of my classmates, Mr. Biangardi handed the poem back to me and said, ‘It’s really good.’ After class, he encouraged me to pursue writing. As an addendum to the story, Jennifer Herman moved away the following year and I never saw her again.”

When author Joyce Carol Oates was asked what the high point in her career was, she responded, “A good, sympathetic review is always a wonderful surprise.” I want to thank author Stephen C. Spencer for the wonderful surprise he gave me with his review of my book, Under the Tree.


Image of Thomas Locicero



Maeve Binchy described herself as an “escapist kind of writer.” I believe that is the best kind of writer to be, particularly in today’s world. If we can help people escape, even for a small while, we have done our jobs. She will be missed. Thankfully, we can still enjoy her company through her words.