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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Handbag and Book with author J. Arlene Culiner: The Back Streets of Paris and a Beautifully Awful Handbag

It was one of those dreary cold daysyou know the sort I mean. The sky is so grey it’s about to open up and weep. The frozen air manages to feel damp, and the icy wind’s tentacles sneak past your coat collar and slide into your boots.

I was living in Paris, and walking through a rather unsavory part of the city where people try to sell you knockoffs, smuggled cigarettes, or specialize in picking your pocket. Desperate for a respite from the chill, I slipped into one of those crowded, cheap boutiques—the sort that sells dreadful glowing twinkling things created in the world’s forgotten nooks and crannies. 

And that’s when I saw it: The Handbag. And I knew I had to have it in my life.

Yes, it’s kitsch (although that word doesn’t go far enough); no, it’s too narrow to hold anything bigger than a bus ticket and a change purse; yes, it catches on everything; no, it doesn’t go with any respectable outfit. But, believe me, when I wear my sparkly black and silver skirt, or my vulgar gold heels, or one of my shiny tops and my dangling flashy earrings; when I want to stand out and make people take notice, this beautifully awful handbag never lets me down. 

The air sizzles when a country music star and renowned playwright meet, but can opposites fall in love?

Smart-talking Sherry Valentine has fought her way up from poverty to stardom as a country music singer. Surrounded by clamoring fans and paparazzi, her spangled cowboy boots carry her from one brightly lit stage to the next. But Sherry's been on the star circuit for far too long and she wants out: is it too late to begin an acting career? 

Renowned but reclusive playwright Carston Hewlett cherishes his freedom, the silence of the deep woods surrounding his home, and his solitary country walks. So why is he so fascinated by a flashy country music singer? Perhaps a short passionate fling will resolve the problem.

When their names are linked in the scandal press and Sherry's plans to become an actress are revealed, Carston feels betrayed. Is their budding relationship doomed?

More About J. Arlene Culiner: Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.

Red, White or Blue? Always red, of course. 

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter? They all work for me. I love the change in seasons. 

Cake or Pie? Neither one. I have absolutely no sweet tooth. But give me a good dill pickle, or some roasted sunflower seeds, or a few slices of hot buttered toast, and I’m yours.

Coffee, Tea, or Champagne? Is this a serious question? Champagne, please. Then more champagne.

Country music or Michael Buble? Good old-fashioned authentic country, the sort you hear here: YouTube

 Pencil or Pen? Both. It all depends on what I’m doing. Drawing? Writing? Signing?

Find a Swan's Sweet Song at: Amazon

Find J. Arlene Culiner at: Website      or at: Storytelling Podcast: Storytelling Podcast


Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

I love the bag and can see it with a fun cocktail dress. Thank you for showing it and your book. vb

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Thanks for having me here on your blog, Vicki. However, cocktail dresses? I live way out here in the sticks, and cocktail dresses have nothing to do with my life. Rubber boots, walking boots, yes.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Great interview and the bag is lovely!
Your book sounds amazing too.
Good luck and God's blessings

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Many thanks, Pam. All the best to you, too.