Chuck Rough, Paradise Town Manager for more than a dozen years now, is also a creative artist. His first published book, a collection of poems, short stories and the first ten chapters of a new novel, will be christened tonight at a book launch party in Paradise, and then sent out into the world. (For more information, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
"Private Roads in Autumn" by Charles Rough ($19.99 in paperback from Xlibris Corporation, www. xlibris.com), available at Lyon Books in Chico, is about perspectives. The story that ends the collection, "Sitting At the Bus Stop (In the Sun)," offers a coda of sorts for the rest. Somewhere, "on the corner of Fifth and Broadway," a man from "the old country," recently homeless but now a dishwasher living in a shared flat, waits for the crowded bus.
Others gather at the corner; "most kept to themselves and waited, staring blankly into the day ahead. . . . Each person had their own story to tell, to hide, or to change as the mood, situation, or years dictated--a story that was unfolding with the ending still in doubt, or more certain than any other truth in their lives."
In "Journey's End," the poet picks up the theme, making it more personal, at a "weather-beaten pier" somewhere near the Pacific Coast: "Looking upward, / the first glimpse of a new day's sky / struggles to break through the darkness; / its fate in this part of the world / presiding over an ocean, / whose calm surface betrays / a relentless undercurrent. // And all the while, / the restless heart of a poet / finds itself struggling, / to navigate a course / that holds itself in check."
The stories feature restless hearts suffused with loss. In Honorable Intentions, set in 1962, Sergeant Jefferson must deliver devastating news to a soldier's family. There is another soldier in "Journeys," though he is not what he seems to be. In "Second Chance," a man knows where the bodies are buried. Literally. In "Conversation with a Troubadour," the narrator gets his groove back. By turns meditative and suspenseful, Rough's work takes the reader down twisty autumn roads, multiplying delight as the leaves--and pages--turn.