A Light like Ida Lupino


A Light like Ida Lupino

W. C. Bamberger

Publication Date: December 1, 2014

Synopsis: Lincoln Heath has done something unforgiveable. After some time away he has returned to the northern Michigan peninsula where the event occurred. He lives near his grandmother and helps her in her struggle to keep her financially-troubled cherry orchard, as more and more of the cherry-growers are losing their land to upscale vintners and condo builders. The peninsula has changed some from when Lincoln last lived there—all digital devices have been deactivated, Old Bull Nestor is using his bulldozer to remove the blacktop from all the roads, smugglers haunt the bay—but some things remain the same: there are many who still remember and despise him. But Lincoln has come looking not for forgiveness, but in hopes of finding some way to restore the parts of his emotional spectrum he has lost.

ISBN: 978-1-60489-146-1 Hard cover $30           Sale $13.00

ISBN: 978-1-60489-147-8 Trade paper $17.95   Sale $7.00

182 Pages


About the Author: 

W. C. Bamberger is the author of three previous novels and a collection of short stories. Other books include a biography of perceptual theorist Adelbert Ames, Jr., and a study of the work of novelist Steve Katz. His translations include Louis Levy’s 1912 Expressionist novel Kzradock the Onion Man and the Spring-Fresh Methuselah, and essays by Gershom Scholem. In 2007 he edited Guy Davenport and James Laughlin: Selected Letters. He lives in Michigan.


 Excerpt from the Book:

. . . available Light

THE NARROW peninsula extended up from the south end of the bay like a wisp of smoke. The narrow expanse of loamy soil, cherry orchards, vineyards, crumbling roadside attractions, boggy cypress swamp, and gypsum beach, the entirety of the fingerling peninsula had unclasped itself from the connections and economies below—the state, the country, the data miners, the acidic Chinese factories boiling up just over the belly of the horizon. . . .

At the very tip of the wisp stood the old 402-seater, alone on the bluff above the prospect. The oak planking dragged across the ice in horse sledges one January from the town of Acme just across the bay, laid in as the stage, had been given its baptismal nicks by the heels of Ida Lupino, long ago. She had been on a one-woman tour, publicizing Not Wanted, a film about a woman coping with an unwanted pregnancy, a film she’d written and directed; she’d even chosen its piano score—half blues, half tobacco-stained Rachmaninoff. She had come alone, packing only her own light—over-dramatic, wide-stanced, insistent on lighting life’s harsh dilemmas—and took the stage in its glare.

She had given a director’s talk before the film. She had clearly been uncomfortable, but it had not been stage-fright as some thought. What had made her uncomfortable was the fact that audiences needed to be told such obvious things at all.

“I want to do high-quality, low-budget films, look into provocative subject matter, tell the truth about ‘how Americans live.’ Just because my films are in black and white doesn’t mean the people have to be. We are all more than just black and white, dark and light. And I want to my films to capture the grays.”

She went doggedly on, even as she could see how the audience was otherwise occupied.  These automobile executives and their bangled wives, flush shipping-line owners, board-foot brokers, lien bankers and hands-off-the-wheel yachters didn’t want to hear her thoughts on noire, didn’t want to hear her philosophy, and certainly no high school physics, thank you—no talk about how light is at once both a particle and a wave depending on how you looked at it, as if that had any practical bearing on anything. They went on assaying the lace of her collar and cuffs, her expensive dress, and she went on ignoring them ignoring her, talking about her ideas, ideas like the high indigo light of a Zippo flame.

She had left that light behind like a musk, but as the peninsula boomed, it was covered by other lights. Then, as the digital tide withdrew, it had come to the surface here and there, like stones emerging, and upped the peninsula’s ambient capacity for high drama.

On back roads and in clearings, on breakwaters and weedy slips and around the improvised and ramshackle, over anything grounded and aloof, the light held steady and the old, transparently cause-and-effect mechanics had bloomed again—new growth from the common first nation of root materials: wind, rain, forge, water, iron, copper, seed cockle, spalted maple planed-by-eye, sprocket and roller chain, river stone, osmosis, pheasants’ feet, huckleberry and agate, wing-span, muscle-bundle, gilt, ice, pine pitch, tiny stalactites comprising density of bone, tobacco, work song, thick smoke, hickory nut, cherry in blossom, all by a light like Ida Lupino. . . .