Author Joseph Cavano gave readers a glimpse of his artistic side at the recent G.R.I.T.S. book club meeting.
A talented jazz pianist, he alternately discussed his life, writing and love of music for a small crowd at the Philadelphia United Methodist Church.
"Writing has a beat to it. If your sentences don't sing, if they're not musical, they're not going to work," he says.
Cavano grew up in New York's Catskill Mountains, where his collection of short stories, "Half-Past Nowhere," takes place. When asked whether or not the book's main character, Joey Fusaro, is really a young Joseph Cavano, he says, "Take a look at Joey; he's fairly vertically challenged, he has black curly hair, comes from a moderately dysfunctional Italian family...of course I'm Joey Fusaro."
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The grown-up Joey moved to Charlotte eight years ago. Why did he decide to relocate to North Carolina?
"Because the South is the most interesting place in the country," says Cavano. "There's a gentility and a history here that you don't find anywhere else, it's just unique."
During the meeting, Cavano made mention of several great American authors, including Mark Twain and noted Southerners William Faulkner and Truman Capote. He drew a connection between the issues of race in his stories to those in "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
"Writing is just a wonderful thing to do; it's about the most fun a person can have, I think," he says. "The thing is, you've got to put in the time."
Cavano was an English teacher before retiring and although he says be was always urged to write, he only began writing a year ago. For his first published work, "Half-Past Nowhere" is enjoying significant success. Two stories from the collection were finalists in the Glimmer Train Press short story contest.
"'Glimmer Train' is the big leagues," Cavano says. With a new book to finish and a potential movie deal in the works, he has a lot to look forward to.
It was appropriate for Cavano to speak in Fort Mill, where he and his wife, Stephanie, have several friends. They were members of the local Italian club for a couple of years and he plays golf in Tega Cay.
G.R.I.T.S. charter member Alice Sumner says she felt a personal connection to the book.
"He and I are close to the same age, so I could relate to a lot of the things that he talks about" she says.
"I particularly enjoyed his descriptions of the setting, the water, the woods. I visited the area a couple years ago and it was just as I saw it. Nature is very subtle as part of the story," says member Julie Johnson.
Word of the book is spreading. To see for yourself and support a local artist, "Half-Past Nowhere" can be found at www.CPCC.edu, www.Amazon.com and several area bookstores.