Mak­ing choices

Bob Bent’s new book is a vivid re­flec­tion of life in ru­ral Nova Sco­tia

Annapolis Valley Register - - ARTS - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL THE SPEC­TA­TOR

Dave Bent has a sto­ry­teller’s voice, so when he read But­ter­flies Don’t Grieve at the launch of his brother’s new book it was pure gold. He had a hitch in his voice as he tried to fin­ish the short piece of fic­tion.

It was po­etic prose so con­cise and emo­tion­ally charged it alone was worth pick­ing up

Bob Bent’s new book called The Last Time I Saw Alice – A Col­lec­tion of Sto­ries.

He de­ferred to brother Dave to read But­ter­flies be­cause he didn’t think he’d make it all the way through. It was a lump-in­the-throat recita­tion that shows Bob Bent as a writer of worth. And there’s much more good writ­ing in that book as the sto­ries un­fold so hon­estly and nat­u­rally you’ll won­der that it’s even fic­tion.

You could walk out your back door and right into one of Bent’s sto­ries – if you live in ru­ral Nova Sco­tia. The char­ac­ters are as solid and real as the peo­ple you know, and their dreams and de­sires are just like yours.

There’s hope and re­flec­tion in his Broth­ers Larry, David, Bob, and Steve dur­ing the May 29 launch of Bob Bent’s new book ‘The Last Time I Saw Alice – A Col­lec­tion of Sto­ries’ at the Lawrencetown Li­brary. Bob Bent ded­i­cated the book to his broth­ers, in­clud­ing Alan who was un­able to at­tend. The book is a re­flec­tion on life in ru­ral Nova Sco­tia.

pages as he cre­ates vivid set­tings and projects his char­ac­ters into them like they were your friends and neigh­bours. There’s hu­mour, gen­tle­ness, and a deep un­der­stand­ing of the hu­man con­di­tion - needs, de­sires, foibles, frail­ties. Re­grets. You come away with the un­der­stand­ing that ev­ery day is pre­cious and there are no do-overs.

And in Bob Bent’s writ­ing there is noth­ing con­trived. There’s the wis­dom of chil­dren, the res­ig­na­tion of

the fish­er­man’s wife, and the sat­is­fac­tion of get­ting the hay in while a storm broods over the Fundy.

Book launch

A small crowd gath­ered at the pub­lic li­brary in Lawrencetown May 29 as Bob Bent read from the book and signed copies. Those attending heaped praise on their friend and lo­cal au­thor who delves into some of the univer­sal ques­tions of love and life in a se­ries of short sto­ries and a novella.

Bob Bent ded­i­cated the book to his four broth­ers Larry, Steve, Alan, and Dave. All but Alan were able to at­tend the book launch and pre­sented him with a card.

“We also wanted to do a lit­tle some­thing to ex­press our con­grat­u­la­tions, and our ad­mi­ra­tion, and our thanks to you for en­rich­ing our lives in so many ways, par­tic­u­larly on this date per­haps,” said Dave Bent as he handed over the card.

Was there a gift card from Pearle’s in Par­adise? Bob Bent said there was.

Bob Bent read his short story An­i­mal Noises dur­ing the book launch, a young boy’s un­wit­ting discovery that re­la­tion­ships aren’t al­ways rock solid even though the peo­ple in­volved can be.

The book is named for the first story The Last Time I Saw Alice, a story real in its por­trayal of re­gret – about how life gets away on you and you be­come the sum of your choices. But in Alice there is a bit of re­demp­tion, whether de­served or not.

Novella

Bob Bent’s novella The Strip Tease ex­plores the state of the world to­day, in­di­vid­ual fears, global un­rest, and how ac­tions and con­se­quences im­pact in un­ex­pected ways as the rise of so­cial media serves to dis­tort re­al­ity and some­times pun­ish the in­no­cent.

And it’s about love and jeal­ousy, the courage to move on, and re­vert­ing to life be­fore smartphones, Face­book, Youtube, and so­cial media. That life in Ami­raults Hill in Ar­gyle was per­haps the best type of life.

Bob Bent writes about life’s choices and liv­ing with those de­ci­sions. To read a Bob Bent story is to think about it long af­ter you’ve turned the fi­nal page.

Bob Bent has been pub­lished in Nash­waak Re­view, All Rights Re­served, Featherdale Re­view, and The Barn­stormer. He’s also con­trib­uted a se­ries of travel/run­ning sto­ries to Run Nova Sco­tia Re­con­teur. His book Have Yourself a Silly Lit­tle Christ­mas was pub­lished in 2013.

The Last Time I Saw Alice – A Col­lec­tion of Sto­ries is avail­able at Shelf Life in Ber­wick, The In­side Story in Green­wood, Blue Grif­fin in Mid­dle­ton, End­less Shores in Bridgetown, and The Mad Hat­ter (Bain­tons) in An­napo­lis Royal.

Bob Bent will be do­ing a read­ing on June 16 at 11 a.m. at The Mad Hat­ter at 213 St. Ge­orge St. in An­napo­lis Royal.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

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