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Stephen Holgate – TANGIER
July 20, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
On Thursday, July 20, Stephen Holgate joins us in the shop for a reading from TANGIER, his novel with Third Place Books.
In a parallel plot in 1995, Christopher Chaffee is forced out of his D.C. bureaucratic position, for padding expense accounts. His France-born mother receives a letter dated 1940 (the year Chris was born) from her son’s father, Rene Laurent, who presumably died in a Vichy prison. Now Chaffee is in Tangier, tracing that letter to its origin. At passport control, Chaffee explains his predicament: “I was born Christopher Laurent. My mother remarried and I took my stepfather’s name. The man I am looking for is my father.”
Ousted from France in 1940, Rene Laurent was “a diplomat without a country.” He boards, along with other exiled Europeans, in the Great Expectations-like château owned by a femme fatale: “Yet an air of weary elegance clung to the decaying villa.”
Returning to the present (1995), Chaffee meets various characters and “vagaries of fortune.” American piano man and ex-pat Pete Draper drags Chaffee to a gig at La Crepuscule in a neighboring town, where “[a]n ancient woman sat at a table near the end of the bar, absently waving an ebony cigarette holder.” Madame Dubois was the “[l]ast bit of jetsam left from the high tide of French colonialism.” Madame may have heard of someone who knows someone who may have known Rene Laurent.
Picking up pieces of a discarded life, Chaffee constructs a composite of who was his father, told by a masterful author. This arduous search takes Chaffee on an unexpected expedition of self-awareness. Chaffee “had been looking for his father, and only now did he realize he had finally found himself.”
STEPHEN HOLGATE is a native Oregonian living in Portland. Holgate served as a diplomat at the American Embassy in Morocco. He has published several short stories, freelance articles, and produced a single-person play.