Slide Accustomed to the Dark
A New Novel by
Thomas DeConna
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Experience First Pages of Accustomed to the Dark

It was the break I needed. To land an interview with AJ Kenton was a journalist’s dream. At the time I didn’t know why he chose me to interview him, but there I was, twenty-four years old and driving to his home, moments away from meeting the famous recluse. And if I were lucky, I would uncover a story from our meeting, a story never told before. Well, I was lucky, but it wasn’t the story I’d expected or wanted.

The author and artist used his hometown, Kenton, as his pen name, and as I turned off the highway and drove into the town center, the place looked exactly as I had imagined, as if suspended in time. Its four square blocks still had a bank, a diner, a hardware store, and a handful of other shops. There were ballfields, schools, a park with a bandshell, churches, and a synagogue, but mostly it was a town of houses built not long after the second world war. Today the town links to AJ Kenton, the creator of children’s books, in the way Stockbridge links to Norman Rockwell. Because of that, the town gets its share of tourists, even though Mr. Kenton hasn’t produced a book in thirty-three years

My heart thumped. Here was the place where a set of beloved books had originated, and here was the man who had brought joy to so many people. Eager to begin the interview, I asked if it was all right to start recording and did so after he gave a silent nod. “That first book,” I said, “you dedicated to your mother and father.”

“That’s right.”

I checked my legal-sized notepad, knowing I’d prepared a bunch of questions, but actually asking them made me unsteady. Because I wanted everything to be perfect and didn’t want to offend the man, I could feel my adrenalin turn to doubt. But this was my chance, so I pushed ahead. “From what I’ve read, your parents had a strained relationship, and one day your mother walked out and never returned.”

Slide Season of Restorations
The First Novel by
Thomas DeConna
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Experience First Pages of Season of Restorations

There is always more to do. He didn’t know where to put everything; they must be concealed but not hidden; they must be discovered after his death, which he knew would be soon. Then again, much depended upon George.

Franklin Bowman, ninety-four years old and living alone in New Jersey, hunched over a shoebox that had been tucked away in his closet for years. Inside the box was a birthday card and a photograph that he wanted. His thick, mottled hands pushed aside other items that didn’t matter anymore and pulled out the card and photo.

With the two things in hand Frank left his bedroom and started downstairs. Of course he felt fortunate, being self-sufficient enough to live in his own house and not being stuck in some nursing home. Then again, he thought, companionship and conversation wouldn’t be bad. He descended the stairs as a younger man would, without pausing at each step, but pain shot through his knees and after reaching the bottom, he stopped.

Yes, he told himself, the pocketknife is on the kitchen counter…and what else do I need? The papers.

Often during lunch the men’s talk grew louder and bolder.  They devised plans for after quitting-time.  A challenge to arm-wrestle, play cards, listen to a radio, pitch horseshoes, or form baseball teams.  They talked about the approaching weekend and checked with so-and-so to see if his car was running and figured out how many men would fit in the car so that they all could go to town.  A small town, sure, but a town with a fair number of unmarried women.  And their talk often turned to the names of particular girls they had met, to hair colors and eyes and lips and complexions, to legs and to the wonderful curved lines of a woman’s body.  Talk of possible sexual conquests, brash and boastful talk.  Then, back to work until four o’clock.

About the Author

Thomas DeConna


Thomas DeConna grew up in New Jersey and attended Seton Hall University, graduating with a degree in English. For thirty-nine years, he was an English teacher, working mostly with high school students.  Teaching is a world unto itself with equal amounts of joy, frustration, enlightenment, and hope for the future – all of which has helped form the ideas and writings of this author.

Working part-time jobs, including busboy, bartender, landscaper, cabinet-maker apprentice, plastics factory grunt, night watchman, and door-to-door salesman, allowed Thomas to experience wide-ranging aspects of the working world.  Also, he had an on-the-road experience when, for three summer months, he drove and slept in a van while traveling nearly ten thousand miles across the United States, meeting people in San Francisco estates and on Native American reservations. These experiences and encounters allowed him to learn about the common bonds that all people share.

Thomas has poetry and short stories published in a number of literary journals; Restorations is his first novel.  The story’s setting is New Jersey because, as the author has discovered, along with the most powerful forms of nature, life moves in a circle.

He currently lives in Colorado with Sheryl, his wife of forty-five years, and when he is not writing, he enjoys bike riding, woodworking, walking Annie, a spirited Boston terrier, taking photos, traveling, seeing good friends, and enjoying simple pleasures.

Thomas deconna

/ Author


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