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Michael A. Guy

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The Last Renaissance Man: second edition
by Michael A. Guy   

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Books by Michael A. Guy
· Symphony ONE
· In Memory Only [CD of 22 songs & instrumentals]
· CD: August Ocean Overture-JazzDANCEimage
· Rain Music - Piano Concerts, June 1984
· SQ Blue (string quartet #1)
                >> View all

Category: 

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Infinity Publishing ISBN-10:  074142696X Type: 
Pages: 

245

Copyright:  June 2006
Fiction

Abstract:
London's leading composer in 1695 is on a perpetual motion machine, a frantic season of theatre performances. Sir Henry yearns for one more Shakespeare-inspired opera that will revive his 'Glory Days'. With his Patroness dead, his income slashed, an alienated and suspicious wife, his agent arranges yet another tour of cheap venues. But the specter of Plague arises, and Henry stressed by grief, fears contagion. Hallucinogenic from the wrong cure he flees to sunny Madeira. Once southbound, his 'Sea Adventure' unfurls unpredictably. Do things resemble the opera he's composing? Stay aboard for book two, when the nautical nightmare grows menacingly real!

NOTE: this page refers to a "cut" second edition of JUNE 2006 which is the one available direct from the Publisher and Amazon. It is 245 pages not 254.

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Great BEACHbook SPECIAL August2010 until the 15th at LULU.com, 15% off the already low price of $7.77 and the eBOOK is FREE!  (And no Oil Spill comes with this deal as you are back in 1695 long before these horrid days of oil spills!)

EXCERPT: from chapter nine: "Barbados"
 

The field slaves scattered like leaves in a squall, but before they could, this slave, who I took to be the driver Kaliban, had his whip wrapped around one of the housemen.

Kaliban, his eye’s flashing red, hissed and snorted like a kind of reptile, hunching up his already convex back as he jerked mightily on the whip, snapping it like a firecracker at the dancer. His mule circled them, blocking my vision and I couldn’t see, but I heard a slap and the manservant was down in the clearing, his fine white suit considerably soiled. What would Lord Willoughby think of that?

‘Teachin’ religion to my field hands again are ya Siepio. You keep yer dancing up at fat Willoughby’s!’

‘An’ don’ any of ya think about being free up here. Yer religion is da rebellion of freedom. Next, ya’ll want guns ta fire off in your damn ceremonies. You know what Howe gonna do ta me—and I’ll give back to you—if any of ya are plannin’ rebellin’!

I recoiled at his considerable oratory. Though articulate for a slave, it was both barbaric and pointed invective.

‘I suppose ya’ll want fine clothes and Sunday afternoons to drink rum and feast on roast?’

The black dog-driver, whose slight hump didn’t stop him from swinging his arms like a black knight with a sword, jumps and grabs a well-dressed woman from the slave choir gallery. Before she could run off, he pulls her back with a crafty use of his whip. He wielded the thing like a sailor throwing a lead line, and with as much accuracy.

‘Eve yer name? Well, let me be your Adam, and we’ll taste the sweet apple from yer forbidden tree together!’ Kaliban laughed indulgently, grabbing her by the petticoat then yanking her blouse strings apart to expose her tan, sweaty breasts. ‘I’m surprised. The Governa hasn’t populated da island with da fruit of your womb. Has he had honey from yer pot darlin’? —Ya can free yer people from my wrath with a little payment on da side. Den I’ll send ya back to your white god of protection.’

He twirled her, then cradled her back in his arms, leaning over and attempting at kissing her breasts. She impulsively slapped his face, but it did not faze him one bit. He only laughed harder and said quietly: ‘In da garden wit’ me, after Howe leaves or I’ll banish ya from Paradize.’

The driver cracked his whip at the face of a strong Negro field slave who tried to interrupt his degrading passions with a lunge. He could only reel backward from a cut the whip made on his cheek, leaving an ugly gash.

‘Ya’ll pay Billy Job! Tomorrow in the manure pit wit’ ya—and no water ta drink.

D’ye all stand righteous before your God of Freedom?’

Kaliban seemed prone to speeches. Strange—his name was the same as that deformed seed of the witch Sycorax in The Tempest. What was this? A parody; a bedeviled opera; a perverted play within a play? Was I having feverish nightmares again? I pinched myself. Perhaps Shakespeare was inscribing from his tomb—by the agency of Ariel.

‘Does he leaven your burthens with good foo’ an’ fine clothes?’ Kaliban went on with his oratory.

‘No! He grinds salt in ya wounds; while ye chaunt hymns of indulgence to his Hola Emptaness. ‘He’s a white god made by yer mastas ta keep ya conquered.

Ya’ll get what ya need from da only master ye serve. Work! And, ye’ll be attended ta. You want ta rouse yer passions: Then rebel. See how ya’ll pay!

Rememba, der’s nowhere to hide on dis island, if ya can’t all fit under dat crazy old Admiral’s cloak. Hi’s got ta deliver a crop and account for every penny ta Englin’. Ya can’t all be house slaves. Now get back ta work da mill.’

I tried to back off, hiding in the crowd of field slaves, heading toward Cork’s direction on the road. I thought how my actions were quickly revolting me. Which was worse for these slaves, my discovery, or letting that driver do what he probably does in perpetuity?

It was necessary to blend in the back and keep my head down if I was to remain undiscovered. If I could head around the bend, but when I saw he wouldn’t let go of the girl Eve, I questioned my actions as lacking valor. This woman, slave or not, needed defending.

Without further thinking, I found myself surging toward her. I grabbed the end of Kaliban’s whip, pulling mightily and somehow it came loose from his grip. I noticed misshapen hands and bent fingers from his everlasting grip. I stood holding the driver’s whip.

In such a predicament, I had no recourse but to use it. By instinct, I snapped it in Kaliban’s direction and by beginner’s luck, it swirled sideways and wrapped around his neck in a perfect tether.

My feet flew out from under me. I was airborne. A thud rocked me and I tasted earth. I gasped over and again, the wind knocked out of my breast, as I struggled to breathe, my chest pumping like a bellows. A hot gush in my mouth, swallowed, left a tinny taste. I groaned, spit dirt, and yelled ‘Hey’! Something was dragging me backward with rapidity towards the road for several yards, before ending face down in the dust; clear of the crowd.

‘What have we caught? A rare fish indeed—dressed in European clothes, a canvas shawl, and smudge on his face. A spy! Fostering rebellion, are ye? Willoughby send you to ensure obedience to his ‘holy’ decrees? Answer whoever you be!’ The planter faced me squarely with his vehemence.

‘Master Howe…’ said Kaliban with calm deference.

‘Master nothing! You know not your master. The whip is your master, and you’ll learn both ends if it.’ The planter cracked his whip in the direction of Kaliban.

‘Master, I enforced your order and was going…’

My order! My order was that they should not hath been found here at all—if you weren’t sleeping due to yer indulgence.’

‘I did as ye speak—Was setting them to task when you rode—’

‘Had ye done as I speak, they would have never left the yard. They’ll be no fraternizing with that Pagan Governor’s whores. They’re gonna get the notion they’re free—remember ye can be sold for a price. Or I’ll set you in the fields and give command to another—Billy Job perhaps. I would lash you for the trouble you’ve caused.’

The vicious planter dug into his horse’s flank with his boot heels and the mount jolted forward, while the leather noose around my leg ripped my legging, burned my flesh and my body tightened. Stretched tight as on a torture rack, I winced in pain; the bully dragged me on my stomach, (all happening rather quickly in succession). Another whip—or perhaps I heard a whoosh of a zinging rope (a horses halter to be exact) supplanting this tool of the trade, whistling through the air. Suddenly I was free of the tension. Rolling over on my back, a white mare rose up proudly on her hindquarters, nostrils flaring, teeth showing, neighing menacingly, a rope emanated taut from behind her tossing mane. Its origin, I could not notice, but there was fire in her eyes.

Taken aback, an image burned upon my memory of a bold beauty emerging from behind the mare’s mane, twisted sienna locks twirling in the air. These blazing strands were adorned with beads and gleaming in gold braid ends. She was dressed in a tight leather riding-suite with knee-high boots of black; her horse her equal, a pure white mount of exceptional stature, prancing in powerful, obviously trained steps.

She fired the rope off with the accuracy of a superb horseman, finding its mark. This bold ‘femme fatal’ gave it one sharp jerk, dismounting the planter by the neck and sending him toppling to land in a mud trough near the track. No doubt, there would be hell to pay!

Nevertheless, she confidently rode up to where he lay and calmly spit to his side with obvious contempt. He groaned something about his back, while with an upward flick of her wrist, she snapped the rope off his head and withdrew it. Without a word, a Negro (of the Governor’s House) picked up Howe’s whip, while another grabbed the stunned driver’s and tossed both to my mysterious heroine. I thought here’s one fit to fill a Grecian myth. Her beauty equal to that of an Athena, a stunning equal to any Apollo, but for one changed fact: she was a light skinned Negro. A mulatto no doubt, and a Barbadian beauty!


Excerpt

EXCERPT 1: from beginning of novel

All summer and now fall; my feet seemed like a ‘perpetual motion machine’.

Sedwick hit a particularly rough patch, while turning onto Kensington Road. Some ink spilled, foolish of me to ever attempt composition. An incessant rhythm of clattering wheels against the intolerably spaced washboard effect was forming—against my will—a ‘perpetuem mobile’ on the chord c-minor. I tried to ignore the wheeling refrain. Like some demonic machine for the stage, with chattering, ever-cranking pulley, it ground out a treading bass to the beat of hooves.

A solo took flight above. Yes! I snatched a quill, and a slim, corked-bottle from my satchel. Scrawling feverishly between jolts…alas, lost in a mess of blobs—Sedwick hit a pothole, I hit the ceiling, receiving a considerable knock, my butt landing rudely with a thud. I leaned out the open window:

‘Sedwick! I wish to get there with spare time, but I should like to arrive…’ (I paused one beat to phrase), ‘with all my appendages intact!’

‘Sorry Sir; nothing I can do. Last week’s storm, remember?’

I gave my new pocket watch another furtive glance—the cheat was ruling every hour of my day! We tore along, negotiating a series of ‘s’ turns, my foot tapping incessantly. An infatuated beat, reminding me of my ‘Devil’s Masque,’ a new opera I was toying with. Another peek at my watch; perhaps I am the possessed devil to that spinning tune revolving in my mind like a miller’s wheel in a stream, it was in a sinister way, pleasant grinding.

‘You’re the tempest as of late—and pity your family.’ Strange, tempest means storm and tumult; I poured a minute amount of tea into a teacup Sedwick had brought. It chattered convulsively, rocking perilously on the bench, the tea forming agitated rings of little wavelets…





Professional Reviews

FROM THE REVIEW ON AMAZON:
Reviewed by . Aberjhani 12/11/2007

It is a rare case when an author can combine pure musical grace with informed historical perspective to create the kind of superb literary art that Michael A. Guy does in "The Last Renaissance Man." If, however, any explanations are required, one need only consider that in addition to being a novelist with a keen eye for literary style and historical revision, Guy is also the composer and musician behind the extraordinary jazz/new age CD "August Ocean Overture." In addition, he is a gifted poet with an ear for capturing nuanced moments that gently lead readers by their hearts and souls deep inside his words.

Combine those elements with his apparent passion for the life and art of 17th century Baroque composer Henry Purcell, the model for the genius of a hero, "Sir Henry," in his novel, and you have everything you need for one highly original, spellbinding, historical fantasy read. "The Last Renaissance Man" may have been inspired by Purcell's life as well as by Guy's reading of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," but the high-seas adventure and quest for sanity and inspiration on which the author takes his hero makes this novel completely one of his own marvelous invention. The result is that one writer's great creative passion becomes for many a source of great reading pleasure.

by Aberjhani
author of "The Bridge of Silver Wings"
and "Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance" (Facts on File Library of American History)


(7/13/2006)GREAT COVER! Took a chance
Reviewer: bkristopher from Bermuda
GREAT COVER! Took a chance, and it took a while to get but its not bad and definitely an ENGLISH read. Is this "Guy" an English "American"? The beginning's a bit theatrical, but since I'm English I enjoyed it and do know who Purcell is (the model for his main character). The Shakespeare references are appropriate but getting to the main story takes time. It's interesting history along the way. Everything from the great Renaissance inventors and scientists, to an extensive excerpt from Daniel Defoe's "Journal of the Plague Year" about the Great Black Death of London 1665-66. He lets dialogue do the talking. If you don't know any of Purcell's operas, the first chapter brings the composer to life. The plot thickens a bit from chapter 6 on, but overall it's not a plot heavy book. Chapter seven: "St. Michael's Flower" is set in old rural England. It's like a combo horror storm scene with a Fly-fishing misadventure (complete with quotes from Izaak Walton's 'The Compleat Angler'). The main character ends with amnesia after being struck by lightning while getting caught out fishing in the dark woods a storm overtakes him. The character of the "witch" who actually rescues him and later seduces him (she's a young good-looking witch) is fascinating and not stereotypical. From here it has him fleeing in a hallucinogenic state on a ship across the Atlantic and the parallels to Shakespeare' Tempest are obvious if you know the plot. The dramatic scene of tossing him off the ship, while lashed to a lifeboat is darkly done, complete with Biblical and Shakespearean references. Ending up in the Caribbean on Barbados the new characters that parallel The Tempest enter. He ends the book telling a very realistic Fateful Tale of Lord Willoughy's fleet sunk in a Hurricane off of Guadeloupe in 1666. Good sea action, a real 'Rum Tale'. The book ends almost in the mood of a Romance novel, with Henry parting from the brief companionship of Miranda, the Admiral's daughter, and then sets up book two--which you'll have to await to get the resolution to this Shakespeare influenced drama.Lastly, I like the use of first-person almost exclusively and the unusual form of alternating chapters, heavy in dialogue with pure narratives by his protagonist, as though he were writing or reading from his journal.The back-cover blurb says he's a composer.



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Reader Reviews for "The Last Renaissance Man: second edition"

Reviewed by ~ Holly Harbridge 12/15/2008
"The Last Renaissance Man." Michael, I just finished your book and I must say I never dreamed the book would be so well written. I simply don’t have the words to express how surprised I was. I am not half the writer you are and now you know that to be true! A very original book that is captivating, truly. Love your Characters and the way you describe the adventures in this fabulous book. I wish you much success.
Reviewed by Michael Guy 8/2/2008
A NEW EXCERPT HAS BEEN INSERTED ABOVE AS OF 8/02/08. Each month, from now until the RELEASE of BOOK 2 at the end of 2008 I will excerpt a new section of THE LAST RENAISSANCE MAN, Book 1 as an attempt to keep up interest in reading in this "exceedingly frigid, barren internet enviroment" -

The bottom line is the writing is SUBERB in this novel because I took the time with it and had it edited over 12 times. And the story isn't too shabby as historical fiction goes.
Just keep up with the excerpts and you'll see how varied the historical settings are through which this story of a "cultured man's hostile shipwreck in a savage time" plays out... Not to mention the awesome true HURRICANE based shipwreck scenes coming in BOOK 2: "The Enchanted Island"
Reviewed by Aberjhani 12/11/2007
FROM THE REVIEW ON AMAZON:

It is a rare case when an author can combine pure musical grace with informed historical perspective to create the kind of superb literary art that Michael A. Guy does in "The Last Renaissance Man." If, however, any explanations are required, one need only consider that in addition to being a novelist with a keen eye for literary style and historical revision, Guy is also the composer and musician behind the extraordinary jazz/new age CD "August Ocean Overture." In addition, he is a gifted poet with an ear for capturing nuanced moments that gently lead readers by their hearts and souls deep inside his words.

Combine those elements with his apparent passion for the life and art of 17th century Baroque composer Henry Purcell, the model for the genius of a hero, "Sir Henry," in his novel, and you have everything you need for one highly original, spellbinding, historical fantasy read. "The Last Renaissance Man" may have been inspired by Purcell's life as well as by Guy's reading of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," but the high-seas adventure and quest for sanity and inspiration on which the author takes his hero makes this novel completely one of his own marvelous invention. The result is that one writer's great creative passion becomes for many a source of great reading pleasure.

by Aberjhani
author of "The Bridge of Silver Wings"
and "Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance" (Facts on File Library of American History)
Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G 8/21/2007
Our book sounds mysterious and I have so many still to read~! Darn...

but, your music, I love JazzandBlues, it's the way to my Inner soul~! EVER see???? CROSSROADS, believe me, you will want to MIKE... It's an Oldie and Super Goodie, I won't give you no clues, but the music and the movie will speak to your soul, I had to buy it again, Got it on Amazon.com - Check it out - and let me know, if you did OK...
How do I get your music and not just a book???

STay POsitive!
STay SAFE!
Warmly, Warrior Purple Lady Sheeeoox
Live Life - Live Love!

Reviewed by Larry Lounsbury 8/16/2007
I like the mystery you blend into this story. There are so many mysteries in this world to explore.



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