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Beautiful, sophisticated, and unpredictable, Janet Tomalin represents every fantasy Brad Carlton grew up having -- and more than a few he never realized.
When they meet on their first day of college in Athens, Georgia, the stylish New Yorker completely upends the staid Southerner's ordered universe. They fall for each other intensely and completely. It's the all-consuming passion of a natural performer and her adoring audience.
There's just one problem: Mahogany Slade, the woman from Janet's not-so-distant past... and inescapable future. Janet knows once Brad meets the dangerous Miss Slade and learns the truth, their once-in-a-lifetime love is doomed.
Mahogany Slade is the romantic yet acerbic story of young people escaping themselves in a town where your identity is everything. It's as sweet as Janet finds Brad and as irresistible as he finds her.
The area of downtown Athens spanning west to Pulaski and north to where Dougherty curves into Prince was no larger than a few square blocks, but its presence in the collective imaginations of musicians—either current, soon to be, or never will but nonetheless hopeful—and their devotees loomed larger than Sanford Stadium.
Although more traditional students, either through timidity or general lack of interest, never wandered past the Georgia Theatre, many others yearning for kinship or relevance or a little of both would descend on the stretch of Washington Street that Heather Aulds contemptuously called the “Alterna-mall”—a strip of bars, clubs, and even the requisite tattoo parlor extending from the 40 Watt and providing a convenient one-stop shop for alternative culture.
Dressed in their finest tattered clothing, they came ostensibly for the music and were welcomed if they knew someone who created it, even if the connection was as far removed as a poor family relation.
Winter was when you could witness the preening of those who had successfully molted the appearances and personas of high school over the course of Fall Quarter, and the young girl at the 40 Watt with the fresh tattoo from next door might go so far as to claim an extensive, deeply affecting (and only slightly affected) history with the band currently playing on stage (she happened to know the classmate of the roommate of the drummer) and would vehemently deny ever having cheered on the Georgia Bulldogs with anything approaching zealotry in the distant, long ago days of September.
If my recollection of this musical arcade is thorn-covered rather than rose-colored, I must confess a lingering bias stemming from Janet’s having dated a prominent member of the coterie. Scott Waldorf was rarely a subject of discussion between us, and I fought off, often unsuccessfully, any painfully vivid thoughts of scenarios involving them that were, I was certain, incomparably pleasurable for him.
And then came that Sunday afternoon at Rocky’s when she’d plucked an olive from my slice of pizza and announced, while chewing it entirely on the left side of her mouth, “I want you to come with me to the Shoebox next Wednesday.”
Scott’s band was performing, and their dreadful music and lyrics were not worth a British penny, so I hadn’t the slightest idea why Janet wanted me to go. I considered resisting again, as I had her far more appealing offer to see Damn Yankees, but I knew my reward for saying yes was seeing the half smile on her face reach its full, ecstatic potential. So I agreed, almost eagerly, and on a blustery evening with February lapping at our heels, I accompanied her to the “Alterna-mall.”
--- from Mahogany Slade, Chapter 8
"Mahogany Slade," by Stephen Robinson, is about first love, that moment when your favorite songs suddenly make sense because they're now about someone else.
Post a note on the wall of the "Mahogany Slade" Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mahoganysladebook) telling us what song or movie will always remind you of your own Mahogany Slade... even if it's been years since you met.
The author will give a copy of "Mahogany Slade" to his 10 favorite posts.
Stephen Robinson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1996. He has lived in many places but feels at home somewhere else. He’s written for newspapers and magazines. Mahogany Slade is his first work of fiction.
Author’s website: http://mahoganyslade.com/