Thursday, April 25, 2013

Author Guest Post: "A Time Apart: A Novel" by Brittany Batong {Book Barrage & Giveaway - Ends 5/10}

Book Synopsis:  

A Time Apart explores the bittersweet duality of our existence among the past and the present, through the eyes of Kara, a twenty-something art school graduate who has resigned herself to contentment in the routines of everyday family life as a commuting suburbanite.  An unexpected attraction to Jake, a slacker-colleague in her office, is further complicated when a visit to a lavish old movie palace initiates a journey into the past.  Kara and Jake inexplicably find themselves thrown into the turbulence of Los Angeles during the Great Depression.  As their stay in the year 1931 becomes prolonged and Kara and Jake are compelled to maintain a feigned marriage, Kara struggles to retain a sense of her real identity as wife and mother in the distant future, while for the first time discovering artistic fulfillment that she has never been able to achieve in her own time.  Jake and Kara also discover a surrogate family in the diverse inhabitants of a boarding house in a forgotten community of Los Angeles called Bunker Hill; and in the camaraderie of the bohemian 1930s contemporary art network of Downtown Los Angeles.  As partners in a past that is both exciting and adversarial, Jake and Kara begin to develop very real romantic feelings for one another, even as they are bound to identities in a time that does not yet exist.  A Time Apart follows two people as they discover a Los Angeles beyond their separate lives, beyond all comprehensible experience, and beyond that which is real or imagined.


“Sometimes I walk around downtown, imagining it not as this Los Angeles, but as our Los Angeles.  My mind strips away the high-rises and the mirrored glass, isolating what is left of the city that we knew, surrounding it with the familiar places we walked; supplementing the self-absorbed professionals of the Financial District (who seem to me to talk to themselves but really into their hands-free devices) with instead the department stores and proprietors of “Art Lane”, defying the assumptions of the highbrow set, making statements and movements with their thoughts and their art.  What would they think of this overly polished place their world has become?
I wander to 6th Street, seeing not the jumbled mix of cheap eateries and plain façades, but the warm bookshops burgeoning with poetry and compatriots; imagining the streets not with orange Metro buses and blue DASH buses, but instead with red and yellow cars that sail past on their cable connections, Delia reaching out to grab them, her laughter ringing in my ears.
And then I think of Jake, my mind carrying me to all the places we walked that first day.  Sometimes I retrace our steps from the Theatre District, with its treasure trove of lavish movie palaces, to Pershing Square, where my reverie allows me to push away the gaudy concrete and primary colors of a park redesign gone wrong; and instead see the trees and grass of that other Los Angeles.  My eyes continue to the grand old Biltmore Hotel, still as proud and dignified as it was and now somewhat out of place, and I smile as I think of that first night.  If only I could dream vividly enough, I could bring to life the steep incline up Olive Street to Bunker Hill and find my way home to our old Victorian, up the concrete steps and through the creaky porch, into the parlor where our friends gather, spinning records on the old Victrola while I trip on the back step as Jake tries to waltz me around the room.  My heart begins to throb in my throat and tears sting at my eyes.
But on I walk, as if it is the only way to keep those memories real.
It is when the memories are their most vivid that I chance upon a group of colleagues, who smile at me and say “hello”.  I smile back but resent this invasion, this reminder that the place we knew is no longer here.  That place, that life that we lived before us, before now, is gone forever.  I am completely alone in its dreamlike memory, my profound grief unspoken, my loss without a voice, strangled at the back of my throat, a silent cry: unutterable.”

About the Author, Brittany Batong:

Brittany Batong has been hearing and telling stories her whole life, most of them based in and around the Los Angeles area. She grew up in the idyllic coastal farm town of Ventura, California, dreaming of becoming a professional character animator. As a child, she spent countless adventures exploring Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region, where most of her extended family was based. She remembers her first experience tasting escargots as a truly religious one. As a teenager she nurtured interests in theatre, poetry, and the arts. At an early age, she developed respect for the sometimes hidden history that dwells underneath the modern facade of contemporary life. She spent four years at the internationally renowned California Institute of the Arts, studying the art of storytelling through hand-drawn animation, after which she...did nothing with her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Instead, she continued to observe interesting people and see new story opportunities working for the Cities of Los Angeles and Santa Clarita. Brittany finds that the most interesting stories lie within the hearts of people who lead lives and work in environments that are seemingly ordinary. As a graduate of CalArts, she has a unique perspective on how to tell a story in a visual sense, using words much as one would use images to tell a story.  The world she has chosen to share with her readers is one that is truly a part of her: she has spent her whole life living in and around Los Angeles County, and Kara’s struggle with artistic identity is one that is very personal.  Ever in love with local history, she enjoys working and playing in Downtown Los Angeles and uncovering its sometimes less-than-evident treasures. She developed the idea for her first novel, "A Time Apart", in her mind for seven years before fully realizing it. She currently resides in Santa Clarita, California with her husband and two sons; and is grateful for this interdependent web of existence of which we are a part.

Connect with Brittany:

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Prize is 10 eBook copies of “A Time Apart: A Novel" (1 each to 10 winners). Contest is tour-wide and ends May 10. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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* Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of CLBS Promotions and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by CLBS Promotions, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. Sweet n' Sassi is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment.  This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating read this promises to be. Yes please!!


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