Author: Peter Kelton
Book title: The Yesterlings
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publish date: March 12, 2019
Seeking adventure, Argentine dandy Balboa Brontine charms his way onto an expedition to film a remote Canadian island famed for wild horses and shipwrecks.
He persuades Paul the filmmaker to let New Orleans femme fatale Geraldine join their yacht. At sea the two men vie for her affections, Balboa bold and brazen, Paul quietly nursing his attraction. She focuses on extracting the truth from Balboa – Why is he involved? He claims he was raised by horses when his father shipwrecked and wants to breed the tough horses with his Argentinean mounts. But in deliriums he tells of a secret the island hides.
When the entangled trio shipwrecks, Balboa’s hoax and secrets surface on the island’s desolate beaches. They struggle to survive, surrounded by wild horses and the raw truth of Sable Island, figuratively a literary fiction of adventure, mystery, suspense, myth, romance and desire.
The waves broke like crystal along the crescent island, 30 miles of sand, crashing with enormous distain over the battered wreckage of La Placer Terrena, her hull split open on the sand bar and her shattered masts raised in dark surrendering silhouettes to the sky.
The lighthouse keeper, a grandson of a famous earlier keeper, Andrew Hayden, took notes. He and his family and the crew of the life-saving station, a permanent fixture set up in 1801 after hundreds of shipwrecks, routinely pulled wreck victims from the stormy seas that raked Sable Island. Hayden was a taciturn man with a wiry beard, accustomed to jotting down tales of horror from survivors. He would often hum Calvinist hymns when aiding the victims. While scribbling Balboa’s father’s last words, he nonchalantly rocked the sleeping boy with his foot in a rosewood bed, a large cradle-like affair fashioned from an earlier wreck.
“We had a small woman with us,” gurgled the dying father. “She had knowledge of equestrian things and was also an Ornithologist from my Japanese Garden in Buenos Aires. She was our nanny to Balboa. Did she survive? Her name is Haruka.”
“Yes, she is resting in the survivor’s dwelling nearby.”
Alejandro closed his eyes. His breathing grew shallow. After a few moments, Hayden leaned to listen. He heard nothing. Hayden put aside his pencil and notebook. He lifted the boy from the gently rocking bed, noting his largeness for what he assumed must be a three or four year child, and carried Balboa outside toward the survivor’s shelter. The boy struggled awake in Hayden’s arms. He squinted in the bright sunlight as Hayden slogged through the ever-drifting sands to the survivor’s dwelling, a patched shack of weathered wood.
Hayden didn’t put much store by the thinkers who came now and then to study the island’s “naturalness.” They seem to think that by studying the island one could begin to grasp the mechanisms of planetary survival, to get some feel for entropy and entropy’s children, randomness and chaos. He laughed at their frail metallic instruments — measures of disorder in a system. The visitors babbled away about the change in entropy that takes place in a specific thermodynamic process while Hayden sheltered them among the blowing dunes and raging surf.
I know from visiting with Hayden that, after 20 years on the island, he’s not about to buy the romantic view of Sable Island as a metaphor for the way the planet governs itself. “Shit,” he told me, “you got the cold Labrador Current swirling down from the north, and the warm Gulf Stream coming from the south. This pile of sand sits right here on the edge of the Continental Shelf where the currents sideswipe. Well, happy hallelujah! We got fog most of the time, hurricanes dumping all them foreign birds, god-awful currents, and its only coincidental that a few hundred ships have wrecked here.”
“And the horses?” I asked.
He stroked his grizzled chin. “They are the work of the Lord.”
Peter Kelton writes fiction when he’s between news jobs and has written for some of the world’s largest news organizations. Most of his work has been in New York. He has critiqued more than 450 novels in a national column and has written seven novels of his own in a unique erudite literary fiction style of adventure, mystery, suspense and satire. He grew up in Texas, served overseas in the US Army and returned to Europe as a foreign correspondent. He currently divides his time between his homes in St. Louis, MO and Querétaro, Mexico. He has ghost written for more than 100 clients and is a top-rated writer for the Upwork Global Inc. free-lance agency.