The Phantom Glare of Day
The Phantom Glare of Day
by M. Laszlo
GENRE: Historical (Metaphysical) Fiction / Coming of Age Fiction
In this trio of novellas, three game young ladies enter into dangerous liaisons that test each one’s limits and force them to confront the most heartrending issues facing society in the early twentieth century. The Phantom Glare of Day tells of Sophie, a young lady who has lived a sheltered life and consequently has no idea how cruel public-school bullying can be. When she meets Jarvis, a young man obsessed with avenging all those students who delight in his daily debasement, she resolves to intervene before tragedy unfolds. Mouvements Perpétuels tells of Cäcilia, a young lady shunned by her birth father. She longs for the approval of an older man, so when her ice-skating instructor attempts to take advantage of her, she cannot resist. Not a month later, she realizes that she is pregnant and must decide whether or not to get an abortion. Passion Bearer tells of Manon, a young lady who falls in love with a beautiful actress after taking a post as a script girl for a film company—and is subsequently confronted with the pettiest kinds of homophobia.
London, 29 September, 1917.
In the dead of the night, Manon returned to her hotel suite and lay down in bed. Please, no more nightmares.
At dawn, she had a terrible dream.
A long, plump, phallic, pulsating Zeppelin approaches the city.
Like every other tenant, she exits Chelsea Court Hotel. Alas, as she races past one of the refuge islands rising above the thoroughfare, she trips and falls.
From all directions, meanwhile, various artillery units open fire—and the terrific cacophony of battle roars and blasts and rumbles and bawls.
As the shell-shocked crowds rush down into the neighboring tube station, a lady beggar approaches. “Stay where you are,” the wretched woman tells her. “It’d be your destiny to perish during a tribulation such as this.”
In time, a fragment of what looks to be the Zeppelin’s rudder plummets into the park not thirty feet from the place where Manon stands.
And now she looks up to find that a torrent of flames has engulfed the airship’s nose.
As the doomed Zeppelin drifts this way and that, the bittersweet-orange blaze spreads down the length of the passenger gondola.
With an awful hiss, the airship’s carcass descends toward her and then . . .
She awoke from the dream, quite certain that she must be tangled up in the gondola’s guy-ropes. Blinded by the morning light, she thrashed about.
Ultimately, she fell out of bed. How to go on living here?
At one o’clock, when she arrived at the offices of the London Moving-Pictures Company down on Coronation Avenue, she paused before the reeded-glass doors and debated whether she ought to resign her post. Why not go home to Manchester?
A dark presence rolled through the sky. Could it be a Zeppelin passing by overhead, the bomb bay slowly opening?
The darkness proved to be nothing more than a large skein of geese, but even so, she felt positively frantic—and now she continued through the door. Hopefully, the hall porter would be willing to tell Mr. Pomeroy that she had decided to back out. If so, she could be on her way before the production manager had even had a chance to protest.
About the Author:
M. Laszlo is the pseudonym of a reclusive author living in Bath, Ohio. According to rumor, he based the pen name on the name of the Paul Henreid character in Casablanca, Victor Laszlo.
M. Laszlo has lived and worked all over the world, and he has kept exhaustive journals and idea books corresponding to each location and post.
It is said that the maniacal habit began in childhood during summer vacations—when his family began renting out Robert Lowell’s family home in Castine, Maine.
The habit continued in 1985 when, as an adolescent, he spent the summer in London, England. In recent years, he revisited that journal/idea book and based his first work, The Phantom Glare of Day, on the characters, topics, and themes contained within the youthful writings. In crafting the narrative arcs, he decided to divide the work into three interrelated novellas and to set each one in the WW-I era so as to make the work as timeless as possible.
M. Laszlo has lived and worked in New York City, East Jerusalem, and several other cities around the world. While living in the Middle East, he worked for Harvard University’s Semitic Museum. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio and an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.
His next work is forthcoming from SparkPress in 2024. There are whispers that the work purports to be a genuine attempt at positing an explanation for the riddle of the universe and is based on journals and idea books made while completing his M.F.A at Sarah Lawrence College.
Q&A With the Author
Any weird things you do when you’re alone?
Sometimes I walk outside, look to the stars, and pray. Some people might find that weird.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“The facts of life are conservative.” Margaret Thatcher. It’s a beautiful quote because it’s obvious that she’s just trying to encourage people to make decisions carefully.
Who is your favorite author and why?
The haiku poets of the Shogun era would be among my favorites. Basho is one that definitely comes to mind. Not only is the art of haiku beautiful, it makes the reader think. Most important of all, the third line always suggests the immortality of the soul. This is because the first line always houses something of the eternal, and the second line always houses something ephemeral. The third line connects the two previous ones, in the same way that The Book of Shinto would have congregants believe that a soul connects an ephemeral thing to that which is everlasting.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good writing requires a balance of both structure and significant imagery. In short, proper craft and structure enhance the emotive power and emotional universality of details and signifiers.
Where did you get the idea for this book?
The Phantom Glare of Day follows from a travel diary/idea book that I kept whilst traveling through England at the age of sixteen, in the summer of 1985. Instinctively, though, it felt right to set the final draft of the novellas in the WW-I era. As such, the drafting process included the challenge of translating the Margaret-Thatcher period into the Lloyd-George period. But it was something that had to be done. When the Muse tells you to do something, resistance is futile.
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