Ogden’s Proverb
by John McCluskey
188 pages paperback
Genre: Novella, Family Drama
Price: $19.99 paperback, also available on Kindle
Publisher: New Plains Press
ISBN: 9781734571974 (ISBN10: 1734571977)
To Order: www.amazon.com
(Target and Walmart online as well)


“With All Thy Getting, Get Understanding.” What does that even mean, a teenaged Ogden Skully pondered as he tried to make sense of his new life. And his first girlfriend, his parent’s troubling influence on him, and a tragic episode at the private prep school he had been sent to without his permission, where he knew he didn’t belong, and which sported that perplexing proverb. As an older Ogden looks back at his life and discovers through these experiences, and more, exactly when and how he became the person he would always be, he realizes just what “… Get Understanding” requires.


“McCluskey, the author of A Moment of Fireflies (2020), offers a bildungsroman that, despite its relatively short length of fewer than 200 pages, is full of long, winding sentences–and some great lines. For example, Ogden wins Chole over with an unspecified comment that is, according to Ogden, “pithy, yet decidedly harebrained and proudly empty-headed.” … McCluskey peels back multiple layers of memory, revealing the not-so-privileged past that led to Ogden’s seemingly secure future. Over the course of the book, the author memorably lays bare how one can be haunted by moments years in the past even while one looks toward a bright future.
–A rich, soulful coming-of-age tale full of the wonder of first love.” ~ Kirkus Reviews


John McCluskey is a writer and photographer living in Connecticut. John had his first novel, A Moment of Fireflies, published in 2017, and has had poetry, short fiction, and photography published in numerous international literary journals and anthologies over the years, including Cradle Songs: an Anthology of Poems on Motherhood, (2013 International Book Award winner and one of 4 finalists for the NIEA). John’s poem “My Gray Child” from Cradle Songs, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, resides with Cradle Songs in the public and private collection of the Boston Public Library, and was read at a poetry reading in New Mexico by actor/writer Tony Huston. The poem appears in full in John’s poetry book published in 2019, I Will Listen If You Tell Me Who I Am.


Chloe was my first real girlfriend, meaning, unlike Nathalie, someone I might actually become an active participant with, not just the lucky recipient of keenly tossed, upper body parts. And I did become a participant. Sort of. But, to tell you the truth, everything about Chloe was and still is a blur. A lot happened between Chloe and me while at the same time absolutely nothing happened at all. In less than a year, and in no particular order, or with any discernible timeline of events available to my memory even to this day, I met Chloe; she laughed; she talked; I listened; there was a kiss (after the cemetery); it rained; I got my driver’s license; South America came to mind; my father continued to drink; I had pizza; my mother tumbled into further mystery; my heart pounded endlessly and entirely without reservation; I quite possibly fell in love; I fell out of a tree; I most assuredly fell in love (with something), and for the most part I was fully and gloriously nauseated from the time I met Chloe until the day she left, especially when it mattered most.


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