Ever been a victim? Of course you have.
Of a schoolyard bully. A teacher seeking to set an example. A lousy boss who makes subordinates pay for his or her dumb ideas. A robber. A cheat. A petty thief.
We’ve all been victims. It’s life.
In the United States, our inalienable rights include the pursuit of happiness, not happiness itself. That’s for us as individuals to achieve or fail.
The great majority of us get over being a victim. Meaningful people are repulsed by the prospect of joining the whiny ranks of perpetual victim-hood, whose members indenture themselves to the more accomplished and powerful, real or imagined.
But what if?
“What if we actually had the opportunity to confront our perpetrator 30 years after the fact?” Said Robert Maniscalco. Closure? Or revenge?
Maniscalco offers an answer in his first novel, “The Fishfly.”
“My inanition in publishing this story is not to capitalize on my, or others, misfortune,” Maniscalco said. “My goal has been to express something real and true, to create something that reaches out to those who may benefit from my own experiences, real and imagined. This is the goal of the artist.”
Twenty years in the writing, Maniscalco says “Fishfly” is the most personal thing he’s created.
“It started as a compilation of unrelated stories of my past,” said Maniscalco, a multi-faceted artist who lives in and has an art gallery in the City of Grosse Pointe.
In addition to painting and writing, Maniscalco acts and hosts Art Beat on Detroit Public Television-PBS. He’s also a fan of “Star Trek,” according to frequent references to the science fiction series in his stream-of-consciousness novel.
“The novel is about someone who finally, rather than observing life, decides to live it.” Maniscalco said.
Why, after all these years, finish the book?
“I wanted to do it before my first baby came,” he said, referring to Danny, born one year ago to him and his wife, Amanda. “I figured my whole life as I knew it would change. I wanted to get the book to the publisher in advance of his being born.”
Maniscalco said publication was a long shot.
“I didn’t expect them to actually publish it,” he said. “It represents a chapter in my own life. It’s based on some autobiographical and visual material.”
The book cover is decorated with a self-portrait Maniscalco completed about 25 years ago. The painting is displayed in his gallery at 17728 Mack as part of a book-related exhibit through March. An opening reception, Images and Ideas is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 10, from 6-9 p.m.
“To find my voice as an artist, I did a number of things that are still part of me,” Maniscalco said. “I haven’t shown this work publicly in my own gallery since it was made more than 20 years ago.”
He titled the self-portrait “Deliquescence,” which means to melt from within.
It’s such a lively sounding word, but it expresses self destruction,” Maniscalco said. “It’s a serf-portrait of me back when I was 20. It sort of exemplifies what’s going on with this character self destructing.”
These are paintings I did as part of the creative process of writing the novel. “That’s why I’m having an exhibit through the end of March of this work. The work represents many early experiments of his early 20s.
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