SOME REVIEWS for
I spent yesterday afternoon reading Tablecloth Nights! I loved it’s emotionally charged pages filled with truth and candor. It was raw at times, heart wrenching most of the time.....a page turner.
I finished your book last night and enjoyed and appreciated it thoroughly. I could relate to so many of the stories about growing up Irish in Queens. Many of the comments made, particularly by your mother, were heard in my own home. Must be in the Irish genes! My heart went out to you as you spent
so many years finding your own truth.
What a roller coaster ride you took me on in this book. I breathed a sigh of relief when you finally got to Woodstock and found your people. My heart felt heavy more than once in reading your story. But I always sensed your resilience and your spirit and your sense of humor through it all. It's a love story to your father, to your family, and ultimately to yourself. It's told with compassion and understanding, even to people who've done you wrong.
The pages are captivating, funny, sad, heartbreaking, and really raw!
This book forced me to focus on the beauty of a life that has been lived and lived fully. Finding strength and levity in these stories allowed me to leave my own body, to inhabit another, to experience the intricacies of a life that I can never fully understand, and ultimately to sympathize and integrate those experiences and lessons into my person. That is what reading is all about and that is why I loved this book.
Excerpt from Chapter 4
"Shining Shoes and Hula Hoops"
At Christmas time Daddy brought the tree home, struggling up the front steps and dragging it into the living room of our apartment, saying grimly from the side of his mouth, "I'll have to cut off the bottom to get it to fit." Mother liked a big tree.
Later: The final touch was the tinsel, those glittery, fragile, slightly bent strands tenderly swathed in layers of wrinkled and re-used tissue paper. If the strands were crinkled from being in storage, Daddy would get out the ironing board and iron them. With the tinsel ready to hang, we held the slippery strands over our small hands, resting in the crook next to the thumb, as we were told. One by one, we placed them on the tree, as Dad pointed, "Here. Now here. More to the edge. Not here, over here. No, over there, yeah, up there. Be careful. One, I said, just one, one at a time."
When Daddy finally left the room, saying,"you're on your own for a bit monkeys," we took aim and threw three or more strands at a time on the tree, then fistfuls up towards the back of the tree, where he might not see them. That was the fun part. We were tense with nervous excitement at whether we'd be found out when he returned. When he came back he spied the dangling clumps right away. "Which one of you monkeys did this?" "We don't know" we squealed with giddy triumph. "Okay, I give up, go get your Mother to come and see the tree."
Maybe the whole tinsel thing was really a game that we didn't see, a game that he played along with, every year.
SYNOPSIS, TABLECLOTH NIGHTS, A MEMOIR
A core of resiliency, a touch of humor, and a backwards glance into family relationships, follow Kathleen from Queens, NY, in a family fueled by too much alcohol and too little love. Early marriage, divorce, another relationship, motherhood, and several chaotic years later, she gains her independence.
She moves to the Catskills, adapting a new persona and a more relaxed way of life. With time to reflect, Fern confronts her nagging suspicions about Uncle John, a Catholic priest, and an important part of her childhood. Pursuing answers to questions about the past, she discovers a secret that has been hidden for decades. With the knowledge comes validation and an unexpected bonus.
Kathleen Fern Suess was born and raised in Queens, New York, the youngest of four girls, and spent summers on Long Island. She raised her two children in Northwestern NJ, freelanced for a local newspaper, then moved upstate to the Hudson Valley. She founded a poetry group, publishing two chapbooks, while painting and working for a non-profit arts organization. She began writing her memoir after an unexpected family revelation.
She takes photos wherever she goes, likes to write in the local coffee shop (pre-pandemic), has made fourteen quilts, installation art, and mixed media collages. She is an avid reader of a wide spectrum of genres, including memoirs, Irish authors, first time novelists, and Stephen King. She is currently working on a cozy mystery novel that takes place in an historic small town in the Catskills.