The Rooms I Will Not Enter

by Robert Scott Leyse

Estella was always lively and playful of spirit. Even when exhausted following a lengthy shift as a cocktail waitress her sweetness of disposition would glow upon her face, pervade the tone of her presence, and lend charm to her movements. We lived in a turn of the twentieth century two-story house, located in a small town on the northern California coast. I’d been gifted with the deed to the house, fully paid for, by an aunt who’d remarried and relocated to Spain. I worked as a bartender at the hotel where Estella worked, the only one in town. Between us we easily managed to cover the property taxes and sundry expenses involved in maintaining the house, as well as live quite comfortably. Before meeting Estella at the hotel upon my arrival in town, I’d intended to sell the house and use the proceeds to establish myself in Manhattan. But I’d fallen in love with her instead—the proverbial love at first sight—and chosen to keep the house and remain in town when she more than indicated she returned my affection. As soon as I met Estella Manhattan no longer had anything to offer.

Estella was tall—nearly six feet—and had a cheerful head of light brown hair, verging on red. She was slender, with a hint of voluptuousness. She seemed to have stepped from a movie made in the nineteen forties; her hair was styled that way and the close-fitting knee-length skirts and plunging V-neck sweaters that she frequently wore suggested the same. She was innately graceful, like a cat. In all the pictures I have of her there is the same flawless poise, impossible to put a finger on; even in those where she’s intentionally being silly—making faces, striking comical poses—it is there: a tone of beautiful otherness, being of the earth but somehow also elsewhere. But what was most striking was the beauty of her face. “There is nothing breathtakingly beautiful that lacks an element of strangeness in its composition,” says Poe (either with those words or words similar to them) and Estella’s face was a prime example. Think Garbo or Dietrich: Estella’s face easily bore comparison. A slight suggestion of the masculine, but indisputably feminine, with depths of emotion as beckoning and teasingly familiar as they were distant and elusive of definition. A face that I caressed and kissed—oh!—when sweet Estella was among the living and cuddled up to me each night in bed!

For my darling Estella is no longer of this earth: a month ago she passed into the next world. She became noticeably ill early last autumn; cancer was the diagnosis; it had already spread throughout her body and there was no hope. I’ll forgo describing the devastation of this discovery. I’ll likewise forgo describing the hospice program I set up in this house and the naïve hopes I entertained that she’d recover and we’d be happy again. Nor will I dwell upon the days and nights spent languishing at her side as she lay in bed. Estella died five weeks after the arrival of the new year, in February, six days after her twenty-eighth birthday.

Seventy-two hours previous to her death Estella was still able to sit upright in bed and speak of happier times and smile and, even, laugh. (She never pitied herself; never succumbed to despair; never cried: such things were for me, sentenced to a longer life, to do.) She died on a Thursday night following nearly a day of delirious ramblings in English and German, the latter being her native tongue. She died in my arms, I vainly continuing to speak to her after the light had departed from her eyes. I had to be pulled from her body by two nurses so that the funeral home director could place her on the stretcher and wheel her from the house.

But I’ll forgo further description of that ghastly night. Nor will I linger upon the wake, when I was staring disbelieving at her empty shell of a body—unable to believe her eyes would never open again, that their beneficent light would never shine upon me again. Estella is dead and has been buried. I no longer work as a bartender or socialize and am alone in the house, subsisting on money saved. I’ll be putting the house up for sale and shall depart this town, never to return. But I’m unable to leave just yet. I need to confront, and endure, what has happened to us. I need to mourn here. I will know when it is time to leave.

Estella is dead and the house has changed. Formerly, all of its rooms dispensed cheer and were a delight to be in. Now, many of the rooms have declared themselves off-limits, on account of the searing memories of lost joy they conjure forth. If I venture to enter these rooms, the adverse reaction is physical as well as mental: I shiver and shudder and shake, as if I’m stark naked outside on a frigid winter’s night; my breath becomes short, seems on the point of deserting me; my heart pounds so furiously I begin to fear it might cease beating. I dash from these rooms as if from the flames of a conflagration.

In particular, our bedroom is impossible to enter. I have attempted it several times, in order to gather mementos of our life together and pack them for shipment elsewhere. The moment I step into our bedroom, dark veils appear and commence to twist and wind about. In vain do I stare at the floor, seek to limit my field of vision and ignore the dark veils: they only surround me in greater profusion and press closer. Although the room is well-illuminated by the bright lights I turn on and cheerfully decorated in bright colors, the air acquires dim depths from which gloom emanates and overspreads every detail—I’m suddenly observing everything through a thick pane of translucent gray glass. And then comes the empty feeling in my breast, as if I’m falling into a chasm within myself—a sense of loss and longing so strong it’s as if knives are twisting in my nerves while they’re being ground into a sputtering mass of dying sparks. The dark veils begin to hiss and brush against me; it’s as if they’re enwrapping and squeezing every sinew of my body; every inch of my skin seems to catch fire; I feel as if I’m screaming, even though no sound escapes from my throat. So far, I’ve been chased from our bedroom before obtaining a single memento.

The house has divided itself into areas that I’m allowed to be in and areas that I’m not. The first floor, with the exception of the add-on room that replaced the front porch, belongs to me—which is to say, I’m permitted to dwell in the kitchen, dining room, living room, and downstairs bathroom without suffering unendurable attacks of grief. The second floor is far more problematic: I’m permitted to walk the hallway and enter one room only, the guest bedroom with the balcony that faces the sea. I don’t dare to so much as glance at the closed doors of the other two bedrooms and upstairs bathroom: it’s only by rapidly striding by them, doing my best to pretend they’re not there, that I escape hints of what I’ll suffer if I enter them.

Allow me to describe the routine that’s been imposed upon me by my loss of Estella. I awaken at onset of dusk in the upstairs guest bedroom with dread tearing at my chest; it’s as if there’s an empty space in my body and psyche that I must fill. The first thing I do after being literally jolted from the bed by fear is switch on music and turn it up loud—the music gives my attention something to wrap itself around and thereby lessens, although by no means disperses, my dread; next I turn on every lamp in my areas of the house, both upstairs and downstairs, so as to eliminate all trace of darkness, even the shadows lurking in the corners; then I eat and shower in a mechanical manner without any noticeable enjoyment, simply because I realize these tasks are essential to maintain health and hygiene; lastly, I brew a cup of tea and return to the guest bedroom, where I stand before the easel I’ve placed in the center of the floor, with the brightest of the lights directly above my head, and resume working on a painting as the music continues to blare. I’ve never been as focused on my art as I am now, nor produced higher quality work. I take credit neither for my unwavering discipline nor for my newfound way with the brush: I simply have no choice in the matter—it’s the only activity that keeps my pain at bay. I work on the painting because I must do so, and wield the brush with greater skill because I must do so: while painting it’s as if I’m racing to stay one step ahead of unbearable memories of Estella’s last days, and awareness of the general blackness of my life.

My painting is of the scene before me, the room I’m in and open balcony door I’m facing—the bright light of the room gives way to the view of the night sky outside the door. It could be a doorway on death, but there’s also much of hope in the painting: stars crowd the sky—the world outside is as beautiful as it is potentially threatening. I feel the open balcony door is more of a window on wonder and mystery than a window on darkness and danger. The comforts of home are no longer comforting, and the starry night beckons—new unknown experiences beckon. Estella would want me to have these experiences, live my life in wonder while never forgetting her. As mentioned, I’ve never painted in this manner before, where I’m convinced it’s necessary to the maintenance of my sanity, the only means by which to remain relatively balanced. The open door also allows the sea breeze to flow about the room in steady rhythm, as of breaking waves, and the heat is turned on high: hot and cold air clashes and combines on all sides of me—cold will be hugging my legs while heat is streaming over my back and then the two will trade places: while painting I’m physically engaged with the world outside the door from head to toe.

As long as I’m standing before the easel, conjuring form and harmony into being with colors and lines, recollections of Estella politely approach and remain at a bearable distance; she somehow keeps me company instead of reminding me of the loss of her company; an unbroken stream of emotion-charged pictures of our life together somehow comforts me instead of stinging me. I paint all night until about noon the following day, only pausing to eat, brew fresh cups of tea, and visit the bathroom and these tasks are performed as quickly as possible—pausing from painting is dangerous, from an attacked-by-grief perspective. Even when I need to mix more paint and am no longer actively involved with the canvas the memories become more insistent and dark and threaten to overtake and paralyze me. When I complete one painting I begin another—always the same scene, with a slightly different tone to it. And I work on more than one painting at a time—others are of dawn breaking outside the open door, or of full daylight outside the door, depending on the hour. I feel the theme I’m absorbed in—the tension between security and mystery: the uncertainty of security and the lure of mystery—is inexhaustible. When I lie down to sleep for five or six hours in the afternoon, after painting all night and morning, it’s as if the empty space in my body and psyche has been filled, for the time being. When I reawaken in the evening the emptiness is there again and I must begin the cycle anew.

Unfortunately, the above-described routine doesn’t always hold itself together and stay within its allotted hours, due to the fact I often become too wound up from painting to be able to sleep. It’s then that I’m in trouble: too frazzled to paint satisfactorily and too aflame inside to sleep, I’m left with no refuge and become easy prey for the grief I’ve been holding at bay. It doesn’t take long for icy realization that my darling Estella is gone forever to grind at my nerves, smother my thoughts with gloom, and grip my chest in a vise of dread. The dimensions of the guest bedroom become oppressively small and I flee to the largest room in the house, the living room downstairs. I end up curled up on the floor, unseeingly staring into the blindingly bright air, breathing erratically, and half-wishing for death. It’s when I’m emotionally stranded in this manner, with no place to go that offers any amount of relief and in desperate need of something to preoccupy myself, that I make bold to enter the rooms which have declared themselves off limits. I do not do so on account of a wish to make my torments greater; I do so because I feel my torments cannot possibly be greater and I’ve nothing to lose; I do so because it’s a means of squarely facing off with my sorrow, continuing to hope my sorrow will subside. Mostly, I do so because it’s a means of repeatedly shocking, and eventually exhausting, myself. I enter the forbidden rooms again and again, stay within them for as long as I’m able, race from one to another, never ceasing to move—I do so until I’m thoroughly spent physically, and out-and-out collapse.

Three or four days ago, after painting extremely well for nearly twenty hours, I found that my reward for such labor was inflamed nerves that wouldn’t allow me to sleep. I attempted to return to the easel and resume working, but was far too agitated to focus—the colors on the canvas were blurring and running together, vanishing in the brightness of the lights. I no longer had an outlet for the accumulated distress inside me, there was no eluding the fear nipping at my heels. The dam of my grief burst, the loss of Estella singed and stung and pummeled every cell of my body—with a cry I flung myself face-down on my bed, gave way to sobbing with my arms folded over my head. When, I wondered, would the pain subside? And would I be capable of remaining sane until it subsided? Would it ever subside? Would I emerge from the loss of Estella with my life? It was then that I resolved to enter our bedroom, with none of the usual advance mental preparation—I was neither informing myself I had nothing to lose nor that it would be beneficial to face my grief head-on: blind panic-fueled compulsion is what whipped me onto my feet and into the hallway.

I was yanking open the door to our bedroom within seconds. (It was, curiously enough, adjacent to the guest bedroom where I was permitted to paint and sleep.) No sooner did I enter, than I advanced to the foot of our bed and observed the rumpled bedspread and sheets, unchanged since Estella was moved to the hospice-provided bed in the add-on room downstairs three months before, and started as forcefully as if I’d been punched in the chest. Wheeling about on account of being unable to endure the sight of our forever-to-be-empty bed, I found myself staring straight at Estella’s nightstand, something I hadn’t dared to do since her death. Instantly, I recalled how she’d sit there applying makeup, her unclothed body resplendent in the lamplight—a sight as bliss-inspiring as any I’ll ever know; instantly, I envisioned her seated there again and took a couple steps forward as if she was actually there, my arms automatically outspreading to embrace her. Seconds later, the futility and sadness and desperation of this gesture became apparent to me—Estella was gone, never to return! Why? For the love of God, why? I screamed as this too vivid reminder of what I’d lost hammered my heart into erratic beats! I didn’t even feel I was willfully bolting from the room—it was as if I was violently shoved out of it by invisible arms: I have no idea how I managed to remain on my feet.

I don’t recall descending the stairs to the living room—what I recall is that the recollection of Estella seated at the nightstand, smilingly combing the waves of her hair, followed me there and continued to rend my heart. I could do nothing but sit in the center of the living room on the white carpet, surrounded by bright light, while shuddering forcefully enough for my teeth to chatter. It was as if I’d partaken of a drug that altered my perceptions of time and space; although I saw on the wall-clock that barely five minutes here—two minutes there—another five minutes there—had passed, it seemed as if I’d been sitting on the carpet for hours; as for my vision, it was as if I was situated inside a cylinder of thick glass, so that I couldn’t help but gaze through it regardless of which way I turned: all objects were blurry and distorted of outline and an alteration of position of my head, no matter how slight, would cause the features of the room to erratically bend and shift, reflect light like moving water. And the air of the room was as warm, humid, and clinging as that of a sauna. But what was most alarming was my inner state of affairs: steady stings, as if from thousands of hot stabbing needles, were radiating from the center of my chest towards my ankles and wrists and the top of my head, engulfing my body. It was as if I was being repeatedly flung against inner walls of blazing electricity.

No! I yelled as I sprang to my feet and began swiftly pacing in tight circles, jumping up and down, slapping at the ceiling with my palms. But this attempt to dissipate my distress via physical activity, far from being met with any success, only made matters worse by compelling me to realize the futility of such. Where could I run? Where could I hide? Short of shedding my body, there was no means of altering my predicament! How does one escape memories of a lost, desperately missed and longed for, loved one? When the love of one’s life comes calling after her demise and reminds one of joys never to be had again the entirety of existence becomes a gaping chasm into which one’s falling!

I remember I slumped to the floor like a wounded animal and rolled onto my back: I was staring at the bright stark white ceiling. And then the ceiling began to become indistinguishable from the space of air between it and myself, so that it appeared to be descending and spreading outwards and engulfing me—the light of the room brightened and the disturbance in my breast increased: I was literally being pounded into the floor by fear. And then the air was as uniformly white and blinding as a blizzard’s unbroken sheets of snow, and all depth perception vanished—suddenly the extent of the perceivable world was an amount of terror that neither my senses nor mental faculties could sustain: I blacked out.

My next recollection, following I’ve no idea how great a span of unconsciousness, is that Estella was framing my face with her fingers and gazing into my eyes with the sweet look of love I knew so well: it had been a long time since I’d deliciously trembled and surged inside in response to her touch and the benevolence in her eyes—far too long!

We were lying side by side on our bed: how heavenly to glance about our cheerful bedroom with the rose-patterned curtains, flowers overflowing the vases on the dresser, windowsill, and nightstand as the gossamer swish of Estella’s hair upon my face and neck and shoulders stirred shimmers into my nerves. Our lips joined in a kiss, tongues lovingly stroked one another in reciprocal rhythm: how starved I’d been for our kisses! How we’d always poured our souls into our kisses—communicated our abiding love with our kisses—washed away all care with our kisses—imparted an overwhelming sense of safety and security with our kisses—joined one another to the wellspring of life with our kisses!

And then we embraced: what yearnings were appeased when Estella pressed herself against me! It had been an infinity since I’d known the paradise of clasping her close, wrapping my arms and legs about her as she did the same, being awash in the rippling urgency of our love! I fell into the bottomless blitheness of her eyes as our tongues continued to caress in unison—as her hair twisted and splashed and sparkled in the light—as her thighs wrapped their satin smoothness about my waist—as she spoke to me in the soul-caressing tones of unquestioning love!

Sensations I’d once been blessed with every day reawakened within me. Again, I knew what it was to be enveloped in an all-pervasive aura of well-being; again, I was an inhabitant of a delight-inundated world; again, I was thriving in a place of endless wonder, aswirl in rapture the Gods would envy! The loving regard darting back and forth between Estella and I was strong enough to lead me to believe my very flesh was dissolving for sheer joy!

Estella and I couldn’t get enough of rejoicing in one another—the very sound of her voice was caressing every last love-deprived recess of my body, stirring my nerves into fountain-bursts of bliss. We didn’t wish to discontinue kissing and caressing one another—we wished to unite in surrender for a night without end—but, alas, we were only human and so exhaustion eventually overtook us and we slipped into sleep, cradled in the warmth of our affection...

When my eyes opened in the morning I wasn’t sure if I still dreamed or not. I knew it was morning because the rising sun was flinging glistering red-orange at the eastern window, but who’s to say it was a morning occurring in the waking state? It was the discomfort of my physical positioning—the fact my right ankle was trapped under my left thigh, aggravated by the weight of the latter—that eventually informed me I no longer dreamed. Upon sitting upright I was surprised to find that my usual greeting upon awakening—dread hammering at my chest, emptiness and loneliness and desolation tearing at me from the inside out—wasn’t there. I felt like a whole man again; for the first time since the discovery of Estella’s cancer, I relished the onset of a new day—thrilled to the flow of blood in my veins and serenity of my thoughts. Estella had paid me a visit—we’d embraced in joy, exchanged vows of undying love—so how could I not be happy?

That Estella’s visit had occurred in my dreams wasn’t something I chose to dwell upon: the all-pervasive sense of well-being I enjoyed wasn’t inclined to undermine itself with the reflection it had been acquired by means of fantasy. Estella was dead and buried, and yet she’d returned to heal—bestow very real peace of mind and body upon—me: why call her healing into question with the observation that I’d never see her again while in the waking state, or touch her with my flesh and blood hands, or hear her voice travel through real air?

Joy was upwelling within me so pronouncedly that I—again, for the first time in months—found myself eager to be outside. I went for a long walk on the beach, delighted in the sight of sunlight on the sea and sound of the waves. I rolled in the sand and was thankful for the giddy gift of life; I gazed skywards and felt my senses soar into the endless expanse of blue; I took deep breaths and stretched and dashed about, savoring the swell of fresh air in my lungs; and in the background of these sensations was the picture of Estella’s face aglow with love—her eyes brimming with the munificent light of love.

It wasn’t until I awakened on the following day after a night of undisturbed sleep that the threads of the snug emotional cocoon woven by Estella’s dream-visitation began to unravel, and I became prey to feelings of emptiness again—that grief resumed stabbing at my thoughts and flaying my nerves. All too brief had been my taste of nepenthe: the waters of Lethe receded and I was once more abandoned and inconsolable in the house I once occupied with my beloved. Estella’s dream-visitation had displaced misery with an influx of joy and made me feel complete again—loved and safe again—but now sorrow, seemingly redoubled in strength, was sweeping her beneficence aside with a vengeance. Overcome by desperation, I shouted at one point, Estella must continue to visit and love and nurture me! but I was uncertain if such would come to pass.

* * * * *

Nearly a fortnight has passed since Estella’s dream-visitation, and that brings me to my present frame of mind: now an utter stranger to what passes for pride and self-respect in the regular world, I’ve approached my aunt for a stipend to live on and been granted it and given up all plans of leaving this house—abandoned all hope of emerging from my state of mourning and becoming a socially adjusted human being again. Estella visited me once: I’m determined that she shall do so again. Yes, gone is all desire to rejoin the world outside: I only live for the moment when my anguish once more becomes acute enough to conjure Estella forth from the shadows so that I may be awestruck before the light in her eyes and live again in her embrace. I don’t care what horrors of emptiness and fear I must endure—how long I must wait: I’m remaining in this house until I’m rewarded with another night of Estella’s love.

It’s said Paradise is girded about by swords: I’ll willingly brave all manner of swords for another night with Estella—willingly enter our bedroom and watch the black veils writhe in the air and hear them hiss as my chest constricts and I labor for breath while noiselessly screaming; willingly court insomnia, encourage sensory and emotional disorientation, plumb the depths of dread, brave the limits of my sanity; willingly watch the white ceiling descend and envelop me as my nerves flare and electric needles sting me from head to toe while the din of inner tumult assails my ears. I’ll willingly do all these things, and more—multiply distress a thousandfold—in the hope that my undying love for Estella will bring her back, however incorporeally, to the land of the living and reunite me, however fleetingly, with the joy I once experienced every hour of every day.

Those who accuse me of avoiding the responsibility of reacquainting myself with society and carving out a productive future for myself—accuse me of living in an irrecoverable past, existing in a state of unreality, being nothing but an addict endlessly craving doses of bliss that prevent me from maturing emotionally and moving forward with my life—I say to them: love as I have and lose that love as I have before presuming to judge me.

It’s almost midnight—the sea-breeze is rattling the windowpanes—I’ve been awake for nearly two days. I’m unable to sleep, dread’s erupting in my breast, and the walls of the house are closing in on me. I’m going to do my best to further unhinge myself by paying our bedroom a visit: will I succeed in spending another night with Estella in life-sustaining dreams?

The Rooms I Will Not Enter
© 2006 by Robert Scott Leyse


About the Author

Robert Scott Leyse was born in San Francisco, grew up in various locales about America, lived in Paris for a spell, and now resides on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Upon arrival in Manhattan he worked as a New York cab driver on the night shift, with the aim of having wild adventures the likes of which he'd never had before and he wasn't disappointed; subsequently he acquired over a dozen years of experience in the legal field, where he was pleasantly surprised to find that additional engaging adventures, of the office politics and shenanigans variety, were to be had; presently he works in the advertising field, where he's not looking for any special adventures, having already done the office-as-playground thing and finally decided to keep work separate from fun and games. He skis in Sun Valley, Idaho, and surfs in southern California and Puerto Rico.

He is a co-founder and the editor of the erotic literary fiction and poetry webzine, Sliptongue (launched May Day, 2001); and the founder and editor of the ShatterColors Literary Review (launched May Day, 2006). His three novels are Liaisons for Laughs: Angie & Ella’s Summer of Delirium (July, 2009), Self-Murder (April, 2010), and Attraction and Repulsion (June, 2011).

More information may be found at his website, Robert Scott Leyse Online.

“Love can't fully bloom while obstacles stand in its way. Attraction and Repulsion tells the story of a pair of lovers in Paris, as they pursue love and the forces that keep them apart try even harder. A story of love in spite of all those who would end it, Robert Scott Leyse constructs a gripping story that will be hard to put down.”

Midwest Book Review (in "Small Press Bookwatch, April 2011")

“Here in the span of a few tumultuous days, in the heart of Paris, being the only theater that could stage this resplendent play on sudden love, we find a dreamed love that becomes real with quick edges, a purported ménage à trois that is not a threesome, a plotted death that is not murder, where death’s sanctuary becomes a playground, and where actors become characters and characters become actors.”

Tom Sheehan, author of Epic Cures and Brief Cases, Short Spans

“Ah, to be a young man in Paris with two lovely, liberated ladies in a very contemporary ménage à trois and with a colorful crew of international misfits for friendspicnicking gourmet-style in Montsouris Park, sneaking into Père Lachaise cemetery after dark to cavort amid a thunder storm, partying all night in the City of Light, delighting under the playful spell of Erosall of it good fun until true love and jealousy intrude, and their lives take a serious turn. Robert Scott Leyse gives us a Parisian romantic comedy with a well-earned happy ending and repartee as sparkling as the champagne. À votre santé!”

—William T. Hathaway, Rinehart Award winning author of Summer Snow and Radical Peace

“Add a love triangle and a love-hate triangle together in Paris, mix in some festive adventures and crackling dialogue, and Attraction and Repulsion is the entertaining result. Page-turning fun, love, duress, and triumph: true happiness doesn't come cheap in life, or in this novel.”

—George Fosty, ESPN featured author of Black Ice and Splendid is the Sun

“No sleep, no rest for the mind just makes the descent all the more quick. Self-Murder is the tale of a man who falls deeper and deeper into a haze of confusion, as his insomnia deprives him of sleep and he finds his only comfort in the excesses of life. As he pursues love, the strength of that emotion only spins his life out even more, and as he loses control of reality, he may do things he regrets. Self-Murder is a fascinating and excellent psychological thriller readers won't be able to put down.”

Midwest Book Review (in "Small Press Bookwatch, February 2010")

“A phantasmagoria of unbridled lust, sexual obsession, and stealth madness, Robert Scott Leyse’s Self-Murder is a dazzling indictment of desire that brims with sensory imagery and moments of exquisite verbal beauty delivered by a narrative voice that is baroque but disturbing and more than a little reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe.”

—Gary Earl Ross, author of Blackbird Rising: A Novel of the American Spirit and the Edgar Award-winning drama Matter of Intent

“Robert Scott Leyse channels Baudelaire's Queen of Spades and Jack of Hearts, speaking darkly of dead loves, in this new book. He also reminds me of James Purdy's notorious eccentricity. There's plenty of middlebrow stuff if you want it. Self-Murder isn't that.”

Kris Saknussemm, author of Zanesville and Private Midnight

“After his first novel, Liaisons For Laughs, which took Sex and the City to new heights and depths, Robert Scott Leyse's second one, Self-Murder, explores broader, deeper, and darker territories. Leyse achieves a striking stylistic gallimaufry: Proustian memories underpinning thoughts, words, and deeds; obsession treated in a way which evokes Lolita without those irritating Nabokovian curlicues; romps that Henry Miller would have enjoyed; a finale that delivers a blow to the solar plexus.”

—Barry Baldwin, Emeritus Professor of Classics, U. of Calgary, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Self-Murder is lush sensuality of language injected with menace. A vivid portrait of mental disintegration and an explosive picture-show. Hallucinations without substance-abuse. Overwrought nerves and insomnia are Self-Murders drugs of choice.”

—George Fosty, ESPN featured author of Black Ice and Splendid is the Sun

“Here is a psychological struggle and sensual breakout where you best get a comfortable seat, grab the joy stick, and hang on. This is a delicious look at the mystery of self-psychoanalysis, sensual release, acceptance of gifts of the tallest order, or the lowest. For those with wander-lust, and all the taste, touch and aroma imaginable in-between, Self-Murder is a journey to gorge the senses where the reader gets relished time and time again, as the protagonist chases himself through discovery of the basics that make the world go round.”

—Tom Sheehan, author of Epic Cures and Brief Cases, Short Spans

"This is a good/fun read I can highly recommend to readers searching for something different and don't mind entering the mind of the insane."

Allbooks Reviews

"Some friendships are bonds that can't be broken. 'Liaisons for Laughs: Angie & Ella's Summer of Delirium' tells the story of two best friends in a frank and entertaining method. A hilarious and endlessly entertaining collection of stories about the little things of life, 'Liaisons for Laughs' never stops its assault on the funny bone. A fine and entertaining novel, 'Liaisons for Laughs' is a choice pick for fiction readers."

Midwest Book Review (in "Small Press Bookwatch")

"...we absolutely love Robert Scott Leyse’s Liaisons for Laughs: Angie & Ella's Summer of Delirium. His first book release is fun, steamy, and intelligent."

Ian and Alicia Denchasy, LA Weekly

“Fun and eroticism don’t go together nearly often enough. They do in Leyse tit for tat. This is clever, humane, word-sensual writing.”

Kris Saknussemm, author of Zanesville and Private Midnight

“You can feel the humidity in your own backyard as Angie and Ella soak up the summer in New York with various paramours with their super sexy, sex-positive attitudes..”

Susan DiPlacido, author of 24/7 and House Money

“The erotic e-mails of these two libidinous heroines recount their escapades with wicked charm and droll humor..”

William T. Hathaway, author of A World Of Hurt and Summer Snow


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