PUBLISHED IN: 2015.
THE AUTHOR: Steve Bargdill.
THE EDITOR: Steve Bargdill and sometimes Mary Bargdill (my wife) when I can cajole her into it.
THE PUBLISHER: Silver Road Press. This is really me in disguise and the brain child of my wife to make my indie books look more professional. The name comes from us moving across the country so many times. We know I-80 like the backs of our hands, always searching for that silver lining and actually finding it too. One day, the dream is to publish other authors under the name and actually become legitimate.
SUMMARY: Christmas Carol Madison lives in a van and is bipolar schizophrenic. She’s in love with her coworker and decides maybe he’s worth getting her life together. She takes her medication. She visits regularly with her probation officer and therapist alike. Carol’s new path suggests normality and hope, a college degree, a career, a family. But when she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane: her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she is to live her life.
“These nights are very dark. I hear all the sounds. My heart beat, the blood pulsing through my wrists. It is like the hollow echo broadcast from the rings of Saturn, empty and urging and crying out for someone to listen.”
THE BACK STORY: “Initially, I had my doubts about Banana Sandwich as a viable story. I wasn’t sure if I could pull Carol’s voice off through the length of an entire novel; never mind she talked incessantly inside my head.
“This novel was very different for me to write than anything else I had written before. I meticulous plan everything. Carol was complete seat of mky pants, waking up in the middle of the night to write down a phrase or two. Additionally, I have no first-hand experience with bipolarism, homelessness, schizophrenia, anorexia or domestic violence. I’ve known people that have had issues, though, and I really wanted to speak to those specific issues.
WHY THIS TITLE? “Delivering pizzas in Laramie, Wyoming, where the city is dark and no one puts on their house lights when they get deliveries for anything, and you are running up and down the street squinting at house numbers that are only half there. It’s a welcome sight when a customer comes running out of her house waving her arms and shouting, “I’m over here!” I get out of the car, pizza in hand. And she says, ‘Man, your job must be banana sandwich.’ And I was like, ‘what?’
“I’d never heard that phrase before. I thought what a great title that would make for a book so I wrote it down, and there it sat for a couple of months. And then Christmas Carol Madison came along.”
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Banana Sandwich doesn’t offer solutions, neither does it preach. The writing of it was a way for me to understand the issues and disorders I’ve seen dear friends of mine struggle with; it was a way to wrap my brain around stiff I didn’t fully understand — still don’t fully understand. Hopefully, the book is doing some good, and the initial reviews have been affirmative in that direction.
“This story could very well be a real-life story.” — Martha E. Weatherell.
“Amazing, breathtaking and hopefully up-and-coming.” — Andrea J. Wildes.
“Most of the novel is … like Kafka’s Metamorphosis in Reverse.” — Ethan Cooper.
AUTHOR PROFILE: “Originally, I’m from this little town: New Knoxville, Ohio. No one knows where it is. Because, you know, I mean small. My graduating class was eighteen people, and one was an exchange student. The next biggest town was St. Marys, and that town you may have actually heard of because it made the NPR news two summer ago. Pollution problem with the lake. It’s killed dogs. Sent people, who thought it was okay to go swimming, to the hospital. I mean, back in the day, I’d start a fire in one of the shelter houses out by the lake, and sit there through the night listening to the water against the rocks, the crackle of the driftwood I had gathered for the fire—I mean, we’d all do that.
“And now, we went home this past summer to visit family, and we drove past the lake to look at it — or, rather, to smell it. Because … well, it’s bad.
“I have no idea why I became a writer. I have always written stories. I can’t remember a time I didn’t write. My wife tells this story about me, about us in Nebraska. We were living in a really crappy apartment. It was always cold, we were so incredibly poor, had a baby that was just a few months old, and we had the computer in the basement, and my wife tells me she remembers me down there typing away wearing a coat and fingerless gloves. I don’t remember that.
“I mean, I remember splitting a McDonald’s Big Breakfast between the three of us, my wife selling blood for money, pawning our wedding rings almost on a weekly basis, freelancing for three newspapers, working all the time. There was a meatpacking place I worked at — I’d push the cow carcasses off the trucks and into a refrigerated warehouse for processing. That stuff I remember, like dragging my daughter to an interview for a piece I was doing for one of the newspapers, and I had to take her because my wife was at work and I couldn’t afford a babysitter.
“Writing is just something I’ve always done.”
AUTHOR COMMENTS: “As it says on the book description on Amazon, my five minute elevator pitch for Banana Sandwich has always been that it’s a book about a bipolar pizza delivery driver who lives in her van down by the river, and the line does indeed get laughs. I think giving that throw-away elevator pitch was a way for me to cope with the realities of what I was writing. Sure, the book is funny because you *can’t* order a pizza by banana phone, but you can’t just *choose* to be not affected by these—I don’t know what to call them. Disorders? That word seems so disabling, and there are some really high functioning bipolar people out there—Sherman Alexie, for example. But then, there’s that term: high functioning.”
You can’t order a pizza by banana phone. It can’t be done. Pick up any banana and put it to your ear and you get dial tone. Simple as that. Just doesn’t work. Now if you want to call Jupiter, a banana phone is your ticket. I knew a guy once who lined his hat with aluminum foil to stop the outer space transmissions from reaching his brain. Which is just crap. Everyone knows aluminum foil isn’t going to do the trick. You got to use something like Adamantium, which you can’t use anyway because it’s a made-up comic book metal bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton. Which brings me back to the banana phone, because Wolverine kind of looks like a banana if you think about it. I mean, his costume is yellow, right? And bananas are yellow, except for when they over-ripen. Then, they are black. And the only thing aluminum foil is going to block are the government transmissions—and those are boring anyway. They tell you to do stuff like mow the lawn, wash dishes, buy more stuff, rinse your mouth with fluoride fortified mouthwash. It’s the outer space transmissions that are interesting. Once, I received instructions on how to build a warp drive for my van. And the line of work I’m in, that comes in real handy.
I used to work for this upscale pizza shop. They tried to be all fancy with artichoke and broccoli toppings. Those whole wheat and gluten free crusts. I quit because they always gave me crap about my piercings. Or maybe I was fired. Yeah, that’s how it really went down. I was fired. So I went to work for this other pizza shop, but we don’t do much except sit on the store steps smoking blunts and ordering delivery from Domino’s. Jordan brought in a bunch of bananas one night too. He picked one up and put it to his ear and tried to order Domino’s. But like I said, it can’t be done because all you get is dial tone. What is truly annoying is when you go to the Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, and you’re going through the produce section. Inevitably, there is that person wearing a bath towel as a dress and still in hair curlers, his butt crack hanging out like clothes on a line. They have that whole display stand of bananas. Normally, the bananas are still green. Those don’t work. The yellow ones work fine, and when five or six bunches of yellow bananas all start ringing at the same time, you don’t know which one to answer first. Sometimes, I put a banana to each ear and carry on a couple of conversations at one time, which is easier to do than you might think.
This is how it all started too. I was in the Wal-Mart examining cumquats because who the heck buys cumquats? Why does the Wal-Mart even have cumquats? It’s the Nineties, and I don’t know anyone who eats cumquats except total health nut freaks. I’m certainly not a health nut freak. Give me a good juicy medium rare steak any day. Baked potato with cheddar cheese, chives, and tons of sour cream: that is a meal. Not some deformed looking orange. I’m standing in the middle of the Wal-Mart produce section examining the cumquats, but in actual reality, I avoid as much eye contact with the guy wearing the towel. Then the bananas started ringing. I looked around searching for a hidden camera. I remember that show by Peter Funt in the Eighties, Candid Camera. I asked the towel-dress guy if he heard the bananas ringing. He didn’t say anything to me. I asked again and he said ‘No.’
I heard them. All of them. I didn’t know which one to pick up. I answered one, because what are you going to do, right? ‘Hello,’ I said, and they all stopped ringing.
‘Carol? This is Jupiter.’
I think maybe Jordan was teasing me when he tried to order Domino’s from a banana phone. I like Jordan like chocolate syrup on vanilla ice cream, but sometimes, he can be an ass.
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