Local Author Mike DeCapite to Appear at Writers Night at Beachland Oct. 15, with Special Guests The Kidney Brothers

click to enlarge Mike DeCapite - Photo by Ted Barron
Photo by Ted Barron
Mike DeCapite
Local author and wordsmith Mike DeCapite celebrates the publication of his long-anticipated second novel, Jacket Weather, with a Special Writers Book Tour Night hosted by the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern Friday October 15th.

Joining DeCapite for this special reading are Cleveland native Adele Bertei, the poet, writer, actor, performer, singer, songwriter, and filmmaker who will be showcasing her recently reprinted memoir, Peter And The Wolves, based on her friendship and musical collaboration with Peter Laughner of the quintessential proto-punk act Rocket From The Tombs. Also on the bill is “honorary Clevelander” and writer Lucy Sante, reading from an autobiographical collection of stories.

After the readings, the writers will be signing their respective works. The night will conclude with a musical performance by The Kidney Brothers, contemporaries of Pere Ubu and best known for their work with The Numbers Band.

Former Clevelander DeCapite channeled the landscapes of Cleveland through the character of a local cab driver in his masterful first novel, Through The Windshield, about which people were buzzing long before it was released.

Jacket Weather is a novel about atonement for an electrifying past while reorienting oneself in life after middle age. The novel's narrator, Mike, crosses paths with a long-ago crush, June, and strikes up a love affair in the wake of their respective divorces. The two draw comfort in their shared past of scampering through the early New York punk scene while reinventing the possibility of a future together.

Jacket Weather covers ten years, but it collapses them so that everything that happens in one of those ten Septembers is in the September part of the book, and the same with October and so on,” divulges DeCapite. “It seems true to my experience. You remember that something happened in a particular month or season but not necessarily what year. At least when you get to be my age. Even so, there’s an arc, like the arc of the year.”

All of DeCapite’s work incorporates music, and in Jacket Weather, tracks like “You Said Something” by P.J. Harvey, “Coney Island Baby” by Lou Reed and “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart” are sewn into the narrative.

“Sometimes I find myself trying to translate a piece of music into prose,” explains DeCapite. “Some feeling or memory or quality of light that’s captured in it…There’s a Michio Kurihara guitar piece I played over and over while writing one passage. Gene Clark demos. I must have listened to “Maggie May” a hundred times, after hearing it a thousand times already in the last fifty years. There’s a Spotify playlist for Jacket Weather…I think it’s called Jacket Weather: The Playlist.”

DeCapite lived in Northeast Ohio for quite some time. Many of his experiences inspired Through The Windshield, which was written from recollections of driving a cab in the grimy Rust Belt of the 80s and 90s.

“I grew up in Euclid, and I have a long association with the Southside because I went there every Saturday when I was a kid to see my grandmother and aunt,” recalls DeCapite. "I'm not sure how Cleveland affected me as a writer. I was very aware of the changing seasons, that’s one thing. And even though I grew up in Euclid, I was in touch with the natural world in a way I wouldn’t have been if I’d grown up in New York. And I could find anything I needed in Cleveland in terms of information about the rest of the world. Great art museum; great film series; great, great library downtown, which I used to go every Saturday when I was a teenager.

"Right off the top of my head, I can think of three good bookstores that were downtown, one of which I worked at: Kay’s, on Prospect, where I met people who were hip to what was going on in New York and London at that point. And I had no trouble meeting musicians and artists and all kinds of interesting people.”

Jacket Weather is a triumph. DeCapite is a master at pulling the light from a room and running it through a strainer to unveil the inner-workings of the characters like some watchmaker tightening the gears to make the watch tick in real time. It is a love story. It is a meditation on how time speeds up. And it is a non-linear narrative that peers into the psyche of the writer — autobiographical work is one of DeCapite's signatures.

The novel may be more mature than Through The Windshield, but it is every bit as engaging as anything DeCapite has written.

“Weather and light are just part of what I’m paying attention to. They’re part of my daily experience. Our daily experience. I assume if they affect me, they affect you,” he says.

Jacket Weather will be officially for sale from Soft Skull Press as of October 12th. Peter and The Wolves was released in November of 2020, alongside a box set of Laughner’s music. Bertei’s book, Why Labelle Matters, will be published in 2021 by the University of Texas.

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