Beauty of the Azores inspires collection of short stories
This post is also available in: Portuguese (Portugal)
DARTMOUTH — Inspired by the beauty and magic of the Azorean archipelago, Darrell Kastin, son of an Azorean mother, wrote a collection of stories depicting the islands as he knows them, feels them, and experienced them.
“The Conjurer and Other Azorean Tales” is mostly set on the Azores, with the exception of two stories, which are set in Massachusetts and California.
The book was recently published by Tagus Press at UMass Dartmouth.
“They are mostly set in the timeframe of the 1970s and the 1980s, when I first got to know the islands, although some are in a sort of timeless setting,” stated Kastin, who lived in Faial and Pico in 1987 and 1988. “These stories cover the lives of a range of characters, some young, some old, some in between, some rich and some poor.”
Kastin was mostly writing poetry when, all of a sudden, he had an idea for a story. While driving around Faial, stopping here and there along the way, he discovered many beaches, some of which, according to him, were very difficult to get to. They were “isolated, with no roads to access them.”
“‘Eduardo’s Promise’ was the first story I wrote while living on the islands,” explained Kastin, who started a couple other stories before returning to the U.S. “The story came as it is, I saw a lonely, elderly woman wandering up and down the stretch of beach, muttering to herself, and bringing back to her home the various things that washed up on the sand: shells, rocks, a bit of driftwood and other items. It seemed real enough to me. It pretty much wrote itself.”
While the characters that inhabit these stories have been described as merging realism with magic, Kastin does not think of the stories as being magical, magical realism, or fantasy.
“Whatever elements in my stories that appear fantastical were inspired by the people I met and the things I heard or saw while living there. The stories seem no more fantastic than the Azores, or the people of the islands,” stated Kastin, who was born in Los Angeles and although his grandmother was around before moving back to the Azores, and his mother sang Fado, the author did not have a Portuguese upbringing.
“I heard a lot of Portuguese being spoken, but unfortunately I didn’t learn it as a child or young man, only when I was much older,” Kastin explained. “My grandmother would tell me stories about the islands and the family history. Also, my aunt would have us over on special occasions and there would be some Portuguese food…”
Kastin, who lives in California, has returned to the Azores several times, but admits not nearly as often as he would have
“The book represents a lot of stories and a lot of years’ work. It makes me want to go back. Writing the stories helps me feel connected with the islands,” stated Kastin. “I would like readers to feel like they’ve spent some time on the islands, gotten to know the characters there. I hope readers might look to discover other Luso-American writers, and Portuguese writers out there.”
Kastin hopes to return in May of 2013 to finish his new book, “A Tale of the Azorean Nights,” a novel told through interwoven stories and in ways a sequel to “The Undiscovered Island,” which won the 2010 IPPY Independent Publisher’s Silver Award for Multicultural Fiction.