Publisher: She Writes Press (April 21, 2015)Category: Contemporary Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Psychological
Tour date: Apr/May, 2017
Available in Print & ebook,
From the Award Winning Author: It happens without warning: At a folk-rock show at her son’s college, Lily becomes transfixed by the guitarist’s unassuming onstage presence and beautiful playing―and with his final note, something within her breaks loose. After the concert, Lily returns to her comfortable life―an Upper West Side apartment, a job as a videographer, and a kind if distracted husband―but she can’t stop thinking about the music, or about the duo’s guitarist, JJ. Unable to resist the pull of either one, she rashly offers to make a film about the band in order to gain a place with them on tour. But when Lily dares to step out from behind her camera, she falls deep into JJ’s world―upsetting the tenuous balance between him and his bandmate, and filling a chasm of need she didn’t know she had. Captivating and provocative, Play for Me captures the thrill and heartbreak of deciding to leave behind what you love to follow what you desire.
Praise Play For Me by Céline Keating“The author’s writing is exquisite and she was able to put together the story of a woman’s search for self and purpose, one with depth and complexity.”- Bookaholics Not-So-Anonymous Blog
“With a background as a music reviewer, Keating combines the soul-searching of Eat, Pray, Love with the rock ’n’ roll fable of Almost Famous to create a novel of midlife crisis with music at its core.”-Booklist
“Play for Me: “A best story of love, lust, and forgiveness.”- The Culturalist
“Play for Me is a serious, moving, and utterly delightful portrait of a woman wavering between the bonds of fidelity and the pull of desire. Céline Keating knows as much about the world of folk/rock music as she does about the workings of the heart.”- Hilma Wolitzer, author Summer Reading and An Available Man
You can read the first part of this excerpt at http://house-of-books.com/
Onto the stage strode a small, wiry woman with spiky white-blond hair, dressed in tight leather pants and a loose, gauzy silver shirt. Her black guitar was slung low across her body, a large, ornate accessory, the strap studded with shiny, jewel-like baubles. Following her was a slump-shouldered male guitarist with a long ponytail and a worn, raw face that looked dug out of the mountains of Appalachia. He wore a plaid flannel shirt rolled up to the elbows, revealing muscular forearms.
Blaise said, “One-two-three,” and they broke into an up-tempo rockabilly number. Blaise’s voice was low and warm, with a ragged edge—like honey coarsened with salt, Lily thought, the rough, hand-harvested kind. The guitarist’s voice had an appealing soft quality that blended beautifully.
Lily wiggled happily in her seat.
“Thank you, thank you all so much.” Blaise had a smoky speaking voice, with a trace of the Midwest. She ran her hand through her hair, spiking it more, then moved her capo one fret up the guitar neck. She came across as supremely assured, sexy. How did it feel to have the confidence to perform before such a huge audience? Lily wondered. “I’d like to introduce you to my guitarist, JJ. We’re going to do a love song for you now, one I just wrote, so we’re a little nervous. Be nice.”
The guitarist drew his pick in a diagonal line across the strings from treble to bass in a shimmer of notes, and Blaise began to sing. The song was lovely and plaintive. At the bridge the guitarist sailed into an extended solo. Lily’s spine stiffened. The guy was really good. She leaned forward. She watched the play of fingers over the fret board, the seemingly effortless run of glittering notes up and down.
The performers ignored the applause and charged into an R & B number. Again at the bridge the guitarist took off, but this time with a flourish of fast picking that went on through more variations than Lily would have thought possible.
This guy wasn’t just good, Lily thought, he was extraordinary. She didn’t know if she’d ever seen or heard anyone better.
Their last song was a slow ballad. Lily fixed her gaze on the guitarist’s hands: such supple movement, no motion wasted, every note as clear and sharp as a diamond. At the end of the song he pressed his pick into a string, bending it down and making it quiver like a drop of water before it falls, then released it.
It shot like an arrow straight to her heart.
Later, that was what she remembered. A sizzle of electricity shot through her body, and she was seared.
* * *
He was just outside the door, lighting up. Close up he was older than she had thought, possibly forty, but he had a tentative, gangly look about him. His eyes, slightly hooded, held a kind of sad, lost look. Or maybe it was the shape of the eyebrows, sloping down at the corners, that lent his face such appealing wistfulness, contrasting with its dug-out-of-the-earth aspect that made her aware of the bones under the skin, of something elemental.
He took a puff, offered her the pack. Camels.
“You should give those up.”
“Yeah, I know,” he said, sounding sheepish. He looked away, revealing a thick, muscular neck, and took a deep, lusty drag. “I’ve been meaning to.”
“No time like the present,” she said. What was the matter with her? It was that lost look that emboldened her.
He stared at her for a long moment, as if really seeing her. Her heart thrummed in a peculiar way. She noticed his eyes were hazel, green with flecks of gold.
He leaned in closer, holding her gaze, and pressed the pack of Camels into her hand.
“I quit.” He yanked the cigarette from his mouth and stomped it with a black cowboy boot. “Thanks.” He did a little bow, then began to walk away.
“Wait.” She clutched the pack. “Wait! Do you have any CDs?”
He turned back to her. “Yeah, but”—he shrugged—”I forgot to bring copies.”
“Can I get it on Amazon?”
He threw his head back, laughing. “You’re kidding, right? I just sell it at gigs.”
The lights flickered on and off to signal that intermission was over.
“You’re so good, you really should have your CD out there,” Lily said, following him back inside.
“Blaise has a website; it’s available there. Thanks again for your interest.”
The house lights flickered again. Reluctantly she headed to her seat. She started to toss the Camels into a garbage can, then stuffed them into her purse. She spotted Colby chatting with two glossy-haired young women a few rows away. One stood and stretched, revealing a taut, tanned midsection. Suddenly Lily wanted—wanted so badly her bones ached—to be young like that again.
Afterward the concert she and Colby headed outside into the warm fall air. There was a musty smell of fallen leaves, decay, a hint of woodsmoke from a nearby fire. She hugged Colby, felt the knobs of his spine through his thin cotton shirt. “What a fantastic birthday gift.”
“Isn’t this the greatest?” He spread his arms. Lily was thrilled to see him filled with the joy of being young and on his own for the first time, the whole world at his feet. So why were her eyes stinging?
As she followed him through the throng, voices wafting disembodied in the night, she felt unsettled, restless. They paused to watch a group of girls who were linking hands and flinging themselves around in an impromptu dance. Lily suddenly felt the urge to join in, to do something heedless and wild, to race through the dark as if on fire, feet barefoot on cool slippery grass.
She wanted a second chance, a chance to do it all over. An extra life. A whole separate extra life. And she wanted it desperately. Greedily.
Céline Keating is the author of novels Layla (2011) and Play for Me (2015), which was a finalist in the International Book Awards, the Indie Excellence Awards, and the USA Book Awards. Céline is also the co-editor of On Montauk: A Literary Celebration (2016). Her short fiction has been published in many literary magazines, including Appearances, Echoes, Emry’s Journal, Mount Hope, The North Stone Review, Prairie Schooner, and the Santa Clara Review. Céline's short story "Home" received the first-place 2014 Hackney Award for Short Fiction. Céline is also a music journalist whose work has appeared in Minor7th.com, Guitar World, and Acoustic Guitar magazines.