I have not written a book review for a while, but it is important to me to continue to support and spotlight local authors. I had actually intended to write a review of Give Me Your Hands: A Friendship Between Two Writers by my friend Constance Plumley for some time now. I first met Constance and became aware of the richness and uniqueness of her work at Latitudes Poetry Night, a wonderful monthly event that is no longer happening.
I first read Give Me Your Hands two or three years ago while we were traveling. I read the novelette while we were in Florida, and I re-read it in one sitting again yesterday. It touched me deeply, but I think that it affected me differently the second time in a way that I’m not sure I can explain. Both times, I had an emotional response, but the emotions were different.
The writing allowed me a glimpse into the very raw, emotional, and compelling long-distance relationship between Constance and Paul Rogov. The relationship began when Constance came across a glowing review of Paul’s first published novel, The Fallen Years, and sent him a friend request on Facebook.
I was not familiar with Paul Rogov before reading Constance’s book. Paul emigrated to the United States as a political refugee from the former Soviet Union in 1979. He studied comparative literature at the University of California and social work at USC. His work appeared in numerous anthologies and publications, and he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014. Paul wrote poetry and prose. It was said of his first published novel, The Fallen Years, that “Rogov writes as compellingly about battle as did Hemingway.”
As Constance says in the opening pages of the novelette, “It is written entirely from my heart, in a way that is bare and unlike anything I have ever written, or will try to write.” The book is divided into a series of short flashes, and it tells us as much about Constance as it does Paul, and I see and feel much of myself in her, which may explain why I was so moved by the book each time I read it.
The most heart rendering part of the book is the description of Paul’s death on January 25, 2017, at the age of thirty-nine. Constance and Paul were so connected that she knew that “Something horrible has happened…” before receiving formal notification.
Even though they never met in person, it is obvious that Constance and Paul had a deep and abiding love, respect, an admiration for each other. My reading of the book this time not only left me with a deep sadness, but it left me with a longing for the type of relationship with another human being like the one that Constance shared with Paul.
I very highly recommend Constance’s book but be sure to have some tissues handy. The book is available on Amazon.
Barbara Marie Minney is a transgender woman, poet, writer, speaker, and quiet activist. She is a retired attorney and originally from West Virginia. Now based in Tallmadge, Ohio, her first collection of poetry entitled “If There’s No Heaven” was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award and the Akron Beacon Journal Best Northeast Ohio Books 2020. It is available at www.poetryislifepublishing.com. Follow her at www.barbaramarieminneypoetry.com.