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The First Light of Evening (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Mark Ernest Pothier
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Three years ago, when my son was still in college and my daughter lived across the Bay, my wife packed her car with her clothes and things, discussed with me her reasons for taking half the savings and, after a farewell which I cannot recall verbatim, she left..."

In this short story, which won a Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Award, a retired schoolteacher in his sunset years gets his first glimpse at the failures in his life, cracking a window open to everything, and everyone, outside. (Cover design by Adil Dara Kim.)

Editorial Reviews Review

In addition to their commute-length convenience and bite-size addictiveness, short stories have the benefit of highlighting subtleties that might easily get lost in the shuffle of a longer work. Mark Pothier makes the most of this quality in The First Light of Evening, a brief and thoughtful story sketched in a narrow frame. Jim's wife left him a few years ago, having fallen out of love with his melancholy and his preference for solitude; now he sits in his back room, "reading the many books I always said I would read if given the chance." Jim's well-meaning daughter sets him up with Carolyn, a recovering alcoholic, and they go on a date in the chilly outer avenues of San Francisco. I'm afraid I've given the plot away, but it doesn't matter--stories like Pothier's shine in the white space between actions. This snapshot of two strong-minded, vulnerable people acknowledging their own flaws without apology reminds us that insight often comes not in dramatic bursts but in quiet, awkward moments. --Mia Lipman


"The First Light of Evening explores the life of Jim, who would rather not have it explored. Marriage over and retired, Jim has spent the last few years reading all the books he said he would, and then his daughter sets him up on a date. An elegantly written Kindle Single, Pothier makes every word count without creating the rushed or crammed feeling the format can often take. I'll be looking for additional works by this author!" -- Jason Weisberger,

"Pothier is a gentle writer, taking time to expand into an idea, with a talent for making circular internal monologue interesting. The inner mind ramblings of his protagonist become more interesting than the conversations he is having, as he tries to understand himself through his environment and through his interactions with the people around him. What should be a rather dull, and self obsessive short story, becomes charming, delicate and emotionally intelligent as it unfolds." --

"A sweet and bittersweet story about a man who finds himself alone when he never expected to be, and has to figure out what to do next and who he really is. There are moments of real beauty in this story, and perhaps some notes of warning, too." --

Product Details

  • File Size: 92 KB
  • Print Length: 16 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,340 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of the short story is still alive September 21, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
In "The First Light of Evening," the author wrote of experiences and emotions that many people can relate to. The story began three years after Jackie had left Jim. Jim was to all appearances content to live his quiet, reclusive life reading the books he's always wanted to read. Then along came Carolyn to complicate his life. With the always awkward first date out of the way, the story ended with no clear resolution. Would the two see each other again, or would they choose to continue with their solitary lives, uncomplicated by new relationships?

The story, short as it was, explored a theme that is all too common today: the gradual drifting apart of a couple and the dissolution of their marriage, the aftermath, and the forging of new relationships as people moved on with their lives. The story was told very simply, with no big action scenes, no O'Henry twist at the end, just a little slice-of-life account of two ordinary people weighing the merits of entering a new relationship versus the safety of continuing on their separate but lonely paths.

Stories like "The First Light of Evening" give me reassurance that the art of the short story is still alive.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Praise This Story Enough September 21, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Like all first-rate stories, each line in "The First Light of Evening" is ABOUT something, freighted with meaning and insight yet leading to something gloriously inchoate. With stunning precision, Mark Pothier maps the tortuous territory of the middle-aged male psyche and explores loneliness and regret with masterly restraint. The narrator Jim is caught in the net of his own actions which are as frustrating to himself as they are to those around him. Watching Jim learn to live without his dreams and struggle toward redemption is deeply moving and the story's end elicits that rare, sharp intake of breath and pang of feeling provoked by the best work of Alice Munro and Tobias Wolff. I look forward with keen anticipation to a collection from Mark Pothier.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man of Few Words September 23, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
With this spare and elegant story, not a word in it wasted, Mark Pothier has done one of the hardest things a writer can do: speak in the voice of a reticent man. A reticent man would just as soon not speak; he would just as soon sit in silence and read the words of others. He would just as soon not ruminate or agonize over the loss of love and the imminence of decline, let alone divulge those ruminations to others. He would be content to remain at a remove, a preference that, for this man, has cost him dearly: he is uneasily estranged from his adult daughter, and his wife has left him, because, we suspect, he has shaped his life around his own distance from it, drawn a circle around himself into which not even those he loves most can step.

Pothier inhabits a man who would prefer not to be inhabited, speaks in his reluctant voice, in which the pauses and silences say as much as the words. He inhabits a man who inches tentatively toward connection, folds it into his experience, allows himself a glimmer of hope even as he mourns what he has lost. He gives us the story of a man, in his own words, who has always preferred not to tell his story. We readers are the richer for it, and grateful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming October 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
You'd think a story of a marriage that ended unilaterally after all those years would be terribly sad. There's a bit of melancholy here but the story's far from depressing. It's a little slice of life, a snippet. I would call it very broad and not very wide: what I mean is, I felt like I knew the main character very well at that moment in time; better than I've known protagonists of much longer works. But we readers don't really know much about him because we don't know who he will be or how he will react in another minute or to another circumstance. Those things are the work of a novel, not of a story. I think "First Light" works about perfectly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Newsy1
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a great short story, although I am partial to shorts anyway as they can pack a wallop without endless words. I am in an age group that can probably most understand this short about a man in the sunset of his life who ends up alone and not by choice. Actually, he did have a choice at one time but spent too many years focusing on himself and not his marriage or family. A good lesson here, even if one was not intended.This is the first piece I have read by this author but will be looking for more. Author of Widows Like Me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The prose is densely wound here; each sentence carries a freight of many years and I found myself slowing my reading pace down to match it. One of the most powerful quotes for me was this one: "If you're to be honest, you have to begin doubting that you ever loved an actual person. ...I am no longer angry at her for ceasing to love me; I am angry she found out before I did."

For those who find this story to be about too little, or not uplifting: come back to it later, when you're older, and can relate to the narrator's losses.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking!! October 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There comes a time in life that me must understand that we are, indeed, alone, whether or not we share a life with another. It is then that we must make the decision if it is worth the trouble involved to pursue another relationship.or to enjoy our solitude , particularly if we have forged our own condition over the years.

This is a deep, thought provoking, short story that has been beautifully written. Well worth the time and money!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars East and interesting read
It was an interesting of a couple finding each other after a man's wife left him and his family was gone and he was alone. It can be real lonely when every one has gone except you. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
left me feeling incomplete
Published 4 months ago by Kathleen DesHotel
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this book
A very good summer read. Enjoyed the story and how quick it was to read. I would recommend this book to any one
Published 5 months ago by Jill
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and Illusion
4.5 stars. Realistic and thought-provoking story about a middle-aged man attempting to move on after a divorce initiated by his wife. Read more
Published 5 months ago by S. Word
3.0 out of 5 stars The First Light of Evening
it was a nice story, sad, honest, and sincere.
Getting old, starting a new way of living alone, finding a new love or friendship is difficult but one must go on no
Published 9 months ago by armine Zohrabian
5.0 out of 5 stars easy read
Kept my interest, enjoyed. I was wanting to go and walk the beach with them. Both characters were likable and I hope the ended up together.
Published 10 months ago by H.L Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars A poignant tale of introspection and renewal
This story is a poignant tale of an older man coming to terms with his divorce and his own character flaws that led to the separation. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mark O'Shea
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and Bittersweet
This is not an action packed story, but it is an engaging one. There are moments of real beauty in this story, and some notes of warning about what matters in life. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Tungsten Hippo
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Good and short just the way I like my shorts. If you divorced after a long marriage, no matter how long it's been. This short Will speak to you.... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Billy R Schutte
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking....
Surprisingly accurate portrayal of the healing process after a divorce. Refreshingly thoughtful and insightful. I like how he thinks. You actually do have to "save yourself".
Published 16 months ago by Jace
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More About the Author

Mark Ernest Pothier's first published story won a Chicago Tribune/Nelson Algren Award in 1994. He wrote weekends and after-work for the next 15 years, until the editor at Kindle Singles resuscitated his fiction career by picking up two of his stories, "The First Light of Evening" and "The Man Who Owns Little," which have been downloaded by more than 15,000 readers and produced by Audible.

He lives in San Francisco's Outer Richmond district with his wife and kids, holds an MFA from SF State, and is working full-time at polishing his debut novel, tentatively titled "A Little Room, Left." (Portrait photo: Jason Doiy)

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