The Write Life

Author of 'Forks, Knives and Spoons' at Barrington Books

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When Leah DeCesare left for Syracuse University in 1988, her father gave her some useful and unique dating advice. Using a cutlery metaphor, he categorized men as either forks, knives, or spoons. Forks are those who are cocky and play the field, they will poke you and move on. Spoons don’t have an edge, they are bland and dull. Simply put, spoons have no ambition.  But knives, knives are the ideal.  They are sharp when they need to be (but not too sharp), have fortitude, drive, and strength of character.

Little did DeCesare know that this kernel of an idea would blossom into her debut novel, Forks, Knives and Spoons, a romantic comedy set on the Syracuse campus during the late 1980s/early 1990s. “The idea for the book came from my father’s advice,” says DeCesare, “but there was no story, no character arc.”

So, DeCesare — who lives in East Greenwich — spent four years crafting the lives of two undergrads who would become the heart of her novel. Amy York receives what she dubs the “Utensil Classification System (UCS)” from her aging single father. She vows to take his advice to heart, but she “wasn’t about to let any guy distract her from her dream of being a journalist, not even a perfect steak knife.”

Amy’s roommate is Veronica Warren, a socialite from Newport. She finds the UCS amusing but not necessarily practical. Though they come from two very different worlds, the two roommates become fast friends, navigating their dating lives and academic careers with support from each other.

There is much to enjoy in DeCesare’s debut novel, especially for Generation Xers who will laugh at the references to Benetton Sweaters, Sony Walkmans and Aquanet hairspray, and wax nostalgic over references to popular music of the late eighties. Beside the entertaining and light-hearted story, there is also an important message for young women. “I want readers to know,” explains DeCesare, “that women should believe in themselves and value themselves and not tie their value to a man.”

Despite the dated cultural references, the core experience of young women on campus remains the same as it was when the author attended school. “Dating is definitely different now,” says DeCeSare, “but the quest for education and connection stays the same.”

In fact, the author’s eldest daughter (DeCesare has three children), who will be going off to college in the fall, read the book and gave it her stamp of approval. “She told me, ‘Mom this book should be a graduation gift,’”DeCesare recalls, proving that some experiences remain universal.

Leah DeCesare will be autographing books and chatting with patrons on Saturday, April 29 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Barrington Books, at 184 County Road in Barrington. The event will be part of their Independent Bookstore Day, a one-day nationwide celebration that takes place at indie bookstores across the country on the last Saturday in April.  

Laura LaTour is an avid reader and former bookseller. She is currently working as a freelance writer and publicist. Tell her your stories at: Laura@LaTourCreations.com.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.