The Orpheus Deception by David Stone: A Short Review by Rickey E. Pittman

The Orpheus Deception by David Stone was a fascinating and surprising read. An audio book narrated by Erik Davis, the 12 CD kept me company on my recent road trips. It was a novel rich in details–in allusion and facts, in military weapons, tactics and equipment. From this novel, I learned much about the CIA, the British SAS, the Serbian mafia, the Italian Carabinieri, And the Sid of Singapore. Italy, and specific areas such as Venice, Florence, Singapore with its brutal dictatorship and unimaginably cruel Changi prison.  There is a wide spectrum of characters that paints a vivid picture of the human condition–the insane, victims of crime and government and circumstance, pirates, crime lords, politicians, and merchant marines. The dynamic and twisting plot reveals the price that people can pay when they love someone deeply.

In short, I learned much more from this novel than I expected, and that means I have to give this novel a high rating, tinged with the envious hope that someday I will be able to write this well.

It’s no wonder he can write so well on these topics. From his website, here (well worth exploring) I copied this short bio:

DAVID STONE is a cover name for a man born into a military family with a history ofcombat service going backtoWaterloo.STONE, a military officer himself, has worked with federal intelligence agencies and state-level law enforcement units in North America, Central America, and South East Asia. Retired now, STONE lives in an undisclosed location with his wife, photographer and researcher Catherine Stone.
I am eager to read Stone’s other novels and will probably order them this week.

The Shadow of My Heart by Danielle Bisutti: Lyrics and Chords

I saw the movie Shadowheart (read about it here) and heard this song, and I knew immediately I’d have to learn it. I downloaded it from iTunes and transcribed the lyrics. I’ve included those wonderful lyrics and the chords below.  You can read more about this beautiful singer here, and can see her perform the song on YouTube here: As far as I know, no one else has posted these lyrics. I hope you enjoy them. I did receive from Carol Piascik the correct lyrics, which she received from Bisutti. Thank you, Carol!  She does this in the key of B. I use G chords, with the capo on the fourth fret of my guitar.

“Shadow of My Heart”
written by Danielle Bisutti & Rob Christie
ASCAP 2009 Copyright
I still remember his words of goodbye
A man must find his reasons and
The seasons have gone by
The church bells echo your ghost inside this canyon still
I fear his fate but dear hold faith
“Come back to me, a while”
(Chorus 1)
The Angels sing from mountains high
A song of old through clear blue sky
Their voices cry out while weʼre apart
And warm the Shadows of my heart
Revenge can summon the darkest knight
Blinding noble kings masquerading wrong from right
I dreamt you rose up from the ashes
Bearing light as dawn fulfills
Return to this place
Redeeming grace
“Come back to you, you will”
(Chorus 2)
The Angels sing from mountains high
A song of old through clear blue sky
Their voices cry out while weʼre apart
And warm the Shadows of my heart.

Here’s the chords:

G                                     C
I still remember his words of goodbye
A man must find a reason and the seasons have gone by
The church bells echo
Your ghost inside this canyon still
I fear his fate, but dear old faith,
Come back to me a while
The Angels sing from mountains high
A song of old through clear blue skies
Am7 (walk up to) C
Their voices cry out while we’re apart.
And warm the shadow of my heart.

Here is a photo of the talented artist:

Danielle Bisutti

Danielle Bisutti

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin: A Short Review

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, Scribner Publishing, 2007

A Short Review by Rickey E. Pittman

Sometime ago–it was either on Fresh Air or on NPR News–I heard Steve Martin discussing his memoir, Born Standing Up. The interview revealed a new and intriguing side of Martin I had not known about, so I ordered the book, which I have now just got around to reading. The book is worth reading if you have any interest at all in Steve Martin, in New York Times Best Sellers, or in stand-up comedy. Here you will discover the brutal life of a comedian when on the road and learn many techniques and the vocabulary of comedy.

Let me tell you why I think I liked the book. I often encounter students who I think will have a knack and interest in comedy performance, and I nudge them to study comedy writing, to study comedians, to collect jokes and bits and try them out in public settings. Perhaps one of them one day will find a career in stand-up.  This study of comedy and comedians forces them to analyze words and speech with all its complex rhythms, cadence, tones, syntax and diction. The writing of a comedy routine builds memory and organizational skills. I know there are some comedians on a genius level who are truly and only extemporaneous, but the truth of it is that most working comedians have to create, refine, practice, and experiment.

My respect for Steve Martin greatly increased.  He is a man who has paid his dues to life and to comedy.  I think of this book not as a tell-all confession, but an introspective and existential look back at his life. Through hard work and dedication to his craft, he has earned the money and fame that came his way. This memoir analyzes Martin’s comedic career and his transition from stand-up comedy into movies.  This book is the story of why he did stand-up and why he walked away. The back cover says: Born Standing Up is a superb testament to the sheer tenacity, focus, and daring of one of the greatest and most iconoclastic comedians of all time.”

The Last Time They Met: A short review of Anita Shreve’s novel

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve, read by Blair Brown:
A Short Review by Rickey E. Pittman

I was pleasantly surprised with Anita Shreve’s  novel, The Last Time They Met. It is another audio book in five CDs, read by award-winning actress Blair Brown.  This a novel that will make you think about the nature and intensity of love and the inner and outer world of writers. Though there are several reviews on the Web, I prefer to not read the reviews of others until I’ve posted my own, so I guess I’ll get them later.  Shreve is also the author of The Pilot’s Wife and The Weight of Water, which I’ve previously reviewed on my blog, A Southern Missive. She has several other novels in print and I intend to read them all. When an author can rattle me with two good books, it is likely that anything she wrote is worth reading. Shreve has a fine website. You can find it here:

Here is a summary of The Last Time They Met from the CD jacket:
Linda Fallon encounters her former love, Thomas Janes at a literary festival where both have been invited to give readings from their work.  It has been years since their paths cross and in that time Thomas has become a kind of literary legend.  His renown is enhanced by his elusiveness; for most of the past decade, he has remained in seclusion following a devastating loss.

From the moment they speak, The Last Time They met unfolds the story of Linda and Thomas in an extraordinary way; it travels back into their past, bypassing layers of memory and interpretation to present their earlier encounters with unshakable immediacy.  The novel recreates love at its exhilarating pinnacle–the kind of intense connections that becomes the true north against which all relationships are measured.  Moving backward through time, The Last Time They Met traces the shocking resonance a single choice, even a single word, can have over the course of a lifetime.”

The technique impressed me as it is a story written in reverse chronology that leads you to the very surprising and sad ending.  There are many good quotes I could suggest, but I’ll close with the last lines describing Thomas who takes his own life, but not before he has “known  the unforgiving light of the equator, a love that exist only in his imagination, and the enduring struggle to capture in words the endless possibilities of a life not lived.”


A Special Performance at Caffeine Addicts

7819 Nashville Street

Ringgold GA 30736


Date: Sat. Feb 6, 6:30PM to 09:00PM

Price: $5 donation

Phone: (706) 935-3355

Jed Marum and Rickey Pittman present Confederate American history through song and story. In their presentation, Pittman’s narrative story and Marum’s songs retell tales and reveal experiences from memoirs, diaries and histories – in a light and color that is personal, meaningful and true. They bring to life the heroes of the time, and pass on their message to a modern age. Celtic and Folk/Bluegrass performer Jed Marum in concert with guest speaker, author/historian Rickey Pittman. The music is from and about the period of the War Between the States and includes songs that Jed has recorded for licensed to TV and film projects (PBS, Playboy Channel and independent theater releases).

This is a chance to meet Pittman and Marum up close and personal. Time will be allowed for questions and answers – and for mingling. Fine food and soft beverages will be available.

If you are a collector, historian, or just interested in the War Between the States, you can also see Pittman and Marum at:

The 14th Annual Chickamauga Civil War Show

Times: Sat, Feb 6 and Sun Feb 07.Sat 9am to 5pm Sun 9am to 3pm

Admission Price: $10

Event Address: Northwest Georgia Trade Center

2211 Dug Gap Battle Road

Dalton GA 30720-3863

For more information on this show, email

Or call 770-267-0989

Cell: 770-630-7296



Jed Marum is widely known in the world of Celtic and Folk/Bluegrass music as a compelling performer and gifted songwriter. His music plays on the radio airwaves around the globe and in soundtracks for internationally released films, and for television series shown on PBS and HBO/Playboy Channel. He performs over 150 shows every year at festivals and concerts throughout the USA. To date Marum has released 9 albums on Boston Road Records.

Jed Marum ‘s album, CROSS OVER THE RIVER; A Confederate Collection recently won the 2009 JP Folk Album of the Year Award. From the over 42,000 albums published in 2009 and distributed around the world by big record labels, solo artists and indie labels alike, JP Folk selected CROSS OVER THE RIVER; A Confederate Collection as Album of the Year – in the Traditional/Folk category. The album was also was nominated for the 2009 Southern Heritage Award. Visit the performer’s websites for more information:


Rickey E. Pittman, storyteller, author, and guitarist/singer was the Grand Prize Winner of the 1998 Ernest Hemingway Short Story Competition, and is originally from Dallas, Texas. Pittman presents his stories, music and programs at schools, libraries, organizations, Civil War Reenactments, and Scottish, Irish, and Celtic festivals throughout the South. He is a certified Secondary Gifted English teacher and currently teaches freshman composition for Louisiana Delta Community College, the University of Louisiana at Monroe and Virginia College Online. His books include: Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House, Stonewall Jackson’s Black Sunday School, Stories of the Confederate South, and The Scottish Alphabet, all with Pelican Publishing. You can learn more about this award-winning author at his website: