Frances Badalamenti

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Salad Days

The nineties have just come to a close when newly married twenty-somethings Ana and Paul abandon their deep-set roots in Jersey and move out west to Portland, Oregon. Soon after they settle into the sleepy, new city, Ana starts hanging out with Drew, her new boss, a mellow, long-haired skateboarder from So-Cal and the complete opposite in temperament to feisty Paul. Drew and Ana become fast friends. And it’s not long before everything that Ana thought she was building from scratch in a sluggish but thriving new city washes away with the relentless Northwest rains.

Pub date: October 26, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-950730-39-1
Page count: 290
Publisher: Unsolicited Press

As she begins to settle in her new surroundings, Ana presses rewind and begins to come to terms with what she left behind on the East Coast. She zeros in on the time before she met Paul, back when she bartended through the heart of the nineties at Milltown Tavern, a famous indie rock venue on the Jersey side of the Hudson in close-knit and not-quite gentrified Milltown. Even though she fumbled her way through many an obsessive intimate relationship and struggled way too hard to make rent on barely habitable apartment shares, Ana remained held together by an epic music scene and a ragtag yet endearing crew from Milltown Tavern.

Salad Days vacillates between mid-nineties era Jersey and early aughts Portland, as we witness Ana trying desperately to be an adult, all the while attempting to repair a broken moral compass without an owner’s manual.

"Salad Days is about those gravy days when stakes are high, choices are fraught, and your friends are your world. Place is the main character in this book, the 90s indie music scene is a backdrop, and the prose will remind you of your own conflicted and spectacular salad days."

Chloe Caldwell, author of I'll Tell You In Person and Women

"Salad Days paints 90's slacker youthdom in Camel Lights smoke and warm beer bottle colors. This captivating novel reminded me how you never fully leave behind that early crew and clubhouse, here a late lamented NJ neighborhood bar/iconic indie rock venue where you made your first stand as the person you would become. Badalamenti nails the details and longings so hard I found myself mourning my uncertain past all over again."

Amy Rigby, author of Girl in a Band: a memoir and former member of The Shams

"Salad Days is the gritty, moving portrait of a young woman who completely upends her life trying to figure out who she is and what she wants, set against the gray, grungy background of Portland, Oregon, at a time when the city was also in flux. Badalamenti perfectly captures the alluring and maddening impenetrability of Portland for the East Coast transplant."

Cari Luna, author of The Revolution of Every Day

I Don't Blame You

I Don't Blame You is the story of losing a mother a mere two months before becoming a mother. It follows Ana through a year of going between her home in Portland and her mother's home base in New Jersey as her mother battled cancer and as Ana grew a baby. The narrative begins with backstory around her mother's early life being raised by a single mother in a Bronx tenement apartment and also her father's early years in depression-era Brooklyn both parents raised in challenging circumstances by Italian immigrants. It takes the reader through her parents’ bitter divorce after raising three children and after twenty-five years of marriage, which left Ana’s mother, who was mentally unwell and unstable, to raise her alone.

Pub date: May 28th 2019
ISBN: 978-1-947021-88-4
Page count: 302
Publisher: Unsolicited Press

The story continues through her hardscrabble childhood and adolescence and then pushes forward towards the year of her mother’s terminal illness and Ana’s pregnancy. The narrative takes the reader through her mother’s death and quite soon after, a last minute decision to give birth at home, after which her mother and her son became the two ships that passed in the night.

The final section (epilogue) touches on the intersecting forces of both grief and joy that Ana experienced during her postpartum year.

"Frances Badalamenti proves to be a talented and evocative writer. I Don't Blame You is a powerful, heady, debut novel, gorgeously interweaving the story of grief, acceptance, and love. A must read."

Chloe Caldwell, author of I'll Tell You In Person and Women

"I Don't Blame You is a raw, irreverent, wrenching exploration of the trauma and joy of being a daughter and a mother."

Michelle Tea, author of Black Wave, How to Grow Up and Modern Tarot