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The Fishfly

Donald Michael Spinelli located the man who sexually assaulted him as a boy. Now, he is on a murderous trek into the dark inner sanctum of New Orleans society to avenge himself upon his assailant. The Fishfly is the debut novel by artist, gallerist and noted television host (“Art Beat” on PBS), Robert Maniscalco.

The Fishfly is the inner monologue of Donald Michael Spinelli, a portrait artist, turned hit-man. Fishflies are a rich existential metaphor for Spinelli, who, like the tiny little bugs, is on a desperate mission to do or die. We find ourselves inside the mind of an artist with a secret inner life. The actual story takes place over a period of about 18 hours in New Orleans, with frequent flashbacks and digressions to New York City and the suburbs of Detroit. It culminates in a dramatic collision of the past, present and future.

Though he has developed into a formidable artistic talent, Spinelli discovers he has spent half his life, incapable of taking real action. Using the Internet he has located the man who sexually assaulted him as a boy. Now, he is on a murderous trek into the dark inner sanctum of New Orleans society to avenge himself upon his assailant. The precarious act of trying to “correct” his life’s course sets into motion a series of events, encounters and recollections that peel away years of denial and pretense. The reader follows, moment by moment, as he deals with the twists and turns of being in action, for the first time in his life. Consumed by his guilt and obsession for revenge, he finally comes face to face, not just with the man who molested him but with his own inner demons as well. Through each turn of events, he is forced to confront the veracity of his stories and the impact and meaning they have had on his life. As a result of this nervous breakthrough, Donald comes to realize he’s made himself the victim of his own life story.

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Note: twelve years in the making, The Fishfly is a powerful story that needed to be told. The Fishfly is a probing, incisive novel which lays bare the insidious nature of both verbal and physical abuse. It grapples with the deep-rooted challenges inherent in the healing process, imaginatively dealing with the how and why of this raging epidemic. The narrative moves back and forth, between the perspective of the young victim and the recovering adult. It is the author’s hope that The Fishfly might contribute to breaking the cycle of fear, anger and abuse, which continues to grip our world.

The Fishfly deals very personally with the issue of abuse and offers a point of view that is rarely expressed in our victim-obsessed society. The Fishfly is a heavily fictionalized “what if” around the author’s own story of abuse, presenting an alternative ending to the tragic scenario, which continues to be repeated with young people everywhere.

bookmark 1The central question of the novel is, “what if we actually had the opportunity to confront our perpetrator 30 years after the fact?” Says Robert, “My intention in publishing this story is not to capitalize on mine, or others, misfortune; my goal has been to express something real and true, to create something that reaches out to those who may benefit from my own experiences, real and imagined. This is the goal of the artist.”

Robert Maniscalco is a highly sought after commission portrait artist. His exquisite oil-on-canvas portraits and fine art can be found in over 850 prominent, private and public collections throughout North America. Robert also explored the creative process as host of ART BEAT, produced by Detroit Public Television – PBS, WTVS-Channel 56; he also has written a book about painting and creativity, called “Point of Art.” Robert received a bachelor of Music from Wayne State University in 1983. Now was a member of the WSU Board of Visitors and is past President of the Wayne County Council for Arts, History and Humanities. He lived eight years in New York City where he completed an intensive professional acting training program at the Circle in the Square Theater and worked professionally in numerous film, television and stage productions.
In 1993 he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the New Renaissance Chamber Artists, an experimental ensemble of instrumentalists and actors. In 1995 he took up residency in New Orleans, returning home to Detroit in 1997, where he founded the Maniscalco Gallery. In 2005 he moved to the Charleston area where he is raising his two fantastic children. He married Cate Andersen in 2012.  He continues to be active in theater and has developed an instructional painting video and presents live painting performances, entitled, “The Power of Positive Painting.”

Read the review by Brad Lindberg from “The Grosse Pointe News.”