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Elbow bending page turning

Despite writing "Bar Exam: Tavern Tales and Reflections," about a tavern and its patrons, Bill Lamperes doesn't consider himself a lush.

Growing up in a European household, wine with meals was common, said Lamperes.

"The attraction to getting drunk was never there for me."

The closest he came to being a regular at a tavern happened while researching "Bar Exam," the retiree's latest book.

After Lamperes' visits to his chosen watering hole, the bartender mixed his favorite, a Rusty Nail, before he even ordered it.

This made him uneasy, and he kept himself from going back.

But "Bar Exam" isn't strictly a reflection of Lamperes' life, although he appears as a character and others in the story carry his beliefs.

Bartenders, barflies and barmaids throughout each chapter discuss love or the lack thereof, their place in this world, changing negative to positive perspectives and more.

"People go to a bar to discuss life," said Lamperes, who holds a Ph.D. in education.

"Everyone has a story to tell."

Lamperes used a summer's worth of friends' and acquaintances' stories and a compilation of other encounters to fill the eccentric cast and their personal histories.

"I massaged some characters to make them speak from the heart," he said.

The entirety of the book takes place in Benbow Tavern, sketched after a tavern he visited in Garberville, Calif.

The subtitle "Reflections" comes from the tavern's comfortable seating as those at the bar do not need to lean back and forth to chat. They simply chat through reflections in the mirror.



Background

"Bar Exam's" roots stem from a sense of irony.

Lamperes visited bars and taverns in Phoenix, Ariz., his former home, while Rebecca Reynolds, his partner, would leave in late spring for Colorado when temperatures in the Southwest reached more than 100 degrees daily.

To fill time, Lamperes would go to local drinking holes and listen to others who needed a friend to talk to for a night.

Lamperes carried a notebook to record conversations, insightful stories and quotes.

"You take the reality you see, and filter it through your lens," Lamperes said about writing real people into fictional characters.

He attributes his patience at listening to conversations to his 40-year teaching career.

Lamperes and Reynolds moved to Sequim less than one month ago after he retired as an educational curriculum writer, teacher of students from fifth grade through college and principal of an alternative high school.

"Bar Exam" is his second book. His first, "Making Change Happen: Shared Vision, No Limits," is a reflection on his 12 years at the alternative school.

He helped the failing school succeed and become a model for similar struggling schools to adopt.

Lamperes signed a one-year contract at the school each year, but at the end of year 12, he decided to move on.

"I could have kept educating, but I enjoy writing and I compiled these stories that I had to do something with," he said.



Who will enjoy it?

"Bar Exam" would appeal to a seasoned reader, Lamperes said.

"Those who are 35- to 65-years old and have experienced life and the gifts that life has brought would enjoy this," he said.

Lamperes, raised in the Greek Orthodox religion but now more "spiritual," delves into New Age and Buddhist philosophies through characters' conversations.

"The assumption is that you go to a bar to get drunk," Lamperes said.

"Those aren't the readers I want to attract to this book."



Additional reading

Lamperes' post-retirement writing career is in full swing. He has three additional books written and/or in process for self-publication.

In September, he plans to release "Depositions," a murder mystery; in December, "Change by Choice," a motivational book about breaking out of your comfort zone; and in March, "The Attendant," about a parking attendant who cleverly obtains millions of dollars.

"Bar Exam: Tavern Tales and Reflections" is available at Pacific Mist Books, 121 W. Washington St., Sequim; Odyssey Bookshop, 114 W. Front St., Port Angeles; Port Book and News, 104 E. First St., Port Angeles; and with online retailers Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

It costs $15.95.



Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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