On Saturday, June 18, from 6 to 8pm, former combat veteran, smuggler, salvager and Conch Republic Navy Officer Reef Perkins will debut his third book, “Deep Air” at Grand Vin, 1107 Duval Street, Key West.
Reading a tale written by Perkins is much like experiencing his storytelling in person. The language and story lines are fast-paced, improbable and wickedly entertaining – with a vaguely psychedelic feel. His style has been compared to that of Kurt Vonnegut. In “Deep Air,” Perkins describes a sailing vessel secured to a dock. “She had not been to sea in twenty years and tugged at her lines like a flat-chested transvestite in a pirate bodice.” Note: Perkins’ books are not in the P.C. section of the bookstore.
“Deep Air,” which is published by Absolutely Amazing eBooks, features hit men, insurance scammers, loansharking bookmakers, gems, beer and a leaky inflatable love doll, faithfully following in the author’s tradition for the bizarre and quirky – a tradition to which he adheres in both his fiction and non-fiction works.
Until just a few years ago, Perkins never perceived himself as a writer. “I never wrote as a child and never thought about being a writer; I didn’t have anything to say,” said the man whose ancestor George Soule came over on the Mayflower and was a signer on the Mayflower Compact in 1620. “Until fairly recently, I was in the gathering mode,” he said.
Perkins “gathering mode” included growing up in an unconventional family in which everyone “was addicted to some form of exotic behavior.” Following high school he spent time hitchhiking around the country, “bumming in the Bahamas,” leading trail rides on a dude ranch and serving in the military, eventually leading a special warfare team in Vietnam. His “gathered” uncommon life adventures led, in due time, to his first book, “Sex, Salvage and Secrets,” a memoir, originally intended to be a one-volume legacy for his son, locally-based film-maker Quincy Perkins.
“Deep Air” is billed as a work of fiction, but in a place like Key West and a mind like Perkins’, fiction’s roots do not draw entirely from pools of imagination. “Key West is a target-rich environment for writers,” said Perkins. “I took a true story from my salvage days and with the help of a fruitful imagination concocted this Keys tale, best served with a cold drink, an umbrella and a beach chair.”
Copies of Perkins’ first two books, “Sex, Salvage & Secrets,” and “Screwed, Blu’d and Tatooed will also be available at the June 18 book debut and signing event. Wine specials will be presented by Kellee Bartley of Opici Wines. For more information contact: Roberta DePiero at 305-292-7963.