Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Odds and Ends






Look what just came! Really. I just opened it and had to share. OK, so I know, realistically, that it has nothing to do with our TR, but it was fun to see the title emerge from the manila envelope just the same. Since I haven't had a moment to dig into it yet, I'll "Read" the inside flap to you. Ready?

I lifted my head only when I sensed someone standing in front of me. The sun was bright behind her, but I could make out the silhouette of a young girl, maybe sixteen, seventeen years old, her belly swollen like an egg. An apparition. A cruel trick of my mind, intent on its return, as always, to Betsy. Her name found its way to my throat, but not through my lips. I squinted against the sun, and quickly realized that this was not a ghost, not Betsy, but a real girl. A girls with skin the color of blackberries, holding a suitcase, her hair dripping river water onto my legs.

What happened after this (the moments that followed, the months that followed) I can only explain as the acts of a man so full of sorrow he'd do just about anything to get free of it. Here I was at the river again, with only moments to decide. Forgiveness. For twelve years, I'd only wanted to say I was sorry, but before this there was no one left alive to offer apologies to.


Sometimes I cheat a bit and write my post on Friday and go live with it on Monday. Yup! That Two Rivers galley came on Friday, and I did get a chance to start it over the weekend. This books is compelling. The plot reminds me of Plainsong by Kent Haruf...not a bad thing! Sometimes, when a book alternates chapters from past to present, I get distracted. But Greenwood's conversational tone allows me to focus on the plot and the characters without having to wade through linguistics tricks and structural formalities to get the big picture. Obviously, the pregnant girl with skin the color of blackberries (love that phrase!) will be a catalyst for some sort of epiphany on the speaker's part. He is haunted by the memory of his wife who died in childbirth, but something sinister has been alluded to briefly, as well. Maggie (the blackberry girl) has secrets of her own yet to be revealed, but I get the impression that they are real, honest, justifiable secrets, not soap-opera-esque.

Earlier this week I received a box of 25 young adult galleys, and had arranged them in priority order. I started (and got stuck on) one called The School for Dangerous Girls. If that sounds like a Lifetime movie, you're not too far off. That's why I'm having trouble with it, I guess. Still, it falls into the pre-back to school reading of which I am so fond...and I really appreciate young adult novels. But, it appears I will be abandoning those bad girls who have been assigned to Hidden Oak even though I have not yet learned what their individual indiscretions have been. So far, the staff appears more twisted than the students, and....oh, (heavy sight) I believe I have just talked myself into finishing that one before moving on. Two Rivers is set for publication in January, so I have a while.


Since writing this last Friday, I did finish. Long ago, I promised myself that I would not complete a book I did not like. By long ago, I mean, I made that decision in high school. That led to numerous incomplete assignments, but after a heart-to-heart with a 10 grade English teacher, I was allowed to propose alternative readings. As a matter of fact, he often slipped me crumpled pieces of paper with a book title written in tiny script. It was all rather James Bond like. So, he was making suggestions for me to suggest to him as alternatives.
For some reason, I finished this lousy book. I guess I thought that some fantastic twist would emerge in the last pages, making the rest of it worth my time. I was duped. The cover was screaming "Trite," "Predictable," "Stay away, " but noooo, I dug right in and...heck, I'm obsessing. Enough!

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Remember that book I was whining about having lost, misplaced, loaned...or perhaps it was stolen? That's it, in the hot little paws of my animal, Mrs. George Burns. The truth is, I finally gave in and bought a new copy of The Miracle of Language. Yes, I do buy books from the store, it keeps the accounting tidier. I was so happy to have it back that I devoted a Sunday afternoon to re-reading it. An occasional brush with Lederer keeps me tuned to how delicate, yet powerful the English language is. However, because of its depth and versatility, its misuse can have hilarious consequences.
Some time ago, my friend, Margarette, sent me these, shall we say, misguided, metaphors from high school students' essays. Enjoy!
  • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

  • His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling-Free.

  • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like the sound a dogs makes just before it throws up.

  • He was a lame as a duck. Not a metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

  • My personal favorite: Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

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On Sunday, I went to Artstreet in Green Bay. The weather was perfect for absorbing some creativity, and I ran into a few friends. Paul Benson, from St. Paul, was there with his beautiful dichroic glass work. I think I might add some of his pieces here at LDD. Greg Pagel and John Salerno, both Lakeshore natives, were playing with a jazz ensemble on the mainstage. John, now Dr. Salerno, teaches at UW-GB, and Greg plays in any number of combos in the area, and is an amazing musician. Try to catch him next time you see that he playing somewhere.

Greg, and his friend, Jeff, a screenwriter, and I have an interesting project in the works. Because Jeff does not live in the area, we will be working long distance. We think that computers may ease the challenges, but I'm not so sure of that. I have given us three year to complete, Greg thinks it will take four, and Jeff hasn't chimed in yet. So far, our preliminary work has consisted of Greg and I brainstorming, and then Jeff going into work mode. I also suspect he gives up sleep during these busy spells, since he comes back to the table with some nice work. Our goal is to start work in earnest this fall when both of Greg's wee ones will be in school. That's all the information you're getting on that!

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Hey kids, if you're headed back to school soon, I'm sure your teachers have a load of great books to suggest. You do the same. I know you have been reading, too, and have many fine opinions on what you have enjoyed and why. And, if you're asked to write an essay at some point in the semester, please try not to mix your metaphors, and never begin or end a sentence with and.