#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

He said there were no more secrets between us, & I believed him, as I always had, already knowing if there were, I’d believe him yet again.

Now I understood why David had stayed away all those Sundays—he hadn’t wanted to participate in the farce of visiting Patrick’s grave.

I was grieving for my mother—the mother who was a stranger to me now—not for the father who had been dead to me all these years.

My mother had told my father that Caitlin wasn’t his, & so he’d tried to kill himself, even though he still had me, for it wasn’t the loss of a baby’s paternity but the loss of Mother’s love.

We sat there, at an impasse, & in that moment of silence, we were acknowledging this was now the way it would always be between us.

“She had told me when I was carrying you that my firstborn daughter would steal away my first love & become my enemy,” Mother said.

I wondered if Madame Novacek’s eyes had looked into Mother’s, &, rather than see in her crystal ball, saw in them, what this woman, my mother, would become.

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #474: Gift

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A Series of Fortunate Encounters

The day was young,
the night was long,
that date of March 4th–
the date Sydney breezed into the Reedsy Bluesy Cafe
where Tammy O’Shanter told her that Adelaide
(called Addie)
was the only one who had ever ordered chocolate milk (never coffee)
and a truffle brownie drenched in caramel syrup
every morning for breakfast
while she completed her morning crossword,
leaving behind more questions than answers.
Sydney waltzed into the Pence State College library
where Addie was always on the waiting list
for the newest installment of the Chocoholics Anonymous,
even as she was always late returning it,
leaving behind a Dove candy wrapper like a pressed flower,
which she had used for a bookmark.
Sydney ran into the man to whom Addie had been “practically engaged,”
into Addie’s best friend with whom she had shared the part of her life
her sister hadn’t seen,
and the mother they’d shared a space with–
a woman who had known Addie in a completely different way.
This all happened on her way to her Celebration of Life
(which they called funerals now),
with Addie as the guest of honor,
but the celebration had begun early
as Sydney retraced the steps Addie had taken every morning–
to gather the memories she would take out like holiday keepsakes–
memories she would take out when it only seemed
that she had run out of her own.

https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-474

Book Review: Big Little Lies

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This has been my favorite Liane Moriarty book thus far, though it is peppered with what another reviewer referred to as a “Greek chorus”–little asides where minor characters or characters we never get to meet have lines like in a stage play, talking about a death (without mentioning whose) that occurred at a school-sponsored Audrey and Elvis-themed Trivia Night.

The “chorus” was simply the author’s way of hooking us from the beginning.  I’ve learned to distinguish when I should try to remember a name and when to drop it (pardon the pun).

Plot, for me, has always come secondary to characters; this book had incredible characterization.  In Big Little Lies, people aren’t just that way they are, but they have reasons for being the way they are and for doing the things they do.  You also learn about them as you would in real life–a little bit at a time.

I found myself wishing I could live where the Blue Blues coffee shop was (I wanted Tom’s coffee and Jane’s muffins), where I could tap away at my laptop next to a view of the beach while my daughter was in school (and my hubby was at work).  None of the three main mothers in this book had to work full-time jobs (the one that came close could work remotely)–so, in this way, Big Little Lies was pure escapism (or fantasy) for me.

Overall, Big Little Lies was about well-educated white women (who could support themselves if they had to) and their little and not-so-little problems.  The lack of diversity was a problem for some, but I’m glad the author chose realism over political correctness. Not every place is like New York City, and there is nothing wrong with that.  We don’t have to all be the same, any more than we all have to be different. What’s more, just because the women were all “color-coordinated” didn’t mean they were all the same; I work with 10 other white women, and we are all vastly different individuals.

The only problem I had with this book was that g-d was used a few times.  That is always a sour note.

As for the characters:   The White’s marital relationship was so deftly done, so not cliche of every Lifetime movie I’ve ever seen, that I knew the author must have done her homework.  When I skimmed the back of the book, I saw that she had read up on the subject. I think having Celeste White’s full speech might have been nice (being a fan of monologues and the Toastmasters organization), but the fade-out effect worked, too.

Some reviewers thought this book was shallow, but only Madeline came across that way and that was because that was her character.  However, I found her loyalty to her friends a rare and admirable trait. A book doesn’t have to be all “mean streets of New York” like a Law and Order episode with lots of gray walls and black dresses to be about a serious subject.  Life is absurd in the best of ways and the worst of ways, and Moriarty captured all that.

That said, Bonnie did come across as a cliche, being very “socially conscious,” a vegetarian, and someone who doesn’t watch television.  (Not even PBS.) However, stereotypes are hard to avoid completely because so many of them fit someone we know in the real world, just like when Madeline was describing one of the career moms who was always coming from or going to a board meeting.  I am guessing that the author is a whimsical woman in real life–not the buttoned-down, corporate type.

Being a mother herself, she presented a very realistic view of motherhood and even those who choose to go into the teaching profession.  (That was a rather comical moment.)

I will say that these are the most involved parents I’ve ever read about.  Maybe it’s a small town thing, an Australian thing, or an ethnically homogenous community thing, or all of the above.  It was like Peyton Place, except Australian and modern.

As for the plot, there were a few surprises, and the twist at the end was a “whoa” moment.

I loved that this book was just as focused on female friendships and motherhood as it was on marriage and romance.

Not every character gets a lot of “screen time,” but they all added something to the story.

I didn’t even know there was a TV-series until I read some of the reviews, so I will give it a try.

The book did raise a few questions:  If someone is kind in so many ways, but cruel in so many others, which is the real person?  Is it the bad, or both? Can the good even be real in the presence of the bad, or does the bad cancel it out?

And does doing unsavory things, if it’s for the greater good, ever make it okay?  Is it okay to sacrifice oneself to sin in order to save others from being sinned against?

And is it always worth it to go through something terrible if such was the only way to get something wonderful–something that couldn’t have been gotten any other way?  When is it just not worth it?

I can’t wait to read another Moriarty book because unlike a lot of the other “chick lit” out there, these are all different (I like a style writer rather than a formula writer) with characters you’d love to know in a place you’d love to visit (and maybe even live).

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19486412-big-little-lies

 

#Micropoetry Monday: The Lighter Side

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He brought her fresh milk every morning,
& she gave him fresh eggs,
which put a bun in her oven.
When the big cheese came home
& saw a skim,
curly-headed ginger snap
running around,
he waited for Mr. Grade A
(who’d lived up to his name
among the baker’s dozen
whose husbands were away)
& turned him into a hunk of Swiss.

When the Big Cheese was away,
the mice loved to chatter.
When the Big Cheese came back,
she found that their story
about being spread too thin
from the daily rind
was full of holes.

She was always told that too many chefs spoiled the soup,
but Amelia Debilia didn’t listen to her mama.
She found 3 TV chefs—
the annoying English Basil with the Gumby pompadour,
the Asian Ginger,
& a sprig of a woman named Rosemary—
all who tried to make the world believe
that the only way to eat meat was mid-rare.
She chopped them up fine &
sprinkled them into her cast-iron pot,
creating what she deemed fusion cuisine.
When her unknowing mama tasted what she had done,
she’d shaken her head & said,
“You have to remember to take their clothes off first.”

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

I grieved for the father who had never been lost to me at all—the father I was just now finding, only to lose him all over again.

…for my father believed once death claimed us, we became as angels in Heaven.  The terrestrial kingdom will be everything he always believed Heaven would be.

Mother prayed Caitlin wouldn’t leave this earth till she accepted the gospel & I knew if God answered her prayer, our Little Miss would live forever.

I asked my father in his vegetative state, so close to the Divine, to accept the gospel in the next life, so that he & my mother would inherit the celestial kingdom, even as David & I would the terrestrial.

The sound of Mother’s heels on the hospital tile sounded like the drumbeats my heart was making as I made a deal with a dead man.

The words to “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” came to me; even as they played through my mind, it was David’s face I saw, brighter than sunlight. 

Mother leaned over to kiss my father’s forehead—a holy kiss, a kiss of death—bestowing upon him her blessing to proceed into the next life.

Through the glass clearly, lined like graph paper, David & I watched my father as he slipped into eternal slumber; it was like watching a live execution.

I felt there was more to the story.  Always, I would feel this way. 

I grieved for the father who had never been lost to me at all—the father I was just now finding, only to lose him all over again.

…for my father believed once death claimed us, we became as angels in Heaven.  The terrestrial kingdom will be everything he always believed Heaven would be.

Mother prayed Caitlin wouldn’t leave this earth till she accepted the gospel & I knew if God answered her prayer, our Little Miss would live forever.

I asked my father in his vegetative state, so close to the Divine, to accept the gospel in the next life, so that he & my mother would inherit the celestial kingdom, even as David & I would the terrestrial.

I ran from what had become my life, to the man that was my whole life.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #473: Six Words

6 words

The Drs. Zeus

When the 9 daughters of Zeus
taught at the Colossal Muse School,
Erato instructed them how to make notes
rather than take them,
even as New Age Melete taught them
how to shut up & listen.
Husky-voiced Calliope taught them
how to be long-winded,
even as Clio tended to repeat herself.
Euterpe paired with Aoede,
Euterpe speaking when she should sing,
& Aoede singing when she should speak.
Worshipful Polyhymnia tried to muddy
the separation of Church & State.
Melpomene just became a dramedy queen.
Starstruck Terpsichore danced with the stars
while stargazer Urania danced under the “real stars.”
Thalia tried her best to turn it all into a farce,
but Mneme was the master teacher,
for she taught them all
how to remember it all.

https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-473

#Micropoetry Monday: Strong Women

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She was Miss before she married
& took,
upon herself,
by her own free will & choice,
her husband’s name.
When people called her Ms.,
she didn’t bother correcting them,
for her husband had been a Mr.
before her,
& was a Mr. still.
But when someone addressed her
as Mrs. Jameson Adamson,
she did not answer to it,
for her identity was not
in who her husband was—
it was in who she was.

She was stripped of her pride,
but not of her dignity,
which she wore like a mink coat.

The graduate learned in her thirty-seventh year
that life was not about balance but priorities,
for the former was an unattainable ideal;
she learned that there was a season for everything,
for everything was beautiful in its time.
There was a time to learn
& a time to apply what one had learned.
There was a time to read
& a time to write about what one had read–
just as there was always a time to write,
a time to edit,
a time to share,
& a time to read what others shared.
There was a time to speak what she knew
& a time to listen to what she did not.
There was a time to go
& a time to stay,
a time to be something,
but more importantly,
a time to be someone.
There was a time to rise up
& a time to be content,
& it was in that latter time she would stay
until she mastered the tasks entrusted her
so that she could move on
to master
something else.