Evelyn's Blog for Nov 11, 2017 - MY NOVELS - HOLIDAY GIFTS

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Consider my five novels for wonderful holiday gifts. Some can be ordered both as digital and paperback. Others in only one form. Easy. Fast.

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#1
THE PROVIDER
(2012)
Russian Jewish immigrant novel, 1922 to 1960’s, of a couple seeking the American Dream. She achieves it; he doesn’t. A love story. (2012 International Book Finalist Award for Literary Fiction)


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#2
THE WAY THEY SEE
(2013)
Young couple in love come upon a misconception of each other and go their separate ways into unintended lives for twenty-five years, then meet again.


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#3
CONCERNING GEORGIA STEKKER
(2014)
A cautionary tale of a jilted woman driven to swindling fortune hunters

 

 


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#4
THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE (2017)
An analysis of the universal struggle between romanticism and the real world. (2017 International Book Award as Finalist for Literary Fiction)

 


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#5
AN INCIDENT IN THE FAMILY
(2017)
In 1925, an uncle marries his niece (an avunculate marriage) and fathers two daughters: the elder born normal, the younger, vastly retarded (an imbecile). In 1935 during the Great Depression, the father takes the then six-year-old into the garage, closes the door, and starts the engine. (Based on a true story) 

Beginning excerpt published in JewishFiction.net for their once yearly issue, Sept 2017.


Enjoy shopping on my website: EvelynMarshall.com and on Amazon!

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Evelyn's Blog for Nov 4, 2017 - THE END OF A NOVEL

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Before I start writing any novel, I always have a good general idea of the ending.  I don’t  know exactly how I will get there (which is half the fun), and I always meet with surprise upon surprise, but I generally come to the conclusion that isn’t far from what I originally  planned, but it’s more embellished, more complicated. If I am writing correctly, then all the ends tie together.

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But then I wrote AN INCIDENT IN THE FAMILY.  It was an odd duck ...

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... because it presented a beginning situation and I had no idea how it would resolve itself.

After I finished the novel, I said, "Now Evelyn, what have you written?" And what I discovered was enlightening.

I wrote the novel from Tamma’s point of view (POV). But, my favorite character, by far, was Rachel. No one could touch her. She outran everyone for sheer fascination. When I came to the end of the novel, Rachel showed up like the cavalry ...

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... and I saw that it was her novel.  The character Tamma drove the plot forward in her search for answers and a happy life - she was not the main character. Rachel was.

Read the novel for yourself. You'll see how it worked.

 
 

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Evelyn's Blog for Oct 28, 2017 - CANNIBALISM

Ooh! That hurts!

Ooh! That hurts!

CANNIBALISM in MOBY-DICK

I ran this argument for and against cannibalism in 2014 when I had the old newsletter. The argument is cogent and bears repeating.

Queequeg (the black head-to-toe tattooed pagan harpooner) was observing Ramadan by sitting on the hard floor for days and nights without moving. Ishmael could not budge him. Finally Queequeg came out of it. And Ishmael says [to the reader]:

Now, as I before hinted, I have no objection to any person's religion, be it what it may, so long as that person does not kill or insult any other person, because that other person doesn't believe it also. But when a man's religion becomes really frantic; when it is a positive torment to him; and, in fine, makes this earth of ours an uncomfortable inn to lodge in, then I think it high time to take that individual aside and argue the point with him. And just so I now did with Queequeg.

"Queequeg," said I, "get into bed now and lie and listen to me." I then went on, beginning with the rise and progress of the primitive religions, and coming down to the various religions of the present time, during which time I labored to show Queequeg that all these Lents, Ramadans, and prolonged ham-squattings in cold, cheerless rooms were stark nonsense; bad for the health; useless for the soul; opposed, in short, to the obvious laws of Hygiene and common sense. I told him, too, that he being in other things such an extremely sensible and sagacious savage, it pained me, very badly pained me, to see him now so deplorably foolish about this ridiculous Ramadan of his. Besides, argued I, fasting makes the body cave in; hence the spirit caves in; and all thoughts born of a fast must necessarily be half-starved. This is the reason why most dyspeptic religionists cherish such melancholy notions about their hereafters. In one word Queequeg, said I, rather digressively; hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple-dumpling; and since then perpetuated through the hereditary dyspepsias nurtured by Ramadans.

I then asked Queequeg whether he himself was ever troubled with dyspepsia; expressing the idea very plainly, so that he could take it in. He said no; only upon one memorable occasion. It was after a great feast given by his father the king on the gaining of a great battle wherein fifty of the enemy had been killed by about two o'clock in the afternoon, and all cooked and eaten that very evening.

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"No more, Queequeg," said I, shuddering; "that will do;" for I knew the inferences without his further hinting them. I had seen a sailor who had visited that very island, and he told me that it was the custom, when a great battle had been gained there, to barbecue all the slain in the yard or garden of the victor; and then, one by one, they were placed in great wooden trenchers, and garnished round like a pilau, with breadfruit and cocoanuts; and with some parsley in their mouths, were sent round with the victor's complements to all his friends, just as though these presents were so many Christmas turkeys. 

After all, I do not think that my remarks about religion made much impression upon Queegueg. Because, in the first place, he somehow seemed dull of hearing on that important subject, unless considered from his own point of view; and in the second place, he did not more than one third understand me, couch my ideas simply as I would; and, finally, he no doubt thought he knew a good deal more about the true religion than I did. He looked at me with a sort of condescending concern and compassion, as though he thought it a great pity that such a sensible young man should be so hopelessly lost to evangelical pagan piety.

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If your appetite is increasing, then read this cannibal story.

FYI: Concerning Georgia Stekker turns spooky!


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EVELYN'S BLOG FOR OCT 21, 2017 - SEED FOR A NOVEL

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Where do writers get their ideas?  Jerry Seinfeld was asked that, being a comedian. Felix Unger (“The Odd Couple”) was asked that, being a journalist.

In my last blog (Oct. 14), I mentioned that Henry James was sitting across the dinner table from a father/daughter couple who inspired him to write the novel “Washington Square” that was turned into the film “The Heiress”.

So where did I get my idea to write THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE? I’m glad you asked.

Marv and I were in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the gift shop.

You would agree that museums have fabulous gift shops. I wandered over to a wall covered with postcards showing great paintings. Suddenly my eyes fell on a scene painted by the French painter Edouard Manet, titled “Interior of Arcachon, 1871” (15/1/2 x 21 inches).  The composition was of an old mother and a dilatant son sitting at a table. She was looking out the window, and he was smoking his cigarette and gazing at her. I said to myself, I know these people. They are rich and colorful. I want to write their story. 

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For those of you who have already read the novel THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE, you can easily guess that here are Ardita And Dorsey Danzie. For those of you yet to read the novel, you will have this painting in mind. Perfect.

People think that writerly seeds automatically sprout from travels. Not for me, and I’m very much traveled. Travels are respites.  In fact, I never have insomnia on trips. Only when I get home and again think about my project does the insomnia machine revv up.

By the way, here is a review of CONCERNING GEORGIA STEKKER, written on Amazon by  C. Burleson (April 18, 2017):

"From the cover of this book, I didn't quite know what to think this story would hold. I actually truly enjoyed the characters and their interactions, they became real and interesting. This book has an unusual writing style and I loved it. It flows, by the third chapter I was hooked. I also enjoy a book with a very unique story line."

I'll give you the SEED for this novel. Are you ready? I was the girl at the party who was left stranded at the table. 

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I hope C. Burleson subscribes to my blog, just as I hope you recommend the blog site for your friends. (www.EvelynMarshall.com)  

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I so much like hearing  a reader tell me how much she/he is enjoying my blogs.

ALERT:  Here is the first review on Amazon for "Incident in the Family":

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Take a Look at My Authored Novels on Amazon


Evelyn's Blog for Oct 14, 2017 - A WRITER'S ANONYMITY

Choose Fame or Anonymity.  Be careful which you choose.

If you are a writer, you will choose anonymity. It gives you space to breathe and think. You can wander the world and observe human behavior. You can isolate yourself and imagine stories. No one gets in your face.

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John le Carre, the master spy writer, hides out in his isolated beach top house.

Henry James (and other famous writers) burned all of his letters and work papers, protecting himself from the “predators”.

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Recently a biographer, James Atlas, wrote an arrogant moralistic book about  Saul Bellow, the Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1976.

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Woah! The biographer should have walked in Bellow's moccasins for three days and then asked himself, Would I have done better in like circumstances? Surprise: Bellow is a human being. 

A biographer serves a good purpose in revealing an author’s themes and sources. But to invade an author’s inner sanctum and pontificate is going too far. 

SOURCES FOR THEMES Outside the self:

Henry James dined out at other people’s homes half the nights of his life. He was a famous raconteur; his monologues were highly anticipated. One night he was at a dinner table sitting opposite a very rich, stern aristocratic father and mild, plain daughter. James, the raconteur, fell silent in observation. Guests  respected his sudden silence; obviously he was observing, taking in, his mind was at work. No one bothered him. But James' inner sanctum was not at work. Here was a gift from the outside world. And James simply wrote it. It became "Washington Square" which became the film "The Heiress" (Olivia de Havilland, Ralph Richardson, and Montgomery Clift).

My most recent book, "An Incident in the Family" was also a gift.

 I simply wrote it and stopped. If you read it knowing that its original title was “Tamma Millerman’s Inheritance”, you will see my mind at work. 

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Evelyn's Blog for Oct 7, 2017 - Writers' Insomnia

Thinking about a novel in progress is so fascinating and complicated, loaded with so many possibilities, that the mind cannot turn off. Consequently, insomnia springs up as an unwelcomed monster. Curses and hot oil on the Black Dragon.

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I start my day with three intense hours of writing. After that, I live a regular day and don't think about the novel in progress.  BUT come bedtime, 

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 i'm back in my own bed, and here comes the Black Dragon. It's an all-nighter. 

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Do you have any idea what it's like to start a new day after being up staring into the darkness for 8 hours? Here is a photo of me after completing THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE. 

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And here is a photo of me after writing AN INCIDENT IN THE FAMILY:

 

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About every 3-4 nights, I do get a good night of sleep because my body can't take it any longer.

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So you want to write your novel? Go ahead.

OR, you may want to read one of my short stories, "The Debt,"  about a Jewish man who wants to/and marries a gentile woman (click the button below and enjoy!). This was honored by one of the most prestigious literary journals, Glimmer Train. 

Evelyn's Blog for Sept 30, 2017 - THE SCOOP ABOUT WRITERS' DISCIPLINE!

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My husband Marv and I were attending a theatre performance at our regular favorite theatre (South Coast Repertory).  We have had season tickets for most of our married life.

At intermission, we met up with another couple who are also regulars.  Jim is a retired English teacher.  So of course my opener was as follows:

Ev: “Jim, now that you’re retired, are you writing?”

Jim: “Evelyn, I don’t have the discipline.”’

Ev: “I beg your pardon?”

Jim: “When I was teaching, I was highly disciplined about preparing lesson plans. I had to be or the kids would have eaten me alive. But now, I don’t have to be disciplined, so I’m not. I’m into a lot of volunteer work.”

Ev:  “Teaching fulfilled you.”

Jim: “Yes.”

Ev: “Not until later in life did I find what fulfilled me.  And then, finding it was a fluke.”

Jim: "Still, you have to be disciplined. To get yourself to sit down and write.”

Ev: “I have been writing for thirty years. There is no such thing as discipline for me. I always want to write my fiction. The only thing that temporarily stops me is energy. After three hours of intense writing in the morning, I’m exhausted. I will regain energy in the evening, but then I become too stimulated to sleep. Writing is so fascinating that merely thinking about it has turned me into an insomniac.”

The other day I watched a film about Jackson Pollack’s life. He had no need of disciplne. He always wanted too paint.

I’m certain the same was true for Michelangelo, and the whole gang.

And of course,  A. A. Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh books.

WRITERS BLOCK? What is it? 

Answer: I think Writers’ Block is NOT an absence of ideas per se, but rather  coming upon an idea that arouses your passion to start the motor and go for the ride.

AN INCIDENT IN THE FAMILY is now on my Amazon site in paperback. Please click to order.

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Evelyn's Blog for Sept 22, 2017 - "INCIDENT" - WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES?

Click the image above to view it larger.

My excerpt from "Incident" was just published this month in JewishFiction.net. Take a look at the setup, and the excerpt. You'll be proud of me. 

My printer, LightningSource, notified me that paperback copies are now available. So I mailed 12 copies to the National Jewish Book Awards contest, ending October 3 - for consideration.

INDULGE me, please: I need to CONFESS something to you. I have written seven novels, a series of short stories, a screenplay, AND I always was mindful of their structure and progression. However, "Incident in the Family" had a mind of its own.  I held onto the novel as to the tail of a racing tiger.  One chapter shot on to the next, I came to the end, and stopped abruptly.  Either it is a WEIRD one-of-a-kind novel, or I have shifted to a new form of novel writing. This latter phenomenom occured with John LeCarre. He wrote one novel very, very fast and said, "It's a once and a lifetime experience."

Evelyn's Blog for Sept 13, 2017 - THE GROTESQUE WINS

The film director made damn sure not to disappoint the audience with the appearance of a grotesque Quasimodo in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

The film director made damn sure not to disappoint the audience with the appearance of a grotesque Quasimodo in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

All year long, the literary magazines post their short story contests. To win a contest over thousands and thousands of entries being read by bleary-eyed reviewers who are looking for any short cut reason to eliminate an entry, is prodigious for the author.  To win more than one contest or two or five contests is even more prodigious. The contest offers the names and bios of the judges and the previous winners.  Their credentials reveal they are members of the same clubs, having won all the same honorable honors.

With that in mind, I just received an announcement about the upcoming Zoetrope short story contest. Included was the previous winner’s story. I began to read the winning story and realized it came from the point of view of a little gal, a dwarf.  She herself used the word, “Freak”. The story was well written; that goes without saying.  The plot reveals that the little gal discovered the photographer to be more freakish than she herself was, and our dwarf was in shock.

I thought, no one could win against such an entry.  The more offbeat, the more freakish, the better the chance of winning.  I captured this piece of in formation early in my career. Here is the vita: my novels class instructor announced a short story contest for the college Drury Award for a short story. I wrote “Through the Years”.   After the instructor read my story, he said to me in earnest, “You must enter this in the college contest.” I did. Another member of the class, a self-pronounced pre-med student, also entered a short story. He wrote a vivid account of an autopsy. He won the contest. I don’t remember his story, but I remember the description of pulling the skin down from the face.

I don’t know if the author ever went on to medical school. I do know that he did not continue as a writer. He stopped too soon. The medical field is loaded. Why, every single one of us has a story inside us every bit as worthy of the grotesque. We can all be writers, at least once.

My story "Through the Years" was consequently published in a literary anthology and later became part of my novel "The Provider".

 

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Here is the short story:

“Through the Years”

CHAPTER 1

My mother is now one hundred years old. Each week I visit her at the retirement manor. And we talk of the past. My mother is proud that she can support herself here in a private room, and be surrounded by her own things, some of which once belonged to Dolly. We talk of Dolly.

When I was growing up, Dolly was my favorite of all my parents' friends. She was full of fun and said whatever came into her head. Now and then Dolly sang out, “Ooh, your mother likes money.”

            And now and then my mother winked at me and said, “Dolly keeps the stores in business.”

            My mother did like money. She liked to work for it, count it, save it, and get her dollar's worth when she spent it. She received pleasure in her good management of it and she respected its power, especially its power to transform a person's life. She was always interested in knowing who had achieved the American Dream.

            My father was not a good provider. My parents came to America separately as young Russian immigrants in 1922, and fell in love. Yet my father remained no better than a struggling immigrant all the days of his life. So my mother worked at her sewing machine in the garment district, and she became the chief family provider.

            My mother is the most un-frivolous person I know. Her life became so pragmatic that she lost, for the most part, her ability to play, to be childlike. Unless her fascination with thrift and money well spent were her game.

            But Dolly never worked.  She and her husband Lester were American born. Lester provided for the family—for Dolly and the two boys. Dolly went to luncheons and played cards in the afternoons somewhere out of the neighborhood, but most of the time she went shopping for herself. So in the beginning, Dolly and Lester Rooney appeared to be further along than our family toward achieving the American Dream.

            The Rooneys moved upstairs from us during The Great Depression, and Dolly came down in the evenings into our kitchen which was the hub of our household, where the conversations took place, and visited while my mother labored over the ironing board, stirred a simmering soup, and packed lunches for the following day. Dolly was full of energy; she talked fast, and her eyes danced in her chubby face sprinkled with freckles and framed by whatever the beauty shop did that week to her red curls. She liked my mother's wry humor, and my mother liked Dolly’s pep. Dolly was good company for my mother after a grinding day in the garment district at the sewing machine. She brought all the gossip. Her favorite subject was Lester's rich sister. And my mother was always interested in hearing about the rich. “She's a mean woman,” Dolly started. “Would it make any difference to her in her three-story house riding up and down in her elevator if she sent us some money, say a small check at the first of each month?”

            As prudent as my mother was about money, Dolly was in the same degree imprudent. Mother furnished our home with all the essentials. Once an item was set in place, it was bolted there forever. But for Dolly, permanency was ephemeral. Dolly grew tired of her possessions, offering up small objects from time to time as presents for my mother. And my mother found a place for everything, winking to me, “Dolly is redecorating again.” In our home, Dolly's candy dishes and small porcelain statues and vases and china teapots and wall platters took on an immortality denied them upstairs on that conveyer belt of moving merchandise.

            After Dolly said goodnight and scurried upstairs, I sat down on a wooden kitchen chair and my mother braided my hair for the next day. “Mother, Dolly and Lester live in the same kind of apartment we do. They pay the same rent. How can Dolly afford to buy so much?”

            “Lester earns a good living.” Her strong fingers work skillfully, pulling and twining the coils into a single thick chord. “Dolly buys on lay-away, and pays little by little. Sometimes when Dolly buys, she doesn't always pay. There, your braid is ready for school tomorrow.” For tomorrow, because my mother left for work every weekday morning before I awoke.

            One evening Dolly entered our kitchen waving her stubby, painted fingernails. “The merchants say they'll sue. Who's worried? They won't sue. I don't have anything,” and she laughed and laughed. My mother's muscular arms guided the iron over my father's work paints; she stirred the soup and packed the lunches. Dolly plunked herself down in a chair, planted her high-heeled shoes with the cutout toes on our linoleum floor and spread her short legs to accommodate her puffy thighs. “We attended the big party at Lester's sister's house last night. I really outfitted myself.”

            “The party was too beautiful? Rich?”

            “Ooh, Rosie, let me tell you. We drove up to the house. All three stories were lighted. Valet parking. We walked inside; the chandeliers were shimmering everywhere. Butlers walked around with silver trays of champagne and hors d'oeuvres. I ate every chance I could. You never saw such food. My sister-in-law made her grand entrance from the elevator. She was wearing a purple and black sequined gown. My brother-in-law was wearing a tuxedo; most of the men were.”

            “Was Lester?”

            “Rosie!” she laughed. “Lester has two suits. When one is in the cleaners, he wears the other. Why does Lester need a tuxedo? Women need clothes. Oh, and there was a small orchestra.”

            “What were you wearing?”

            “I bought a black lace gown and a sequined jacket. The saleslady told me, 'Sequins are the height of fashion right now.' Well, you know me, Rosie,” she laughed. Then her voice deepened into a serious tone. “We were standing near Lester's sister and brother-in-law who were with a group of their friends. We didn't know any of them and we weren't introduced to anyone. My brother-in-law was talking about a man in the company who was caught stealing. I piped up, 'Let him steal. You've got enough.' That's the only socializing we did. We ate and left. I never really have a good time when we attend their parties.” Her eyebrows furrowed. “On the drive home, I talked to Lester about his sister. 'She doesn't introduce us to her friends,’ I said. ‘Why not?' Lester didn't answer me. 'Lester, do you hear me?' Not a word. 'Lester, you need a hearing aid.' He just kept driving. I've told him a million times he needs an aid. I talk and talk. It's like he's not even there. I told him, 'Go to your rich sister. She'll buy one for you.'”

            I always liked Lester. He was a quiet, sweet man. I could see how Dolly's appetite for life had attracted him when he first met her. As I say, she was fun. But, then one day my mother told me more. After the first seven years of marriage, Dolly's appetite became a concern to Lester. When he married her, he was in business with a partner. He bought a house and gave Dolly access to the bank account so she could furnish the house as she desired. The baby grand piano looked glamorous and romantic and rich even though neither of them played. And when their two sons arrived early in the marriage, she bought everything under the sun for them. But one day in the seventh year of marriage, the partner came to Lester. He liked Lester and had hesitated telling him—Lester was such a nice person, he was so happy in his marriage, and now he was the father of two fine boys. The partner could put it off no longer. The business, he said, had gone into a reversal. They needed capital. Still he hesitated. But then, “Dolly has been spending a great deal of money, withdrawing consistently from the business. I tried to juggle the books as long as possible—”

            The business went. The house was sold, and the baby grand piano. They moved into the apartment building, above our unit. By the time my mother finished telling me all this, I was disgusted with Dolly. The woman was no longer fun. How could my mother respect her and remain friends with her all these years? Undoubtedly Dolly was merely a curiosity for her, an entertainment.

            But my mother wasn’t finished with the story.  Lester, she said, went to his sister in the three-story house for help. He heard the elevator whirring. His sister came down; the wrought iron door folded into the wall; and she stepped out.

            He told his sister what had happened.

            “You certainly made a marriage. To give you money is to drop it down her toilet. That woman is going to eat you up alive. Get away from her.”

            “She's my wife, the mother of my sons. I love my sons.”

            “She'll be the death of you.”

            And since that visit, my mother went on, Lester has been behind a desk somewhere in his brother-in-law's company. Dolly doesn’t know what he does there all day. She shrugs her shoulders and says, “He sits.”
 

 

 

CHAPTER 2

In 1949, our family moved away, and one by one all the neighbors followed. Except for Dolly and Lester. They remained in their apartment as the neighborhood deteriorated. On Sundays, they drove away from the city and often found their way in their old Ford to suburbia and to our little tract house with the garden. They sat in our driveway on yellow canvas chairs and ate grapes from a large bowl. Dolly orchestrated the conversation with her robust humor and in her booming voice, watching my father puttering in the garage a few feet away, and my mother coming out of the house, hanging laundry and returning indoors for another batch. “Sam,” she didn’t go in for calling my father by his Russian name Sanya, “doesn't Rosie ever sit down?” she sang out as if it were a good joke.

            “Rosa works all week at the sewing machine. She leaves other things for the weekend.”

            Dolly could switch subjects on a dime to keep herself happy. “Remember, Sam, when Rosie was going to deliver the baby and the doctor told you she had to have a Caesarean operation? You said to me, 'Dollytchka, the doctor wants to cut open Rosa's belly. He wants me to sign a paper. What should I do?’”

 “I remember,” he smiled.

            “I said, 'Sanya, you've got to do it.'” And she laughed with her bountiful American assurance.

            My mother walked outdoors just then and grinned, “You gave Sanya good advice.”

            “Rosie, remember during the Great Depression when the landlord tried to evict you to give the apartment to his relatives?”

            “You fought for us, Dollytchka. You were a friend.”

            “We have good memories, Rosie.”

            Lester sat, eating grapes from the bowl.

As the seasons passed, my father, still young in 1951, but no longer young looking, slipped into the final winter of his disappointed life and died. And in the seasons following, my mother tried to be brave. She planned our first vacation, a trip to Las Vegas. I drove Lester’s old Ford. Lester sat next to me while Mother and Dolly sat in the back seat.

            “Dolly, are you going to gamble a lot of money?” my mother asked.

            “As much as I can, Rosie,” she sang out with gusto.

            “Are you going to feel bad spending so much on yourself?”

             I wanted to hear the answer to that.

            “I spend money to pleasure myself. Hitler spent it to kill.”

            A moment halted in silence. Then my mother held up two ten-dollar bills and said, “These, I won't gamble away.” She placed them in her purse. “You see. I've just made twenty dollars.” Dolly roared with laughter.

            My mother liked Las Vegas. Money was moving all the time, in and out of the machines and back and forth across the tables. She was dazzled by people's looseness with it. She felt an accelerating excitement as she pulled the slot machine handles, and then a growing impatience because the coins were losing their value. With a slight giddiness, she heightened her stakes by moving over to the Twenty-One table. She sat down and suddenly realized what was happening: the entire casino was filled with people testing their self-control. She calmly withdrew a twenty-dollar bill from her purse and set it in front of her as the limit to her gambling money. I stood behind her and watched as she played like a cat with a mouse. Every so often I heard Dolly laughing in the distance and looked out to see her waving her arms and bouncing from machine to machine. Lester followed her around with his hands clasped behind his back. Mother leaned back to me and murmured, “Lester's holding on to the rent money in his pocket.”

            Soon after that trip, I learned that Dolly was borrowing money from my mother. Small amounts: five dollars, ten dollars, twenty dollars— “the twenty dollars I brought back from Las Vegas,” my mother winked at me. Dolly was prompt to repay. But then a measured time would pass, not much, and she borrowed again. Why did my mother continue to indulge this silly, selfish woman?

            Lester began to visit a psychiatrist. Mother told me he was receiving electrical shock treatments to block out parts of his memory. Paid for by his rich sister.

            When Lester died, no one was able to articulate the reason. The funeral was large. Lester's sister refused to speak with Dolly. Mother leaned over and whispered, “Dollytchka, don't prepare your pocketbook.”

 

 

CHAPTER 3

Dolly’s income was suddenly and drastically reduced. What there was of it, her grown sons now provided. In the beginning of her widowhood, she continued to treat herself to lace slips in assorted shades, and replenish her perfume collection. She continued to borrow money from my mother. Since Dolly never learned to drive, the Sunday visits to our house stopped. So the two women continued to talk in the evenings by telephone. As the years passed and my mother worked during the day, Dolly began calling me. Full of her usual zest, she asked me anything, what I knew of the old neighbors. She simply wanted to talk. But I was going to college.

             “Hello, Rosie. Lester's sister died.”

            “Did she leave you anything, Dollytchka?”  

            Mother turned to me, covered the receiver with her hand, and said, “One dollar.”

My mother and I visited Dolly some time later. I had acquired a second-hand Chevrolet. The apartment was bare, as if she were moving out. Had she sold all of her possessions?

“I’m poor, Rosie,” she sang out as if it were a joke. “I eat peanut butter. It’s cheap. It works like meat.” I hadn't seen Dolly in years. Her hair was white by then; she no longer visited the beauty shop. She wore a nondescript housedress; but she talked happily enough, full of her old pep. That is, until she saw me gazing at her wedding photograph on the wall. She and Lester looked so happy, their life full of promise. She came over and stood beside me. She studied the photograph for a while and then said, “The first seven years of my marriage were good.” I looked sideways at her and saw tears fill up in her eyes. “But I married the wrong man. He didn't leave me anything.”

            I stared at her.  Changed the subject. “Do you see your sons often?”

            “No.”

            “But you talk on the telephone?”

            “They are busy in their own marriages.”

            But my mother was still there at night on the telephone, full of attentiveness. The two talked as if still in our apartment kitchen.

            Less than a year after our visit, one of the sons telephoned. “Mother died. The doctor said she choked on a spoonful of peanut butter. The spoon was still in her hand.”

            We attended the funeral. A small gathering. The two sons and their wives—grandchildren were permitted to stay home. Also attending were two women from the old neighborhood from the high days when Dolly was on top: two spinster sisters, wiry and tight-lipped. “After we moved away, Dolly kept in touch by telephone. She called all the time in the beginning.” Had Dolly tapped them as well as my mother for small loans? And anyone else? The entire neighborhood? The two sisters had not kept up the friendship. They learned of Dolly's death because one of them was a daily reader of the obituary columns. “Never miss them. You never know.”

            My mother regarded them sideways and said, “Good for you.”

            Those in attendance at the graveside numbered eight people. They surrounded the plain casket decorated with a spray of white flowers. Some of the people sat, and some stood during the ceremony. Afterward, the people drifted away toward their cars. My mother had not moved; I waited at her side. A moment passed and my mother stood up and walked up to the casket. When she was close enough, she bent over and thrust her face into the flowers. She planted a kiss.

            The other day at the retirement manor, my mother and I were speaking of the past. And we spoke of Dolly. My mother surfaced from her old age, and winked, “You know, Dollytchka still owes me ten dollars.

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

     

        

          

 

Evelyn's Blog for Sept 6, 2017 - FEEDBACK from a GOOD FRIEND re "Anna Karenina"

My last blog was about the novel "Anna Karenina". My friend Mickey (the piano player at our wedding years ago) wrote:

Dear Evie:  Interesting subject and a wonderful read (not in Russian)  Anna was a product of her time and cannot be judged by our present standards.  It’s true that she had to make an impossible choice, but in a society where extra-marital relationships are not divulged she was quite open regarding her affair with Vronsky.  That was her big mistake, and caused her to be shunned by those around her.  If you’re going to fool around, keep quiet.  Love, Mickey  

Dear Mickey,

Your warning is so wise!

I would like to continue the discussion a bit regarding Tolstoy's attitude toward   women.

This photo from the movie "The Last Station" is a blatant lie. The relationship between Leo and Sonya for many years had turned horrible.

This photo from the movie "The Last Station" is a blatant lie. The relationship between Leo and Sonya for many years had turned horrible.

 

The student in the professor's class who walked out saying she did not like Anna Karenina was not objecting to Anna's love affair, I believe, so much as the morality of sacrificing a beloved child for the sake of that love affair. If Anna had not met Vronsky, she would undoubtedly have remained with Karenin. But a guy like Vronsky did come along, and Tolstoy understood the power of Vronsky to bewitch a girl.  Tolstoy was older and toothless when he married Sonya, many years his junior. Tolstoy understood male animal power.

What is really amazing is that Tolstoy could write such an EMPATHETIC character as Anna while simultaneously trying to save himself from a long history of being  a great womanizer (“Women are the seducers, only good for sex”). He suffered ongoing guilt/blame for his sexual behavior, but still he would succumb to sex with his wife, treating her as a baby machine (13 live births). After Sonya's childbearing years ended, Tolstoy did not value her even though she was his longtime translator of impossibly tiny incoherent handwriting, writing copy after copy, up to six versions. W&P was three volumes. Tolstoy flagrantly argued and scolded Sonya in public, belittling her, reducing her to babbling foolishness. The injustice to her was enormous. The movie about Tolstoy in late life (“The Last Station”) did not portray him accurately; it ennobled him. In truth,  he had turned his back on everything that went before, including his family, and created self-styled religious schools and worship of peasants (“If the peasants don’t understand Shakespeare, then Shakespeare is not much.”). Tolstoy disinherited his children to give his money to the peasants, against Sonya's pleading. (Source: Henri Troyat's biography, "Tolstoy" published in 1965)

Tolstoy wrote "War and Peace” before “Anna Karenina”. Still high on the adrenaline of writing about the Russian soldiers pushing back and destroying Napoleon, he reached back to his WILD soldiering days, his days of "sowing his oats" of his early novel “The Cossacks” and found Count Vronsky.

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 I bet Tolstoy WAS Vronsky. Tolstoy understood him and was empathetic when Vronsky returned to soldiering, drinking, gambling, and womanizing.

Tolstoy was clearly a literary genius gone off the tracks after the Anna novel! His later works were progressively dark and depressing. Sick.

“War and Piece” (in three volumes; don’t cheat yourself because it’s all unbelievably the best there is in world literature) is an experience of a lifetime. Tolstoy was at the height of his genius, researching the war for 8 years, reading everything about it, before writing one of the greatest works in all literature. Soon after, still in his genius mode, he wrote “Anna Karenina”. 

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Many excellent film versions of "Anna Karenina" have been produced. My personal favorite starred Greta Garbo and Frederich March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evelyn's Blog for Aug 30, 2017 - "Must I "LIKE" Anna Karenina?

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In ALL of my college literary studies, I NEVER heard a professor say, “The character must be likeable. One of the characters. The main character. The protagonist. Someone with whom the reader can identify.”

So when contemporary writers out in the working world, especially mainstream writers, said my readers must LIKE one of the characters, I was shocked. Since then, I have heard it everywhere by everyone in the general public arena. And I thought I should accept LIKEABILITY as a tool in my writing.  But I always thought I was pandering rather than serving art. I caved.  Good enough.

Then this morning I heard on TV an op-ed commentator discuss Leo Tolstoy’s great novel “Anna Karenina” and I experienced an AHA! moment.

The op-ed commentator on TV was a college professor. She claimed that one irate student in her English classroom stormed out saying, “I don’t like Anna Karenina.”

The professor turned to the class: “The author’s intent is not that the reader LIKE Anna. But the reader should understand and be EMPATHETIC with her.”

I agree. I understood Anna’s vulnerability to being bewitched by the dashing count who nourished her starved emotions.

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I understood her dilemma of having to sacrifice her son.

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She was caught in a situation where there wasn’t a satisfactory solution. 

As you recall, Anna is forced to give up her young son to run off with her lover Count Vronsky.  She is unable to take her beloved son with her. She must leave him with the father, a cabinet minister who is an insufferable man, cold, rigid, unloving.

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Society turned against her, shunned her for her abandonment of her family. The injustices visited upon Anna still disturb me. She does commit suicide in the end, if that’s any consolation to some readers. 

I disliked Anna’s husband. I understood Anna’s vulnerability to being bewitched by the dashing count who nourished her starved emotions; I understood her dilemma of having to sacrifice her son. She was caught in a situation where there wasn’t a satisfactory solution.

The novel was published in 1877.  It lays out the injustices a woman faces trapped in a society that would keep her in a bad marriage. In today’s society, Anna could have left her husband and taken the boy with her.

As you recall, Anna is forced to give up her young son to run off with her lover Count Vronsky.  She is unable to take her beloved son with her. She must leave him with the father, a cabinet minister who is insufferable, cold, rigid, unloving.

Society turned against Anna, shunned her for her abandonment of her family. The injustices visited upon Anna still disturb me. She does commit suicide in the end, if that’s any consolation to some readers. She throws herself under the train tracks. 

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The novel was published in 1877.  It lays out the injustices a woman faces trapped in a society that would keep her in a bad marriage. In today’s society, Anna could have left her husband and taken the boy with her.

Evelyn's Blog for Aug 23, 2017 - DID YOU GET THE JOKE?

My last blog (Aug 18) was about the never-ending and imperfect task of editing. In other words, My blog "repeated" the THE STORY OF THE BLIND MAN. Does that make the point strongly enough!!!!

New Subject.

I always gaze at pictures of a person reading a book and imagine that person is reading one of my novels.

He is reading THE PROVIDER

He is reading THE PROVIDER

She is reading THE WAY THEY SEE

She is reading THE WAY THEY SEE

This gal is reading CONCERNING GEORGIA STEKKER.

This gal is reading CONCERNING GEORGIA STEKKER.

 
She is reading THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE.   

She is reading THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE.

 

 
This person is reading AN INCIDENT IN THE FAMILY  - (coming October)

This person is reading AN INCIDENT IN THE FAMILY  - (coming October)

My husband Marv and I have been international travelers for years. In the beginning of my writing career, I  hoped that someday the passengers would be reading MY novels.  The time came when my fellow writer, Darlene Quinn, posted the following with my first novel THE PROVIDER: 

Darlene - Airplane.jpg
 

Take a Look at My Authored Novels

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Evelyn's Blog for Aug 18, 2017 - EVERYBODY WANTS TO WRITE A BOOK

WHY NOT! But be ready for this pitfall:

The story goes like this. Oscar Wilde ("Portrait of Dorian Gray" and" Importance of Being Earnest")spent an entire morning editing a poem. By the end of the morning, he had removed one word, "and". After lunch, he returned to his editing. By the end of the afternoon, he returned to his editing. By the end of the afternoon, he had put back the "and". It was a typical day at work.

In my own case, I just stop at some point, knowing that another re-read will bring further changes (in taste, judgment and proportion). My God, I have only one life.

Here's another way of thinking about writing. I once shared THE STORY OF THE BLIND MAN, but now I bring it back to you with a new question.

A blind man in Glasgow, Scotland, was sitting in a public square with a cardboard sign that read, "I'm blind. Please help."

A young woman walked by and changed the words on his cardboard sign. Soon many coins were heard being dropped into the can.

The young woman had changed the man's sign to read,

"It's a beautiful day and I can't see it."

QUESTION: Would you have known how to edit the sign?"

A blind man in Glasgow, Scotland, was sitting in a public square wth a cardboard sign that read, "I'mblind. Please help." Not many coins were tossed into his coin can.

A young woman walked by and changed the words on his cardboard sign. Soon many coins were heard being dropped into his can.

This young woman had changed the man's sign to read:

"It's a beautiful day and I can't see it."

QUESTION: Would you have known how to change the sign?

NOTE; The age-old question is this: Does faction writing come with one's genes or is it learned?

Take a Look at My Authored Novels

Sam Shepard's Play, "Buried Child" - Aug. 9

SamShepard's Play"Buried Child" - August 16

 “Buried Child” by Sam Shepard.   August 9

During one of my recent impersonations as an insomniac, (I’ll never give in), I found myself watching Diane Keaton in “Baby Boom” and I recorded the film for my husband Marv, although I worried that he might find it too much of a woman’s film. He loved it. Aside from Keaton’s comedic talents (which were hilarious), I was taken with the performance of this guy named Sam Shepard. I was amazed at his bull’s-eye performance. It was so natural that it was extraordinary.  He didn’t seem to be acting at all. This was verified on a Youtube testimonial from Jason Alexander (of “Seinfeld” fame) who raved that Shepard was the BEST actor he ever saw. I watched “Baby Boom” again, verifying Shepard’s technique.

I found out more about Shepard. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of more than 44 plays mostly off-off-Broadway. He was a leader in the last half-century new movement of playwriting. How did I let him slip through? The aficionados knew about him, followed him, highly respected him. And then the other day Sam Shepard died. I began reading his Pulitzer Prize winner that brought him to fame on Broadway:  “Buried Child”.

I wrote a review on my i-pad for Amazon and regretted every word of it. I wrote, “Who wants to read about such sick ugly characters? I would not want to know any of them personally.”  Fortunately, my submittal click did not work.

Why am I glad that the review disappeared? Because in the newspaper the other morning I read a long article about the decline of Middle America. Young people feel stuck and find a an unrecognizable landscape, a fgorgotten American Dream. They reach for it and its resources, but all is unrecognizable and gone. My God, this is “Buried Child”. The disappearance, the hopelessness, the sickness that feeds on itself and turns incestuous. Shepard wrote it all in this searing play, which is considered the culmination of all of his family plays. His pen was on the pulse of Middle America. He wrote in symbolism, in metaphor, in surrealism, in realism. It’s not only Middle America— It’ll shock you.

 

On to something less bleak.

Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel, THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. Here is one of my favorite authors and favorite novels. It is an expose of upper class mores. Even though of a different time, this is the human condition written large.

 (Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, and Michelle Pfeiffer).  The writing is filled with wit, and the voice is elegant. Day-Lewis’scharacter is nurtured in an unfulfilling but dutiful life, and in the end, oh that end (no spoiler), read it for yourself.

·       Martin Scorsese directed it when he was 34 years old. It is a complete departure for him. It was an elegant expose of the morals of the 1920’s in high New York society. Scorsese dedicated it to his father Luciano Charles Scorsese.. It was a work of love, and exquisitely detailed. Everyone was shocked that Scorsese could pull of such a tour de force.

Evelyn’s Blog for August 2 – “Critics – for Better or Worse”

I hope you read my last blog (with the photo of the pug): “THE NEW YORKER REJECTS ITSELF; A QUASI-SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS OF SLUSH PILES”. Now I have a treat for you: the perfect follow-up in my own life— a “beaut” of an example of critics at their worst and best.

As you already know, I’m readying my newest novel, my second Jewish novel, for publication, “AN INCIDENT IN THE FAMILY”. In 1925, an uncle marries his niece (an Avunculate Marriage). They have 2 children, the first normal, the second vastly retarded. In 1935, during the Great Depression, the father takes the now 6-year-old retarded child in the car with him. The garage door is closed. He starts the engine.  (56,000 words – a generational literary novel based on a true story)

I wanted to test the waters, so I had sent an opening excerpt of INCIDENT to a small publisher of Jewish novels, Fig Tree, whose editor wrote: “Not promising.” (After my surprise, I thought: Well, she doesn’t know any better.)

I had forgotten that I also had sent this same excerpt to a much more significant Jewish site: JewishFiction.net — a powerhouse with a prestigious Advisory Council and a formidable panel of seven highly-credentialed reviewers for each entry. I just received their response: “A fine excerpt that we wish to publish.” I signed the contract.

My husband Marv’s mother used to say, “Always consider the source.”

In addition, I always keep in mind what Jonathan Franzen (author of “THE CORRECTIONS” – National Book Award 2001) wrote to me: “If it’s not fun, then the hell with it.” Oh, it’s so much fun!

By the way, take a look at my Amazon/Author page. You’ll see my whole enchilada.

THE NEW YORKER REJECTS ITSELF; A QUASI-SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS OF SLUSH PILES (REPRINT)

By David Cameron

It began as the kind of logical argument that seems airtight to anyone who has never studied logic.

If the New Yorker is the most desirable literary magazine in the world, and if the New Yorker can have any short story the New Yorker wants, then whatever story the New Yorker gets would—logically—be so intrinsically desirable that all lesser literary pubs (e.g., everyone) would pine for it. Just like the prettiest girl at the dance: the guy she picks is the guy chicks dig. Basic deduction 101.        

After a few glasses of two-buck Chuck I was ready to test my hypothesis. I grabbed a New Yorker story off the web (no, it wasn't by Alice Munro or William Trevor), copied it into a Word document, changed only the title, created a fictitious author identity, and submitted it to a slew of literary journals, all of whom regularly grace the TOC of Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, O’Henry, etcetera and etcetera. My cover letter simply stated that I am an unpublished writer deeply appreciative of their consideration.

That was it. I sowed the seed, and waited.

As for the result, please sit down and place your Starbucks Venti on a secure surface.

Dear reader, every single one of these journals rejected my poor New Yorker story with the same boilerplate “good luck placing your work elsewhere” auto-text that has put the lid on my own sorry submissions. Not a single personal pleasantry. What’s more, the timeframes tracked perfectly. For example, if the Beavercreek Fucknut Bulletin (not a real journal, but representative) generally takes thirty days to relegate my stuff to the recycle bin, then our New Yorker story—which must have been thoroughly confused at this point—fared no better.         

As the rejections rolled in, I began to feel sorry for this story in the same way you pity a one-hit wonder who ends up on infomercials: two parts schadenfreude, one part authentic compassion. This poor story, like the sly dude chosen by the dance-floor starlet, thought he had it all. Here he was convinced that he could effortlessly charm the panties off of any university-based handout with “Review” in the title. What the hell happened?    

But it wasn't just the lower-tier non-A+ list who rejected this poor devil. Before I name-drop, bear with me. I’m being deliberately coy by not IDing the culprits, mainly because I don’t want to be denied any free drink tickets at the next AWP. (For what it’s worth, my editor has been fully briefed.) But trust me, dear reader, if you were to be accepted into any of the offending journals, you’d drown in your own serotonin.   

However, I’ll break my silence to single out just one journal that declined this New Yorker short story: the New Yorker. Yes, in an act of inadvertent self-mortification, the New Yorker rejected itself.

I tried to console this sad, broken-hearted story, explaining to it the vagaries and randomness of the slush pile, how despite what many of these journal editors state in interviews the slush is often just a clean-up chore relegated to overwhelmed readers, and that rejections might mean nothing or might mean everything but there was no way of really knowing—but too late. He had already retreated into a boozy haze.

Still, my work wasn’t done! No scientific experiment can be taken seriously unless it is reproduced, and so I grabbed yet another story, this one by a rather celebrated youngish New Yorker author (not Zadie Smith or Karen Russell) and repeated the process. The results, as scientists so often say when describing a perfectly corroborated protocol, were “elegant.”

Thus ended my life in research.

Now comes the trickier part. Commentary. 

Slush sucks. It’s as simple, and as unhelpful, as that. Keep in mind that they do in fact call it the slush pile, not the “jewel in the rough pile,” or the “we can’t wait to see what serendipity brought us today!” pile, but the slush pile, named after the very same stuff that mucks your driveway up after a dank snowfall. In some cases it would be more accurate to call it the “gotta snake my drain” pile. 

A part of me really wanted to be outed, to have some vigilant editor write back and say, “Nice try. Consider yourself blacklisted.” Or even to put me in the horribly awkward position of an acceptance!* That would mean there’s hope, that open submissions weren’t just, in so many cases, empty gestures.

Yes, my ruse makes me snarky, but also sad. But not as sad as the poor New Yorker story that got so brutalized. If you see him standing next to a bar stool searching his pockets for loose change, give him a hug. He’s still trying to figure out what went wrong.

*For the record, in the event I received even a nibble I would have immediately withdrawn the story from consideration. I actually do have scruples.

David Cameron lives with his wife and children near Boston, Massachusetts, where he works in higher education, writing about science and technology. A Pushcart nominee, his fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine and Digital Americana. He is also the fiction editor for Talking Writing magazine.

SO LADIES & GENTS,  why do we authors continue to write? As Jonathan Franzen once wrote to me, "If it's not fun, then the hell with it."

Evelyn's Blog for July 19, 2017 - The Scoop

Hi Everybody,

THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE is now on Amazon, at home with my other titles. It is the first of my novels to be published only as an ebook. Let's see how it goes.  My paperbacks are passed along free from person to person, and I have no way to know how many people are reading them. A review on Amazon would compensate the author, even if a friend received a passed-along free copy. 

My six reviewers were real troopers: Arlene Germann, Andrea Tabor, Lisa Sandoval, Bonnie Sanabrais, Linda Allison, and Alma Herman. Thanks you again very much.

INTERESTING FACTS:

1. The original title was THE ROMANTIC IMPEDIMENT. But my editor, Trai Cartwright, believed that IMPERATIVE was more palatable, even though the first title was more to the point. After the title was set in stone, I reconsidered - too late. With IMPERATIVE, the read expects a walloping, gushy romance dripping off the page from first to last. But didn't do that because I don't write romances. I write love stories, and variations on the theme thereof.

2. The novel has imbedded in it three of my short stories. You can find them easily, if you haven't already. Let me know, and I'll tell you if you're right.

NEW ACTIVITIES:

Believe it or not, I wrote a second Jewish novel. It came as a surprise to me. Title: AN INCIDENT IN THE FAMILY. The story sat in Marv's family history and suddenly loomed up in my face. I wrote it in a flash. Edited it twice, and am preparing to enter it in the National Jewish Book Awards contest. Here's the pitch:

In 1925, an uncle marries his niece (an Avunculate Marriage). They have 2 children, the first normal, the second vastly retarded. In 1935, during the Great Depression, the father takes the now 6-year-old retarded child in the car with him. The garage door is closed. He starts the engine. 

 (56,000 words – a generational literary novel based on a true story)

The novel is short, but not a novella. It's long enough.

I'll write to you more often, and hope to hear from you.

NEW ACTIVITIES:

 

 

AN AWARD for THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE - Evelyn's Blog for June 1, 2017

Even before the novel is out the gate, it garnered a Finalist Award for Literary Fiction from the 2017 International Book Award contest. I entered this contest once before in 2012 for THE PROVIDER and won the same award. After 2012, I never entered a contest again, hoping to connect with a literary agent. That goal was never met. Worry not! I am in some stellar company, even with great writers who never won awards. 

A word about THE PROVIDER. Last year, I heard Senator George Mitchell in an interview talking about his father. The story went that his father was a manual laborer who managed to support a large family well enough. But when he was 50 years old, he lost his employment and was devastated.  He was so depressed that the family almost fell apart. A year later, he found employment as janitor and his self-esteem was restored. Senator Mitchell realized how important work is to a man's dignity.

Recently, NORMAN LEAR was interviewed and spoke of his childhood during the Great Depression where the common expression was "Be a good provider." 

To both men I sent a copy of THE PROVIDER with an inscription, "To resonate in the heart."

So long for now. I'll be talking with you soon again.

“SACRED COWS” - EVELYN'S BLOG - MAY 16, 2017

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“TOSS OUT SACRED COWS.” William Faulkner said this. His point was that if a piece distracts or does not really advance the plot and characters, then out it goes. I have followed Mr. Faulkner’s advice.

I tossed out the Prologue to THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE. I love the piece, and sharing it with you here brings me some comfort. (It will be of particular interest to my testimonial gang.) Of course, I saved the last four lines and they became the first line of the novel.

Prologue

She knew that presidents of countries kept diaries. For posterity. Vida Cleary was not interested in posterity. She knew that common people relied on diaries to escape their painful real world. Vida’s real world was not painful, and she was not common. Diarists confided their loneliness. Vida was not lonely. She would not use her diary for the typical melancholy reasons of other romantics, because Vida was not a typical young romantic. The mundane was not for her, such as “It rained today and that depressed me,” or “My soul is in a state of yearning.” Instead, she would document her revelations as a female of the species. Besides, it was writerly to keep a diary.

Like many other precocious children, by the age of three she could read. By four, she was reading books. Soon enough she thought of herself as exceptional, and that was the thinking that careened her toward her romantic elitist ways. By thirteen, she was fully engaged with the great romantic novelists of literature. Her first revelation quivered under its own weight, ready to burst out of her mind. It was the reason she thought about having a diary at all.

Vida’s purchase was bound in synthetic green leather. It carried three locks, enigmatic in aspect, yet unlike the sinister-looking diary next to it with leather straps. And it was cheaper. No matter that the key didn’t work. The locks made a lovely click.

She brought the diary home, into her large spare bedroom, and closed the door. She pulled her chair close up to her desk, sat down, and switched on a pool of light from the desk lamp. Afternoon shadows hung heavily in the surrounding air. She turned the diary cover with its three locks to the left and listened to its faint flapping sound against the desktop. Aware of the solemnity of the moment, even its piety, she brought her fountain pen gorged with black ink to meet the first silky page. She wrote slowly, carefully.

“Every woman believes in the possibility of the Great Romance. It is her birthright.”
—   Vida Cleary, 1953

She fell back on her bed, satisfied. She was fourteen years old. She would not write another entry for thirty years.


So now I wonder if my testimonial gang on the novel will tear into me for omitting the Prologue. I hope to hear from them about it. I will report to you their cuss words.

In the meantime, we’re waiting for the formatter to do her work on THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE and then put it up on Amazon-Kindle.

Very soon, I will send you another blog, a short one. 

 

 

The Film "The Piano" - Evelyn's Blog - May 15, 2017

Dear Old Friends and New:

While I'm waiting-waiting-waiting  for my formatter to start work on THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE (middle of May 2017) for Amazon-Kindle, I came upon the most uncanny quote from Jane Campion, the producer/director/writer of the extraordinary New Zealand film "The Piano".

I think that the romantic impulse is in all of us and that sometimes we live it for a short time, but it’s not part for a sensible way of living. It’s a heroic path and it generally ends dangerously. I treasure it in the sense that I believe it’s a path of great courage. It can also be the path of the foolhardy and the compulsive.
— Jane Campion

Wikipedia:  The Piano is a 1993 New Zealand drama film about a mute piano player and her daughter. Set during the mid-19th century in a rainy, muddy frontier backwater town on the west coast of New Zealand, it revolves around the piano player's passion for playing the piano and her efforts to regain her piano after it is sold. The Piano was written and directed by Jane Campion, and stars Holly HunterHarvey KeitelSam Neill, and Anna Paquin in her first acting role. The film's score for the piano by Michael Nyman became a best-selling soundtrack album, and Hunter played her own piano pieces for the film. She also served as sign language teacher for Paquin, earning three screen credits. The film is an international co-production by Australian producer Jan Chapman with the French company Ciby 2000.

The Piano was a success both critically and commercially, grossing US$140 million worldwide against its US$7 million budget. Hunter and Paquin both received high praise for their respective roles as Ada McGrath and Flora McGrath. In 1993 the film won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Subsequently, in March 1994, The Piano won 3 Academy Awards out of 8 total nominations: Best Actressfor Hunter, Best Supporting Actress for Paquin, and Best Original Screenplay for Campion. Paquin, who at the time was 11 years old, is the second youngest Oscar winner ever in a competitive category, after Tatum O'Neal, who also won the Best Supporting Actress award in 1974 for Paper Moon, at 10.

In closing, I must encourage you to see this extraordinary film while waiting for THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE to be posted on Amazon-Kindle.  I loved this film, partially because my first love was the piano. My second love, for the last thirty years, has been writing fiction. I'll be back very soon with another short blog.