A little idealism helps

Somehow, in starting from the finale of an earlier novel, my novel What’s Left would have to resolve a gap between the five siblings’ Greek ancestry and their interest in Tibetan Buddhism, along with the challenges of running a restaurant shortly after the loss of their parents. Their view of business is more radical and community-focused, for one thing.

Yes, they were young and idealistic, but would that be enough to get them through?

What would you hope to see change in your surrounding society? Or even your own life?

Looking at movies set in the subway

I’ve expressed my surprised there aren’t more stories set along the underground rails, and now I learn of one based on the eight fortified trains that were painted yellow like other MTA service trains as a disguise. The so-called money trains regularly picked up millions of dollars of toll fares in the wee hours every night in New York City.

Their existence was a well-kept secret that finally surfaced in a 1995 flick starring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, and a young Jennifer Lopez. If only the movie had lived up to its promise. The film, though, was a bomb, snarled in Hollywood clichés and comical misteps. Maybe they should have played it as comedy rather than criminal action.

Meanwhile, the trains themselves have become history, in part due to the MTA’s switch to from cash and tokens to MetroCards issued at vending machines, typically using credit cards.

Well, it’s one more element that could have gone into my novel Subway Visions, maybe as a somewhat friendlier bank-on-wheels, back before we had ATM machines everywhere.

Can we really keep up with all this change, everywhere we turn?

 

When she phoned again

within some perspective, the past and future as an hour-and-a-half chat in part about her new love or lover, how could Squirrel not be pained trying to separate truth from layers of self-deception making him wonder if she’d ever seen him clearly as he was after all moving into other circles as one eligible male the single women had their eyes on yet what shock he realized later seeing how blinded he’d been, his heart solely on her, the news coming amid gossip of that “intimate little dinner that breaks things off” where he heard, fourth party from a third, “first, pour me something stiff” and salty as teardrops running for miles while most really do want nuts, no matter what they say

 

As for my greatest extravagances?

We’re on a tight budget, but even so …

  1. Bombay Sapphire gin. Or a few other brands in that price range, when they’re on sale.
  2. An hour-long professional massage once in a blue moon.
  3. Two two-pound lobsters from a roadside stand. A purely impulse buy.
  4. Upfront seats for the whole family at Christmas Revels.
  5. Yearly Meeting boarding in a dorm rather than a tent.
  6. Time squandered online.
  7. Dining out. Not that we do it often.
  8. Drafting and revising rather than attending to household chores.
  9. Serving the rabbits too many greens each evening in season. Won’t they get fat?
  10. Feeding the wild birds. Those bags of blended seeds get expensive.

~*~

Anyone have generosity on your own list?

 

Little room to be fully alone where she is

When it comes to her cohort of close cousins in my novel What’s Left, I don’t want to give away too much. Let’s just say there are a lot of them, and they come to prominence in the last half of the story. You just might have reason to be envious.

As an author, this presents a challenge. How can I narrow the focus for the reader yet maintain an awareness of the scope involved by the time we get to a fourth generation of this family in the New World?

In this case, I chose to concentrate on a handful of Cassia’s cousins, at most, and deal with the rest of them in quick glances, often as part of the pack, sometimes simply a cluster of names in a single brushstroke. I hope it’s sufficient.

Perhaps it also helps that apart from Cassia’s best friend forever, Sandra, the cousins don’t step into the spotlight until we’re well into the story and some of the other earlier characters have already stepped offstage.

~*~

As a passage I deleted from the final version suggests, her upbringing was quite different from her father’s.

He must have been very lonely, always on best behavior, without any of the competitive mischief that runs through my family.

~*~

One of the things that amazed me about my college girlfriend’s family was the number of cousins she had and how often they visited each other — second- and third-cousins included. They seemed to know where everyone lived and what they were up to. Mine was nothing like that.

Do you have any close cousins? Do you find any of them to be special? Annoying?

Or if you’re from a big family, how close are you to your brothers and sisters? Which ones more than others?

Who would you turn to if you were in trouble?

~*~

Coming across a family photo like this one online fills me with admiration. They seem so close and happy together. The one I found is captioned Three Greek Sisters. I’m assuming they’re Greek-American, but who cares? By the way, those look like some lucky guys, too.

Care to share in my field notes from a lifetime’s zigzag trip?

Writing has been a means for me to investigate the question, “Who am I,” and of recollecting fragments, especially those that might eventually coalesce into a larger perspective. Unlike many adults, I have few vivid childhood memories, but what I am piecing together is often troubling. I grew up in Ohio in a mainstream Protestant tradition, became an Eagle scout, loved chemistry, hiked and camped, that sort of thing. I can blame becoming a hippie on my first lover, and thank her, too, for pointing my life in an unanticipated direction even after she flew ever so far away.

In the years since, I’ve followed a zigzag journey that’s been rich in many ways excepting money. Let’s just say it’s been off-beat.

Now retired from a career in daily newspaper journalism, I’ve married for the second time, live in a historic mill town in the seacoast region of New Hampshire, and am an active Quaker. It’s a full plate. What I didn’t expect was how much of my own “contemporary” fiction is now history – so much has changed so quickly in my own lifetime.

It’s hardly the end of the story, though. Not if we can help it.