Monday, December 29, 2014

Attic Finds

I was putting wrapping paper and gift boxes away in the attic, and couldn't believe it when I unearthed a hat box containing these two treasures. The one with tulle is my wedding hat, made by my mother from antique lace. The other is part of my mother's wedding veil, made by her mother from real Brussels lace.  I thought them both long lost.

My wedding dress was designed by Becky Besoulis, a Chicago designer known for her leather and lace creations in the eighties. My dress was exquisite lace over silk jersey - very unbride-like but perfect for me. My mother's gown looked like a pale pink explosion of tulle and lace. She refused to wear white because it made her freckles stand out. I played dress-ups for years in it, and its hoop skirt petticoat lasted even longer.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wasted effort

I am ticked. About a book. A book with real style. A solid story premise at the start.  Great cover. And it fell apart in the last quarter. I don't get it. Where are today's editors and why aren't they doing their jobs? When there's a hole in the logic of a story, that's unforgivable. I can only imagine there was a rush to get the book out, and no one noticed the glaring question, never satisfactorily answered, of why the hero wanted to kill the heroine in the beginning. And one sentence seems to be all the explanation the reader gets as to why he changed his mind. Blah!

Remember J.K. Rowling's first mystery written under the nom de plume of  Robert Galbraith, I think?  Liked the sleuth a ton. Decent mystery. But there was never an explanation for why the murderer hired the hero to find the killer - himself. Yikes!

I've read lots of books with super first three chapters, and after that, the mundane and banal is all we get on the printed page. As a writer, I think I know what happened. The author polished the heck out of the first three chapters to get the book sold based on the beginning and an outline. After that, the deadline interfered with the same level of commitment to rewrites. It is a sad truth of the industry.

I won't buy any more books by this author, which is a shame. But I won't be fooled a second time by a killer cover and super opening chapter.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Third Grade, 1953

My DH's 50th high school reunion was held this past summer. For a variety of reasons, we didn't go, though we'd planned on it. Anyway, he just received a packet of nostalgic items from the reunion organizers, including a booklet containing the bios of classmates, their updates about their lives, and a picture of the third grade classroom many of them were in together. All thirty of them.

My DH's classmates have led interesting and constructive lives. Many, many have found ways to contribute to justice and the environment, while quite a few chose to teach. His generation was one of givers - even though they were in the thick of the Vietnam era and had to serve in the military. It's as if one bad hand was parlayed into a winning game, and they took advantage of it. I must admit my admiration.Those Midwesterners know how to do the right thing, and do it they did.

 But the most interesting part of the packet for me was the third grade class picture. Most of those seven and eight year olds graduated from high school together, and their lives are open books to one another. One girl killed herself not long after cap and gown time, another died of cancer. Some lost their lives later, and like young men in my class, several came home from Vietnam in body bags. Some married high school sweeties, only to divorce down the road, and being good Midwesterners, they were embarrassed by the failures of their marriages. It's an interesting amalgamation of old-fashioned with the seismic shift of values that roared in with the sixties. I was younger then, and my high school life was in the throes of the sixties revolution, while my DH's was out of college and being drafted. Those few years made quite a difference.

I also didn't grow up with the same people my entire life. Leading a nomadic life was the norm for both of my parents, as well as my brother and me. Friendships lasted the length of an assignment, then it was on to the next school where you were the new kid all over again. While there were many obvious drawbacks (three different teachers for me in third grade, three different high schools), I learned how to be happy wherever I was. Friends and cliques didn't define me. I never felt the need to conform. I was who I was.

Yet I wish I could hear from my third grade classmates (at least one classroom) and find out what defined their next fifty-six years. How did they make it through the sixties? Or did they implode? I'll never know. It's like a wonderful book I'll never get to read.

I envy my DH his deep roots.