A WRITER'S WIT
The magnificent houses, the three old-money brick houses, each with a small turret and a wraparound porch, had been built uptown near the churches when the town was younger and smaller, before the Great War. The wraparound porches were there to hold rainy-day children and morning tea carts and quiet late-evening conversation, cosy, discreet conversation which could not easily take place in front rooms or kitchens or bedrooms, certainly not on the street.
Bonnie Burnard, from her novel, A Good House
Born January 15, 1945
Regarding Men at Sea
Behind the Book is a weekly series in which I discuss the creative process it takes to write each of the fifteen narratives included in my latest collection, My Long-Playing Records and Other Stories. Scroll to the bottom of the post to locate links to previous Behind the Book posts.
In 1996, Ken and I celebrated our twentieth year together by taking a cruise that sailed among the Hawaiian islands (neither one of us is a photo hound). The ship that was our home for ten days was the SS Independence, which had been launched in 1951. It and its sister ship, the SS Constitution, had originally sailed the Atlantic in the 1950s, that heyday leading up to the era of jet travel, when thousands of people made their way to Europe by way of these luxurious ships. Now, forty years later, having been refitted, those two vessels were serving passengers who wished to enjoy the peaceful waters of the Pacific. Our anniversary trip was my first cruise, and it was heaven. Your luggage magically appeared at your door. At each port, there were fun excursions to take, or you could even stay on board and enjoy the amenities there. And there was food, food, food! I began to wonder what it would have been like to sail the Atlantic.
I suppose I also place a character somewhat like myself in this story, a ten-year-old boy, who’s never experienced such splendor, a young boy named Dane Adriane, who probably plays the piano better than I did at that age, a boy who is perhaps more intelligent and curious than I was. Again, a bit of wish fulfillment helps to create narrative! Little Dane’s single mother supports him and his sister by working as a waitress back in Dallas. To take a momentous trip like this in 1958, to be dressed up like a little doll by his doting Uncle T. Rex, both pleases and puzzles Dane. Then when he begins to intuit that his uncle has interests aboard the ship that do not include him, he feels a bit insecure. His attempt to maintain his equilibrium, both physical and emotional, on this ship during a squall (I must say) is heartbreaking. The climax may provide a surprise for the reader, but the last paragraph certainly puts the entire story into perspective:
A PASSAGE FROM THE STORY
“At the same time, I realized I might never again experience the listless inertia of an afternoon spent with the two old men or Mrs. Boatwright’s kind attention or cavorting with Olympic swimmers or joking with my uncle, when he was free, of course. If he had suddenly changed his mind about flying, I would have been delighted, for there was something about the sea that would forever make me wonder, when I sailed, if I might not at all wind up where I had begun" (154).
Click here to buy a copy of My Long-Playing Records and Other Stories, where it is available at Amazon.
11/13/14 — Introduction to My Long-Playing Records
11/20/14 — "My Long-Playing Records" — The Story
11/27/14 -- "A Certain Kind of Mischief"
12/04/14 — "Ghost Riders"
12/11/14 — "The Best Mud"
12/18/14 — "Handy to Some"
12/25/14 — "Blight"
01/09/15 — “Tales of the Millerettes”