LFV FRONTACT 2

SCENE 4

A laundromat/coffee shop hybrid establishment.

Day 10.

 

     We hear the sounds of a busy coffee house: 

     The hissing of an espresso machine, the clattering of ceramic dishes, conversations being carried on at low, and not-so-low, murmurs.

     There is a smattering of applause—not the most enthusiastic.

     An open mic is in progress.

     The HOST of the open mic is at the microphone.

 

And our next comic is new to the room, and she looks a little nervous. So please give a warm welcome to our first female comic of the night, Lydia Clark-Lin, everyone. Come on, make some noise.

photoHere’s the good news, Dr. Susan: I’ve made a real breakthrough since our last session. I was listening to a story on NPR yesterday about adults on the autism spectrum, and it made me realize I might be one of those adults. I’m not sure I recognize social cues. How else could I have not seen Bret was emotionally unavailable even after being so serious with him? Don’t you think that explains a lot? Yes, I can see you’re still with a patient. I just thought this was important. I’ll come back…

Elizabeth

By Liska Jacobs

Essay

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There are times when she is gentle, but there are also times when she is not gentle, when she is fierce and unrelenting toward him or them all, and she knows it is the strange spirit of her mother in her then.

– “Her Mother’s Mother” by Lydia Davis

 

Every oldest daughter of an oldest daughter is named Elizabeth. We are all Elizabeths, except one.

I pick her up, the one not named Elizabeth—my oldest—at her apartment in Mar Vista. She’s packed only one suitcase for the trip and when she sees me, asks if she should drive. I am crying again so I say OK.

We stop at the house in Van Nuys to pick up my mother. It’s near the wash and has been remodeled often, the courtyard bricked in, a fountain in the side wall, jasmine and rose bushes and stone steps leading to the back. Every room smells like cigarette smoke and when she comes out, my mother looks smaller, thinner, cheekbones severe, her green eyes dark. I let her take the front seat. It is, after all, her mother who has died.

I watch her closely. She plays with the radio station, one hand over her mouth. My daughter, thank God, has enough sense to put on a cd, to talk about trivial things, like the length of the flight, where we are staying in Binghamton.

On the plane, getting us seated is a hassle. My mother wants to sit by the window and she’s been assigned an aisle. For a moment I’m reminded of our childhood. Her bouts of depression, her anger, how she used to, as punishment for some slight—perhaps the dishes were not completely dry—ignore us for long periods of time. Mom, I would cry. Mom, Mom, Momplease talk to me. But she would continue puffing on her cigarette, switching through television channels or reading some thick hardcover book. I was wind outside a window.

Brelinki Author Photo_Credit Tim Brelinski and Max BoydWhat’s with all the hoopla concerning your upbringing?

Well, it’s a little difficult for me to understand the interest in my background since evangelical Christianity is as familiar to me as my own name, but evidently that’s not the case for everyone. I grew up in rural Idaho during the 1970s, which made my childhood and adolescence conservative to the extreme, and since my parents were fundamentalists, my sisters and I were even stranger than most Idahoans (sorry Idaho!). We weren’t allowed to bowl or play cards or pool, or go to circuses or dances, we couldn’t swim with members of the opposite sex (no “mixed bathing” in church lingo) or watch movies or frequent restaurants that served alcohol. We couldn’t wear makeup or earrings or nail polish or skirts that didn’t reach our knees. In other words, the things we weren’t allowed to do was a vastly longer list than the things we were.

9780525427421On the last day of August in 1970, and a month shy of her fourteenth birthday, Jory’s father drove his two daughters out to an abandoned house and left them there.

The trip had not taken long. Her father piloted the car with resolute determination toward the very edge of town. He drove past the railroad tracks and the fish hatchery and the rodeo grounds, past the sugar beet factory and the slaughterhouse and the meatpacking plant; all the while Jory stared out the window in a silent fury. Next to her in the Buick’s backseat, Grace was practically unconscious. She lay slumped over with her head resting accidentally on Jory’s shoulder, her drool dampening the upper portion of Jory’s T-shirt. Jory gave her sister a shove and then turned toward the window. Black Cat Lane and Chicken Dinner Road and Floating Feather rolled past—long, twisty lanes sided with fields of sugar beets and alfalfa and corn. Jory watched a lone mallard drop and skid like a bomber onto an irrigation ditch while three goats perched king of the hill–style on a salvaged roof a farmer had put out for them. Her father continued on past several vast silagey-smelling feedlots, and then the fields grew even larger and the scenery more sparse and the houses less frequent, and finally he turned down a narrow unpaved lane that Jory had never seen before. Then he stopped the car and opened the door. Jory refused to look up at the strange house where she and her sister were now to live. She sat in the backseat with her hands between her knees until her father pulled her forcibly out of the car and set her on her feet in the dirt.

ChristineSneedauthorphoto1Why did you think you had the right to write about Paris?

I don’t think that fiction writers need to ask permission. I used to think that we did, but eventually, probably sometime in my mid-20s, I realized permission wasn’t going to arrive at my doorstep from anyone, and so the best tack to take was to go ahead and write whatever I wanted to. If I was going to write about people I knew, however, perhaps then I’d need to ask permission, but I wasn’t planning to. Nonfiction writers do need to worry more about permission than novelists do.

Paris He Said_coverAs Jayne made final preparations to leave New York for Paris during the first few days of June, a heat wave turned the sky ashen with trapped pollution and unshed rain. The people she passed on the street seemed more short-tempered than usual, and no one met her gaze other than schoolchildren who glanced up at her with innocent apathy. For a long time she had assumed that poverty or loneliness, or both, would force her to flee the city, but instead she had met an older man who invited her to trade Manhattan for his home in Paris. She said yes with little hesitation.

51vUEnCumKL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Available from Dzanc Books

“Daring, precise, and linguistically acrobatic, this novel brings a history of America alive, from the war protests in the sixties to turn-of-the-21st-century art theft. A fearless portrayal of madness and its consequences, Carmiel Banaksy’s debut novel tracks the life of a suicidal housewife and her unlikely, schizophrenic counterpart. This is a new writer to savor, reminiscent of Nicole Krauss, Michael Chabon and Andy Sean Greer.” —Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin

Greenwich Village, 1959. Claire Bishop sits for a portrait—a gift from her husband—only to discover that what the artist has actually depicted is Claire’s suicide. Haunted by the painting, Claire is forced to redefine herself within a failing marriage and a family history of madness. Shifting ahead to 2004, we meet West, a young man with schizophrenia obsessed with a painting he encounters in a gallery: a mysterious image of a woman’s suicide. Convinced it was painted by his ex-girlfriend, West constructs an elaborate delusion involving time-travel, Hasidism, art-theft, and the terrifying power of representation. When the two characters finally meet, in the present, delusions are shattered and lives are forever changed.

The Suicide of Claire Bishop is a dazzling debut, evocative of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours (and Virginia Woolf’s classic Mrs. Dalloway), as well as Donna Tartt’s bestseller The Goldfinch. With high stakes that reach across American history, Carmiel Banasky effortlessly juggles balls of madness, art theft, and Time itself, holding the reader in a thrall of language and personal consequences. Daring, sexy, emotional, The Suicide of Claire Bishop heralds Banasky as an important new talent.

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