I finished a solid first draft of The Starting Gate about a month ago. Then I spent another two weeks putting a polish on it, rewrote the ending on some excellent advice from a good friend, and sent it under his cover to a literary agent in New York. The reply was surprisingly prompt, but, not surprisingly, discouraging. Apparently the book’s “candor and soul, art and wit” are “admirable”, but alas, the work is too “quiet and thoughtful… insufficiently sensational” to attract a publisher. If I were famous enough, maybe; but since I am not, no dice.
Since I honestly don’t know what to do next, I am going to do what I’ve already promised myself to do: read the next chapter, as scheduled, at The St. Andrew’s Bar And Grill next Monday night. So would you please consider joining me as I read “I was the One at Home”, the tenth chapter of my book The Starting Gate? It’s about the night in the house on Sweet Air Road when it was just me, my step-dad, and his massive left hemisphere stroke.
Here’s a quickie excerpt:
.... He reaches out his hand, grasping for things on the table that aren’t there. “Do you want me to get you something write with?” I ask. He nods vigorously. I get him a ballpoint and a small pad with some advertisement on the banner. He begins scrawling, but it looks funny. I turn the pad around to read it.
“Call your mother.”
“Dad, mom’s in Towson.” Towson is 10 miles away. “I should call 911. Let me call 911.”
He shakes his head more furiously than before. He taps fiercely on that pad with his fat forefinger. (The same meaty hand that slaps our faces, heavy and fast.) So I call my mom at the real estate office, where she’s manning the phones in the hopes of picking up a loose lead. Mom needs loose leads. She’s not exactly a born sales woman. But there’s another reason she volunteers to work essentially unpaid for three or four hours nearly every evening. It gets her out of the house at the time when my Dad’s most likely to be drunk.
Mom answers the phone at the real estate office. I tell her the situation and ask her to let me call 911. “I’m pretty sure he’s having a stroke, Mom.”
“Oh Paul, how can you know that?”
“He’s not talking, Mom.”
“Well let me talk to him.”
“Mom, I can’t let you talk to him. HE CAN’T TALK.”
And here are the details:
When: Monday, December 1, at 8pm
Where: The St. Andrews Bar, 7406 Aurora Ave. North, Seattle, WA 98103
Who: Me, and you, and probably a few others you know
How: Quick and dirty, the readings rarely last longer than 25 minutes.
Why: Why not?