Here are the opening paragraphs of a new story just published at The Literarian, the magazine at the Center for Fiction in New York. The story invented itself late last fall when I happened to stop at a Barnes and Noble in Colonie and discovered huge walls of books categorized as PARANORMAL ROMANCE (see photo above taken by NC Contributor Cheryl Cowdy). This was a completely new literary genre to me—you can tell I don’t get out much. But it seemed very popular. I thought, I can write one of those. So I did.
Read the rest of the story at The Literarian, link below.
Also, if you’re in New York on March 14, come to my craft talk at the Center for Fiction (see the link at the bottom of the story).
Everything Starts at a Bookstore
I was supposed to meet Zoe for lunch at a chic Parisian restaurant she had discovered on the Internet, a crucial rendezvous during which I intended to propose marriage, but I was running late. A fierce, cold rain lashed down suddenly as I bounded up the Metro steps, rain as I had never experienced before. It drove me back into the underground, where dozens of African Parisians discussed the weather in languages other than French. I glanced at my watch and leaped up the stairs again, blinded by the torrents of rain.
Wind whipped the leafless plane trees along the avenue. I spotted a flower shop and ducked in, thinking to buy a bouquet for my love. But I must have slipped through the wrong door, for I found myself in a neat, closet-like secondhand bookstore with dark oak shelves marching back toward an ancient desk fortified with parapets of leather-bound tomes. I hovered, dripping in the doorway, loathe to enter and perhaps spatter some valuable books with water but also reluctant to dive back into the deluge. I wiped rainwater off my watch face, frantic with vexation and indecision. I naturally blamed all my troubles on the Parisians, their precious City of Light, and Zoe’s love of travel, which I did not share.
Plane trees? Is that a mode of transportation or plant life? I hope that was your mistake it gives me hope!
It is a kind of tree. http://www.2020site.org/trees/plane.html Very beautiful. Used to be (maybe still is) one of the most common trees in Paris.
Dang, you got me!
I’m just a bottomless pit of useless information.
I love this vignette you’ve written. I want to say to myself, “Hey, I could write a paranormal romance.” Hmmmmm…
Ridiculous genre or not, this is such a dg story!
I love how the protagonist slips into another time and watches his old life as if it were on TV, and “baguettes like loaded rifles.”
Yes, the whole thing is very funny and also fully loaded. Fluffy as it seems at first quick read, it’s deliciously rich and worthy of a second read. I love how it all starts at a bookstore, as indeed it did.
This isn’t slumming. This is full scale urban renewal. New parks, plazas and playgrounds of prose for the city of lonely teen-agers. Thanks for the link.
Ever the attentive student, I couldn’t help counting your verbs. For example:
“I dove down the Metro steps, interrogated the route map on the wall, and raced to the platform, catching the train as the doors swept shut.”
26 words, 5 strong verbs and not a copula anywhere to be found.
You noticed! Thank you, Steven.
Since it was always intended to be one lecture, let’s not forget the lovely ‘but-constructions’:
“I opened the book and read the words “Plût au ciel que le lecteur, enhardi et devenu momentanément féroce comme ce qu’il lit, trouve, sans se désorienter, son chemin abrupt et sauvage…” which were incomprehensible to me, yet somehow seemed to find an echo in the passionate intonations of the public address announcer.”
(“Yet” counts, kids.)
“… I had no doubt that it was she who had left the note for me in the book of poems (printed in an unreadable language). But as soon as I thought this thought I realized how ridiculous it was.”
“I knew I could escape. But what was there to escape to? ”
“I knew she wasn’t real, but I suddenly realized what it meant to say my heart ached, to know what I wanted and could not have.”
The drama of grammar.
The best kind.
“I noticed the slender, melancholy figure emerging from the shadows at the Rue de Dunkerque entrance, cloche hat, black lipstick, dark wool coat down to her calves. I noticed her because her eyes were fixed on me, and I could feel them.” The teens LOVE this sort of thing….Brilliant stuff! Now…if you could only turn this into a three-part movie starring Robert Pattinson you’d have some kind of retirement!