My keepers won’t let me out of their sight. If they think I’m going to fill my pockets with seashells like a wannabe Virginia Woolf and walk into the Pacific as if it were the River Ouse, they needn’t worry. That isn’t how I have it planned. Though they’ve pretty much crashed my site when it comes to the logistics of just how I’m going to pull this off now.
This is the haunting beginning to Latayne Scott's completed manuscript A Conspiracy of Breath.I carry the wrapped child in front of me, in the crook of my aching arm, his head above his curled feet, as if he were alive. As if he had ever been born, or named, ordrew breath, or saw his dying mother’s eyes. As if she had ever seen his.
After Mother’s funeral I sat on her bed, fingered the peaks and valleys of her chenille spread and plumped her pillow to lean against the headboard. This was her world. A globe. A jelly glass of sharpened pencils. Bottles and bottles of pills. A tattered tower of crossword puzzles and a dictionary with a broken spine. A tub ofPonds Beauty Cream. Three library books, one with a bookmark only pages from the end. A picture of Papa, me, and the twins. And a Bible swollen with use.
“Miz Branch?” a voice called. “It’s Eric Russo. There’s something I think you need to see.”I opened the door and said hello to him through the screen. Eric was one of those polite boys with the acne and hair that needed washing and shoulders rounded like he was shielding himself from a blow. He held a paper in his hand.
These are words of my lost hope. Lost or taken, I can’t be certain, although I once was sure about the order of my life, of the people who came and went, what things occurred and what did not. Does it seem strange to speak about the things that did not happen? As if absence can be marked by the fact of it. How can a person catalogue the life that did not take place?
Christina tried to warn me about my boss.
"He's not the antichrist - I'm not saying that. Because everybody's going tolove the antichrist, and nobody likes Chuck. It's his one saving grace. But you watch him."
This last but not least excerpt belongs, of course, to the wonderful Kathleen Popa from her work-in-progress The Wonders of America.
We hope you enjoyed our Christmas contest as much as we did. On Monday, we will post a roundtable discussion about these novels, and explain the context of the excerpts. We invite you to join us on Monday to share your writing and reading insights and ideas.
For now: Did you guess correctly? Is there any author reveals that surprised you?