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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana Flegal


Welcome to our Wednesday edition of Would You Read On?. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to stop by our blog.
Kindly comment if you would read on or return this book back to the shelf. Last weeks contributing author is revealed below this first page.

Would You Read On?

My husband was dead and I wasn’t and I hated eating alone.

Yet here I stood, a party of one, at the door to the Ebb Tide Diner. With Exxon pumps out front and the motto “Eat Here and Get Gas” you didn’t expect fancy; it was the home-style cooking that kept this Cape Cod place packed.

After a move from the Boston area to the Upper Cape town of Sandwich, my husband Nate and I had eaten here often when our kids were young. But it didn’t become our Friday date-night standby until they were grown and gone. I hadn’t been back since Nate died, over 18 months ago. It was the beginning of a new year; I needed to deal with some things; and coming back here, alone, was one of those things.

Silly as it sounds, I had my hair done for the occasion, covering the gray dulling my natural nutmeg color and adding some golden highlights. I even wore the green sweater set and dangly silver earrings Nate had given me. I guess I did it for the same reason I spent time looking out over the ocean instead of the cemetery: I knew Nate would like it.

The word “pathetic” chided my resolve. I recovered fast and scolded myself: “Keep moving, McGee; self-pity is not on the menu.”

The place was crazy-busy as usual. The smell of pot roast and fried clams awakened tasty memories. A fast-walking waitress, plates running up her arms, slowed down long enough to tip her chin in the direction of the last vacant table—the one Nate and I had called “our table.” Sitting there wouldn’t make my first trip back any easier.

Leaning on my elbows, I clasped my hands under my chin and stared across the table at the empty chair. Summoning the image of Nate and me in times gone by brought a smile instead of tears, comfort not sadness. Grief was turning, I could feel it.

Now this isn’t so bad, I thought.

Last weeks entry was offered by Sharon Kopf.
You can find Sharyn on Facebook, or by visiting her website, sharynkopf.com (geared toward her freelance article writing) and her blog, sharynkopf.blogspot.com (which focuses on her single-over-40 nonfiction work).

27 comments:

Timothy Fish said...

This one goes back on the shelf, but I'm sure the author looks good in black.

Okay, so maybe it isn't that bad. The concept itself isn't bad. Every book should begin with the main character on the verge of death. Grief after the loss of a spouse can work well. But with that in mind, I would recommend striking the statement “Grief was turning”, near the end of the page. It’s too early to let the sunshine in.

The first couple of paragraphs come across as failed attempts at humor. I think this would work better if the emotions were drawn out more. I want to see a character putting on a happy face to the world, and trying to convince herself that she should be happier than she is, but inwardly, she can’t help but think about all the stuff she can’t do with her husband now that he is gone.

Linda Glaz said...

Oh, my yes, I would read on. And the only suggestion I would even have would be the opening line which was powerful, but good have knocked my socks off was:
My husband was dead and I wasn’t and I hated eating alone.

My husband was dead and I wasn't. I hated eating alone.

Yeah, she has me hooked!

Andy Scheer said...

You bet I'd keep reading. I did pause, however, with the line about "covering the gray dulling my natural nutmeg color and adding some golden highlights." Then she got back on track with descriptions I could appreciate. The writer clearly has a good eye, and this doesn't come from her first time at a keyboard.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

This is too funny: “Eat Here and Get Gas” I want to know what kind of place this is.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

This makes me think of Elizabeth Taylor : My husband was dead and I wasn’t and I hated eating alone.

So right away I think she might have attitude.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Okay, finished reading. Yes I'm curious. I want to know more about this woman. I would turn the page.

Just as meeting someone for the first time, some times you click right away, sometimes you don't. But the first few paragraphs promised something and I'd be willing to turn a few more pages to see if anything is delivered.

Heather Marsten said...

Yes, I would read on - the pun about eating and gas made me smile and like the character. I was impressed with how much backstory and information was presented in a way that kept the action moving. I would read on to find out how the dinner went.

Sarah Thomas said...

I would read on, though I think there's too much backstory before the waitress sends her to a table. I want the action firt, then the backstory woven in. Linda's edit to the first line makes it perfect and a fantastic opener.

Linda Glaz said...

Heather, you were spot on, that's one of the things I liked. The way she wormed all of those details in there without our noticing. Right. I usuall balk at backstory, but she did it so well.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Yes, I would. She's funny and writes well. But I find myself wondering how realistic it is that she wouldn't be sad. She starts out saying she hates eating alone, then she smiles and says this isn't so bad. It's a bit contradictory.

Apart from that minor detail, I would read on--I want to find out what happens next!

Who was last week's writer?

Codependency Caring or Controlling said...

This sampling left me curious. Appears that the woman is ready to move on. I would turn the page to see how and where she is going with the rest of her story, her life.

Katherine Hyde said...

Yes, I would read on. This author has an authoritative voice. I like the character and the understated humor.

Kathryn Elliott said...

Yep, I'm in. Giggling over the gas.

Rick Barry said...

Just for the record, on Indiana's Highway 31, just south of Kokomo, there really is a combination fuel station/restaurant that proudly displays a sign "Eat Here and Get Gas."It still makes me smile, but somehow it hasn't lured me in to sample the cuisine.

Brenda Loud said...

I would read on. The opening paragraphs captured my attention and made me want to find out what will happen.
I can feel her emotions and I like her sense of humor.

S Wintermeyer said...

Yup. I'm intrigued. I actually wish your sample was a bit longer. PS: I, too like the first line edit.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Yes, I would read on. Love the attitude. Kill the semi-colons.

Anonymous said...

Yes I would read on. I want to know how old this widow is and where she goes from here. Obviously some of these comments were made by someone who has never been there and don’t know anyone who has.

Timothy Fish said...

Anonymous,

You're right that some of us have never been there, but I doubt any can say we don't know anyone who has. I sit behind a pew of them every Sunday evening. Last Sunday evening I was touched when one of our widow ladies stopped our newest widower as he made his way into the sanctuary and said, “You come sit with us. We know what it’s like.” I remember back when I was a teenager asking a woman how she was. This was many months after her husband had died and I assumed she’d had time to grow accustomed to it. I learned a lesson when she responded, “some days are really hard.”

As you pointed out, some of us haven’t been there. Which why I commented the way I did. I haven’t been there, so I need help to understand. I need help to feel what the character is feeling. Don’t just tell me that this place awakened memories, show me. Make me weep because Nate is dead.

Joe Sierra said...

I think the author has accomplished a pretty good hook for the length. I'm already curious and empathetic enough with the character to wonder where her life goes from here. I'd turn the page!

Kristen Joy Wilks said...

I think this entry is really well done for its target audience. That is not me. I'm a mom of young kids, don't have gray hair yet, still running around crazy keeping my boys from testing out homemade boats in the toilett. I can't really relate. But My mom would love this.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me that the writer isn't trying to make this a "tear jerking moment" but trying to show that moments such as this are not always grief filled. But they are so very often times of awkwardness. This character is on a mission to accomplish a task that she has set out to do. I don't believe the story is as much about her loss as it about her need to make an effort to move forward. I would certainly love to read more to see if I am correct.

Ellen Davison said...

Well,the first line got my attention and the rest just flowed. I was sorry that there wasn't more to read. I certainly got a "feel" for the restaurant itself--could almost smell the potroast--and the awkwardness the woman felt facing a meal alone in a public place. I agree with the comment about the nutmeg colored hair; just leave in the comment about the highlights. I like the beginning of this story and would like to find out how the widow overcomes her loneliness, because I'm sure she will.

Andrea Hamilton said...

From the first line, I knew I wanted to know more. I have never suffered such a devastating loss, but I, too, hate dining alone. I laughed out loud about the sign at the restaurant as I passed one for years and never felt the desire to stop and eat there....I would love to read this story and find out how this woman copes with the challanges that face her.

Anonymous said...

I definitely want to know what's going to happen to this woman. She already seems like she's my friend, and I'm rooting for some sunshine in her life.

I agree with the first line edit --seems more powerful.

Anonymous said...

I would rather have seen her begin at a point of change for the heroine. I didn't get the impression anything would happen in this scene beyond dinner and some fond memories.

Elsie Bush said...

Several of my neighbors are widows of a year or two. I see their struggles with loneliness and with how much social interaction they feel ready to handle. I get the impression that this gal will go on to handle her coming-out with determination spiced by humor.
I'd turn the pages--and would probably recommend the book to my neighbors. I think this might address a niche not often written about.