“There was a song in my grandmother’s head I never heard her sing.”
This is the first line of my upcoming novel, Club Storyville. For those of you who’ve read my other books, it may seem a bit of a departure.
I have a love-hate relationship with first-person. On one hand, many of my favorite books are written in first-person – Mirabilis, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Reader. The Bluest Eye is partly in first-person, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye. There is certainly nothing wrong with first-person perspective.
On the other hand, first-person done badly can often feel as if you’ve been sucked into someone’s personal fantasy.
Time shall tell, I guess, how my first-person is interpreted, because, with this particular novel, I could write it no other way. This is such a deeply personal story – not mine, Elizabeth’s – and this book is very close to my heart. It is chock-full of things toward which I am overly sentimental. Train travel. The south. Brassy southern grandmothers. Old cars.
And it’s peppered with things I spend a lot more time than I should thinking about. Like how the rules of society divide us. How the adopted morality of some impedes the happiness of others. How an open hand can change us for the better, and a closed hand can make us hard and hesitant.
Writing this novel has been extraordinarily difficult. It has been a long journey through our not-so-distant past, a journey during which I was repeatedly reminded dystopian worlds are not just the works of science fiction, that people have lived in them throughout history. Many still live in dystopian pockets today.
Writing this novel has also been extraordinarily blessed. Because when you immerse yourself in a time and circumstances that feel so bleak, you cannot help but find beauty.
A single red rose is positively striking against shades of gray.
Author’s Note: You might notice the slight change in the release date, from Tuesday, April 15th to Friday, April 18th. My partner had an unexpected ailment/appendectomy, and I’ve lost some days, so I’m giving myself a small extension to ensure a minimal amount of stress.