Thursday, April 23, 2009

The List

Bits & Bytes About The Author of This Blog (in no particular order)

Others find me bossy at times, or exacting, or both.

I was my mother’s wife. She was a hard-working single mom, and from the age of ten I took over the grocery shopping, cooking, and a good deal of the housework. Voluntarily, I might add.

I adore most children but won’t put up with horrid behavior.

If patience is a virtue then I’m virtuous.

A peculiar darkish brown Florida-shaped birthmark about two inches long appeared on my neck the first time my mother applied Coppertone suntan lotion on my six year old body. Said birthmark had faded and mysteriously disappeared by the time I was twelve.

In true Virgo fashion it’s usually all or nothing at all with me.

My French Grandmother would buy multiple packages of M & M’s so she could fill a bowl with red ones, (my favorites) just for me. Her other grandkids could have cared less; the color of candies they wolfed down bore little or no importance. After the bad things I’ve heard about FD & C Red Dye #40 I sure hope I don’t come down with cancer!

Under no certain terms am I willing to discuss politics or religion at the dinner table.

My mother never got over how good my memory was. I could recount events that happened when I was a baby with great detail.

Upon earning over three dollars one fine sunny day after setting up a row of TV trays and selling cast offs to passers by: mostly miss-matched glassware, old issues of Reader’s Digest, odds and ends from the junk drawer in the mudroom, doll clothes, and my outgrown sweater covered in fuzz-balls, I immediately ran down to Gordon’s market, a corner store where I frequently squandered collected pennies, to purchase a jar of maraschino cherries. My red food fixation rearing it’s ugly head again. And I sat down at the curb right there in front of the market to feast on foodstuff that I’d previously eaten only one at a time. I learned that “one at a time” was a fine approach to the ingestion of something so sweet and syrupy. I think I managed to down about six cherries before decided to pitch the jar in the nearby trash can.

Cooking relaxes me.

The E, L, N, and most of the M are worn off of the keyboard on my Mac.

When brushing my teeth I almost always close my eyes.

White walls and blank pages have the same effect on me, I want to fill them with color and life.

I’ll stop here. That’s enough bits & bytes for today.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oh my, a Pulitzer!

I'm sure most of you have heard by now, they’ve announced the winners of the Pulitzer Prize. When I was twelve I thought I would win one. Yes, I really did. Sweet ignorance of youth clouded my understanding of just how excellent a piece of writing would have to be to qualify for such an illustrious prize. The expectations are so high that some years they don’t even choose a winner! My creative writing teacher thought I was brilliant, and I believed her. I hadn’t learned about humility. Up until that point I felt as brilliant as Laura Ingalls Wilder. How hard could it be to pen a lovely little book? Just think up a story and string lots of sentences together to get my point across—a piece of cake—surely. Ha!

We grow up and then come across those that are so excellent that they blow us away and in turn bring out massive insecurities and doubt regarding our own abilities. I know I have. Writers of fine literary fiction have this effect on me. Two of my favorite authors wrote two of my favorite books, and just happened to win the prestigious award. Anne Tyler for Breathing Lessons, and Larry McMurtry for Lonesome Dove.

Here’s an excerpt from Breathing Lessons: She was wearing her best dress—blue and white sprigged, with cape sleeves—and crisp black pumps, on account of the funeral. The pumps were only medium heeled but slowed her down some anyway; she was more used to crepe soles. Another problem was that the crotch of her pantyhose had somehow slipped to about the middle of her thighs, so she had to take shortened, unnaturally level steps like a chunky windup toy wheeling along the sidewalk.

From the get go I couldn’t help but root for Tyler’s well-meaning character Maggie, I felt embarrassed for her, and her poor long-suffering husband Ira, what a champ! If you haven’t read this book, you have cheated yourself out of a great experience.

The beginning of Lonesome Dove: When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake—not a very big one. It had probably just been crawling around looking for shade when it ran into the pigs. They were having a fine tug of war with it, and its rattling days were over. The sow had it by the neck, and the shoat had the tail.

Man, McMurtry had me at hello with that opening! I have lent my copy out so many times it’s beyond dog-eared. A borrower dropped it in the bathtub, another spilled coffee all over it. Still, I keep it on my bookshelf, like a prize.

This year Elizabeth Strout won for Olive Kitteridge. A sample follows: She nodded, smiling through her glasses like a thirteen-year-old girl. Again, he pictured her trailer, the two of them like overgrown puppies tumbling together; he could not have said why this gave him the particular kind of happiness it did, like liquid gold being poured through him.

I downloaded the first chapter of Olive Kitteridge onto my Kindle last night. And I will buy this book; the first chapter is wonderful. Well, I think it would have to be—wouldn’t it—to win and all?

Tell us, what Pulitzer prize winner is your favorite?

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.