A publisher I know set up next to me, so we got to talk during the evening. Unfortunately, Marcia Gaye--a writing friend--came a little later, and the spots on either side of me were already filled, so we didn't get to sit next to each other and chat. At a slow point, I walked over and we talked. The book she was signing and selling was Times they Were A-Changing: Women Remember the 60's and 70's. The bright rainbow of colors on the cover immediately brought back a flood of memories.
Oh, you don't know Marcia Gaye? Marcia writes prose and poetry, and whenever she enters a contest, she wins. In fact, there are some contests where she's won multiple prizes. There are even some writers who surrender and refuse to submit to a competition when they hear Marcia is a contender.
So when I heard these words uttered from her mouth, my ears perked up. I asked her about her story in the anthology, and she said, "I think it's my best writing." This juggernaut of jewel-like poems? This unstoppable slayer of competitors? She was proudest of this story? I was drawn to the collection like a moth to a flame. Like a honeybee to clover. Like a menopausal woman to a box of Godiva. I had to read her tale.
I bought her book, had her sign it (but not to me), telling her, "I'm going to read it and then give it away on my blog," and while it was still slow, I went back to my table and read...read the beginning...continued reading...could not stop reading...was compelled to read the whole story.
Marcia's "Two Sisters" story paints a perfect picture of that era. The rhythm of her writing, the images, the odors that come wafting back to the reader from the pages...it was like a long-gone lullaby.
Here are the first two paragraphs:
Katherine and I gather on our big double bed after our brothers have been tucked into their own beds. The boys got stories from C. S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll. Now the two of us will read from the storybook that is all true. Straight backs and crossed legs, we settle into quiet attention. The Bible on her knees, Katherine reads aloud.
We have been through creation and the flood. I've marveled at the perfect pronunciation Katherine gives to all the strange names. She shows me the divided kingdoms on the map as we travel alongside the kings. While she reads I twirl my fingers over the chenille and embroidery of the quilt. I trace the patterns of just the white flowers, and then just the pink ones.
It is an ordinary story told in an extraordinary way, in that Marcia didn't witness the shooting at Kent State. She didn't hang out with Jimi Hendrix after he left the stage at Woodstock. She didn't ever do a duet with Janis Joplin (although Marcia does have the long flowing hair for it). It was a slice of Marcia's life told in an enthralling manner.
|This is Marcia Gaye, so when you enter a writing contest and she jostles you |
right out of the competition, you know who to trip...
If you'd like to have this signed copy for your own, leave a comment. I'll draw names in a week...