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Guest author, Sarah Anne Johnson of The Lightkeeper's Wife, writes a quirky little column this morning. From a writer's view, I can relate. One little thought stuck in my mind, wondering "why" about something, can be an adventure that turns into a column.
Feel free to email and say hello to Sarah. You can reach her at:
Welcome to the book clubs, Sarah Anne Johnson...
In June 1996 I lived behind Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Giant's House, which had just been released. The book received a lot of awards and acclaim, and I was thrilled to meet Elizabeth at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA where I took a writing workshop with her. We learned how to create idiosyncratic details to make a story pop in the reader's imagination. We studied narrative arcs and character development, and we tore into each other's stories with the ferocity of miners digging for gold. I wanted to find the nuggets in my work and discard the rest. I'd keep only the gold, I told myself.
It was during that week that Elizabeth and I discovered that we shared a backyard. I asked her if she knew about the "puker." I was dying to know who the man was that woke me up at 3:30 every morning with the sound of his retching onto the pavement. The silence of the wee hours, combined with the strange and lonely splatter of vomit on the road never failed to give me the creeps as I tried to fall back to sleep. But as soon as I was almost asleep again, a car door slammed, a motor roared, and the car creaked and strained down the road. Was this person driving off drunk into the night? Or was he sick--maybe from cancer treatments? What was wrong?
Elizabeth had never heard the puker, but her curiosity was peaked. She promised to listen for him. She was going on a book tour and doing publicity for her book, so I didn't see her when I returned to Somerville. Still, every night, there was that terrible lonely sound. I had told many friends about the puker, partly out of disgust, but also out of something deeper, some desire to know what that person's pain was all about.
One of Elizabeth's publicity gigs was an interview on NPR. When the interviewer asked her how she liked living in Somerville, the first thing that came to her mind, she said, was the story of the puker. She told of the late night vomiting as vividly as if she had heard him herself. She described the sound of the car door slam, and the engine thrumming down the road.
I missed the interview, but I heard about it from friends with whom I'd shared the story. "Hey," one friend said. "The puker is famous." The story was gold.
--Sarah Anne Johnson
*To see a photo of the dunes of the outer cape, the inspiration for the Dangerfield lighthouse in Sarah Anne Johnson's The Lightkeeper's Wife, and to post comments about her column, go to, https://www.facebook.com/pages/DearReadercom/291327524280953
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
AUTHORBUZZ: THE TUDOR VENDETTA (Fiction) by C.W. Gortner
One secret can destroy a kingdom. In 1558, Elizabeth I sits on the throne. Summoned from exile abroad, Elizabeth's intimate spy, Brendan Prescott, is plunged into danger when he's sent to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a favored lady in waiting. But the closer he gets to the truth, the more he must risk to save England from destruction--including the betrayal of the queen herself.
Go to: https://authorbuzz.com/dearreader click on THE TUDOR VENDETTA to find out more about the book and the author, C.W. Gortner. Send him an email, he'd love to hear from you.