livingstone recent comments

written 1784 days ago

This is quite a brilliant piece of writing, the four chapters I’ve read so far. As a writer, you’ve got everything going for you: an ear for the music of words, a film director’s eye for storyboarding the action, and an attention to the surface of things that matches your interest in the darker depths of the character’s world. I can’t say I know yet what the book is about yet, which is a compliment. I feel like I’m the trusted friend Bea doesn’t have, the confidant that Frankie can’t quite be. That’s a sweet gift of privilege to offer a reader. Thanks.

What I like? The bravery of Bea as a little girl, keeping that ring on despite its disturbing power. That foretells some pluck which, very soon, doesn’t seem much in evidence. (How old is she in that scene? I feel like she’s about 10 or 11. Some readers get really anxious if they aren’t told quickly.) You deliver information in the right doses, moving from the first sections of Chapter 1 to the point where Bea is widowed, which is when the reader realizes she was married… and soon enough we learn about the miscarriage. We learn that she’s devoted to work, and it’s probably interesting work, but we don’t know what that work is, which keeps me turning pages. This kind of weaving of biography serves the purpose that writers have, of telling the reader everything we want them to know *all at once*, so they can be equipped for what the story has to offer… but what you skillfully avoid is a laundry list of biographical details, but rather the unfolding of character through the telling of a story.

There are many sentences that are lovely and wise, but here are a few: “Every morning it’s the same. Every morning I reach for him, straining my ears, hoping to hear his soft snoring or maybe even the toilet flushing in the bathroom. But it’s just me. It’s always just me.” “But as a friend the lines are blurred, muddy like a watercolor gone wrong.” “Grossed out by mention of sex… it’s been that long.” “I can barely hear her apology as the distance grows between us.” “The future is just a feeling; it’s not like when I touch things.” “…like a jellyfish… letting currents drag you farther into this depression.”

I like how Bea’s analytic and cautious character is revealed as she meets impetuousness Jake. It’s such a authentically romantic way to expose her, through their first date. The emptiness of the house that Jake built is heartbreaking, the irony of all that beautiful cabinetry with “three lonely glasses, scared, lonely and trembling.”

I do have a couple of questions so far. In Chapter One, how could it be that Frankie, a professional who knows and loves Bea, who sees her weekly, could not know she’s been sleepless for months? I would think this would be obvious, because Bea’s eyes, at the very least, would give that fact away. Also, when Frankie brings up the “dream of the man” at that point, the only dream so far is of the man with the boots. So why does Bea clarify Frankie is not referring to her husband? Jake at that point is bit of an emotional ghost, but not conveyed in a dream so far.

I’m eager to read more of this deftly written and soulful book.
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