She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb: a review

shescomeundone

Note to FTC: In exchange for reviewing this book I received the pleasure of reading the book, nothing more.

One of the best books I’ve ever read, She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb, published in 1992, lands 5+ stars. It was an Oprah’s Book Club choice. Twice. I don’t know what took me so long to discover the book, and the author, but I’m glad I finally did.

As a writer I tend to study the story I’m reading, sometimes unconsciously, (which can make for an unenjoyable experience if I’m not careful to stop studying long enough to just read). The first thing I usually notice, or look for, is foreshadowing. Often I guess correctly where this foreshadowing is and what’s going to happen next because of that event. This is when I know I have an “okay” book in hand, rather than a “knock-em-dead” book. I want to be surprised, shocked even, by the twists and turns in a story, I don’t want to feel so certain I know what the ending will read like.

But with She’s Come Undone the foreshadowing, was not the first thing I noticed, (though I did find it and guessed correctly in a couple of instances but not most). No, the first thing I noticed, as a writer, is that Wally Lamb offers very little in the way of description, and yet we inherently know not only what the characters look like but who they are – they’re 3-D people, they feel real. “How did he do that?” we writers want to know. The good news is it’s easy to discover that he shows us what’s happening by – guess – telling us exactly that: what’s happening, not what color the kitchen counter Dolores throws a towel on is but what she knocks over with that towel. Voilà: there is the picture in our mind, he need go no further with that description, he can simply go on telling us her next action. And the dialogue? You just can’t get any better than this. So, as a writer, I highly recommend reading and studying She’s Come Undone.

I also highly recommend She’s Come Undone as a reader. The story, about a girl/woman, Dolores Price, dealing with depression and repressed feelings, is so eerily like my own (early) life it scared me. (Dolores’s greatest fear, which I won’t tell you so as not to spoil the story), is my greatest fear, and for the very same reason, though it takes her years to recognize the fear (it did me too). The grip Mr. Lamb has on the human psyche is amazing but what astounded me more was the fact that, despite being a man, he got the feelings of this depressed girl/woman down-pat! And I’ve never before paid attention to whether the main character is a man written by a woman or vice-versa, it’s simply either a good story or it isn’t. But with this one I couldn’t help it because…..well, you’ll have to read the book to understand what I mean.

I was also pleasantly surprised to learn about “other things” that happened in the 60s and 70s, things aside from the moon landing and Kennedy’s death. So much news is woven into this story that it could easily be a terrific history book for teenagers.

I don’t want to digress – I believe the main point of She’s Come Undone is to show us the damage that judging others can do, how it can hurt people well beyond the day they were assaulted, verbally or otherwise, by their peers, and even by so-called responsible adults – it can take hold, grow and last for years and years, making everything in the victim’s life a nightmare of fear. It’s sad, yes, very sad, but the book isn’t a depressing one, it’s thoughtful and it’s hopeful, it really made me think about all the kids, and adults, in this world who are constantly picked on, bullied, and how they make it through life without a breakdown. Many of them don’t.

She’s Come Undone also has several gut-busting belly laugh moments sprinkled throughout which greatly helped ease the seriousness of the subject enough to help us, the reader, read on, knowing we weren’t being led to a “bucket-full-of-tears” slaughter.

Run out and get She’s Come Undone today. You’re going to love Dolores, I promise. Click here to go to my bookshelf and read short reviews of other books I’ve read this year.

What book stands out as one of your greatest discoveries? What made it so great?

Click here to follow me on Facebook, and here to follow me on Twitter.

Click here for fiction, and here for nonfiction. I also have just launched The Tale Well: Stories by Roslyn Fainwhere I share my fiction, writing under the pen Roslyn Fain.

To subscribe to This Side….Over Yonder look to the top left corner of this page; there are different methods of following, choose the one that’s right for you. 

 

 

 

My baby’s feet #babies #memoir

 

image by Deanna Schrayer
image by Deanna Schrayer
When I held my babies, whether to please them or to please me – usually both – I was fascinated with their feet. Not only were they tiny enough to hold in the palm of my hand, they were also tattooed with lines that I read like a fortune teller would read your palm to determine your future.
I could barely see the creases in my youngest son, Noah’s, feet, so faint were they, and I knew they’d never touch the ground.
I couldn’t keep Noah’s feet covered for anything in the world. Shoes? No – no matter how many times I picked them up off the floor and put them tightly back on his feet, off they’d come again in a giggling rage of escape. Covering his feet with a blanket was just as difficult.
My husband and I took turns walking Noah around the block in the middle of the night to get him to go to sleep. I always put socks on him, knowing the blanket we’d swaddled him in would be unwound and flapping in the wind with the first punch of his strong little fists. Still, wide awake and squawking, he knocked the blanket off his feet and for a moment all was quiet. Oh, yes! He’s finally asleep! I thought, careful not to announce it. But no, the moment he realized his feet were not bare his scream grew louder than ever.
Attempting to cover him back up, I rocked and rocked and rocked Noah as I walked like a drunk down the street. His red face hit my shoulder in rhythm to the beat of my heavy footsteps as he bashed his little legs together, rubbing at his ankles in an attempt to free himself of the socks.
For fifteen, twenty minutes the furious fit jarred the entire neighborhood until I’d reached our house for the twelfth time and, seeing our front door wide open at two AM, and plum exhausted, I imagined the ecstasy of the bed I desperately needed to be in. Noah’s temper finally beat out my patience and, back in the house, standing by our bed, I held on to my screaming son as tightly as he’d allow, kicked off my own shoes, laid down with him on my chest, took a deep breath and rolled over to lay him beside me.
But it wasn’t until I reached down and pulled his socks off that Noah stopped crying. Relieved, I pulled the covers up to my chest and, consequently, to Noah’s. The warning sob reached my ears quicker than it could leave his little mouth. Before the sob became a scream I jerked the blanket back off both of us. A heavy contented sigh escaped my son’s mouth.
As I lay my head on the pillow and tucked my baby into the crook of my arm, his free feet kicking at thin air, he laughed, a great baby belly laugh. In the next second he was sound asleep.
*
I came across this snippet, (when gathering stories for memoirs I’m working on), and wanted to share, in the hopes it brings the same smile to you that it brought to me.

Click here to follow me on Facebook, and here to follow me on Twitter.

Click here for fiction, and here for nonfiction. I also have just launched The Tale Well: Stories by Roslyn Fainwhere I share my fiction, writing under the pen Roslyn Fain.

To subscribe to This Side….Over Yonder look to the top left corner of this page; there are different methods of following, choose the one that’s right for you. 

The Other Side of Deanna is back! And she even has a name….. #fridayflash group

Hi everyone. Some of you may recall that I had two separate blogs, The Life of a Working Writer Mommy for my nonfiction, and The Other Side of Deanna for my fiction. A little more than a year ago I combined those blogs into This Side Over Yonder because I was posting mostly fiction and felt it was cumbersome to maintain two sites. I also wanted the URL to reflect my name, which This Side Over Yonder does.

Now, since I am fortunate enough to have more time to write, and because I will be posting more nonfiction articles, I have built a new site for my fiction, The Tale Well: Stories by Roslyn Fain.

TTW header 1

Years ago I wondered why anyone would want to use a pen name; now that I’m building my freelance career. yet still want to write fiction, I understand. Although Deanna and Roslyn are one-in-the-same, there is a vast difference in their personalities…..did I just say I have a split personality? Well, I am a writer!…..there is the business side of me (Deanna) and there is the playful side (Roslyn) and I feel they both deserve their own place.

Why the name Roslyn Fain? Fain is my mother’s maiden name and Roslyn was the first thing that popped into my head (which I always go with). It is apparently an old-fashioned name, had its peak in the 1940s, and fell off the “popular names” list in 1978. My family tells me I do look like a Roslyn, so there you go. I hope you’ll stop by The Tale Well and enjoy Roslyn’s first story, Those First Nights.

What about you? Do you use a pen name? What is it, and how did you hit upon that particular name? (If you’re using your pen name be brave and tell us your real name).🙂

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click here to follow me on Facebook,and here to follow me on Twitter.

Click here for fiction, and here for nonfiction.

To subscribe to This Side….Over Yonder look to the top left corner of this page; there are different methods of following, choose the one that’s right for you. 

 

 

The Package #fridayflash #fiction #webfiction

frdayflashbadge02

Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

The Package is rated PG by my standards.

The Package, by Deanna Schrayer

Jack bit the tip of his tongue and stared at the cursor blinking on his screen. His eyes crossed as, over and over again, he read the one sentence he’d typed: Orangebeard sprouted his wings and flew across the ghost ship, raising his machete as he took aim at his enemy….

“This is so boring!” Jack thought, “What does this guy want me to say? Who is his enemy? What is Orangebeard’s story?” After rubbing his chin stubble almost off, Jack pushed the laptop away and threw his hands up in defeat. “What makes me think I can write?” he asked the air of his kitchen. He lit a cigarette and stepped outside. He’d walk to the mailbox, clear his mind for a minute.

As Jack neared the end of the driveway he saw a package setting beside the mailbox. It was so big it looked as if it should have been delivered to the zoo instead of his little trailer. The only thing he’d ordered was a book on writing query letters; surely it wouldn’t come in such a huge box. He tossed the cigarette butt in the ditch and stooped in preparation to heave a massive weight. But the box wasn’t heavy at all; it didn’t even feel like it could contain a book, much less something worth the trouble of such an awkward shipment.

Jack balanced the box on his shoulder and jogged back inside, curiosity growing like a pirate’s treasure. He placed the box on the kitchen table, grabbed the scissors and sliced the seam open. Inside was a treasure chest, one of those cardboard deals like you get at a party supply store for a kid’s birthday.

Feeling a bit cautious now, Jack checked the outside of the box. No return address. He took a step back and stood staring at the dull gold chest, unease creeping up his stomach into his throat where it lodged in a tight knot. “You’re being ridiculous, Jack,” he told himself, “It’s just a kid’s toy box, nothing sinister about it at all.”

He pushed his fear aside, barked a short laugh at himself and opened the chest. It contained an eye patch and a scroll of yellowed paper, torn and burnt around the edges, bound with a piece of frayed rope. A treasure map? He untied the rope and a note rolled open.

the package

Jack saw no ‘X’ marking a spot, (or any spots for that matter as it was not a map, just the short note). He scrunched his eyes up as if that might help him understand who the note was from. And it did – he remembered. Captain Delaney, the sailor he’d asked to interview a couple weeks before. Jack recalled him seeming eccentric, but he hadn’t realized the old man was going senile.

He glanced at the clock – if he rushed he could make it. He grabbed his keys and voice recorder and ran out the door, then rushed back in and got the eye patch. He jumped in his barely-still-yellow Volkswagen and headed for the marina.

As Jack parked near the dock it began to rain. A rumble of thunder rolled across the darkening sky. He glanced around before putting the eye patch on; he could just imagine the razzing he’d get if one of his tavern buddies saw him. But there was no one around. No one at all.

Jack stepped onto the deck of The Coral Treasure just as the sprinkles mutated into colossal drops of hail that stung his bare arms like sharp wasps. Thunder boomed louder now and the sizzle of lightning came closer and closer. Jack held his arms out for balance as the wind picked his cap up and sent it sailing into the tall waves slamming the boat. The hair on his neck stood to attention, a cold chill scampering across his bones.

“What’s the matter with me?” he thought, “This is just an interview for Pete’s sake.” But his steps were slow and cautious.

The cabin door creaked ajar and Jack eased it open. “Captain?” he said, “Captain Delaney? It’s me, Jack Preston.”

“Come on in Jack!” a gruff voice rebounded off the cabin walls. It had been a couple of weeks since Jack had talked to Captain Delaney on the phone, but he didn’t recall him sounding so…lively.

Jack walked through the pitch black corridor holding on to what he hoped was rails on each wall as the vessel rocked beneath him. “Thank you for taking the time….”

It was more than the thunder that stopped him cold.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Jack.” The man smiled, his beady eyes almost disappearing beneath thick crinkles of gleaming fat flesh.

Jack stood agape, shivering as he stared at the giant before him, the very monster he had created himself. Orangebeard.

The pirate stomped into the trembling candlelight, and Jack realized where the thunder had been coming from. “I’ve been waiting….and waiting.”

Jack froze, yet sweat popped out on his forehead like glittering beads of mercury. He grew faint.

Orangebeard sprouted his wings and flew across the ghost ship, raising his machete as he took aim at his enemy….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click here to follow me on Facebook,and here to follow me on Twitter.

Click here for fiction, and here for nonfiction.

To subscribe to This Side….Over Yonder look to the top left corner of this page; there are different methods of following, choose the one that’s right for you. 

The Lonely #fridayflash #fiction

frdayflashbadge02

Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

The Lonely is from the “way back” archives. It’s based on my all-time favorite song, Thunder Road, by Bruce Springsteenwhich, to me, defines freedom.

The Lonely is rated PG-13, based on my standards.

The Lonely, by Deanna Schrayer

Mary jumped when the screen door slammed behind her. The family left three days ago and the quiet was enough to make every noise deafening. She tuned the radio propped on the window sill to a scratchy AM station, the only one that still played her favorite music. Now Roy Orbison was crooning for the lonely, as if he could read her mind. 

She would not feel lonely.

She sauntered to the porch swing, and adjusted the pillows, squirming like a cat, her battered dress slipping up her thighs.   

The jar flies stopped singing just before a boom of thunder rocked the porch, sending Mary bolt upright. She saw the downpour coming, and sucked in the humid air. Oh how she loved a good thunderstorm!

The wind picked up and Mary rushed to go inside. But she stopped cold when she saw him. Frankie stood at the edge of the porch steps. 

“Are you ready?” he smiled, that same demure smile that unraveled her like a ripe peach so many years ago. Now.

“I, uh,” Mary stumbled, “How did you get here?”

“Never mind that,” he said, risking a boot on the first step, “just come with me.”

“Come with you where exactly?”

“Mary, don’t turn me away again. You know why I’m here, let’s go.”

 “Frankie, I can’t.” She felt her voice crack, her heart rise to her temples. She refused to let him see her cry, to let him make her cry. She turned to run inside.

Faster than the lightning that bounced around his feet, he was against her. She could feel the heat vibrating off his chest. Her legs trembled. But she didn’t try to run as he pulled her auburn curls from her collarbone where they’d melted, nor as he placed his hot lips on her shoulder. Mary wondered how she could be frozen and melting at once. This is what he’d always done to her.

“Mary,” he whispered as he brushed her cheek, “I know you’re scared, but you can’t run anymore. You can’t hide from me, you know that. I will not leave without you.” 

 “Frankie, I….I can’t.” She pushed off him and fled straight into the rain, now hammering the earth with a vengeance. 

As the mud splashed her bare feet Mary gulped down the cries. Why wouldn’t he leave her alone?  Twenty years he’d been gone, then all of a sudden he was here, demanding she leave the life she’d grown accustomed to, just to be with him.

She glimpsed the dilapidated covered bridge through the haze. A faint light shining through the overgrowth halted her. There sat the Camaro, the same brilliant cherry red it was the last time she’d been in it. And there was Frankie, leaning against the grille, strumming his guitar. 

That night replayed itself with vivid clarity. 

Prom night. Frankie had asked Mary to be his wife in front of the whole class, just after they were crowned king and queen. How could she say no in front of all those people? She let him slip the ring on her shaking finger as she nodded her head yes. 

But she couldn’t let him think she meant it. 

There was no question she loved him. Still, she didn’t want to be the reason his dream of becoming a rock star faded to nothing.  He was driving her home when she asked him to pull over. Of course he obliged – he’d thought she wanted to show him just how much she loved him. 

Frankie pulled Mary to him and kissed her for a long time. “God, Mary, I love you so much.” He freed her long curls from the silver barrette and smothered her neck with kisses as his fingers loosened the spaghetti strap of her emerald gown. 

“Frankie…” With effort, Mary pulled away from him, “I need to talk to you.” She hung her head, couldn’t look in his eyes. 

“What is it? Are you okay?” Mary felt his eyes move to her stomach and knew he was afraid she was pregnant.

She pulled the ring from her finger and held it out to him, “We can’t get married Frankie. I want you to chase your dreams, to play your music.” Her breath came in quick, heavy gasps, but she’d said it, she’d told him the truth as she’d promised herself she would.

The ring sat in her hand between them like a hot potato.

 “Mary, I love you. You are my dream.” He slammed his fists on the steering wheel and held tight to it, his arms stretched taut. He didn’t look at her, just sat staring through the windshield. “My music means nothing if you aren’t there to share it,” he said.

“I love you too Frankie, I love you with all my heart. I just can’t marry you. It…it doesn’t feel right.” Mary leaned towards him as if trying to get him to look at her.

Without a word Frankie jerked the car into gear and spun the tires through the mud as he pulled into the pounding rain.

The ring bounced out of Mary’s hand and hit the dashboard, landing on the console with a raucous ping!

“Frankie! Slow down! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” She held onto the door handle, and grabbed the dashboard with her other hand.

He was up to fourth gear already, the engine screaming.

“Slow down!” She was sobbing now. “Frankie, you’re going too fast! I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry!”

His eyes did not meet hers. They didn’t seem to meet anything. 

*

Now Mary stood staring at Frankie leaning against the car, playing his guitar. Smiling. And she remembered.

All these years she’d been running to that bridge when he showed up, running away from him, and she never saw it. She couldn’t get past the point where she’d looked over and saw Frankie’s forehead cracked open, fresh blood streaming down his nose, his eyes fixed open.

That’s as far as her memory had taken her.

But now she saw it all.

She’d tried to open her door, but it was no use. She was stuck. She caught a glimpse of her face in the cracked rear view mirror that had twisted toward the passenger side. In one jagged piece of glass she saw her own head bleeding, in another, her own eyes open.

She knew now, and she flew to Frankie’s open arms where, once again, he took her breath away.

Click here to follow me on Facebook, and here to follow me on Twitter.

Click here for fiction, and here for nonfiction.

To subscribe to This Side….Over Yonder look to the top left corner of this page; there are different methods of following, choose the one that’s right for you. 

 

Stories and Musings by Deanna Schrayer

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,014 other followers

%d bloggers like this: