From a book to be published in August by The Free Press:
First things first. You have to meet my mother. You have to meet the Mummy in the morning, sitting with her old tree root legs, stunted and worn, dangling off the edge of the king-size bed she shares with my father. In front of her is a purple walker, reminiscent of a racing bicycle with four wheels, its wire basket stuffed with socks, notebooks, a Kleenex or two. She looks up at the clock that sings a different bird song every hour on the hour and announces to my father, who is reading in a chair, "Monty, it is eight forty-five." She holds up three fingers to indicate the number of ounces of gin she wants in her drink. My father leaves the room, and I study my mother's face, the folds in her skin collapsed around bones and things she cannot express. I pat her shoulder and follow my father into the other room to watch him make my mother a drink.
Reason number sixty-four why reading is better than real life: In real life, when a stranger pulls you aside and demands that you meet her mother, you can't get away fast enough. But in a book... Incredibly, by the end of this first paragraph, I'm glad to have made the introduction.
The purple walker: a helpful detail, useful grounding. I'm starting to see the woman on the edge of the bed. More to the point, I'm beginning to understand her condition. Particularly effective is the inventory of items in that wire basket. (Though I don't get the racing bicycle analogy. My grandmother used a walker before surgeons took half a leg and put her in a wheelchair; that folding metal contraption resembled nothing evocative of speed or movement so much as a flimsy scaffold around her failing body.)
The clock that sings a different bird song every hour: love it. Where do I get one?
"Monty, it is eight forty-five" and three fingers to indicate her serving — of gin: Fantastic! Come on, what else would three fingers signal at eight forty-five in the morning? Three syllables? ("Monty, how about a game of charades?") Grapefruit wedges? Or maybe Mummy is a big baseball fan; maybe she wants Monty to throw his slider.
No, no, no. Mummy's 8:45 a.m. refreshment is a bone-dry martini, and so ingrained is the routine among husband and daughter that it goes without saying. Nothing actually happens in the first paragraph, except that a few carefully chosen details open the door on a peculiar, oddly gripping, family scene. That's plenty for me.
Enough for you? No?! Pain in the arse, finicky readers. Explain yourself!
Update: Find the author and title.
÷ ÷ ÷
Books mentioned in this post
Dave is the author of Out of the Book, Volume 3: State by State