• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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My Baby Don’t Mess Around

Just in from a late night of boozin’ and brawlin’ at a launch party for The Orphanmaster. I love nothing more than knocking back a few diet Cokes and confronting the  author’s sib when he confessed he hadn’t read her book yet. Yeah, let’s take it outside. Was that me who said you have to be supportive of your siblings? Me, from the Cain and Abel Driving School. And there are all the people from your life like some insane Facebook page come to life, who ring around the rosy and cheer because it isn’t every day or everyone who can bring a book into the world. A book.  A book. A book. Jean looked so beautiful up on the podium, taking us through a series of slides  depicting New Amsterdam and Dutch habits and fashions (muffs!) of the time. It was an ingenious way of introducing the world of her novel. I could have watched a hundred more slides because she so deftly explained what was special about each one and it was infectious. I looked around at the people and everyone had their best fifth grade face on.

Someone asked how I came to represent Orphanmaster. Well, I’ll tell you. I met Jean at Columbia. She was a year ahead of me and her poetry was amazing. She was amazing, not like all the other beret wearing monsters. She was bright, alive, and had no patience for  nonsense. I admired her and was intimidated by her. She shined her light on me and we became friends. And then I became her editor for her non-fiction books, and then her agent. Can you believe it. Jean! We’ve been married for 27 years. Congrats, old friend.

Do your sibs read your work?

39 Responses

  1. One brother started one but said he couldn’t finish cuz it was just like a chick flick and the sex was too heavy. The other wouldn’t read one to save his soul. Relatives suck at this. I’d think they’d be curious to see if they are in it. They act embarrassed or afraid. Buy the sucker just to be supportive for Christ’s sake.

  2. What a lovely evening – with muffs!

    I doubt my siblings will read mine, not fiction readers. My dear Mum said, It was very descriptive, I’ll have to read it again.


  3. My sibs do, yes, and I’m always slightly uncomfortable. It’s my kids who really make me sweat, however. It’s just gruesome.

  4. My brother is so absorbed with the demands of his own life (full-time work plus raising 3 kids, etc) that he doesn’t read much.

    My sister, on the other hand, gets to read every draft. Her most recent bit of feedback: “You are so talented, it’s unreal.”

    So, yeah, she’s supportive. Not too mention cool as shit.

  5. Sib…no, where the hell is he anyway?
    Kids, one says she will, she won’t, the other can’t wait for a copy, (she’s my favorite today).
    Husband…hahahahahahaha…I don’t think so.

    My mother wrote a book and gave it to me to read. She wanted my feedback because I was the writer in the family, hahahahahaha, anyway three pages in it was just to difficult. So overwritten it was embarrassing and I didn’t know how to tell her. I never finished it and we never talked about. She’s gone now and because I didn’t force myself to at least acknowledge her effort is one of my great failures. A regret for sure.

  6. My brother who died wasn’t much of a reader, and the other reads mostly nonfiction. The lads, though, enjoy it, and sometimes brag about their old man. There is, though, a smirking cousin who will appear in a future piece as a smirking cousin.

  7. I’m not sure my sister knows I write.

  8. Family read my writing? Hell no! Plus, I use a nom de plume, just in case.

  9. My brother will probably never read anything I’ve written – he’s dealing with a divorce and I don’t think he realizes what I’ve done lately. Not one male person in my family – on my side or my husband’s side – read books. All the women do. Weird eh?

  10. Recently sold my first short story and my wife asked me if I had sent it to my family. I confessed that no, I hadn’t. And so then I did, wondering what they’d think of fiction that is, let’s say, not as happy as what they probably expected little Scotty to write. I could not have asked for more supportive people, who it turns out are telling the world about this one story out there among the billions of short stories. I want to say that I wonder what I was so afraid of, but of course I know what I was so afraid of.

    • …in case you’re curious: http://www.carvezine.com/2012-summer-atkinson/

      • You do very nice work, Scott. Congratulations on selling the first of many.

      • I liked your story, Scott; good tension at the beginning wondering what exactly were George’s intentions, and I can almost see the sadness in Margie’s eyes.

      • Thanks for the kind words guys, and for putting up with the shameless self-promotion.

      • Great story, Scott. I expected to read a couple of lines and click out. I read it three times. I love how you create mood with such basically simple words. Congratulations–I’m sure you’ll publish more.

    • It was good, I really liked it. I kept expecting some surprise, maybe that he really wasn’t a good person, but he was…and perhaps that was the point…that we can’t be good people nowadays because odds are we would be labeled as a “creep,” and arrested for trying to abduct the child.

  11. I have one brother and one sister. Neither has ever said a word to me about my books and I don’t ask. (For the record, I never ask ANYONE if they’ve read my books. I say this on the off chance it’s being read by the neighbors who avoid me in Waldbaums. Ladies, I swear, you’re safe. You can say hello to me.)

  12. My sister might read the TV listings on the big screen if forced to. My half sister (top half if you’re wondering – she floats like a blown up tight balloon in a wind tunnel) has told me she thinks my writing is beautiful, but that just gives her another reason to resent me, my major sin being born first. One of my stepbrothers might crack open a book if he’s not busy cracking open a beer. The other stepbrother wouldn’t read a book unless it had many pictures of naked women in it and very few words, mostly about what orifices were reserved just for him. If I didn’t look just like the old man, I’d think I was switched at birth, displacing some guy who now can’t wait for the bar to open, the previous night’s 30 pack gone by 8am.

  13. Brother #1: “Are you still writing all that Shakespeare shit?”

    Brother #2: “Why read the newspaper. All it is is a bunch of New Yorkers showing us how fucking smart they are and none of it affects me anyway.”

    Sister-in-law #1: “I’ve never read more than 10 pages into a book. Reading puts me right to sleep.”

    Sister-in-law #2: “If a book is any good they’ll make it into a movie. Why should I waste hours reading when I can watch the movie in 2 hours? And then there are some movies that could never even be books. Take “Transformers.” That’s a great movie! Show me how anybody could ever write that into a book.”

    (my sisters-in-law are teachers)

  14. My sister did not want her years of monastic living mentioned in my memoir. None of her current friends knew she’d once been a nun. When she asked what I’d written about her, I said “I didn’t.Our monastic life was a huge part of our relationship.” “Oh, but I want to be in the book,” she sighed. As expected, when the book came out she was inundated with calls and bombarded with questions.Once the furor died down, she became one of my most ardent fans as did my brother Steve and his wife and all of my known relatives. Having a family marketing circle infuses me with joy. I’m obviously one lucky author.

  15. Feeling very lucky to be an only child here. My first published piece was in Creative Nonfiction, a piece about depression and the sort of family member who molested me as a child. Lovely fucking shit. It was so thrilling!! Their special edition on health and science. An intern interviewed me for their website (again thrilling!) and asked me if I shared my work with my family. I said no, I didn’t but I’d be naive to think in the age of the internet (not exactly the beginning, 1998) they wouldn’t come across it.

    Two years later my mother called me to tell me she’d read the interview, immediately ordered the issue and now understood me completely. The world went white and I went a long while without calling or talking to her. One of my major achievements at this point is the carefully built loving relationship I now have with her. I’ve caused my family a lot of pain, intentionally and not and now am afraid of two things. That my father will die before I publish my first book and conversely that he would read it. I’m not entirely sure how to reconcile the two. Either way, I’m not ready to lose my dad. Anyone else?

  16. I have but one sib and I do not believe he reads my work. He is a fundamentalist Christian and I am not. We get along well enough, if somewhat from a distance, having learned long ago to stop fighting with each other and to be present when one needs the other. These days we don’t have much contact because the company I work for is suing the company he works for and there can’t even be a hint of improper back-channels contact.

  17. Despairingly tagged “The Creative One” by my family, my writing efforts are safe from their focus. I see this arrangement as less stress on me.

  18. My sibs all read my first book — I found out later. They didn’t say anything to me about it. My one s-i-l was amazing, though — she made up fliers for my events and distributed them everywhere and got people to come to my readings and got one of her teachers turned on to the book, and now the teacher regularly gives it as a gift and suggests her students read it.

    Second book is about a kidnapping. The other s-i-l started it and said it was too hard for her to finish (she has a 4-year-old). My dad asked me not to use the term “goddamn” (“Isn’t ‘damn’ saying the same thing?” – with much disapproval) and said it’s very sad. He was my biggest supporter for the first book but I think he doesn’t like this one. Haven’t shown it to anyone else yet; it’s not ready.

  19. Crap. Betsy, I leave comments, WordPress insists on signing me in, then doesn’t post the comment. When I try to re-post, WordPress tells me that’s a duplicate comment. WTF? I know it’s not your fault; I’m just venting. Let’s see if this one posts.

  20. I’ll be lucky if she doesn’t. I haven’t talked to her in over six years.

  21. Hey, folks, read the recent “New Yorker” article about James Joyce. You think you got it bad?

  22. My sister is three years older, a successful respiratory therapist, a mother of two great kids, a wife, and Pentecostal. No. No, it’s not really her thing.

    If/when it gets published, she’s readin’ it.

    Help get it published –

    Thank You.

  23. Wait. If you are dead, you are not immortal. You are dead. That presupposes mortality. I guess you want your work to be immortal.

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