one year of Assemblage, what I read on my honeymoon, and the anecdotal effectiveness of blurbs.
It’s been one year since my speculative short story collection, Assemblage, was released and we threw her a little release party with amazing local readers and musicians. I can’t believe she’s one year old! And, if you don’t yet have a copy, she’s still available for your purchase and perusal: click here.
The dust is finally settled from the wedding and honeymoon (and then being sick with a cold I caught on said honeymoon). But the wedding itself was full of love and laughter and a taco bar and a pretty sick dance party—it was honestly perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.
After the wedding, we kicked around Mexico for a couple of weeks, laying on the beach and reading—I read four books after what seemed like weeks of stagnancy. I’d been thinking a lot about blurbs and whether or not a known or favored author’s input can in fact sway someone to purchase a book. Then, I bought A Fortnight in September by R.C. Sherriff because Kazuo Ishiguro (one of my favorite authors) described it as: “the most uplifting, life-affirming novel I can think of...the beautiful dignity to be found in everyday living has rarely been captured more delicately.” So, my anecdotal conclusion is that blurbs can, in fact, be effective despite their somewhat onerous nature from an authorial perspective.
A Fortnight in September is quite possibly a perfect novel, certainly a perfect travel novel. It begins on the eve of the Stevens family’s annual trip to Bognor Regis, a vacation town on the British coast that Mr. and Mrs. Stevens visited on their honeymoon and have returned to each year since with an almost slavish loyalty. The first quarter of the novel is spent describing the sweet anticipation of travel with vivid imagery and cozy prose.
“The night before they left home for their holidays was always one of family celebration. When Dick and Mary had been children it was a night that rose almost to the height of Christmas Eve: a night voted sometimes as the best of all the holiday, although it was spent at home and the sea was still sixty miles away.”
The Stevenses are comprised of Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, Dick and Mary, the older children who are already out in the working world, and Ernie, the youngest by several years and still filled with a childlike wonder at everything from the train station depot to the sea itself. As the story progresses, the reader spends some time with each character’s internal thoughts, feelings, and personal revelations reached at the seaside.
Sherriff spins a compelling story of a rather mundane, middle-class family and the hidden beauty that exists therein. It’s a slow burn that stretches out the passage of a two-week vacation like a languid summer day and manages to capture all the nostalgia and bittersweet simplicity without becoming saccharine. The prose feels modern, the subject relatable, despite being written in the 1930s. Reading it on my own seaside escape was a tremendous treat—that is to say, I loved it.
“The golden hours of life leave no sharp outlines to which the memory can cling: no spoken words remain - nor even little gestures and thoughts; only a deep gratitude that lingers on impervious to time.”
I also read Winter Love by Han Suyin in a single, sunlit afternoon. Winter Love is an intense, brief, poignantly composed novel about the retrospective nostalgia of a doomed love affair and our own self-delusion when consumed by one. Right now, I am reading The Postcard by Anne Berest (trans. Tina Kover) and it has been an incredibly emotional read, so far, though simultaneously a compulsive page turner.
I hope to spend the next few weeks settling back into a reading and writing schedule, spending the dark evenings with words and hot toddies. Until then!