Monday, August 26, 2013

Sex and Death in the American Novel by Sarah Martinez

“Mom, is it absolutely necessary that I participate in the plot to destroy all pleasure reading?” I said.

She lifted her finger and opened her mouth, but I interrupted her.

“And I would be fine if you would stop trying to get me to talk about Dad. Okay?”

“Alright,” she said, taking a breath and letting it out with a grand raise and lowering of her thin shoulders. She turned on the radio and when Stravinsky's festive notes poured through the car speakers I opened my notebook again.

At dinner Saturday night we sat and hashed out the events of the day, the classes, the personalities, the scenery. Tristan spent most of the dinner reading or looking toward the table by the podium where Jasper—looking much less lively than his jacket photo—sat with several other people.

The dining hall had high, vaulted ceilings with uncut logs shooting out at angles above our heads. Giant picture windows afforded the view of the sun setting behind the snowy blue mountains to accompany our dining. All the tables were clothed in white and the candleholders were decorated with pinecones. Tristan worked one around in his free hand while holding a book open with his thumb and pinkie. His hair sat at the nape of his neck, tied in a loose bun, the way his mother, Dad's first wife, had worn hers in old photos. Tristan didn't do it as neatly; there were pieces of hair sticking out at odd angles. He wore jeans, his thick work boots and a crisp white shirt, red tie and black jacket.

After the pretty waiter with the long braided hair took my plate, I sipped my watery coffee and turned to my brother.

I reached out and pulled the book—Jasper's first, a book called Filial—away from him.

He sat back and let out a breath with his hands up. “Fine.”

“Talk to me,” I said putting my hand out. “I haven't seen you since Christmas.”

“Sorry, I just wanted to finish this before I meet Jasper. I thought maybe I could talk to him about it.”

“Likely he'll be very busy, dear,” my mother said.

“I can be quick.” He ran his hand over the tablecloth. “These conferences are such a joke. You know, I've been listening to people talk.” He leaned in and lowered his voice. “Half the people here don't even write every day. That lady in the buffet line yesterday, she thinks she's going to be on Ellen with this sappy memoir about watching her mother die of cancer. Like no one else has ever done that.”

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Genre – Literary Erotica

Rating – X

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