My recent travel adventures have not been noteworthy. No missed flights, no unplanned overnights in exotic locales. Mostly good stories of standing by for flights or pass riding and actually getting where I want to go. It wasn’t always that way. But that’s not this story.
This week’s travel was all good.
My college classmate, letter- (now email) corresponding friend Patty lives in Chicago. Her mother’s delightful abode is in Charlotte, N.C. The perfect halfway point for us. And when an invitation to the Queens University Friends of the Library Book and Author Dinner arrived in Mrs. DeLaney’s mailbox, Patty called.
Our meeting was auspicious on many levels. The 40th anniversary of an event that Patty’s mom had been instrumental in organizing. Cherry blossoms in bloom for a flower-deprived Chicago dweller. Best of all, a St. Paddy’s Day birthday for one witty, gorgeous, energetic 91-year-old lady!
And the event’s speaker? My Mississippi friend Minrose Gwin, to talk about her novel Queen of Palmyra. Minrose’s book was published last summer to terrific reviews and high praise. Our table mates had all read it, discussed it in book groups, loved it. One said she sat outside the dining room, finishing the last pages before the dinner began because she couldn't put it down. Another felt it was very sad, but so beautifully written she didn't mind. If you've missed this book, this is your reminder: you are missing a real treat!
Before Minrose read (from my favorite part—how did she know?— early in the book, when Florence and her mother make their trip to the bootlegger for two tallboys), she spoke about “voice” in writing. A topic editor Cheryl Klein once remarked is sort of like the air of the story- hard to define, yet necessary. Minrose reflected that voice is located in time and place. So obvious, yet that’s really it, isn’t it.
(That’s why it’s hard to write until you know exactly when and where the tale is set. Something I’m struggling to uncover in a new story. I know where, but when? Harder to pinpoint this time.)
So these Tales from the Standby Lane, are very happy ones.
Unless you count that my seat was 26F, the last seat in front of the lav, in the back. Or that the TSA guy was clueless. And there was no gate available when we landed.
But I’m not complaining. I had my Kindle, my seatmates slept, the flight was on time. And what a treasure waited at the other end!