Make the Ordinary Extraordinary
A long time ago, Alice McDermott took poetry classes for fun at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I have been fortunate enough to have lived in that area and have taken some of their wonderful courses, so I’m thrilled to see a veteran of the program wrote fiction so amazing that it was given the National Book Award.
The narrative comes from Marie, a Brooklyn-born woman growing up in the Depression onwards with her parents and older erudite brother destined for big things. Time will occasionally jump forward and then back again, but as you’re reading, it all makes sense.
It’s hard to explain what the story is about. I guess the best answer would be that it’s the story of a young girl growing up in Brooklyn. The narrative focuses on her family and the way they change over time along with Marie’s own coming of age which deals with heartbreak and later, having someone to love.
There’s something extraordinary when simple scenes can be described with such clarity. One that stays in my mind is the warm sun coming through the window while the protagonist’s mother washes dishes in the kitchen. I don’t have the talent to recite the scene as well as the narrator does. I guess you’ll just have to read this to see what I mean!