Stop the Clock (Book Excerpt)


I’m back in book and here’s a tiny tiny snatch of what I’ve been working on this week. Oh such a relief to be back in 1987 Boston, ugly and beautiful just like everything else.

Even as my first romance was happening I was remembering it and wishing for it too. Like all girls without a safe haven, I’ve always been willing to throw over so much for a here-you-are-my-other kiss. For that walk, hand in hand, into a future that doesn’t loom so much as beckon.

For here with Matt was all the magic I’d been looking for. Dark clouds were blown away and I could smell the future as present, sweet as soil, soft as rain. With this boy I could lie all day and look up at trees that glowed. Trust that he had a clock whose hands didn’t just move forward but everywhere at once.

Alone we dipped into the galleries of the Isabella Stewart Gardner, pretending the whole mansion was ours–the paintings, chapel and courtyard, all of it. Down the Fens we moseyed (past my mother twenty years before, lolling in the sun with cigarettes and half-closed eyes), first to the MFA then across Storrow Drive, glittering like the Charles by which it slid. On the Orange Line we rode all the way to Revere Beach, where we stared at steel waves, so different from the Outer Cape’s unfettered glamour. From Portuguese-speaking vendors roaming the trash-strewn beach we bought pineapple sodas and spicy meat pies enhanced by the reefers passed around by the old winos up and down the sand. Continue Reading →

Bibi’s Touch (RIP Lady Andersson)

I’ve had this picture of Bibi Andersson taped to my icebox for as long I’ve lived in my apartment, which, coincidentally, is as long as I’ve been a sexually self-possessed woman. Really, it’s no coincidence at all, because Andersson was a wonderful role model in this department. Traditionally cinema has been a place where women mirror men’s desire rather than channel their own, and even now realistic female orgasms are the unicorns of the silver screen. Through all this Stepford sexuality strode Andersson, she of the silvery mouth and shark eyes—-a supreme subject rather than object. Once I invited a suitor up for a proverbial nightcap, and he took a long look at her flinty mug and said, “Why do you have this pissy blonde on your fridge?” “Cuz like seeks like,” I answered and swiftly showed him the door.

The Church of Menschen (See What I Did There?)

The “not cute one,” if you can believe them apples.

The great Eve Babitz tells a story of being out one night with a friend who had extreme cheekbones.

It is my opinion that people with extreme cheekbones make all other beauties look like children’s drawings, even if this latest batch of young people don’t seem to recognize this fact and I wouldn’t wish this level of beauty on anyone. I do not say this because I have extreme cheekbones; I have decent ones.

My mother has extreme cheekbones.

Anyway, Eve and this friend were sitting at Barney’s Beanery, because this is where Eve always could be found in her wonderfully misspent youth. And a man approached them. Even a block away it was apparent this man was just the strain of trouble that some extreme beauties seek because everything else is too easy. He was unapologetically drunk, for one thing, and he also had a lot of dark wavy hair and a very arrogant manner. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy