Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne
published on June 5, 2012
Those of you who have been following BookPage for years will remember one of our earliest editors, Ann Shayne. Since leaving BookPage, Ann has gone on to achieve fame in the knitting world with her blog, Mason-Dixon Knitting (co-written with longtime pal Kay Gardiner) and a couple of knitting books. Now, she turns her talents to fiction with Bowling Avenue, the story of a woman who inherits the family home after her sister's death. Little does Delia know that the week she returns home to Nashville will be the week of the 2010 flood, a 1000-year event that swamped Music City (and much of Tennessee).
For those of us who know Ann, one of the main charms of Bowling Avenue is the way she's able to narrate it in her inimitable voice: irreverent, funny, with quirky turns of phrase that couldn't have come from anyone else. (As she read an excerpt to a full house at Parnassus Books on Monday night, I couldn't help but wish for an audio version!) For Nashville residents, there's the treat of having our city laid out for us in fiction. And of course, any reader will enjoy the vividly drawn characters. The following excerpt showcases all three of these elements, as Delia and her brother-in-law wait in the lawyer's office to sign over the house to Delia.
Bennet has a classic surgeon's personality. Anybody who spends his days cutting open people must have a special little gizmo inside that allows him to disassociate his actions from what the hell he's actually doing. On a daily basis, surgeons walk into a room, put on a mask, and slice into folks. That's just not a normal thing to do. I had a friend in Chicago show me her x-rays from her knee replacement, and I nearly passed out. World's creepiest carpentry project.
The view is spectacular, a clear vista to the north, with the Titans stadium looking like a bread basket right beside the fat, brown Cumberland River, which snakes back and forth like a scribble. All around, the rolling hills are blanketed in the bright green of spring. A river town. It's easy to forget that Nashville was born in a cave on the banks of the Cumberland. The river slips along, hidden, right through the center of the city.
Why do lawyers need to be so high in the air? Does it keep the rabble from chasing them with pitchforks? Maybe it puts them closer to God. Anything for an edge, I guess.
Bonus: watch Ann Shayne talk about her own book in a video interview.
Find out more about Bowling Avenue on Ann Shayne's website.
What are you reading this week?