Friday, June 3, 2011

Once upon a time ~ a book beginning

Once Upon A Time, There Was You ~ by Elizabeth Berg, 2011, fiction (California and Minnesota)
"When John Marsh was a young boy, he used to watch his mother getting ready to go out for the evening. ... 'How do I look?' she would ask him, and he never knew what to say.  What he felt was:  Gone."
Notice that ellipsis (...) in the middle, showing there were sentences that I omitted.  Let me summarize those missing sentences for you:  lipstick, mirror, rouge, mascara, pin curls.  Those details make my eyes glaze over, creating a definite desire to put down the book.  Berg buried the only interesting word — gone — by continuing to pile up words in the first paragraph until the boy answered by saying, "Pretty."
"For though he had stood beside her, watching her every move as she transformed herself, he was never sure that the made-up woman before him was still his mother, and this made for a mixed feeling of fear and confusionn.  Nonetheless, he always smiled and said softly, 'Pretty.'"
I guess my own writing is more spare, allowing the reader to imagine details for herself.  I, as reader, don't need help to imagine that "getting ready to go out" involves (for most women) looking in a mirror and putting on make-up.

If you want to play along, this meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading. (Sometimes it takes several sentences to get the full thought.) Then, share your impressions of that beginning.  Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.


Anne@HeadFullofBooks said...

I like your analysis. The book sound good though.

Helen's Book Blog said...

It will be interesting to see if you like it any better once you get further into the book. I hope so!

Jan said...


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading this novel... I really USED to like Elizabeth Berg, but this one just didn't do it AT ALL for me. I reviewed it today on my blog. What did you think, or did you finish it?