Friday, November 18, 2011

Beginning ~ with a torn photograph, sepia stained

The tear runs like a river through a map, hurtling down toward his right shoulder, veering threateningly at his neck, then diverting south only to again pivot east at the fifth brass button of his captain's uniform.  Below the tear, two more brass buttons and the clasp of his hands, and below all that, the military saber; the loosening creases on his pants; the shoes with their reflections of the snap of camera light.  He is one of three in a sepia-colored portrait, and someone had to think to save his face. Someone had to put the photo back together — re-adhere the northeast quadrant of this map with three trapezoids of tape so that his left hand would fall again from his left elbow and he would still belong to us. We suppose he is the best man at a wedding. We suppose that it was eighty years ago, before the matanza, before he was jailed and then set free, before he saved the money to buy the land that became St. Anthony's Farm.

This is the first paragraph of Still Love in Strange Places, a 2002 memoir by Beth Kephart about falling in love with an artist from "an exotic coffee farm high in the jungle hills of El Salvador," according to the dust jacket.  The photo above shows the artist's grandfather, whose likeness could have been lost when it was torn from the photo.  I was so fascinated by the description of the photo that I went online to see if I could find a copy.  I did — on the author's website, where she quotes much more of the beginning than I did here.  If you click that link and continue reading, you'll learn that the artist — who became her husband — looks like his grandfather.

By the way, I gave a synopsis of the book in a recent library loot post.

Would the first few lines of your book make you want to read on?  If you want to share the first lines of a book you are reading, click on the link and visit Katy at A Few More Pages.  (Today's list.)  Browse there to find interesting books for your own reading list.  And don’t forget that Katy and all the contributors to this meme (including me) love comments.


Beth Kephart said...

I am so honored, Bonnie, thank you. I loved writing this book, the many, many years of research that went into its making.

Helen's Book Blog said...

This sounds so intriguing! I can't wait to see your review. Have a fantastic weekend as I try to avoid the smoke and sleaze of Las Vegas for 3 days

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Oh, wow! Now I really want to read this book! I am currently about to read another book by this author: You Are My Only.

I'm going to look up this book!


Juli Rahel said...

That is such amazingly descriptive writing!! This is really intruiging! I'm putting this book on my TBR -pile!
Hop on over if you have the chance:
Hop you have a great weekend,
Juli @ Universe in Words

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Bonnie and Beth,

I do have to come clean first of all and say that I don't read memoirs and never have, so this book probably won't be hitting my bookshelves.

On the other hand, I just love the fantastic use of language, in both your post and in the extended version on Beth's site.

It just oozes passion, exoticism and emotion, with such vivid descriptions, that I could visualise the scenario so completely, that I might almost have been there.

Great choice of post material, Bonnie.

Have a great weekend.


JC Jones said...

I have been dealing with old family photos recently and this really struck a note with me. It is so important to save the past but sometimes there is no one left to give answers to the questions the photo ask.

Katy said...

What a fascinating beginning! I love old photos. I like to try to imagine what it would be like to step into the photo and live in that time.

Thank you for participating in Book Beginnings!