Total Pageviews

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Writer's Life 6/28 - Inside-Out

I didn't spot anything fresh in today's new, so here's an excerpt from a novel I plan to self-publish in 2019 -- if I'm still alive and kicking. Inside-Out is a look at how male-female relationships were trending for a large percentage of the population in the 1980's. When I tried to get publishers and agents interested in it, I used the tag line: "Can a novel be both explicit and meaningful?" By the time I transferred it to a PC file, I was past 50 and my views on the art of sexuality in literature had changed significantly. There is still a lot of sex in the novel, but it's not nearly as explicit. The dialogue is frank, although profanity is largely absent. The over the top cursing in American films turned me off so much that I decided to go the other way in my work, most of the time simply leaving cusses out.

   On a Friday in mid September Karen picked him up after school and sped home, where they immediately made love.
   "What's the hurry?" said Vinnie, chuckling as they parted.
   "I gotta get to my parents before sundown," she said, rising; "for the holiday."
   "What holiday -- Saint Deviate's Day?"
   "Rosh Hashanah."
   He sprang to a sitting position, eyes fixed on her. She looked at him.
   "You mean you didn't know?"
   "I thought you were German," he said softly, stunned; "like Henry Miller."
   She threw her hands up. "Figures -- another pervert. There're two other Millers on the staff and they're both Jews. You know them."
   "What's that have to do with you? Why didn't you tell me?"
   "I assumed you knew."
   "How would I? You never mentioned it. And there isn't one thing in this apartment that'd tell me."
   "There aren't any crucifixes, either."
   "I'd assumed you'd forsaken religion. You talk as if you have. And you certainly don't look or act Jewish."
   "How's a Jew supposed to look or act?"
   Recalling Shylock, he hung his head. "Sorry. It's the surprise. It doesn't make any difference."
   "Then why're you so upset?"
   "Because I didn't know. Because I'm ready to move in with you and I didn't know. Do you know how stupid that makes me feel? Maybe I am deluded."
   "You are."
   "I'm as deluded as you are deceitful."
   She winced. "That's the truest thing you've ever said about us, only I have to be deceitful because you insist on being deluded. You can't accept anything but what you believe."
   He was surprised that he'd fallen so deeply in love with a Jew. He'd always thought there was something different about Jewish girls that would prevent him from loving one. He suspected that it had been the major factor in his lack of feeling for Evelyn. He wondered if he were a bigot at heart. Would he have loved Karen had he known of her background from the start? He wasn't sure, although he wasn't able to imagine not loving her. The thought that she might be Jewish had never even crossed his mind. He was filled with shame.
   "My only defense is that I never asked you about your heritage at all, maybe because it never mattered, but I can't say for sure."
   She sat at the edge of the love seat, bent at the waist as if her stomach ached. "The main reason I kept it to myself is that it makes gentiles so weird. They immediately assume they know everything about you."
   "You mean it's not fashionable to be Jewish?"
   "It never was and never will be."
   His eyes contracted in pain. "But why'd you hide it from me? Do you have so little confidence in me? After all we've shared?"
   She shrugged. "Maybe I was afraid of how disappointed I'd be if you turned out to be a bigot."
   "Are you disappointed?"
   She did not reply, which indicated to him that she was.
   "I'm not a bigot, Kary, at least no more than's humanly possible. It doesn't matter any more. You could be a devil worshiper or serial killer, for all I care. The only thing that bugs me is that I'll now never know if it would've made a difference. It would've been a good test. Everybody needs to be tested like that once in a while."
   He lay back on the floor, pillow over his face.
   "A Judotz!" he suddenly cried, firing the pillow at her.
   "You see!" she sobbed. "You're just like everybody else. All this time and you still can't accept it."
   "You still compare me to other guys? What do I have to do to prove myself to you? In all the time I've known you, have you ever heard me make an antisemitic remark?"
   "You never say anything bad about anybody but me."
   "But none of that has anything to do with your heritage. Are you ashamed of it? Nobody has a choice about it. You have to ignore any idiot who thinks you're less than he is, unless he puts a hand on you. Then you hit back hard. Christ, are you ashamed of everything about yourself but your looks?"
   She curled about the pillow as if now ashamed of her exterior as well. He rose and pulled the pillow away.
   "Don't hide."
   "Why not when even a sweet guy like you gets bent out of shape about Jews? I didn't understand what you said, but I know it was bad."
   He sat beside her and kissed her brow. "Sorry. I just hate it when you're deceitful."
   "You'd leave me if I wasn't, and I'm not ready to let you go yet."
   She wept at his shoulder, then dozed.
   "Wake up," he whispered, rising. "You're gonna be late."
   "Stay," she said, grasping his arm, gaze suppliant. "I'll be back by eleven. I give my parents three nights year, the next two and Yom Kippur. It means so much to them."
   "I'd never keep you from your family or your faith."
   She averted her gaze, troubled. "It's not faith on my part. It's deceit. In a way, I deceive my pop like I deceive you. Deep down, he knows what I am. Soon you'll know it too."
   She exited the bathroom in a modest dress and tossed him a set of keys. "I had these made, in case you want to go out for a while."
   Upon her return, she found him stretched on the floor, watching television.
   "I'm stuffed," she said, laying beside him.
   "I thought you were supposed to fast."
   "That's Yom Kippur, the day of atonement."
   "Are you allowed to have sex that day?"
   "I was always afraid to ask."
   "You want your father to think you're still a virgin?"
   She did not laugh. "I always stay there overnight that day."
   "I'll probably do the same with my mother on Christmas Eve."
   He was tempted to ask questions about Judaism, but he'd had religion drummed into him so deeply as a child that he'd developed an aversion to it. He believed it'd contributed greatly to his negative self image, and he wanted no more of it.
   "When I was a kid I was petrified whenever I passed a synagogue. I thought I'd go to hell if I even looked at one."
   "I guess I took everything I was taught too literally. I believed all non-Catholics'd go to hell. I used to think Jews were atheists, I guess because they didn't believe in Jesus. Then one day the kid next door, Clifford Brown, told me: 'We believe in God. It's Jesus we don't believe in,' and I felt so stupid because I obviously didn't know what I was talking about. And it made me wonder, if Jews believed in God, after all, why did everybody hate them?"
    "Because people are basically bad, Jews included."
   "I'd say 'troubled' or 'afraid' is more like it."
   "'Crazy' is better."
   "Sometimes. How d'you explain calling the one you love a Judotz?"
   She jerked. "Only you'd bring up something like that to prove a point."
   "We say a lot of stupid things when we're angry."
   "Face it, that's when we're the most honest."
   "Honest in that moment, maybe, but it's not representative of who we really are."
   "Says you."
My thanks to the kind folks who bought books today, and to the woman who donated two bags full, a blend of fiction and non.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

No comments:

Post a Comment