We sit on the porch on my last night, traces of the day’s heat lingering, chimes softly keeping rhythm with the breeze. It has turned dark. The tip of Gracie’s cigarette brightens and fades as she takes a drag. I can smell her Evening in Paris, and am glad she can’t see my face as I think about life without her, unable to articulate just how I feel. I am tired of loving someone who broke my heart a thousand times, yet I cannot let her go.
We crawled toward Yankee Stadium, traffic a nightmare, my kids in the car, everyone hungry and restless. I was sitting in the back where I didn’t have to watch my husband drive, when I felt my pocket vibrate. Huffington Post AARP Contest, the heading said. I had entered almost a year ago, then dismissed it as a lost cause, until I read their words: “I’m pleased to let you know that our judges have chosen your submission as one of the finalists for the HuffPost 50/AARP memoir contest. Ten finalists were chosen from a pool of more than 2,400 contestants. Congratulations on sending one of the very best pieces our judges encountered.” Holy Shit! I screamed out as I clicked on the HuffPost page, and there was Rita Wilson, one of the judges, smiling her beautiful smile, with my name, Kathleen Murray, underneath her photo. A truly beautiful moment.
Dear Dede, Thanks so much for giving me the chance to read Kathleen Murray’s proposal, THE WIDOW AND THE HIJACKER. Her story is obviously gripping—and her ability to triumph over adverse circumstances (not only Brian’s tragic death, but her own challenging childhood) was beyond impressive; it was inspiring. What’s more, Ms. Murray recounts her story smoothly and naturally; her prose is elegant (this precise and affecting description of her mother caught me off guard: “A run in her nylons exposed varicose veins that mapped her once beautiful legs. I watched her cross the room and thought of her walking home from Cardinal Spellmen, boys stealing looks.”); she seems to have an innate sense of how to structure a narrative—when to tell the tale chronologically; when to flash back or forward; which details to highlight.
Ultimately, she passed. Miranda Popekey with Farrar Straus & Giroux
I’m published in Salon today. There’s no greater thrill for a writer than seeing her work published to so wide an audience.