Threshold: A Memoir
Our families and communities serve as the threshold we cross into our lives. Whether it's a metaphorical threshold or the actual physical threshold that marks our front door, the crossing informs who we choose to become. THRESHOLD is a series of eighteen stories, with an introduction and a conclusion, about one ordinary American family's struggle to thrive across race and through time and space. From five-year-old Joseph Swope kidnapped and adopted by a war chief to my father blasting up U.S. Highway 41 with a turtle for a co-pilot trying to save a marriage, this memoir reveals what happens when communities fail and how they thrive. These are the stories of people who worked together and shared resources. There's the smell of wheat dust and sweat and the ozone that precedes a storm and there's the clang of green beans into a metal pot while friends and family sit on chairs dragged out into the yard where it's hard to discern the border between fireflies and stars. I can remember how safe and comfortable it was when everybody knew my name and they may not have always been glad I came, but I knew they wouldn't let me "go under." Perhaps we can find a pattern in these stories that can help us to retrieve that feeling in this new century.
Gravy is a novel in progress. This linked sample is a vignette from the "healing" chapters as Newell, a World War II veteran, attempts to overcome the aftereffects of PTSD without modern mental health care. See if you can think of other ways he might stumble upon to make himself better. Email me with your ideas (links at the bottom of the page). They may not fit the story line, but I'll name one of my characters after you.
Every day of my life is gravy. That's not because it's been perfect or uncomplicated. I haven't lived a charmed life. In fact, I grew up in a madhouse, certain that my mom was nuts. But I know now that my sheer existence is so improbable as to defy belief. My existence depended upon the displacements of the Great Depression and the Second World War. And it pitted a doctor's sadistic experiment against my mother's unyielding, bullheaded, teeth-clenching tenacity. Mom won, but it was a near thing and we all paid . . . and paid . . . and paid.
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