What I’m Writing: Try an Excerpt from My Novel, “The Ovidians”

Fifty-one percent of you are American, thirty-two percent British or Canadian, and the rest, Other.  I also gather that you enjoy reading  bookish posts, but shun anything about Latin poetry.

Though you haven’t signed on for my creative writing, I am posting a page from the first draft of my novel The Ovidians. I thought you might be interested in the description of the lifestyle of radicals of the ’60s and ’70s, and their much straighter children.

Back to my regular blog soon.

From The Ovidians, by Kat

Writing has never been my No. 1 priority. If I hadn’t stolen two of my mother’s Italian leather notebooks, I would never have written a word. If she hadn’t made a scene, I might have returned them. I told her I liked the pretty covers. “You can get a pretty notebook at K-Mart,” she yelled.

There was a lot of yelling at our house. So much yelling.

I often wonder if I’d have made it out of the darkness without the help of Tasha, my best friend Laura’s mother. She took me in when Emma (Mother) dumped me on the porch while I was having a psychotic break. I still feel that grief–desertion.

Tasha’s tall, narrow house was very different from ours. It was furnished with shabby antiques (“heirlooms,’ Laura said), stacks of newspapers everywhere, cups of tea on all the tables, sometimes leaving rings, and, best of all, it was always full of people: Democrats working for McGovern, alternative newspaper writers and editors, Women’s Center volunteers, NUC types–all the radicals. Tasha, who was the managing editor of the Weekly Toke, had a press in the basement. Movable type–pre-Xerox machine. Laura sometimes helped when Tasha was behind.

Personally, I loved the Weekly Toke. It was eclectic and messy: radical editorials on the Industrial-Military Complex, which we never talked about at home; bawdy cartoons; reviews of Bergman films; restaurant reviews; poetry by Tasha and some academics; and even an occasional short story.

There were meetings in different rooms every day, but Tasha rarely attended. She sat at the kitchen table, pouring tea, writing poetry. She could concentrate in a crowd. It was remarkable.

“She has good genes and was raised on a good diet,” said Daphne, who preferred dining on M&Ms to heavy organic grains Tasha served.  I remember the food only in retrospect, because I wasn’t eating at the time.

Daphne lived in the attic, and so did I now. Tasha’s boyfriend teased Daphne that she was Jane Eyre; she informed him bluntly, “And now we have a mad wife there, too.” I thought this witty later, when I understood it. At the time it was meaningless.

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Okay, that’s enough!