One of our February featured readers was Lynn Lurie, who read from her novel Quick Kills (Etruscan Press). We asked Lynn for an excerpt, and also for her thoughts about why she chose this piece to read. She is a mentor for Girls Write Now in NYC, and we asked her to tell us a bit about that, as well.
Excerpt from Quick Kills
I am limp in his arms as he rushes me inside. So many stingers the nurses lose count. I hear the sound of their rubber-soled shoes as they move across the linoleum. I am unable to open my eyes. Maybe they closed them the way I have seen in the movies. I want no one to see me, not even when I am dead.
He takes me from the emergency room to my parent’s house. I bend over for the spare key my parents keep under the WELCOME mat and feel how swollen my face is. The Photographer waits on the front stoop while I go inside.
Flickering candles on the dining room table turn the seated guests into shadows that rise and fall across the raised velvet wallpaper. Mother sees me first and gasps.
Hornets, I say slowly. Maybe wasps. My mouth is swollen shut on the left side.
Where were you?
The Photographer, he knew what to do.
Father does not look up from his conversation with the woman to his left.
I was going to tell them he is no savior but the maids were serving dessert.
I’m ok, really, I am. On my way to the stairs I stop at the front door and waive the Photographer on his way.
Mother and Father didn’t even know I was out. I hear the Photographer’s car turn the corner and the last sound I am able to make out before I fall asleep is Mother’s high-pitched giggle, the one she uses when she isn’t amused, then, I hear everyone’s laughter.
For the next year an allergist threads tiny needles beneath the skin on my inner wrist, injecting dozens of allergens. I ask if this is necessary, after all I know what caused it– wasps or hornets—I saw the hive.
Eventually the doctor says I am desensitized.
Tell us about your decision to read the opening.
I always want to ask authors if the first chapters are actually ever the first chapters written? It never is the case with me. The first chapter is such a challenge. It needs to do so many things but it especially needs to be convince me that I have in fact begun and I am committed to the story. I like to read the first chapter of Quick Kills out loud because of how it sounds. The book strives to be about language as much as it is about the story.
Tell us about Girls Write Now.
Girls Write Now in NYC is a writing program for underserved high school girls, who have an ability and desire to write as well as a yearning to become part of a writing community. Girls are paired with a mentor who is woman in the community involved in some sort of writing. Mentees and mentors meet one time a week during the school year. The girls also attend workshops one Saturday of each month where they are introduced to different kinds of writing and to published authors. The workshops also allow the girls to listen to one another’s ideas and work. At the end of the year an anthology of their work is published and the girls present a piece to an audience. It is an extraordinary showcase of talent and each year I am awed by them.