THE NOVEL BEGINS, TAKE 1
What he never remembered, even years into their hasty marriage, even after their difficulties conceiving a child and the eventual birth of their pale, serious daughter, even once his initial glimpse of her had taken on for him a mythic quality quite at odds with its humble simplicity, was that at first she had reminded him of an actress he didn’t much like.
THE NOVEL BEGINS, TAKE 2
Of all of Maurice’s awkward poses—and I had been witness over the years to hundreds of them, from the time he skidded across the kitchen floor on his belly at age four to the hard-contested fist fight between us in the barn the summer we were both in love with Tabitha Rosen, to his drunken collapses on the lawn during one party or another to the “incident” with out-of-town strikebreakers that resulted in a new contract for the millworkers but a broken collarbone for him—the worst and last was his graceless, impossible arrangement at the bottom of the cellar stairs, down which I had just pushed him.
THE NOVEL BEGINS, TAKE 3
From where I stood on the red brick sidewalk, it appeared that someone in one of the numerous Victorian duplexes in the immediate vicinity had put out for curbside collection almost a dozen brown paper grocery bags full of lush, multicolored flowers at the height of their bloom, and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would throw away such expensive, well-nurtured plants, but as I drew closer along the street I saw that the bags contained papers, bottles, and cans intended for recycling and that the flowers remained well-rooted in the raised planting bed that encircled a young maple sapling.
THE NOVEL BEGINS, TAKE 4
When she picked up the handset of the pale blue telephone by her bedside and heard Henry’s voice sounding awkward and strained as he suggested their meeting somewhere later that evening, she remembered the several dozen other times he had started similar rushed conversations with her, like after the first time he had broken things off with the “it’s not you, it’s me” line … or during the three weeks she had been seeing Philip on the side and Henry suddenly regained his breathless interest in her … or right after they’d gotten the good news that they were wrong about her being pregnant—both times.