Excerpt from Long Story Short by Siobhan Parkinson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Long Story Short

by Siobhan Parkinson

Long Story Short
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jun 2011, 160 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

1

My grandmother died.

I know this is not what you would call a dramatic opening. It's what happens to grandparents. They get old (jeez, they are old to start with, or they wouldn't  begrandparents, would they?); they die. (My grandfather died too, actually, but that's another story.)

Mr. O'Connell, who is my Creative Writing teacher, which is to say he's my English teacher, but he is into Creative Writing (capital letters deliberate)—he would say, Not intriguing enough, Jonathan. You need to hook your reader.

But, frankly, I couldn't be bothered with the hooking part. See, I don't think you need to start on the premise that your reader (if you have one) is a fish.

There used to be a song about that, Gramma used to sing it, about how uneducated fish are, how they can't write their names or read books—which may or may not have been put in for the rhyme with brook. That's where the illiterate fish in question lives, allegedly. Come to think of it, maybe it was the other way round. Maybe brook was put in to rhyme with book, I mean, because you would think river, wouldn't you, in association with fish, not bloody babbling brook, like a feckin' poem.

In any case, I don't need to do any hooking, because this is not Creative Writing. This is what really happened, and if you are reading this you will have your own reasons that have nothing to do with fish.

I could have begun by telling you that my mother was a drunk. Or that my father had left. I could have begun by saying, My mother brought home a bag of apples one night for dinner. Sounds kinda cutesy, that.

Except that was all. A bag of apples. There was nothing else to eat in the house. Not even a loaf of bread. Not a crumb. And we hadn't had much for lunch either.

"Keeps a doctor away," she said, poking her fingernail in the side of the polyethylene bag to reef it open.

Right, yeah, very healthy, apples.

When she'd gouged a big enough hole in the bag, she shook the apples out all over the coffee table. Most of them rolled to the edge and then clunked onto the carpet, where they rolled some more.

"Have you heard about the food pyramid?" I asked, fishing for apples under the sofa.

"Pyr-mid?" she said. She stuck a finger in her ear, to represent thinking. Very amusing. "Egypt, right?"

Then she went off into these howls of laughter.

I knew where that would end, so I got ready for it. And by the time I come back into the living room with the basin from the kitchen sink and a dry tea towel, she's already got to the sobbing stage. Sure enough, as soon as she sees me, she clutches for the basin and pukes up half a liter of sherry. Not the cooking kind. She prefers Fino, she says, which is supposed to make her not a drunk but a connoisseur.

She's not a connoisseur. She just knew a Spanish word for a kind of sherry that is not so sweet it'd curl your teeth.

I might as well have started this story with the bag of apples after all, because I've got there pretty fast, though I didn't mean to. I meant to explain about my grandmother. Gramma we called her, because she didn't like Granny—made her sound like a granny, she said. That was the kind of humor she had. Dead unfunny. (A small voice in my head wants me to revise that last bit, edit out the insensitive word, but on second thought, I don't think so.) Appreciated only by a select group, she used to say about her sense of humor. Of one, I said. That made her smirk. Old ladies don't go in for smirking, but Gramma did. She liked a good smirk, did Gram.

She didn't live with us or anything like that. She lived near enough. Near enough to supervise, I mean. She went in for supervision. Supervision and smirking. Makes her sound like the granny from hell, but she wasn't. She was sound.

Excerpted from Long Story Short by Siobhan Parkinson. Copyright © 2011 by Siobhan Parkinson. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Siobhán Parkinson

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.