Monday, June 14, 2010

These is My Half-Broke Pandas

Move over, vampires and other paranormal critters--fictionalized grandma memoirs are in. Consider Jeannette Walls' HALF-BROKE HORSES and the book I just skim-finished, Nancy Turner's THESE IS MY WORDS. The latter is reportedly inspired by Turner's great-grandmother's life, but all I can say is, if 50% of it truly is, Sarah Elliott makes Walls' Lila Casey Smith look like a homebound armchair traveler.

Anyhow, the grandma rage might be one trend I actually can cash in on, since I had nothing to add to the paranormal discussion, unless you count our ex-pet-dog Toby, who years ago would bark and go berserk at things with wheels or beards. Thus, the disabled Vietnam vet who would go down the street occasionally in his wheelchair caused Toby to morph into a loud, frothy-mouthed, werewolvian idiot. Embarrassing.

Just last week the mailman dropped off two decent-sized boxes in our open garage, shipped up from my aunt in California and containing my paternal grandmother's memoirs. Only one thing prevents me from whipping them open right away and getting cracking: they're in Chinese. Chinese Chinese. And, for all their technological advancements over the centuries, the Chinese never did get around to inventing an alphabet. Which means that people like me, who did not grow up speaking, reading or writing Chinese and had to resort to taking a couple years in college, can only identify maybe 100 characters out of thousands, and I can't even "sound out" the rest. Which means that, if I ever want to read my grandmother's lengthy and probably already fictionalized memoir, I have to hire someone to translate it. Which means that the odds of following through dwindle.

Despite my laziness, I might do it eventually. After all, the stories that leaked out at my grandmother's memorial only whetted my appetite for more. Like the story of why she married my grandfather. She claimed he proposed to her, rich and beautiful as she was, and when she refused, thinking him a callow, grasping youth, he threw himself into the river to end it all. What could a girl do? She married him. And the marriage went south from there. (The reason I say my grandmother's memoir is probably already half-fictional is that my aunt once asked her father about this suicidal-suitor story, and he bellowed, "What?! I fell in! I was a champion swimmer!" they would say on THE X-FILES, the truth is out there.)

I've got that July writer's conference coming up, where I was planning on pitching my Cougar Cruise work-in-progress (WIP), but should I strike while the iron is hot and pitch THESE IS MY HALF-BROKE PANDAS instead? Who's hotter? Cougars? Adventurous grandmas?

1 comment:

  1. The truth may be out there, but sometimes the fiction is WAY more fun!

    I say go for half-broke with Granny's tale. Alt title: KUNG FU GRANMA.