SIMPLY DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK! Barbara Alfaro is one of the first authors to be hosted on Lost in Fiction when we started, in 2010. In my humble opinion, she is one of the gifted living American poets. She has recently wrote a book of memoirs who are moving, intersting and funny. Really, do not miss it. Here’s for you an excerpt from Mirror Talk by Barbara Alfaro, winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Best Memoir.
In the lobby of the summer playhouse, before the matinee performance, my grandfather conversed with a woman wearing a black and white polka dot dress. I had never seen a polka dot dress before, at least one with such large polka dots. I did not know what they were or what they were called and I found the dress intriguing. To my dismay, my grandfather seemed to find its wearer intriguing. The woman lived in the same part of the city as my grandparents and even though she was much younger than them, she knew several people they knew. Whenever my grandfather said something the woman thought amusing, she placed her left hand over her breasts and smiled. Whenever he said something that made her laugh, she touched his arm with her right hand. The woman’s hair was short and dark, her shoulders tan and freckled. She wore several gold bracelets on each of her wrists and red polish on her fingernails and toenails. Her legs were shapely and slim, the way my grandmother’s legs used to be. I remembered the cluster of scraped scabs on my knees, scabs that I had picked at mercilessly. When standing, my dress covered my knees but sitting, my knees protruded, announcing my age.
I spent some of the first act wondering if my grandfather would talk to the woman in the polka dot dress again. During intermission the two resumed their conversation. A dark question crouched in my mind. Should I tell my grandmother about the woman in the polka dot dress? At seven years old, I didn’t know what flirtation was but as the Jungians say, “I knew without knowing.”
The leading man in the play was a large man like my grandfather. His face was ruddy and when he spoke, his rich voice filled the theatre. I forgot my grandfather and the woman with the spotted dress. The handsome actor made me feel an excitement like but greater than the excitement I felt Valentine’s Day when someone slid a valentine under the front door of our home, a valentine addressed to me and signed in child handwriting, “Your secret admirer.” Only now, I was the secret admirer. What was love? Was it putting stones in your shoes and offering the pain to God as the nuns said some saints did? Was it wanting to beat up the bully who had beaten my brother? Was it Mama, who no matter how closely she held you, never held you too tightly, or Papa’s aqua eyes seeming so sad even when a long smile crossed his face? Whatever it was, it caused sadness and joy to take turns in me the way old fashioned tap dancers I’d seen on TV did, one partner watching and waiting their cue, while the other performed.
I don’t remember the play. I do remember loving everything about it – the stage, lighting, sounds, costumes. It was as if the most beautifully illustrated book in the universe had suddenly come to life, giant-size and accompanied by music. I was instantly and permanently theatre mad.
Info about the author:
Award-winning author of Mirror Talk, a memoir about a Catholic girlhood and working in theatre, and a book of poems called First Kiss.Favorite authors are Dickens and the Bronte sisters. Favorite filmmakers are Woody Allen and the Coen brothers.
To know more, please visit her blog: http://www.barbaraalfaro.net
To buy her latest book, simply click on the cover below: