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Thank you for your letter. Too bad you won't be able to write. I guess you'll be too busy moving on. Me too. First of all, I'm quite busy socially. Very busy socially. Plus, my screenwriting is really taking off. I'm basically in discussions with some people. Producer-types. You know. They say moviemaking is the new novel writing. I'm pretty much on the vanguard ...
Thank you for your letter. Too bad you won't be able to write. I guess you'll be too busy moving on. Me too. First of all, I'm quite busy socially. Very busy socially. Plus, my screenwriting is really taking off. I'm basically in discussions with some people. Producer-types. You know. They say moviemaking is the new novel writing. I'm pretty much on the vanguard of that whole thing. Thanks for the memories.
I'm not sure that quite captures my emotional state. A more accurate reflection of how I feel would have been:
Alice Heart-Torn-into-Small-Pieces-and-Then-Thrown-Away MacLeod
Oh Goose, Goose! Why hast thou forsaken me?
Of Moose and Men
A Screenplay by Alice MacLeod
Wilderness -- Day
A very attractive girl with an innovative, asymmetrical hairstyle sits in an ultra-fuel-efficient four-wheel-drive vehicle, similar to what an environmentally conscious star might drive to the Academy Awards. The very attractive girl is sitting with very handsome but unconventional-looking boy inwilderness setting. They are talking.
I can't believe today is the day you leave, possibly forever.
I know. It's breaking my heart.
Their eyes begin to sparkle with tears, which makes them even more attractive.
I wish this weren't so sudden.
girl (Understandingly, and with a lot of soul)
Life is funny that way.
You are so understanding! And soulful! How can I leave you?
You must. Your country is counting on you.
I suppose you're right.
They are interrupted by a noise outside the car. A moose and her calf walk out of the woods to stand majestically in front of the hybrid sport utility vehicle. As the very attractive girl and boy watch, the moose and her calf stare at them with a great and terrible gentleness. It's almost as though the wild creatures are blessing them. The moose and calf fade back into the bush and the girl and boy fall into a passionate embrace.
Wednesday, June 30
If I hadn't decided to become a screenwriter recently I doubt I could cope with all the things going on in my life right now. But I'm learning that all difficulties are gristle for my artistic mill. I think the first scene is EXCELLENT. It only took about ten minutes to write, so I figure there's a good chance I'll have a first draft of the screenplay done within the week. That will free me up to write several screenplays this summer, any one of which may have blockbuster potential.
The great thing about being a screenwriter is that I can use that common technique of spinning straw into gold. So what was a fairly humiliating and dangerous last afternoon with my boyfriend, before he went away for a year with his parents, became in my screenplay a very real and uplifting scene of love and hope.
As I write this, Goose, so-called because of his tendency to look like a goose when he runs (his real name is Daniel Feckworth), is probably on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic. He and his family are going to Scotland for a year while his mother teaches a course at the University of Glasgow. She was called at the last minute after the professor who was supposed to teach the course ate some bad haggis and suffered permanent damage or something. Anyway, the Feckworths decided they'd all go to Scotland for the year. The worst part, at least from my perspective, is that when they get back, Goose will go to university. And not just any university either, but McGill University. In Montreal, Quebec! That's about as far from me, in Smithers, British Columbia, as you can get without leaving Canada.
All that meant our last afternoon together was extremely intense, you know, emotionally. We went out for a drive in my parents' giant station wagon, which my brother, MacGregor, and I call the "Wonderwagon," because it's like the car Wonder Woman would drive if she became an alcoholic stock-car driver. Goose says it's a car with "a lot of potential for the right body man."
I knew Goose would enjoy driving around with me because I got my learner's permit last week, and I'm in that phase where I'm still learning a lot, and driving with me is really exciting. We didn't talk about what we were doing or where we were going, but we knew it was our last afternoon for a long time, possibly forever. We just cruised, laughing and singing along to the Cher marathon playing on the soft favorites radio station.
We headed out of town and up Babine Lake Road, which is very remote and ideal for people looking for privacy. Then I turned onto this little road so we wouldn't get run over by a logging truck, but I must have turned too sharply and then overcorrected because we somehow ended up sliding off the gravel track into a shallow ditch. I put the car in park, turned off the ignition, and listened to the engine tick angrily in front of us.
"We're here," I said.
Goose pretended to radio ground control from the other side of the car.
"This is Slow Rider. I'm here with Learner's Permit. We've got a bogey down. Over and out."
He was totally into his Top Gun fantasy, blond hair sticking out in all directions.
The nose of the station wagon had pushed into the dense brush on the other side of the ditch. I looked over at Goose, whose brow furrowed with concentration as he continued his pretend dispatch.
"This is Slow Rider to H.Q. Learner's Permit and I have a situation developing here. Please advise."
He looked over at me, mischievous smile on his face.
Realizing this was the perfect moment, I pulled the condom I've been saving for just such an occasion out of my pocket and placed it quite subtly on the dashboard.
"What do you think?" I asked. "I mean, it's our last chance."
"Oh, Alice," he said, and we fell into each others' embrace. Seriously. It was like something you see in the movies.
Things were just heating up when all of a sudden Goose pulled away.
His hand flew to the dash and he whispered, "Alice -- "
A shadow fell over my face as something blocked the light from the driver's side window.
I couldn't help but turn to see what he was staring at.
Pressed against the window, inches from my head, was a huge, bulbous brown nose. The nostrils flared against the glass, making a huffing noise and leaving a smear of mucus. Then the nose disappeared and a small bovine eye set in a bony head filled the window.Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last. Copyright © by Susan Juby. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted February 27, 2012
Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last (2006) is the stunning conclusion to Susan Juby's debut trilogy (preceeded by Alice, I Think and its sequel Miss Smithers). You might recognize Juby's name from the 2009 Edgar Awards where Getting the Girl was a nominee.
This installment opens with the first scene from Alice's screenplay "Of Moose and Men"--a creative work loosely based on her own life. Excerpts of the screenplay are sprinkled throughout the novel. The writing is overwrought, exaggerated, and provides hysterical insight into Alice's psyche throughout the story. In addition to being Alice's latest career of choice, writing her screenplay also helps this sixteen-year-old heroine make sense of the chaos that has become her life.
At the beginning of the story, Alice's boyfriend Goose is moving with his family to Glasgow for an entire year only to go away to university on the other end of Canada when he finally returns. Dealing with this heartbreak is bad enough on its own. Then Alice's mother, a somewhat aggressive environmentalist, is thrown in jail as a result of her activist activities. That leaves Alice, her younger brother, and her father on their own. To say that this development leaves the family less than functional would be a vast understatement.
The one constant in Alice's life seems, ironically, to be Death Lord Bob--her ineffectual therapist from the Teens in Transition (Not Trouble) Center in town. At least until he too is called away leaving Alice with the surly Ms. Deitrich who doesn't seem to understand anything about Alice's life let alone her highly evolved sense of style.
With their matriarch breadwinner in jail Alice and her father find themselves, for the first time, looking for gainful employment. Alice's job search, and eventual employment, throw her into the paths of two brilliant characters: Wallace and Vince. Negotiating these new romantic waters, Alice finds herself caught between two equally charming suitors--one five years her senior, the other considerably her junior. The dilemma is equally difficult for readers who will likely be as attracted tothese guys as Alice herself.
Throughout the series, readers are able to trace Alice's evolution as a character. The girl we meet in this novel is very different from the Alice entering a traditional school (or a beauty pageant) for the first time. She is more mature, and in some ways more responsible and engaged with the world at large. More than that, though, Alice's true depth as a heroine is really apparent in this story as she not only works through but even rises above all of the (screw)balls life throws at her.
Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last doesn't qualify as truly "realistic" fiction because of the humor and general madness that surrounds Alice. But Alice is still an utterly real and engaging character with a quirky sense of humor (and style) that will leave readers smiling.
(I'd recommend reading the entire trilogy in sequence to fully appreciate how awesome it is, but the stories do stand alone fairly well if you happen upon them out of order.)
Posted October 26, 2008
No text was provided for this review.