QueryTracker Community
December 18, 2017, 10:40:41 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Note: This forum uses different usernames and passwords than those of the main QueryTracker site. 
Please register if you want to post messages.

This forum is also accessible by the public (including search engines).
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Snapshots from the Judaean Hills: Lumiere (KINDLY CRITIQUE)  (Read 421 times)
SarayaZiv
Newbie
*

Karma: 6
Offline Offline

Posts: 16



« on: November 13, 2017, 03:11:43 AM »

Snapshots from the Judaean Hills:  Lumiere

I spent many nights of my life at the Animal Medical Center, a hospital with attitude on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The night of my tabby Shlomo’s final heart attack I sat in their waiting area, sick with fear. The door to one examination room opened and a vet exited, snapped closed a metal folder, and walked away. On the examination table lay a large dog. The couple in the room was middle aged, chic, and endeavoring to contain their sorrow; the man standing hands on hips staring at the floor, the woman ignoring the cell phone ringing in her purse. When the cardiologist called my maiden name, redolent of the shtetl, I winced. When Shlomo was left for me to kiss good-bye, I slobbered into his shaved chest.

This morning I sit with my cat Becky in the sole veterinary hospital in the Middle East, waiting for her release exam, meds, and to take her home. I hold her in a firm grip atop her carrier. The woman next to me has traveled from a corner of Israel on an unfriendly border, from a town named in Psalms. Homeless cats wandering in from the lawn through open doors ignore their basin of ice water and stretch out to examine the great floppy ears of her puppy. The woman’s English outpaces my beginner’s Hebrew. She points to an intern in scrubs, one of a group circled around an older woman who wears a lab coat. He waits his turn, then in Boston accented Hebrew addresses the woman formally, “Professor,” he begins, which makes her laugh. She points to her name tag, “It’s Michal.” The group breaks up, and Michal nods in my direction. I trot after her, Becky craning her neck haughtily at my seat mate’s panting spaniel.

We cool our heels in the examination room while our records are brought up on a computer. Over my shoulder Becky examines variegated light streaming in from an atrium. I read wall posters – the skeletal system of a Great Dane, best loved dog breeds of Canada, nutrition for your pets, hamster to horse. An eleven step guide to hand washing courtesy of the World Health Organization; laminated, pedantic, and repudiated by a lethargic fly on WHO’s orange border. Our vet looks perplexed, “Who’s Becky and who’s Saraya?” When she realizes they’ve been calling my cat by my name she drops her pen, buries her head in her arms, and cracks up.

We stop at a storeroom, where Becky peers through her carrier at the pharmacist counting out her meds. I ogle the stock of prescription food from North America and worry: what if they stop selling to Israel, how will I take care of my cat.

In the taxi home the driver passes me a bottle of water, “It’s a hot day; your cat needs to drink.” I can’t explain it doesn’t work that way.  The driver asks more questions about my cat’s health than I share language for; he types our home address in Waze and I’m free to be silent. A sign reads Use Fast Lane to Jerusalem. Thousands of years in a fast lane.

The jeep to our right is driven by a wizened man with enormous sunburned ears; UN painted in big black letters on his door. In New York I knew the UN as heavy traffic on First Avenue and, once, as a man in a dark suit vomiting behind a limousine; never as my babysitter.  I brood, then force myself to look up. Right there, grazing by the road is a flock of goats, thin and defenseless on their knobby knees.
Last spring, how did I miss that flock, the riot of flowers along this highway and on the hill above the gas station; rows of trees found in New York only in conservatories? Hikers with hats and sticks move from lettuce field to olive. The airport tower could be in Cincinnati, but these soft hills and the City beyond are one of a kind.  My driver’s window is rolled down. Wind from the Mediterranean flaps at his shirt. Reflected sun jumps from the watch on his driving arm to dashboard, to my hand, where it rests like a moth. The driver says, from nowhere, “Your cat should be well, she should recover.”  How can I tell him that he, the hikers, the purple trees, the vet, the hills, are mine? I cannot. Not in Hebrew, not in any language I know.

...

    Back home Becky sniffs the floor tiles of our apartment, splashes dry her water bowl, then, covering both eyes with one paw, falls asleep on the couch. Not for the first time she occupies an entire three seater and I’m left to squish on the chair in the living room’s northeast corner.  I’d asked the real estate agent, first viewing, which way is Jerusalem. He was not vague. He faced the corner I’m in, his arms leading like dowsing rods, “That way, exactly.”

Now it’s late afternoon. The sun filigrees my porch in greys. I kiss Becky’s belly; she stretches, kicks me, and bounces over to the light show where she smacks a paw on the shadow of her ear. When a passing car throws the first headlights of evening, she flings herself at the rush.
She and I take the air on our porch. I watch the inter-city bus climb its way up from my village. It looks eminently crushable; again, I brood. It will trek north, turn east, and hopefully, deposit its strollers, backpacks, and my people, along the road – safe, and not so safe – that crosses the width of Jerusalem.

Becky’s interests are elsewhere. She follows starlings murmurate in the dusk; her ears turn toward the wing beats of myriad birds.  We both watch as pigeons retreat from the tree to alcoves and eaves where they keep watch uneasily, lest a night owl stab them with its claws. And immediately before bedtime, Becky and I lie in silence, alert, as each pigeon moans in her agony.

Logged
debbie.rosenberg58
Newbie
*

Karma: 5
Offline Offline

Posts: 15


« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2017, 07:51:02 AM »

Hi, SarayaZiv.

If this is your opening chapter, you might be better posting in that topic rather than here, where writers are looking for CP and beta readers, etc. Having said that, I'm happy to chime in on your story.

You begin with a strong opening, but I think you lose it pretty much right away. If the opening is backstory, don't begin there. The reader must become interested in the main character immediately; I have no sense of who she is, other than she's very worried about her pet. Also, I don't know what the stakes/conflict is. While you don't need to reveal all in the opening, the reader should get an idea of this in order to get invested in the story and want to read on.

You might accomplish this by your protagonist interacting with a vet, or taking a phone call, having a conversation with another person waiting, or some way other than the narrator 'telling' the reader.  There is a very brief exchange with another person, but does nothing to reveal your protagonist's character.

I, for one, would love to read a novel set in the Judaean Hills. You have a unique and beautiful world to write about, but IMO you need to focus much, much more on character (including those of the pets. I know there are a lot of agents who love pets incorporated into a book). I hope this helps.
Logged
SarayaZiv
Newbie
*

Karma: 6
Offline Offline

Posts: 16



« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2017, 10:23:19 AM »

Thanks Debbie. Lumiere is one of a collection of PERSONAL ESSAYS/MEMOIRS, not fiction nor part of a novel. There is no protagonist, and I could not find a fitting category so I plopped it wherever on QT. Again thanks.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.2 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!