Lucy Ferriss

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I've called this blog "Travelin' Thoughts" in the past, because I kept it mostly as a journal to record impressions of new places and cultures. But in a way, it's still a place for traveling thoughts--ideas that move through and past me, and out into the world. Some of these are literary, some just about life. It's a good place to open up the conversation, and I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Another Fall, Another City

October 17, 2019

I cannot complain about summer. I spent mine in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, one of the glory spots of America. I started work on a new manuscript even as two titles are making publishers’ rounds out in the world – The Boy in the Road, a novel I finished last spring; and The Misconceiver, a novel I published in 1997 that is begging for re-release. (More on that in a moment.) But in mid-August, in the midst of a tennis tiebreak with three very strong players in Stockbridge, I determined to return a cross-court drive with everything I had. And I did. And the force of my swing spun me leftward so that I found myself falling and thought what an idiot I would appear when I landed on my ass. Unfortunately, instinct took over, my left hand shot out, and the result was a major fracture to the wrist requiring surgery.

So much for my athletic summer. With the wonders of PT, I am fast on the road to recovery now, and on sabbatical for the academic year. I won’t say anything about the manuscript I am currently wrapping up except that its working title is “Soul Clap Its Hands and Sing,” from this snippet of “Byzantium” by WB Yeats:

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and sing again
For every tatter in its mortal dress.

Following this project, I hope to be back in France in Spring 2020, doing research on a historical novel, about which I’ll spill more in the next post. Meanwhile, though, I found myself jonesing for life in Paris – and I realized that a large part of what I missed was simply life in a city, the kind of city where you don’t normally have a car.

Me in my sublet. Those are frozen
grapes in the wine glass, substitute
for ice cubes.

So I found this cozy little sublet on West 76th Street in New York City, where I’ll be until Thanksgiving. The renter is a composer, so there’s a piano here for me to amuse myself once my left hand gets the hang of it again. Thus far, I’m spending my mornings writing and my afternoons out in the city – at the Westside Y, at the Art Students League, at the Center for Fiction, at various bookstores. Life outside of teaching feels very busy.

Finally, about The Misconceiver. This novel had an unfortunate birth. I wrote it in the 1990s as a response to the growing fears at the time that Roe v. Wade might be overturned. I wanted to know what the outcome of a decision like that would be. I also wanted to write a sort of near-future alternative to Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale (which has since exploded into our national consciousness). Set in 2028, the book received glowing reviews but was never really distributed because of legal issues tangling up my previous book at Simon & Schuster, where their policy is not to distribute titles by an author with a legal cloud over her head. The issues were happily resolved, but the window of opportunity had closed. Now I’m hearing calls for the book’s republication, and to that end I penned an “Op-Ed from the Future” for the New York Times, which you can read here. I hope everyone is enjoying the fall, including (not in spite of!) the news that the world may be realizing that the emperor has no clothes. Here’s my fuzzy photo of Greta Thunberg speaking at one of the many climate rallies I’ve attended. Hope!

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