Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Novel showcase for March



Julie Painter


Story behind the story The novel is based on my birth mother’s predicament, and the lies told to adoptees of the 30’s and 40’s. Catherine’s story is a projection of my birth mother’s life as I hope she was able to live it after leaving Wilkes-Barre, PA. The story is my gift. The author is her “secret baby.”

Blurb - Wilkes-Barre’s cohesive community was a haven of Protestant values and mutual support. It was also a hornet’s nest of gossip. Neither a canary’s death nor a girl’s fall from grace escaped the locals’ chatter. Catherine’s father, Max, was not always as judgmental as he appears late in the book. In 1932, the scene below made him a more demanding survivor. He didn’t want his daughters to marry men like himself, who went to work each day in the coal mines not knowing if they would be coming home.

Foreword to Tangled Web

Shrill whoops blasted from the coal mine after Max Jones, the fireboss, had finished his routine inspection. His lamp showed no escaping gas, everything secure. He took the lift from the anthracite pits and entered the washhouse. The water buckets began swaying on the wall. The floor under him trembled, then lurched beneath his feet. He braced his hands against the walls, preparing for the dreaded bump. When the fireball reached the floor where Max stood, his body slammed across the room and bounced against the brick and mortar wall.

He put his hands to his face and came away with blood and pulverized cement. He listened. First silence, then an empty lift clanged against the hollow shaft a few feet below. Warning sirens erupted. At this time of day, his men should be boarding the lifts. It was their habit to sing upon rising, not so much from their delight at having made it back to daylight, but because singing cleared their lungs. Their favorite song was Land of Our Fathers. Today, their anthems turned to screams. Their cries echoed in Max’s mind as he fought to catch his breath.

He crawled toward the door, which had buckled in the explosion. He coughed to clear his throat, trying to free himself from the noxious gases. Something pressed his chest. Then blackness descended.

In the surrounding town, the warning whoops discharged whole families from their kitchens. Some had already felt the bump under their floors and raced toward the mine. Hugs and tears greeted the trickle of men who made their silent ascent to the surface. They quickly formed rescue teams and returned to the deathtrap where they had toiled for generations. Each household felt the fear of new deprivation, if not for their own man, then for their neighbors’ loss.

Three years later, the regular morning hoot from the mine still sent shivers through the families who never forgot the day of the bump. They’d listened for changes in the sirens, praying that their men, rising from below, would return to the surface singing.


January Bain said...

Oh my Julie, miners yet! Such pathos, working men just doing their job underground...has always broken my heart. Well written!!!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Thank you, January. This is the "Book of my heart."

Unfortunately as it was coming out, I broke my leg and arm and missed a lot of opportunities to promote it in a timely manner.

January Bain said...

Oh my goodness, I had no idea about your accident! When was this? Thank goodness you are better now. I love your writing, so real with such an authentic voice!!!

Jude Johnson said...

There are few things as horrifying in a mining town as the siren at an unusual time. Thanks for a moving post and I'm glad you mended well!