Thursday, April 29, 2010

Debra Galant's "Cars from a Marriage"

Debra Galant is the author of Rattled and Fear and Yoga in New Jersey. She is also the creator of the popular blog She lives in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Cars from a Marriage, and reported the following:
My novel, Cars from a Marriage, spans 20 years in the relationship between Ivy Honeycutt and Ellis Halpern, from 1981, when they start dating in New York City, to 2001, when their marriage hits a major rough patch during a California vacation. I always describe the novel as the story of a marriage told through car trips, but it is also about the way that love erodes through the wear and tear of everyday life. To this end, half the chapters are narrated by Ivy and half by Ellis, and you can see how far apart they are growing each time the narrator changes. Page 99 finds us a little more than midway through the marriage and at the beginning of chapter 5. It’s 1993 and Ivy (who narrates) is devastated to discover that her father has just died on his way home from a hunting trip. A death by car was going to be necessary, as the first sentence of the book is “I’ve always thought of cars as places to die,” and p. 99 delivers just that.
You might have found it funny had it been some anonymous guy in a plaid shirt and a billed cap, in an out-of-focus photo in some out-of-town newspaper, and you’d shake your head and look at the newspaper and think, Poor schmuck, what a way to go: killed by a deer hitting his truck on the way home from a hunting weekend. Ironic, huh? Like the prey getting some cosmic revenge on the predator. Only in this case, the coroner said, they both died instantly. No winner.
This is a sad chapter, and a long one, with lots of stories inside stories. My initial inspiration for killing off Jack Honeycutt, who’s a Buick dealer in Charlottesville, was writing a funeral procession that would include all the cars on his lot. I even had a Charlottesville friend show me the route this procession would take. I was just making this up, but much later, a car dealer I know told me that both her father and her brother had similar processions when they died.

In addition to the funeral procession, this chapter includes the long trip from New Jersey to Virginia and back, as well as the couple’s week in the house of mourning. With the introduction of Ivy’s sexpot of a sister, Bailey, the chapter takes some comical turns – and reveals the sexual chasm growing between Ivy and Ellis.
Read an excerpt from Cars from a Marriage, and learn more about the book and author at Debra Galant's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue