Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Fiction – Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau


Many of you will have enjoyed Elizabeth Gauffreau’s recent archive posts and I am now delighted to add her novel Telling Sonny to the bookshelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

About Telling Sonny

Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train.

Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even greater indignity than the broken promise is that Louis’s family did not bother to notify Faby of his death until a week after the funeral took place. She doesn’t know how she can bring herself to tell Sonny he mattered so little in his father’s life he wasn’t even asked to his funeral…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Telling Sonny is a moving and poignant book about a young girl, Abby, growing up in the rural town of Enosburg Falls in Vermont, whose dreams and aspirations are altered forever though her choice of man.

Faby is fun loving and full of idealism about the life of entertainers who participate the the vaudeville shows in the early 1920’s. It all looks so exciting and different from her own staid life with her parents and sister. She aspires to more than becoming the wife of a farmer and continuing her rural existence. When the vaudeville show visits the theatre in her small town and one of the “hoofers” Slim White shows interest in her, it completely turns her head and she ends up disregarding the advice of her sister and her sensible and conservative family upbringing. Faby shows Slim White around town and, on his last evening in town, succumbs to his sly advances, losing her virginity in the back of a borrowed car.

Faby discovers that she is “in trouble” a while later and manages to contact Slim White who, after leaving her in limbo for a few weeks, decides to marry her and settle down. Faby believes she has no choice but to marry him, thereby averting bringing shame on her family through her unfortunate pregnancy. The author’s ability to convey Faby’s doubts about her husband due to his careless and insensitive behaviour towards her and her parent’s seeming ignorance of the reasons for her shotgun wedding is amazing and I am in awe of Elizabeth Gauffreau’s beautiful writing.

Ms Gauffreau’s characterisation is incredible and the reader fears for Faby’s future life in the hands of as selfish and self centred a man as Slim White from early on in the story. Slim, whose real name is Louis, is not deliberately unkind or negligent, he just has very limited sensitivity to Faby’s needs and situation and, while he is happy to have her accompany him on his nomadic jaunts around the country in pursuit of work, he will not allow her to restrict him in any way or interfere in his lifestyle and plans.

Faby is innocent and selfless, she wants the best for her baby and hopes that she and Slim will create a family together. She cannot see that a life on the road of a small time hoofer is total unsuited to this ideal, but she really does try to make the best of things.

I found this book utterly heart wrenching in how it portrays trust and innocence betrayed and also Faby’s parents own ignorance of the ways of the world and their inability to arm their daughter with the tools she needed to protect herself in the world of adults. Maman Aurore, Faby’s grandmother, while hard on her and quite a difficult nature, is the most sensible of them all. She knows up front that this situation is unlikely to end well for Faby and tries to give her good advice to act upon when the time comes.

Sonny is the result of Faby’s impetuous behavior and grows up to be an excellent young man, despite any bumps in his own personal road. When Louis dies unexpectedly, Faby is left with the unpleasant task of letting Sonny know.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

Read the reviews and follow Elizabeth on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18740495.Elizabeth_Gauffreau

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Gauffreau/e/B07NTZFVSF/

About Elizabeth Gauffreau

I have always been drawn to the inner lives of other people–what they care about, what they most desire, what causes them pain, what brings them joy. These inner lives become my characters. I write to tell their stories.

My fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines, including Rio Grande Review, Serving House Journal, Soundings East, Hospital Drive, Blueline, Evening Street Review, and Adelaide Literary Magazine, as well as several themed anthologies. Telling Sonny is my first published book.

I hold a B.A. in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Currently, I am the Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont.

Connect to Elizabeth

Website: http://lizgauffreau.com
Family History: http://genealogylizgauffreau.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.gauffreau
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LGauffreau

Thank you for dropping in today and I am sure that Elizabeth would love to receive your questions and comments.. thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – A Few of My Favorite Words 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau


This is the final post from the archives of author Elizabeth Gauffreau who has some wonderful posts, including an interesting look at her genealogy journey, seeking out her family history.

A Few of My Favorite Words 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau

Do you spend much time thinking about your favorite words, calling each one to the forefront of your mind so that you can explain to yourself once again just how much that word delights you and why? I tend to have these little reunions with my old friends when I’m driving to work in the morning.

Allow me to introduce you to a few of them.

Leonard Cohen

Lugubrious. Now, “lugubrious” is a fellow I love dearly, but I just can’t take him out in public. How I long for an opportunity to say, “I have a deep appreciation for the lugubrious musical stylings of the late poet-singer-song-writer Leonard Cohen,” but the opportunity never seems to present itself.

Family Photo

Pixilated. I was introduced to “pixilated” years ago in a work of regional fiction (Southern, I think, although it could have been New England). It was used to describe an eccentric old woman who behaved as though taking direction from pixies. I can’t imagine a more delightful way to live: charming and mischievous, with little thought given to responsibilities and no need to justify oneself. Unfortunately, I can never introduce “pixilated” into a conversation because she’ll always be mistaken for her homonym “pixelated,” what happens when your Netflix video starts breaking up.

Modality. “Modality” is one of those words that I am unable to take seriously because of the way it sounds. While I understand its place in the health care lexicon, I simply cannot say it with a straight face. I have to syllabicate it and put air quotes around it: “It is regrettable that the latest treatment ‘mo-‘dal-i-ty’ has had no salutary effect on her regrettable condition.”

Snark. I can appreciate “snark” because it connotes a certain agility of thought and facility with language that the simple passive aggression or petulance of its cousin “sarcasm” lacks. Think of Samuel Johnson’s description of poet Edward Young’s poems: “Young froths, and foams, and bubbles sometimes very vigorously; but we must not compare the noise made by your teakettle here with the roaring of the ocean.”1

Buffoon. Now, as insults go, few come better than “buffoon.” So much more elegant than [expletive not inserted]. By far, my favorite use of the word was by a former colleague to describe a dysfunctional department. He referred to the department as a “cadre of buffoons,” going so far as to label them as such on a flip chart! They had a certain cohesion and delineation of roles that enabled them to function as a group, but individually and collectively they were completely inept.

And I’ll end with “edification,” which is what the purpose of this post should have been but wasn’t.

1 Jack Lynch, ed., Samuel Johnson’s Insults: A Compendium of Snubs, Sneers, Slights, and Effronteries from the Eighteenth-Centry Master (New York: Levenger Press, 2004), 68.

Image of Leonard Cohen by Rama, Wikimedia Commons.

Image of Cover, Samuel Johnson’s Insults, Levenger Press.

©Elizabeth Gauffreau 2017

Perhaps you would like to share one or two of your favourite words in the comments…

About Telling Sonny

Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train. Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even greater indignity than the broken promise is that Louis’s family did not bother to notify Faby of his death until a week after the funeral took place. She doesn’t know how she can bring herself to tell Sonny he mattered so little in his father’s life he wasn’t even asked to his funeral…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Apr 05, 2019 Debbie Richard rated it Five Stars

In Elizabeth Gauffreau’s “Telling Sonny,” the strength of the characters is one of the irresistible aspects of this well-crafted novel. It was as if I stepped inside the book and was observing each character from a short distance, strolling with Faby through her neighborhood in Enosburg Falls, Vermont:

“…on every porch was a tin box for the milkman to leave milk, cream, butter, and eggs, with the occasional quart of buttermilk, for those who had a taste for it.”

“…halfway down the street, Mrs. Gibson’s house had gone unpainted since 1910, the year her husband died, the window shades pulled down, as though Mrs. Gibson couldn’t bear to look out and see that life on the street had gone on without him…”

Later, boarding the train in Vermont to travel the vaudeville circuit with Slim White, young Faby was leaving behind all that was familiar, her sister Josephine, Maman, Papa, and Maman Aurore, yet her adventure was just beginning. The landscapes she viewed from the train were as varied as each city they played. ”Telling Sonny” is an intriguing ride.

I missed Faby when the story ended as if I were saying goodbye to a new friend. I look forward to Elizabeth Gauffreau’s next book.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

Read the reviews and follow Elizabeth on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18740495.Elizabeth_Gauffreau

About Elizabeth Gauffreau

Elizabeth Gauffreau holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge.

Liz grew up a child of the 1960s in northern New England before spending twenty years in the South as a Navy wife. After working for Granite State College in Concord, New Hampshire for eighteen years, she recently accepted a faculty position as Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to academic advising, teaching, and higher education administration, her professional background includes assessment of prior experiential learning for college credit.

Much of Liz’s fiction is inspired by her family history, and lately she has developed an interest in writing about her family’s genealogy. Learn about her attempts to stick to the facts of her family history at http://genealogylizgauffreau.com. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband; their daughter has flown the nest to live in sunny California.

Connect to Elizabeth

Website: http://lizgauffreau.com
Family History: http://genealogylizgauffreau.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.gauffreau
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LGauffreau

My thanks to Liz for permitting me to share posts from her archives and I encourage you to check both sites yourselves.. Your comments are always welcome… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck #Poetry – Surprised by Joy” 2018 by Elizabeth Gauffreau


This is the third post from the archives of author Elizabeth Gauffreau who has some wonderful posts, including an interesting look at her genealogy journey, seeking out her family history. This week a post by William Wordsworth, which reminds us of those moments when life or nature takes us by delightful surprise.

Poetry – Surprised by Joy” 2018 by Elizabeth Gauffreau

The Joy of Sunlight Glimmering on Blue Water off the Coast of Maine, September 16, 2018

William Wordsworth’s phrase, “surprised by joy,” comes to mind whenever I experience one of these unexpectedly joyful moments of life. But I always, always forget that “surprised by joy” was occasioned by immeasurable grief. It’s only when I go back to the poem that I remember.

Marie H. Reed Breakwater Park, Rockland, Maine, September 16, 2018

XXIX [Surprised by joy–impatient as the Wind]” is in the public domain. Retrieved from https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/xxix-surprised-joy-impatient-wind September 16, 2018.

©Elizabeth Gauffreau 2018

About Telling Sonny

Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train. Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even greater indignity than the broken promise is that Louis’s family did not bother to notify Faby of his death until a week after the funeral took place. She doesn’t know how she can bring herself to tell Sonny he mattered so little in his father’s life he wasn’t even asked to his funeral…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Apr 05, 2019 Debbie Richard rated it Five Stars

In Elizabeth Gauffreau’s “Telling Sonny,” the strength of the characters is one of the irresistible aspects of this well-crafted novel. It was as if I stepped inside the book and was observing each character from a short distance, strolling with Faby through her neighborhood in Enosburg Falls, Vermont:

“…on every porch was a tin box for the milkman to leave milk, cream, butter, and eggs, with the occasional quart of buttermilk, for those who had a taste for it.”

“…halfway down the street, Mrs. Gibson’s house had gone unpainted since 1910, the year her husband died, the window shades pulled down, as though Mrs. Gibson couldn’t bear to look out and see that life on the street had gone on without him…”

Later, boarding the train in Vermont to travel the vaudeville circuit with Slim White, young Faby was leaving behind all that was familiar, her sister Josephine, Maman, Papa, and Maman Aurore, yet her adventure was just beginning. The landscapes she viewed from the train were as varied as each city they played. ”Telling Sonny” is an intriguing ride.

I missed Faby when the story ended as if I were saying goodbye to a new friend. I look forward to Elizabeth Gauffreau’s next book.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

Read the reviews and follow Elizabeth on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18740495.Elizabeth_Gauffreau

About Elizabeth Gauffreau

Elizabeth Gauffreau holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge.

Liz grew up a child of the 1960s in northern New England before spending twenty years in the South as a Navy wife. After working for Granite State College in Concord, New Hampshire for eighteen years, she recently accepted a faculty position as Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to academic advising, teaching, and higher education administration, her professional background includes assessment of prior experiential learning for college credit.

Much of Liz’s fiction is inspired by her family history, and lately she has developed an interest in writing about her family’s genealogy. Learn about her attempts to stick to the facts of her family history at http://genealogylizgauffreau.com. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband; their daughter has flown the nest to live in sunny California.

Connect to Elizabeth

Website: http://lizgauffreau.com
Family History: http://genealogylizgauffreau.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.gauffreau
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LGauffreau

My thanks to Liz for permitting me to share posts from her archives and I encourage you to check both sites yourselves.. Your comments are always welcome… thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – The Chet Arthur Five Play Jeffersonville: Some Thoughts on Verisimilitude 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau


This is the second post from the archives of author Elizabeth Gauffreau who has some wonderful posts, including an interesting look at her genealogy journey, seeking out her family history.  This week a post on the art of writing a short story that is believable but does not come across as a documentary.

The Chet Arthur Five Play Jeffersonville: Some Thoughts on Verisimilitude 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau

The Chester A. Arthur Birthplace, East Fairfield, Vermont

And here I thought I had this verisimilitude thing down. I even remember Tony Ardizzone’s lecture on it from the first fiction workshop I took with him at Old Dominion University. (Never mind how long ago that was.)

For straight realistic fiction to engage the reader, it needs to be like real life, to suggest real life, but not transcribe real life. Contrary to the “show don’t tell” edict, what happens when you show a character’s boredom too realistically? You bore the reader. Faithfully transcribe actual conversations as dialog with all the false starts, pauses, repetition, ums and ahs? Barely intelligible and maddening to read. Phonetic representation of regional and ethnic dialects, in the Uncle Remus vein? Cringe-worthy.

uncleremus
So, if I know all this, why am I worrying about it now? Well, the fact of the matter is that just because I know a convention doesn’t mean I know enough to follow it when I need to.

Several years ago, I wrote a story, “The Chet Arthur Five Play Jeffersonville,” based on a real-life experience I’d had in high school. I was very pleased with the story because I had faithfully represented everything about that experience in perfect “show don’t tell” detail, including a whole series of excruciatingly repetitive drunken conversations. Did I mention that “The Chet Arthur Five Play Jeffersonville” is a coming-of-age story?

So I sent “Chet Arthur” out to make the rounds of literary magazines, and every time it came back with a rejection slip, I reread it to confirm just how good it was.

Until it wasn’t.

Much to my dismay, I discovered that the whole thing was hackneyed and boring. What to do? The first order of business was to stop sending it out to bore other people and embarrass myself. Then I moved on to other projects.

Last week, I started thinking about the story and wondering whether it might be salvageable after all. My memory told me that the problem was a hackneyed coming-of-age storyline, and I was trying to think of ways that I might experiment with form to put a different spin on it. I even considered setting the story up as an algebra equation. (Never mind.)

However, when I opened the story this morning to work on it, I discovered that the problem wasn’t with the plot. The problem was how faithfully I had rendered my real-life experience, particularly the excruciatingly repetitive drunken dialog.

As well as I understood the concept of verisimilitude, I had fallen right into the trap of letting the actual experience that inspired the story drive the fiction. I also discovered that the story started and ended in the wrong places: it began too soon and went on too long. Needless to say, I’ve revised the story. Only time will tell whether I’m still deluding myself that it’s any good.

©Elizabeth Gauffreau 2017

About Telling Sonny

Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train. Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even greater indignity than the broken promise is that Louis’s family did not bother to notify Faby of his death until a week after the funeral took place. She doesn’t know how she can bring herself to tell Sonny he mattered so little in his father’s life he wasn’t even asked to his funeral…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Apr 05, 2019 Debbie Richard rated it Five Stars

In Elizabeth Gauffreau’s “Telling Sonny,” the strength of the characters is one of the irresistible aspects of this well-crafted novel. It was as if I stepped inside the book and was observing each character from a short distance, strolling with Faby through her neighborhood in Enosburg Falls, Vermont:

“…on every porch was a tin box for the milkman to leave milk, cream, butter, and eggs, with the occasional quart of buttermilk, for those who had a taste for it.”

“…halfway down the street, Mrs. Gibson’s house had gone unpainted since 1910, the year her husband died, the window shades pulled down, as though Mrs. Gibson couldn’t bear to look out and see that life on the street had gone on without him…”

Later, boarding the train in Vermont to travel the vaudeville circuit with Slim White, young Faby was leaving behind all that was familiar, her sister Josephine, Maman, Papa, and Maman Aurore, yet her adventure was just beginning. The landscapes she viewed from the train were as varied as each city they played. ”Telling Sonny” is an intriguing ride.

I missed Faby when the story ended as if I were saying goodbye to a new friend. I look forward to Elizabeth Gauffreau’s next book.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

Read the reviews and follow Elizabeth on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18740495.Elizabeth_Gauffreau

About Elizabeth Gauffreau

Elizabeth Gauffreau holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge.

Liz grew up a child of the 1960s in northern New England before spending twenty years in the South as a Navy wife. After working for Granite State College in Concord, New Hampshire for eighteen years, she recently accepted a faculty position as Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to academic advising, teaching, and higher education administration, her professional background includes assessment of prior experiential learning for college credit.

Much of Liz’s fiction is inspired by her family history, and lately she has developed an interest in writing about her family’s genealogy. Learn about her attempts to stick to the facts of her family history at http://genealogylizgauffreau.com. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband; their daughter has flown the nest to live in sunny California.

Connect to Elizabeth

Website: http://lizgauffreau.com
Family History: http://genealogylizgauffreau.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.gauffreau
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LGauffreau

My thanks to Liz for permitting me to share posts from her archives and I encourage you to check both sites yourselves.. Your comments are always welcome… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – Failed Novel, Anyone? 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau


This is the first post from the archives of author Elizabeth Gauffreau who has some wonderful posts, including an interesting look at her genealogy journey, seeking out her family history. This post will strike a chord with many who have, like me got a drawer where previous creative ideas lie waiting for rejuvenation…

 Failed Novel, Anyone? 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau

When I went to college to learn the craft of fiction, the prevailing attitude was that the short story was a stepping stone to the novel. The short story was where the young writer could serve out her clumsy apprenticeship in the sandbox making mud pies until sufficiently skilled to create the multi-tiered cake of the novel which people would actually buy. Chekov, Joyce, and other masters of the short story aside, you could never arrive as a writer of fiction unless you published a novel.

Then I heard Raymond Carver read at Old Dominion University’s annual literary festival. Not only was “Feathers” unlike any story I had ever read, Raymond Carver was not a novelist. He was a living, breathing master of the short story. His short stories were so powerful he didn’t need to write novels.

But still, I wanted to write a novel. The first one I attempted was actually an abortive novel, rather than a failed novel. Damage Control told the story of the breakup of a marriage from alternating points of view: the young, shell-shocked wife and her equally troubled young husband. The narrative pretty much collapsed under its own weight, and I gave up on the whole thing. I subsequently tried to get control of it by paring it down into a novella, but it never gained any traction, and I gave up on that version, too.

Years later, I think the problem with Damage Control was that I didn’t have the skill as a writer to sustain a book-length narrative, and I didn’t have the life experience to pull off the husband’s point of view. Who knows? Maybe now I do.

My next attempt at a novel was driven in part by the desire to focus on writing a book, which would take longer to finish, send out, and get rejected than a short story. (Hey, I’m just being honest here.) This novel went through a series of pretentiously lame titles that I won’t repeat here. (I don’t want to be that honest.) I did complete the novel, and I didn’t give up on it for a very long time.

When the light finally dawned, I realized that the whole was less than the sum of its parts because of an episodic structure that includes a series of vignettes triggered by old photographs. The main character is an elderly woman who has disposed of all her furniture and household goods to move to an assisted living facility. She then refuses to leave her house until she has sorted through all of the personal effects of family members who had passed on before her.

The basic conflict seemed like a compelling idea, but, again, I didn’t have the skill to sustain a book-length narrative, particularly a book-length narrative of someone who is by herself for the majority of the novel’s ongoing time. Then there were all those random dead relatives who kept popping up for no apparent reason, other than once having had their pictures taken.

In the final analysis, the parts weren’t all bad, as six of the chapters from this failed novel have been published as stand-alone stories

©Elizabeth Gauffreau

About Telling Sonny

Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train. Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even greater indignity than the broken promise is that Louis’s family did not bother to notify Faby of his death until a week after the funeral took place. She doesn’t know how she can bring herself to tell Sonny he mattered so little in his father’s life he wasn’t even asked to his funeral…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Every family has secrets, old feuds and disagreements, but not many have a past like Faby’s. Telling Sonny, by Elizabeth Gauffreau, is a novel of inter-generational memories and a past that embodies every little boy’s dream—running away to join the circus. Only in this case it was a carnival and a 19-year-old girl. The reader is quickly and easily drawn into the wonders of the old carnival world as Faby travels with Louis, who has taken her under his wing and into his bed, only to discard her several months later. The past comes to light after Faby, now the mother of a son about to marry, receives a phone call from her former sister-in-law, telling her that Louis has died in a single-car accident. Louis had promised to come to Sonny’s wedding, even though he’d spent a lifetime of ignoring his firstborn son.

Faby considers his apparent suicide just another of Louis’ broken promises. How can she tell Sonny that his father’s family thought so little of him, they didn’t even bother to let him no his father had died, or that the funeral had already been held? This novel shines a light on a time that most of us would never even dream of…traveling with a carnival in the twenties and seeing first hand the underbelly of that world. Plus, the wonder in the eyes of beholding exotic exhibits for the first time. What will now-conventional Faby, who works for the telephone company and has dinner every Saturday with her sister, tell her son about her old life? Will she ever forgive Louis? And will Sonny finally see Louis beyond the charming exterior he’s occasionally beheld?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

Read the reviews and follow Elizabeth on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18740495.Elizabeth_Gauffreau

About Elizabeth Gauffreau

Elizabeth Gauffreau holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge.

Liz grew up a child of the 1960s in northern New England before spending twenty years in the South as a Navy wife. After working for Granite State College in Concord, New Hampshire for eighteen years, she recently accepted a faculty position as Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to academic advising, teaching, and higher education administration, her professional background includes assessment of prior experiential learning for college credit.

Much of Liz’s fiction is inspired by her family history, and lately she has developed an interest in writing about her family’s genealogy. Learn about her attempts to stick to the facts of her family history at http://genealogylizgauffreau.com. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband; their daughter has flown the nest to live in sunny California.

Connect to Elizabeth

Website: http://lizgauffreau.com
Family History: http://genealogylizgauffreau.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.gauffreau
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LGauffreau

My thanks to Liz for permitting me to share posts from her archives and I encourage you to check both sites yourselves.. Your comments are always welcome… thanks Sally