News for 2022

My (funny, I hope) novel A Closet Feminist is now available for pre-order from the publisher site  as well as from Amazon and other retailers.  It is print-only at this point.  I’ll let you know if (or when) a digital version is available.  

I will be participating in the Small Press Book Fair (SMOL) in March, along with my colleague Susan Weinstein, author of (also very funny) The Anarchist’s Girlfriend.  We will be discussing  “Women and Ambition.”


Later in the year, my (first) poetry collection, She Has Visions, will be published and distributed by Main Street Rag Press.  It’s also print-only and probably will remain that way.  

My most recent “San Francisco” poem “Passing By the Giants” appears in the lovely Quartet Journal.  Many thanks to the editors.

"You Can't Hurry Love" by Carla Sarett

      Middle-of-the-road, that was Georgie Wicker— or that is how she seemed, before her marriage. Georgie avoided arguments about class warfare, feminism, distant wars, or climate change.  She didn’t have violent opinions.  As for glamour, well, that was a lost cause. Men didn’t notice women like Georgie, and why should they? So it had been of a shock when her boss, Logan Button, asked her to dinner “if you’re not busy,” he had said.

     It was his newspaper – a sleepy family business in Philadelphia’s suburbs—and he was new to the role of Publisher.  Logan at thirty seemed to working on forty--a Yale umbrella, a copy of the Wall Street Journal, a prep school ring. Every morning, he drove to the office through a strange series of turns, when a shorter, direct route was available. He claimed that he was avoiding traffic.     
     For the date, Georgie chose a droopy, flowered rayon dress—and to dress it up, matching navy-blue handbag and out-of-style pumps.  All around were skin-tight jeans, gauzy shirts, clunky jewelry, and glossy lips that looked slick with desire, men like Logan in colored polo shirts, khakis and boating shoes.   She looked like somebody’s mother.
She inspected the menu and noted the price of each entree.  The salmon had the virtue of falling in the middle of the menu’s price range, below the ever-present Chilean Sea Bass, but above the lowly boneless chicken breast. It was, she reasoned, best not to order too high or too low on a date—the middle was where she belonged.
     “Salmon, I think,” she declared, almost fiercely.   
     “That’s a safe choice,” said Logan.  He waved to the waiter – two salmons, he said, and ordered a fifty dollar bottle of wine—which was, she thought, insanely over-priced.  
     “I hardly ever drink,” she said, in case anyone got the wrong idea, most of all Logan.  
     “That’s fine.  You don’t have to drink, Georgiana,” said Logan, smiling.
     “Georgie,” she corrected him.  “I’ve always been a Georgie.  Georgiana’s too grand a name for me.  What were my parents thinking?’
     “Georgie it is then,” he conceded, and then, he didn’t talk about business at all.
     There was a local concert, a play in the city, and then Georgie started spending nights in Logan’s big stone house.       His house bore the marks of an interior decorator—large ungainly earthenware, painted furniture, and quirkily mismatched chairs. One thing stood out, though.  Logan collected clocks—tall Philadelphia grandfather clocks, porcelain library clocks, bronzes adorned with sweet figurines, silver deco clocks, childlike wooden cuckoo clocks, and pocket watches of gold and silver.  The rooms ticked and clanged and hummed, as if the house were manufacturing time.    
     "He must be waiting for Miss Right," she told a good friend, with hard-edged realism that verged, as if often does, on pessimism.  "I'm the in-between girlfriend phase. He's practicing for the quality woman, the Ivy League type who plays golf.  I’m not in his league."
     "Well," said the friend uncertainly. "You’re a good person, which is all that should matter, if men weren’t so shallow.  Not that Logan, per se, is shallow.”
     “He’s not,” said Georgie.
     "Georgie, you could learn to play golf if you wanted to.”
     “I hate golf,” Georgie confessed.
     On Sundays, Logan went to church, and since Georgie spent weekends with him, it was natural for him to invite her.  She almost refused, but atheism seemed perilously close other “isms,” and too radical a statement.  The church was a congregation of bow-tied men with wing-tipped shoes, and women in pale cardigans. Logan did not hold her hand, but everyone stared, just the same.  They had little to distract them, since the young minister was rambling on about an upcoming local election, which no one cared about.
     "People think we're a couple," she said to Logan afterward, and he nodded.
     After that, he asked her to meet his parents.  She could follow his orderly train of thought, from flowered dresses to church to mother.  His parents lived in Bucks County, and it was a smooth autumn drive through colored woods, and shocking blazes of red and yellow. Logan's family house was white, with black shutters, and a proud front porch like a Norman Rockwell painting.
     "Georgie," said Mrs. Button who had her son’s pale, waxy complexion.  "Make yourself at home.  We want you to feel part of the family."
     Logan put his arm around Georgie, and said, "Georgie is going to be part of our family."
     Georgie said, through gritted teeth, "This is news to me."
     "Oh, women," Logan said, as though she were being coquettish.  
     “Women,” said Mr. Button, winking.
     Logan slid a ring on her finger—a family heirloom, from the looks of it.  Her shoulders caved in and her legs felt wobbly.
     "You’re overwhelmed," said Mrs. Button, with crinkly, teary delight.  She patted a chair cushion beside her, "Here, sit down. Logan thinks a spring wedding would be nice."
     Georgie sipped a glass of iced water, as she heard the proposal, which by all rights should have come from Logan—but for some odd reason was coming from Mrs. Button, who smelled of too-strong gardenia or was it lily of the valley?    
     “Maybe July,” said Georgie, toying with her ring.  
     Logan and Georgie consulted with the church’s minister. "I didn’t grow up with much religion.  Is it a sin to marry without love?" she asked, turning her back to Logan.
     The minister decided to treat this as an academic question.  "Strictly speaking, no – the West has a long and honored tradition of arranged marriage, although that’s not the current fashion, is it?” he asked, with a self-conscious titter.  “But history suggests that arranged marriages often were quite happy, and fruitful. In many countries, the tradition continues. Marriage takes a lifetime.  You have all the time in the world.”
     “So does Logan,” she said.  “He has lots of time, too.”
     “That is what I meant,” said the confused minister.
     Georgie managed wedding-planning like a business—smoothly and efficiently. Logan was footing the bill, but she watched every penny like an accountant.  She bought a serviceable, if not altogether flattering, white dress at David’s Bridal.  The wedding party was to be held at a local hotel, near the church that Logan (and now Georgie) attended.
     During her wedding vows, Georgie pictured a planet of married people, white picket fences, rose gardens, pink-faced children, and billions of inscrutable husbands like Logan. Afterward, there were cheerful, tearful toasts and too-sweet cake and an awful melancholy fell over the room.  She and Logan waltzed alone as man and wife. Over Logan’s shoulder, she tried to make out faces of people she knew, a friend’s face….someone. As Logan spun her around, he whispered, "My poor Georgie.”
     Georgie said, loudly and angrily, “I am not your Georgie. And I’m not poor.”
     Everyone heard her.
     Logan stood there, paralyzed.  He could not think of a come-back.  And in the awful moment that Logan paused, the room went black—there was a thunderstorm, a momentary power outage. Logan felt Georgie’s grip loosen, and saw the shape of her leaving. When the lights came back, Logan stood alone.  Everyone stared as he marched stiffly back to his table.
     “Where’s the bride?” joked Georgie’s mother, on her tenth drink. “It’s a little early to lose your wife.  It usually takes a while, doesn’t it? ”
     The long evening wore on.  Logan’s excuses became lamer and more convoluted until he gave up.  No one believed him anyway. Afterward, Logan walked into the dark, empty hotel suite.  Georgie had left a note: Don’t wait for me, G. and left behind the two airplane tickets for what might have a honeymoon.
     In theory, public sentiment is against divorce – but in practice, it adds a bit of spice to the everyday-ness of life, and increases the supply of available men. Everyone expected, even hoped, that Logan would quickly file for divorce.      A clear case of desertion, and if one wanted to be technical, an unconsummated marriage, although that was a technicality, to be sure.  As far as future wives went, there were plenty of perfectly good replacements—a virtual bridal pipeline, not even counting e-harmony.  But Logan disappointed them. As for Georgie, she stayed away –but signed her name as Georgie Button, even after she settled in Rome of all places.  Logan even boasted of her success.   “I was always sure about her,” he said, which was a bizarre certainty, all things considered.
     
     Five years passed before Logan flew to Rome.  Man and wife arranged to meet at Georgie’s office after a cryptic flurry of text messages. Georgie’s office was glassy, modern, decorated with posters of Italian films.  Logan looked much the same, but Georgie had turned chic, in a cashmere sweater, black pencil skirt, her now-short hair streaked with coppery red.
     She flecked some snowflakes that had settled on Logan’s collar.  “No one expects snow in Rome,” she said.  “I hope you’re not disappointed.”
     “I’m not here for the weather,” he said, and added, “Your hair’s…different.”
     “You mean, less mousy,” she said.
     Logan said, “What was wrong with it before? You looked appropriate.”
     “Appropriate,” she said drily. “No wonder you weren’t head over heels.”
     Logan protested, “I thought we got along fine.”
     “We did get along and actually we still do,” said Georgie.  “Logan, if you came for a divorce, that’s fine. That’s why you are here, no?”
     “No,” he said.  “Divorces are easy these days—probably you can email them.  I wanted to give you a present.  Unless you’d prefer a divorce—although you can have both. It’s up to you.”
     Georgie shook her head and looked down.  “Just the present,” she murmured.
Logan slowly unwrapped a package, and revealed an eighteenth-century rococo clock, of bronze and marble.  On the top was a young man playing pipes, and young woman strumming a lyre, and the base was a frieze of tiny curly-haired Cupids.  But it was the two figures that held Georgie’s attention.  They looked in opposite directions, ignoring the gorgeous ornate dial in the center.
     “Thank you,” she said after a long while.  “This probably cost a fortune and I didn’t get a Christmas present for you.”
     “It’s not for Christmas,” he said and seeing her confusion, “You never got a proper proposal. You should at least get a wedding present.”
     Georgie stroked the top of the brass lyre, brushing each delicate string—and she remembered Logan’s house, clicking and ticking with all of its gorgeous machinery. She had lain awake in the night, listening to all of it, marveling how the bells united on the hour, although separated by the speed of sound and the imperfections of their maker.
     They parted without a kiss good-bye.  
     That night was a full moon.  At midnight, Georgie heart the musical clang of the clock, then it chimed perfectly again, on every hour.  In the morning, she rose with the winter sun, but with the steady rhythm of the clock supporting her.  The clock worked according to its own design – one that was long forgotten--but that was the point, wasn’t it?
     Logan showed up the next morning, early enough to catch Georgie’s first cup of coffee.  In her robe, she waved him in, casually, poured him hot coffee, two sugars, and handed it without comment.  They eyed one another warily, over the white rims of the cups. Georgie pushed a plate of butter cookies toward him—which, ironically, were known as wedding cookies.  It was the couple’s first official breakfast, as man and wife.  The coffee was stronger than he remembered.
     “I hope I’m not interrupting,” he said.  
     “If you were, it would be rude to say so,” Georgie replied.  “But no, I’m alone if that’s what you’re asking.” 
     Logan said, “It is part of what I’m asking.” He reached across the table for her hand, the one that still wore the ring—she did not withdraw it.
     “What a mess we’ve made,” she said.
     “No,” he said. “The vow says promise to love. It’s a vow for the future, Georgiana.”
     She felt herself blushing.  “You called me Georgiana.”
     “Yes, Georgie’s too ordinary a name for you.  To me, you’re always Georgiana.”
     “You might have told me before, Logan, and saved us all this trouble.”
     “You left rather hastily.  But if I may, I’d like to call you Georgiana from now on. If you’re willing.”
     “What a silly question,” she said, and returned to her coffee.  
     Their second wedding (a “renewal of vows”) took place in the spring.  Not everyone in town was pleased.  It was only human nature to hope for a spark of unanticipated mischief, another stormy outburst from the woman who was now Georgiana.  But the ceremony went off without a hitch.  As for the minister, well, he knew that Logan and Georgiana had only one lifetime to fall in love -- and he imagined that, with such a sluggish start, they were in an awful hurry.

originally printed in the October issue Page and Spine

Best Reads of 2021: Part One, Fiction and Memoir

I am never current with my reading lists, since I read so many older (and occasionally out of print) novels.  2021 was no exception, as I caught up with authors I'd read ages ago and others whom wanted to re-visit or re-evaluate.

In this post, I'll cover my five favorite fiction reads (well, four fiction and one wonderful memoir) and in the next, I will list my five favorite history and non-fiction reads.  Two of the novels were published in 2020, and the other two are...way older.  

So, here goes:

1. PARAKEET by Marie Louise Bertino (Macmillan, 2020.)  This novel is a triumph of comic style.  The trope of the unwilling bride and dull groom takes on unexpected new life.  Before the wedding, the heroine meets her dead nasty, granny in the form of a parakeet who tells her to find her brother.  Naturally, she must...and finds herself in the bargain.   

2.  ATMOSPHERIC DISTURBANCES by Rivka Galchen.(Macmillan, 2020) My kind of novel, for sure-- funny and heartbreaking. A New York psychoanalyst becomes convinced that his wife has been replaced by a simalcrum: well-behaved, but not the real thing.  (A dash of Kafka, always welcome.)  Few novels have captured a troubled marriage quite so precisely. 




3. THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD by Agatha Christie.  As a younger person, I'd rejected Christie as cozy fluff and settled for the many movie/TV adaptations.  But after listening to one of those useful podcasts, I tackled this "Poirot" mystery, and came away an Agatha convert. Her voice pitch perfect, and every character is a stand-out.  I listened to this in audio: because of Christie's reliance on dialogue, these mysteries are perfect for audio.

4. A CAB AT THE DOOR by V.S. Pritchett. I'm a huge fan of V.S. Pritchett's highly original short fiction, and this year, got around to his childhood memoir.  It reads like a novel with a Dickensian patchwork of towns, schools, and up-and-down fortunes.  Forced to leave school by his domineering (and erratic) father, Pritchett dives into the "trades" -- and his writing.  


5.  CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (translation: Constance Garnett.)  I first read this novel in college in a course on Russian Literature, and I admired it then in a college-girl way. I wanted to return to it with fresh  and (considerably) older eyes, and in the translation that Virginia Woolf had admired. So much I'd missed the first time--so I've decided to reread the other Russians that I read too early in life. More on this later.




Interview with Hello Revel

 

I was thrilled this week to be featured by the lively new forum for women over 40, Hello Revel, whose creative direction is now managed by Nina Lorez Collins.  Even if you know me well, you might learn something.  You can read the interview here.    

(If you are a woman of a certain age, hop over and explore the many events-- some live, some virtual.  Together with fellow poet, I recently hosted a workshop on Titles, and it was great fun. We may offer the workshop again in 2022.)  

Also,  my novella about female artists, The Looking Glass, is featured as a book of the week.  Aside from Amazon Kindle, it is available in print at the publisher site:  https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/The-Looking-Glass-by-Carla-Sarett-p395402005



PHOTO SHANA SARETT  MARSHALL


A CLOSET FEMINIST by Carla Sarett available for preorder

 Delighted to announce that my (funny) novel A CLOSET FEMINIST is available for preorder today from Amazon as well as the other sites.  


Check it out here

https://www.amazon.com/Closet-Feminist-Carla-Sarett/dp/1956692029


New poems from Carla Sarett


 It's been a busy fall...

First, the publication of my novella about female artists, THE LOOKING GLASS, which is now available as a Kindle Edition for those prefer digital, as well as a paperback from Propertius Press.  This novella was a labor of love, so I hope it will find its audience.  (Note:  book prices are lower on the publisher site.)  

New poems also appears in three different journals:  

One is a "cento" which is a sort of mash-up poem comprised of lines from different poets.  The "rule" is that all lines must come from different poets (i.e., not me.).  In this one, "All Understood Too Late," I've played with mixing classical sources (from Euripides to Catullus) with beat and contemporary poets.  It surprised me how well they do mix.  The sources are listed at the end.

You can read it in the imaginative journal UnLost.   It's a journal of so-called found poetry.  

Also, my poem, "Tiny Grandmothers" appears in the Fall 2021 "Crone Power" Issue of Gyroscope.  It also references classical sources (in this case, Dante's Paradiso) but in a very different way-- as I imagine Paradise populated by tiny grandmothers.  

You can read it at Gyroscope.



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