Alice McDermott will be visiting the Hershey Public Library next month to give a talk about writing fiction. Here are two passages from That Night (1987), a novel that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award.
When Sheryl met Rick, his mother was in a flexible mainstreaming program at the state hospital and was home most weekends, “doing okay,” her need to disappear or die somehow met by the distance between the sprawling campus of the hospital and the untidy lawn of her four-bedroom house.
In the year and some months since her husband’s death, she would have found no change in her sense of loss, or in her disbelief that the loss was hers, but it might have become with each morning more and more difficult to raise the tears that she had thought would wake her for the rest of her life. She might have been remembering some moment from their early marriage, or from their last day together, perhaps some argument they’d once had, turning the memory over and over, searching for whatever it was that would fill her with the appropriate sadness, the only feeling she had become willing to wake for, the only feeling she still feared to lose.