Emily Ate the Wind tells the story of the drinkers, gamblers, lifelong friends, and frustrated lovers whose lives revolve around The Bar. Told in a series of vignettes, love letters, question and answer formats, newspaper clippings, short stories, and prose poems, the familiar dramas of these characters’ lives unfold with deft, poetic strokes. From sweeping lyricism to gritty realist scenes, Peter Conners follows these characters from childhood to adulthood, from marriage to war, through loyalty and the shock of betrayal.
Peter gives an overview of the book:
A pile of fresh red roses in the dumpster. Garbage on top of them, garbage beneath. Most would not consider these fresh red roses garbage - the garbage date of roses linked closely to the browning of their leaves and petals. These are not the roses from her wedding day clustered in a dried mass on the bedroom wall. Not old prom roses. Not roses from Mrs. Shield's garden down the street. Perhaps not really roses at all. Certainly no baby's breath. Once the decision has been made to eat only sauce, cheese, toppings and leave the rest, pizza crust becomes garbage. The pizza box becomes garbage once the pizza has been ingested. The bottle once the drink has been drunk. The battery once its energy has been spent. And so forth. Things can be done to accelerate the process from utility to garbage. After all, one cannot live on roses. And what would Jay think? It has been months, perhaps longer, since roses were appropriate in their household. He would never buy it. Even if she felt like constructing an entire fiction with interwoven scenes and plausible plot devices based on realistic actions of characters familiar to them both - why bother? I bought them from an old blind woman on the corner of Sheffield Avenue. She was in a nylon lawn chair. They were beautiful, she looked so content. The sun was on her face. It lit up the spray of red petals as if from within. Illuminated roses. I couldn't resist. Yes, Bob gave them to me for closing on the Goldstein property. No, nobody else could even come close. A coup, a coup! See how healthy: smell, touch, finger, watch me arrange these vibrant roses atop the living room table for all to savor. Victory roses. My father stopped into the office as a nice surprise and took me out to lunch. The restaurant was the one, the new one, across the street from the theater on Tompkins - the Italian place. Lovely veal. Warm bread. It was even nice enough to eat outdoors. Next door was the florist and when Daddy excused himself to go to the bathroom he returned with these, these roses. Daddy roses. A pile of fresh red roses in the dumpster. Once they fan out and fall between wads of wax paper and assorted plastic wraps they cease to form a bouquet. Nor is a single red rose - though perhaps romantic to many - a bouquet. Especially one on the concrete. What is it? Pink roses are for friendship. Black roses are for death. Red roses are for love until, of course, they brown and end up in a dumpster at which point they are nearer to landfill than love. Or even lust. Mountains of used baby diapers and other miscellaneous shit. Trash. Garbage. Of course, the process can be accelerated. The line was easier to cross than she expected when thinking about the line at various times since they were married seven years ago. The line wasn't even visible. At times, she had pictured the line as a visible - ADULTERY - boundary running between their relationship and the cautionary tales of neighbors, cousins, old friends, and flat sienna whispers. It was really nothing after all. Not to be too romantic about this. She wasn't sixteen anymore. It had nothing to do with the roses or even the man who was really just a boy trying to amuse his swaggering friends as much as to test her waters. Much warmer, she wagered, than he'd anticipated: wonderment rapidly eclipsed behind youthful arrogance. Fuck it. She, not Jay, had closed the Goldstein account. She, not he, had fought tooth and nail to hold onto that account despite Bob's persistent (professional) niggling comments. She had put herself through Wickford Community College; SUNY Purchase; and helped them plan for a future that they both were less interested in now than in almost anything at all. Electronics. The lawn. Two shoes. Television. Bottled water. Not the future, of course, but motions toward the future. The future lived in the present. Today. Now. A lacrosse player probably. Some jock. Or perhaps they all look like that now: defiant jaw structure, pert little nostrils, strong, rectangular fingers, hair; traces of after shave, alcohol, gel; expensive V-neck t-shirt, baggy painter paints (when had they come back?), shoes without socks. Ankle hair. Lucinda wondered what sort of tramp this made her. If only there were a color wheel: slide the partner area (random drunk kid) over to the setting area (front seat of his late model Chevy Nova) and multiply by the intensity of one's committed relationship… Her Saab idles in The Bar parking lot. Lucinda fixes her make-up, brushing out her hair, using a wet nap from the glove compartment - trying to cover all the bases. She pulls out of the parking lot, braking momentarily at the corner to toss the red red roses into the blue dumpster. Eleven drop inside; one bounces off the green ledge and lands next to a Milky Way wrapper on the concrete. Concrete roses.
In Growing up Dead: the Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead, Peter Conners tells the story of coming of age in the suburbs in the 1980s and discovering the music of the Grateful Dead. Starting...