Page 123

Well, I’ll take up the blanket tag from Lisa Romeo (thanks, Lisa!).

Here’s the deal: You’re supposed to pick up the work of fiction closest to where you’re sitting. It has to have 123 pages or more. You’re supposed to turn to page 123, find the fifth sentence, then post it and the next three sentences.

So here’s my contribution, from a book I recently unearthed from the collection I still have back at my parents’ house: Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories. If I’m remembering correctly, this acquisition dates back to my senior year of college, when it was assigned reading for Robert Coles’s famous “Gen Ed 105: The Literature of Social Reflection.” To Dr. Coles and that course I owe as well my introduction to Raymond Carver. Carver and O’Connor–two important authors for any fiction writer to get to know as soon as possible.

But I digress.

Fifth sentence and the three following:

“She recalled exactly which road to turn off to get to it. She knew that Bailey would not be willing to lose any time looking at an old house, but the more she talked about it, the more she wanted to see it once again and find out if the little twin arbors were still standing. ‘There was a secret panel in this house,’ she said craftily, not telling the truth but wishing that she were, ‘and the story went that all the family silver was hidden in it when Sherman came through but it was never found…’
‘Hey!’ John Wesley said.”

(If these lines sound familiar, don’t be surprised. They come from the much-anthologized and horrifying-no-matter-how-many-times-I-read-it story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”)

Like Lisa, I tag anyone who wants to try this exercise for him/herself!