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Fiction Reading

Hailed by Larry McMurtry "[o]ne of our finest writers," Francine Prose is the author of twelve novels, including Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award. Her newest book, Goldengrove (Harper Collins, 2008), was released to immediate critical acclaim. Her most recent nonfiction book, Reading Like A Writer (2006), was a New York Times bestseller. Her other books include: A Changed Man, a novel; Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles, a biography of the painter for the Eminent Lives series; After, an award-winning novel for young adults; Sicilian Odyssey, a travel book; The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired, a national bestseller; and Gluttony, a meditation on a deadly sin. She is also the author of Hunters and Gatherers, Bigfoot Dreams and Primitive People, two story collections, and a collection of novellas, Guided Tours of Hell. Prose has also written four children's books and co-translated three volumes of fiction.

from Chapter One of Goldengrove (HarperCollins, 2008)
Copyright by Francine Prose

We lived on the shore of Mirror Lake, and for many years our lives were as calm and transparent as its waters. Our old house followed the curve of the bank, in segments, like a train, each room and screened porch added on, one by one, decade by decade.

When I think of that time, I picture the four of us wading in the shallows, admiring our reflections in the glassy, motionless lake. Then something—a pebble, a raindrop—breaks the surface and shatters the mirror. A ripple reaches the distant bank. Our years of bad luck begin.

That was how Margaret would have thought. My sister was the poet.

I was Miss One-Thing-After-the-Next. Which is how I remember what happened.

But that's not how it happened at all. One thing happened, then everything else, like a domino falling and setting off a collapse that snakes out toward the horizon and spills over into the future.