Project Main Details
Title: "Amateurs" by Dylan Hicks (Coffee House Press)
Word Count: 67,000 words. 262 pages in print.
Vantage Points: 5 different characters
Archer is a semi-celebrated novelist and sex-toy heir. His best friend, John, is as earnest as Archer is feckless. John’s girlfriend, Sara, envies Archer’s writing career. And Sara’s roommate, Lucas, wishes he’d never lost his girlfriend to the man. Money, friendship, and resentment unspool in the conversations we have as we’re coming of age and coming to grips
Brief description of each character:
Marion Crennel: Perspective character only for the prologue, which is set in the early seventies. She’s in her mid twenties during that section, living with her parents, struggling to finish a novel, and becoming reacquainted with a childhood friend.
Karyn Bondarenko: Karyn’s is a divorced human-resources specialist in her early forties, the mother of a preteen son, and a hobbyist playwright. She begins a romance with Lucas Pope. Her timeline sticks to 2011.
Sara Crennel: Sara is an aspiring writer who comes to work as a ghostwriter for Archer Bondarenko, a Canadian-born novelist and essayist of vast independent means. Sara’s timeline covers about a decade, from 2004, when she’s in her mid twenties, to 2011.
Lucas Pope: Once a fellow MFA candidate with Sara, Lucas went on to work in banks and to launch an ill-starred entrepreneurial endeavor. He’s unemployed in 2011. He’s Sara’s contemporary.
John Anderson: Archer’s college roommate, John now works as a caretaker for Sara’s grandfather. He’s a few years older than Sara, for whom he carries a torch.
Preferred Gender of narrator: Female 2016-11-15 19:15:44 GMT 2016-11-25 13:00:00 (GMT -05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada) Yes (click here to learn more about ) Closed 2 2 0 direct invitation(s) have been sent by the voice seeker resulting in 0 audition(s) and/or proposal(s) so far. Voice123 SmartCast is seeking 10 auditions and/or proposals for this project (approx.) Invitations sent by SmartCast have resulted in 2 audition(s) and/or proposal(s) so far.
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Marion straddled a vinyl-strap patio lounger, absently revising a metaphor about circuit breakers while her mother, Phyliss, trimmed an azalea bush in the Japanesque garden. Phyliss had been working unassisted for several hours (Marion felt a resistible pull to help), and the garden—with its Japanese maple and ornamental pines, its stone lantern and stepping stones, its rock beds, pools, and mossy little bridges—was reviving. Phyliss had majored in art history, and it was sometimes said that she applied that training to the arrangement of her garden and the glass-doored family room that looked out on it. It depressed Marion to think of the largely unused degrees, thwarted ambition, and undertapped potential of her mother’s generation of women, potential so undertapped in this case that it was hard for Marion to imagine her mother (bibliophobic, susceptible to insipid prettiness) as a museum curator or a professor of art history, hard even to imagine her as a critic for a lightly circulated daily. But perhaps, in a fairer world, Phyliss still wouldn’t have been drawn to such paths.
“I would bottle it,” Phyliss said.
“What’s that, Ma?” For a moment Marion thought she was being asked to suppress her uncharitable thoughts.
“This is a gorgeous day. I’d like to bottle it.”
To hint that a warmer day ought to be bottled, Marion reached for her black crochet poncho, fringed and redolent of smoke, but she didn’t otherwise dispute the day’s gorgeousness. The willows on the Crennels’ two acres were losing their wintry gold, and the elms, red oaks, and birches were budding or about to. A few clouds smeared the cornflower sky. Marion sipped her spiked Dr. Pepper, shaking the highball glass so she could enjoy the sound of ice cubes and rejuvenated carbonation. Her anger over unused degrees wasn’t strictly retroactive. Her own English degree from Northwestern had won her a secretarial position at a literary agency, which in the end was less appealing than the Marshall Field’s sales position her mother landed after college; at least Phyliss’s gig came with a discount. Marion had initially trusted, despite her professed mistrust of the system, that once dues were paid and her taste and intelligence recognized, she would be given a shot as an agent. Four years on the payroll cast opportunities for advancement in a growingly chimerical light. One Tuesday she didn’t come back from lunch.
She heard breeze-blown voices from the fourth hole, then an Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency coming up the snaking drive-way. “Here’s your father,” Phyliss said. He took the stone path to the kidney-shaped patio. Corinne Wrightson trailed behind him in apparently borrowed tennis whites, her encased racket strapped around her chest. She was visiting for a week, home from Berkeley.
“Look who I found,” George said.
“I know I’m early,” Corinne said. “I thought we could—”
A jet briefly shadowed the patio on its way to O’Hare. When it passed, George turned to Corinne. “Fix you anything? G and T?”
“Jorge, she doesn’t want a cocktail before tennis,” Phyliss said. The nickname arose from the occasional business George did in Mexico.
George smiled as if he and Corinne were in a secret society of drunken tennists. “Fun to see you girls together again,” he said.
Marion and Corinne hadn’t been close since they were seventeen, when Marion started to break away from the village of Lammermuir and its namesake country club. It wasn’t fair, but for many years Corinne seemed inextricably tied to Marion’s earlier self, the neatly dressed, prim yet coquettish, anxiously beauty-obsessed self whose sweaters so magnetized the hearts and paws of local footballers (a history and legacy at the heart of Marion’s novel). But these associations were ebbing, and though Corinne had never been a serious movement type, no matter the movement, her subcultural status currently seemed stronger than Marion’s. She was living cooperatively, doing something with film, while Marion was living parasitically, doing nothing with literature. In ’67, Marion had helped draft a (scuttled) women’s resolution at the National Conference for New Politics, shortly after which she became a reserved but allegiant member of the Westside group, Chicago’s first women’s liberation organization. By now she had lost touch with everyone.
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