Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"The Most Fun We Ever Had"

Claire Lombardo earned her MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois. A former social worker, she now teaches fiction writing and is at work on a second novel.

Lombardo applied the Page 69 Test to The Most Fun We Ever Had, her debut novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Both kids were sleeping through the night and Matt had just made partner and Violet had shed her final pounds of baby weight and everything had been going exceptionally, and if they got a babysitter and went out to dinner it should’ve been to bask rather than to save their marriage. Except now there was Jonah, and there wasn’t a restaurant in the Chicagoland area fancy enough to assuage the effects of his arrival.
On page 69 of my novel , neurotic Sorenson sister Violet frets before a date with her husband, both because she’s grown apart from him and because she doesn’t want to talk about the thing she knows they’ll have to talk about—namely, the arrival into their lives of an orphaned teenage boy who has just moved in with her sister, Wendy.

This page is representative of the rest of the book, I’d say, because the present arc of the novel—the year in which the aforementioned teenager returns—is all about chronicling unrest in the lives of the characters. Nobody in the Sorenson family is quite where he or she wants to be at the beginning of the novel, and Violet—though she’s type-A and concerned with appearances and keeps her struggles under wraps, for the most part—is perhaps more unmoored than most. This novel is very much concerned with the ways that we process life as it comes at us—life at its most quotidian and its most dramatic.

Jonah is very much a catalyst for change within this family, and his behavior—good, bad, or otherwise—played a major role in helping me propel the plot forward. He also serves as an outside observer, the only POV character who isn’t an immediate member of the Sorenson clan, so he both gives the reader a breather from being pressed so closely against the Sorenson sisters and provides some objectivity in his perception of this particular family.
Visit Claire Lombardo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue