I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.

On the first of each month,
a guest writer
how he or she spends the day.

September 1, 2018: Cherise Wolas

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby was published last August, a friend gave it to me for Christmas, and I devoured it over Memorial Day. If anyone is looking for a grand finale to their summer reading, this big, thick book is it.

Joan Ashby is a famous writer, and the novel opens with an article about her. According to the article, one of her early notebooks was entitled How to Do It–the young Joan’s plan for success. Here are three of her nine admonitions: Don’t waste time, don’t entertain offers of marriage, and never have children.

She only wanted what belonged to her–what she created, her characters, her people, those with whom she spent the clearest hours of her days. It was, she thought, the way to make that truest part of herself whole once again.

The article includes excerpts of Joan’s writing, one of which, I now notice, is about Simon Tabor, a character in Cherise’s second novel, which was published last month (yes, less than a year after her debut).

On the second page of Joan Ashby, also in the article and not a spoiler but part of the set-up, we learn that it’s been “nearly three decades since Joan Ashby published anything new.” What in the heck happened I immediately wanted to know. Brilliant.

Page after page, I couldn’t stop reading. And then, in the middle of this book of 529 pages, the one thing that could not happen happens. Brilliant.

No matter how much she drinks, the adrenaline of rage is keeping her sober.

As opposed to decades, The Family Tabor, Cherise’s second novel, takes place over a weekend. And instead of predominantly one point of view, we are up close and personal, from the beginning, with each of five family members–mom, dad, and the three children–Phoebe, Camille, and Simon. All of these lovely differences hint at Cherise’s range as a writer. And there’s more. In this book, so far, it’s the character-slanted descriptions, rather than the story, that are drawing me in.

About an apartment: “home with a very small h and all that she needed.”

About a pile of bobby pins: “In the two years since Isabel’s birth, he has often considered whether her tightly coiled hair, her adopted uniform, indicates the practicality of doubled motherhood or something far more charged–proof that the loss of her freedom is so wild within her that she must keep herself regimented and pinned together.

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby was a semifinalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Debut Fiction Prize, an Indie Next Great Reads Pick, and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. It was also named a Best Novel and Best Debut Novel of the year by Kirkus Reviews and a Top 10 novel of 2017 by Booklist.

In a Publishers Weekly interview, Cherise tells us a little about her life.

I’ve written since childhood. I was a lawyer when I wrote a first novel, and I left the firm to revise it, but ended up founding a film company, where I acquired and developed the scripts, stories, and novels of others. Then I thought, “Why am I working on other people’s words when my own are what I want to be working on?”

Cherise was born in LA and now lives in NYC with her husband. Check out what she’s reading, then,

Come back on SEPTEMBER 1st to read how CHERISE WOLAS spends her days.