Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday Snippet: Queenpin by Megan Abbott

Megan Abbot’s Queenpin charts the relationship between the legendary Gloria Denton, the city’s chief moll, and a young woman who she takes on as an apprentice (my review here). Abbott sure can write and her two principal characters are multi-layered and complex. Here’s how both are introduced.

I want the legs.
That was the first thing that came into my head. The legs were the legs of a twenty-year-old Vegas showgirl, a hundred feet long and with just enough curve and give and promise. Sure, there was no hiding the slightly worn hands or the beginning tugs of skin framing the bones in her face. But the legs, they lasted, I tell you. They endured. Two decades her junior, my skinny matchsticks were no comparison.
In the casinos, she could pass for thirty. The low lighting, her glossy auburn hair, legs swinging, tapping the bottom rim of the tall, better stools. At the track, though, she looked her age. Even swathed in oversized sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, bright gloves, she couldn’t outflank the merciless sunshine, the glare off the grandstand. Not that it mattered. She was legend.

Hell, I’ll admit it, I had a taste for the other from the start. Where would a twenty-two-year-old kid rather be? Setting the table for corned beef and cabbage dinner with her old man, forks scrapping, moths fluttering against the window, the briny smell from the kitchen sinking into my skin with each tock of the imitation grandfather clock? Or gliding my way through the fuzzy dark of the Tee Hee, vibrating with low, slow jazz, clusters of juniper-breathed men and women touching, hands on lapels, fingers on silk nylons, cigarettes releasing willowy clouds into every acid green banquette? Sure, it was no El Morocco, but in this town, it might as well have been. The place felt alive, I could hear it beating in my chest, between my hips, everywhere. Clock-out time and I never wanted to leave. I’d grin my way into a Tom Collins from Shep, the lantern-jawed bartender, and watch from the corner stool, watch everything, eating green cherries, the candied drink soaking into my lips, my tongue.

Tell me you don’t want to get to know these two feisty, scheming women?

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Those are great descriptions! The characters certainly seem interesting - this and your review of Queenpin have certainly got me interested in the book. Thanks