In this installment of Page 69,
we put G. Elizabeth Kretchmer's The Damnable Legacy to the test.
OK, Gail, set up page 69 for us.
One of the novel’s key characters is a troubled young teen named Frankie. She’s a cutter and a chronic runaway, desperate to get away from her drug-addicted mom. In this scene, she’s at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and has just stolen a woman’s boarding pass to Vancouver, B. C. although she really wants to get to Oregon, where she’s hoping to meet up with a family friend who she knows will take her in. But first, she’s hungry, and she’s trying to buy a quick snack before scheming her way onto the Portland-bound plane.
What is The Damnable Legacy about?
The Damnable Legacy is about a midlife mountaineer who still regrets the decision she made thirty years ago to place her daughter for adoption, the biological granddaughter she’s never known (Frankie), and the minister’s wife who figured out the relationship between the two. Unfortunately, her discovery happened right before she died of terminal cancer, and she put a plan into place from her deathbed to bring them together. Now, she must helplessly watch (and narrate) from the afterlife as her plan tragically unfolds.
This is a story about love and survival, exploring the importance of attachment, faith, and place, and asking how far we should go to achieve our goals - and at what cost.
Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what The Damnable Legacy is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?
This page gives you a glimpse of Frankie - a girl with lots of chutzpah - and of the inevitable teenaged dichotomy of child versus budding adult. It’s Frankie’s desperate situation and her spunk that readers fall in love with and make her one of the most cherished characters in the story, and her hunger for that hot dog could symbolize, I suppose, her hunger for a greater form of nourishment and her discovery that all forms of nourishment come at a cost. But of course I wasn’t necessarily thinking about theme or symbol when I wrote the hot dog scene. Note: her reference to a dying grandmother doesn’t refer to the narrator; it’s a bit of a lie she’s making up to get on the plane. Also, anyone familiar with Saturday Night Live of long ago, or Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern, might appreciate the Coke, no Pepsi line, although this hot dog vendor is independent of the BGT at O’Hare.
The Damnable Legacy
G. Elizabeth Kretchmer earned her MFA from Pacific University. Her short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, High Desert Journal, Silk Road Review, SLAB, and other publications. She independently published her debut novel, The Damnable Legacy of A Minister’s Wife, in 2014 and will be re-publishing it through Booktrope as simply The Damnable Legacy in July 2015. When she’s not writing, she’s facilitating therapeutic and wellness writing workshops or walking Lani, her Labradoodle/publicity director, in the Seattle area.