Author & Book Spotlight + Excerpt + Giveaway: If I Knew You Were Going to be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel

If I Knew You Were Going to Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go
If I Knew You Were Going to Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go
by Judy Chicurel
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books

“A wise, clear look at what it was to be a young woman at a singular time in our country…a beautiful, accomplished book.”—Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks
It is 1972, and America is losing its innocence.  So are the girls of Elephant Beach, a working-class town on the edge of Long Island. Families come here from the city to escape, to protect their kids, but even with the smell of the sea in the air and the quaint bungalow houses lining the streets, trouble can be found if you’re looking for it: drinking and drugs, racial tensions and bar fights, alluring young men back from Vietnam with damage that is not always visible. Soaked in the atmosphere of a once idyllic place undergoing tumultuous change, observant and wise about the struggles young women face, these are beautiful portraits of mothers and daughters, men and women, haves and have-nots that capture the eternal struggle between holding on to what we have, and daring to hope for something more.
Judy Chicurel
Excerpt from Chapter 17: “Last Call”  820 words
From: If I Knew You Were Going to be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go

The night wore on, like so many other nights, but different. A long table had been set up against the wall with a buffet of cold cut deli platters, plastic dishes of pickles and Coleslaw, aluminum foiled pans of baked ziti and tossed salad, and a platter of party cookies tied in orange cellophane from Renzi’s Bakery. Maybe because of the food no one seemed quite as wasted a usual, except for Bennie of course, who was passed out underneath the pool table. Towards midnight, there were more shot glasses lining the bar and Len rigged the jukebox to play a long Rolling Stones riff. Everyone was dancing up a storm. I danced with Billy and Conor and Liz and Nanny and Voodoo and even Len came out from behind the bar, to great cheering, and boogied down to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Brown Sugar.” Rosemary had been sitting most of the night in a corner of the bar, primly sipping cranberry juice, but Cha-Cha and Conor surrounded her and soon she was downing Tequila shots and laughing hysterically at anything anyone said. Now Ray Mackey was twirling her around the dance floor. She was a very good dancer. I wondered if she and Mitch had gone out dancing before he lost his leg, to clubs, maybe, or divey bars with good jukeboxes, or maybe they just danced around their living room while people passing by peered into their windows and watched. Now I knew what Len had meant when he said he kept expecting Mitch to show up; every time I looked at the corner of the bar by the jukebox, I kept expecting to see him, sitting there, talking, laughing, his amazing eyes taking everything in until the booze made the click happened and he zoned out to his own private hemisphere.

    Looking around the lounge was like looking at one of those freeze-frame photographs. People were laughing and singing and dancing and, whenever there was a jukebox lull, raising their glasses in a toast to Mitch. His wife, Rosemary, was weaving toward the door that led to the rooms above the lounge, surrounded by Ray and Raven and Cha-Cha, her arms around Rita, who’d decided to love her after many shots of Tequila. Rosemary turned in the doorway and her shawl slid to the floor as she lowered her head and held out her arms and announced, “Now I am home, and you are my family.” Everyone applauded and she blew a kiss to the crowd and then she was gone, floating up the stairs to her dead husband’s bed. Raven and Cha-Cha went out to the piazza to smoke a joint. Nanny and Voodoo were wrapped around one another, their eyes closed, their lips locked, as though they were alone someplace, a desert maybe, trying to stay warm. Outside, Rita was getting sick in the clump of sea grass behind the patio. Angie had left long ago, and now Desi, wearing a lopsided smile, was making his unsteady way home to the rooms above Eddy’s, probably dreaming of unbuttoning a thousand tiny buttons on a sky blue sweater. Liz was swaying against the bar with a happy look on her face, maybe thinking about the pile of dog shit she’d left on the driver’s seat of Cory’s Triumph TR6 on Tuesday night. Billy and Conor had run out of money and were begging Len to let them run a tab. Ray Mackey was sitting outside at an abandoned table on the patio, his head resting on his arms, a lit cigarette falling from his fingers. I looked around and felt like crying, not from being sad but because everything went by so quickly and I wanted it back, even my days of being an outsider, trying so hard to belong. Even the days of longing for Luke, because they had all led up to this, this night, so thick with stars and music and ashes. I wanted it to last, but it was late and soon the lounge would be closing. And some little bit of something would be lost, even though we’d probably be here again on another night very soon.

    I felt a light touch on my arm and turned to see Luke standing next to me. He’d been drinking as long as everyone else had, maybe doing other things, too, but his eyes looked clear. “That was cool, what you said on the beach,” he said. “That was very cool, man. He would have liked that.” He put his hand underneath my elbow.

    “Yeah, I think he would have,” I said. Over Luke’s shoulder, I watched the photo freeze frame one more time and then the picture became clear and fluid and all the colors came together and for that exact moment, I had the feeling that everything would be alright. That even after the music stopped, we’d all still go on dancing. 

* * If I Knew You Were Going to Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel. Reprinted by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015 by Judy Chicurel * *

Judy Chicurel's writing has appeared in national and regional publications, including The New York Times, Newsday and Granta.

Her plays have been performed in NYC theaters and festivals, including the NYC International Fringe Festival, New Perspectives Theatre and Metropolitan Playhouse. She is a member of the New York Writers Coalition, and was a 2011 Fellow in the CUNY Graduate Center Writers Institute Fiction Writing Program.

Her novel, If I Knew You Were Going to be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go, is forthcoming from G.P. Putnam's Sons on October 30, 2014.

Judy lives by the water in Brooklyn, New York.

* * U.S. Only.  Must be 18 or older to enter. Giveaway sponsored by Gallery Books. OABR is not responsible for lost or stolen prizes * * 


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