Grub Street Class

I did the Grub Street Class on Saturday.

It was so good I didn’t want it to end, so much so that I got the time difference in Boston completely wrong.

Alysia Abbott led us through great readings by Howard Axelrod, Edmund White & Sonali Deriniyagala.

And I wrote this;

For two nights running we had found tiny pyramids of sawdust on the glossy surface of our pine bar.


This mystery led to where I was now, locked in our café with soup smells and our tiny, stocky, hard as nails and hilarious cook Miriam.


She was Sherlock to my mediocre Watson.


Outside it was raining and Cusco carried on, tin box yellow Tico taxis buzzed past the front door, skating glossy cobbles, their constant wake splashing wave after wave of muddy Andean water against our metal shutters and Inca stonework.


Inside, the crime scene was lit by fluorescent kitchen lights and Miriam was deep in thought.

Our open plan kitchen was small, roughly two Miriam’s end to end one way and one and a half Miriam’s the other, converted into European the kitchen was one and half me’s by one me wearing a reasonably tall hat.


Miriam was letting the sawdust fall through her fingers onto the Formica work surface, examining each grain as if once the universe was ready they would spell the answer out to us.


‘It’s the muca Senor Michael, he’s in that speaker up there’ said Miriam, pointing to one half of our sound system bolted to the ceiling four Miriam’s up.


‘Muca Miriam, what’s that?’ I asked, expecting that our invader and sawdust dropper was some exciting mammalian exotic.


‘Long tail, scurries, Senor Michael, scurry scurry scurry’


‘A rat?’ I shouted.


‘Si senor, he’s sat up there now, you can see where he’s chewed out the base of the speaker cabinet.’


‘So, what do we do now?’ I asked as I leaned against the pillar that held our high ceiling up and made our kitchen even smaller.


‘We get him out’ said Miriam and pointed to our ageing silver stereo tucked under the bar.


She smiled her malevolent smile and nodded me forward.


She wanted me to flush the rodent out with a blast of music.


Removing a Radiohead CD from its case I loaded the player, turned the volume to 10, stared up at the rat’s nest speaker and pressed play.

Grub Street

I’m finally using my credit with Grub Street Writers on Saturday with the In A World – creating rich settings in memoir workshop.

Author Alysia Abbott is the tutor.

I finished Alysia’s memoir earlier this month and aside from having the best cover picture EVER, it’s a spellbinding read.

Detailing the bond between Alysia and her gay father the memoir vividly conjures San Francisco in the 70s and 80s.

Strangely, one of the Amazon reviews I read spoke about setting and the reviewer’s opinion that the book detailed too much about San Francisco for someone who’s never been there.

As someone who’s never been to San Francisco my view is that the city acts as a fourth main character along with Alysia, her Dad and mother.

I wonder if that on reading 2001 – a space odyssey the same reviewer thought it’s description of outer space superfluous.