What Ever: A Living Novel by Heather WoodburyWhat Ever: A Living Novel by Heather Woodbury

What Ever: A Living Novel

byHeather Woodbury

Paperback | September 17, 2003

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"May be the nearest thing to an American Ulysses . . . wildly funny and infinitely sad."
-Fintan O'Toole, The Irish times

Focusing on the lives of more than a dozen characters-among them the Oregon rave boy Skeeter; the progressive-thinking octogenarian Violet, remembering her life from her bohemian youth in prewar Paris to her jazz-clubbing in postwar Greenwich Village; and the street-smart prostitute Bushie, holding forth on the profanity of the world-Heather Woodbury has forged a unique kind of fiction that combines the immediacy of performance art with the narrative structure and subtle characterization of a traditional novel. Taking off from her acclaimed one-woman show of the same title, Woodbury continually surprises in this novel with her ability to create new forms while always locating the unique, resonant humanity that links all the characters to one another-and to the reader.

Heather Woodbury was born in northern California. After working in New York City as a barmaid, go-go dancer, and catering waitress as well as a performance artist, in 2001 she moved to Los Angeles, where she now lives.
Title:What Ever: A Living NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.79 inPublished:September 17, 2003Publisher:Farrar, Straus And GirouxLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0571211720

ISBN - 13:9780571211722

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Read from the Book

What EverPART ONECHAPTER 1IN WHICH VIOLET AND IRIS DISCUSS FORBIDDEN DANCESOur story begins long ago, in the early 1990s, when a couple of old ladies convene at the end of a counter in a bustling Greek diner on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Both are well dressed in the manner of patrician American women who hit their stride in around 1930-something--jaunty hats, handsome old furs, snappy blouses, and once-saucy skirts. One is dressed neatly and primly, however, while the other wears colors just a bit too bright for her phase of life and has a gleam in her eye a bit out of step with her Upper East Side surroundings. This is Violet. A small black poodle is tethered to her stool and wriggles at her ankles. This is Balzac. She calls testily to the harried waiter, who seems so accustomed to her that he regards her as part of the fixtures.VIOLET: Connie, Constantine! Constantinopolis! Can I have a glass of wateh, please?Connie nods from down the counter.VIOLET: Thank you, Connie. Come heah, Balzy, come heah, sit in my lap.The dog scrambles up as she, with effort, heaves him onto her lap. She pats him attentively.VIOLET: Poor dogs, they know when something awful is about to occur.IRIS: What is it?Violet's voice is low and has a layer of ever-present irony. Her ar's are all ahs, her or's are all awe's. Iris has a higher and sharper voice. She pronounces her r's with a crisp Midwestern accent. Her voice always has a tinge of worry.VIOLET: How should I know, Iris, I'm not a dog! So, what're you looking put out for this morning, Iris? Is it y'doorm'n again?IRIS: No, no, that's not it.VIOLET: 'Tisn't? Well, what is it?IRIS: Nothing.VIOLET: Oh, Iris, just don't pussyfoot around, I find it very boring when you do. Just tell me what it is.IRIS: It's The Times.VIOLET: The times? The times that we live in? Still!She eyes their surroundings--the crowded diner, the street outside--with feigned disbelief.VIOLET: Amazing!--or th' Times--The New Yawk Times?IRIS: It's The New York Times.VIOLET: Good Christ--no!--the times are bad enough, but The Times is far worse!Constantine slams down a glass of water and rushes off.VIOLET: Thank you, Connie. Now, just what were you reading in the paper of record this morning to get you all--upset?IRIS: Well, I was reading that there are these midnight dance parties that the young people, uh--VIOLET: The young people? The young people? Which young people do you mean?She looks around the restaurant.VIOLET: I should imagine there are several subdivisions at this point. Why, even Constantinopolis might be considered a young person, although he's got a pot belly and d'you notice his teeth--Connie delivers a basket of rolls. He hovers for a moment. Violet is startled.VIOLET: He-hello, Connie, have you met Iris yet? She loves your soup! Isn't that remahkable? Yes, well, she lost all her taste five years ago. Was it all of your taste buds, Iris deeah, or just several?IRIS: Violet!VIOLET: Oh, sorry, harumph, here, Balzy, have a nice roll. They're especially nice and STALE this morning.Violet feeds Balzac a roll.VIOLET: Oh now, just let me know just what you read that was so ... disturbing?IRIS: Well, I read about these midnight dance parties that are called, uh, raves.VIOLET: Raids? Raids? The young have been going on raids since the time of Genghis Khan, Iris. I hardly see how that can be news. Are you certain it was an ahticle in The Times and not an exhibit at the Natural Hist'ry Museum?IRIS: No, dear, raves!VIOLET: Rage? Rage, as in all the rage?IRIS: No, dear, raves, raves!VIOLET: Balzy, stop barking so that I can he-ar Aunt Iris! Raves? As in stark raving mad?IRIS: Yes! That's it! Exactly!VIOLET: So what's the trouble, deeah, with these raves? What do they do? Do they rave? Do they recite passages from King Lee-ah? What's the, uh, what's the ...She trails off. Amid the clatter of coffee cups, they can almost hear ambient trance music wafting across time and space.Copyright © 2003 by Heather Woodbury