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Bonnie led Tom through the labyrinth of the Louvre, occasionally referring to the map of the English-language guidebook she had bought at the museum entrance. Since she’d planned her must-see list months before, she was quickly able to plot a course that would get them exactly where she wanted to go. They had a lot of territory to cover in a few hours, and Bonnie intended to cover all of it.
After a quick glimpse of the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, they circled around the Winged Victory of Samothrace before surveying —briefly — French, Italian and Spanish paintings. Hundreds of years of artistic creation, millions of hours of artistic effort, and they buzzed by in a blink of the eye. She knew she’d have to skip most of the antiquities, the Asian, Pacific and Islamic art, and all of the decorative arts: the furniture and ceramics and jewelry would simply take up too much time.
She’d see as many of the European paintings as she could, having memorized the Louvre’s holdings in Professor Arndt’s art survey class. She’d even independently studied more of his vast collection of slides and art history books, coming to campus the previous summer to be well prepared for her planned Louvre trip. She could hear guides busily explaining, in several languages, the content of Arndt’s lectures as well.
It was quickly becoming clear to her that the museum experience of in person viewing added little more to what she already ‘knew’ about each artwork — she had been required by Arndt to understand the scale of an artist’s work, so seeing the relatively tiny Mona Lisa portrait dwarfed by the large room where it was on display told her nothing. It had been easier to see the detail and understand the intimacy of the work from Arndt’s slides and books. Nothing was enhanced by her presence near the actual painting. In fact, standing too long in front of it only made her grow anxious. She was ready to move on far sooner than Tom, who actually seemed transfixed by the woman’s knowing smile, the translucent layering of oils.
Bonnie wanted to be closer, some how. Not physically exactly. That would have been impossible anyway as guards and a glass case prevented anyone from getting too close to the world’s most famous painting.
Bonnie reflected that tiny motes of dust caught on the edge of Mona Lisa’s frame or nestled in a lock of Venus de Milo’s marble hair — places that may well have felt the artist’s paint brush or the chisel — were better positioned than she was; but a dust speck couldn’t interpret or translate the experience Bonnie craved. Yet she felt inferior to the perspective of the clinging dust specks, inanimate though they were. They at least touched the artwork. Bonnie knew that what she was missing went beyond mere touch. She craved a kind of visceral union with the artist. Having made her own lame, fragmented attempts to capture the world around her and her memories in pencil, pastel, and sometimes in paint, she understood there was so much more to artistic creation that what could be seen hanging along the Louvre’s beautiful corridors. And there was so much more she wanted to learn than would ever be satisfied by reviewing Professor Arndt’s slide carousels and hearing his lectures.
“Are we going to whiz by everything here?” Tom complained. “We seem to be on pace to do that. I wouldn’t mind slowing down.”
His remark barely registered on her. She actually sped up the pace.
They came at last to a quiet, narrow room adjacent to the Italian paintings of the 17th and 18th century. There she spotted an almost insignificant-looking, smudged drawing. On a nearby bench, she set down her tote bag — one she herself had sewn from denim, embroidered with a phrase from a Beatles song (“and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”) and decorated with peace-sign patches. She took off her coat, revealing a bright green patchwork smock top over a darker green turtleneck, one she’d brought along just for the purpose she had in mind. She thought it reminiscent of an artist’s smock with big pockets that were handy for holding her drawing supplies.
The moment she took off her hat, Tom laughed.
“What is that?” he said.
“A 16th century Italian drawing,” she said inspecting the framed drawing closely, “of a young man’s head.”
“No,” he said. “Your hair. All those crazy curls on top of that green get-up. You look like a piece of broccoli.”
The speedy tour past the Louvre’s centuries of treasures had made her forget all about her hair. And his insulting comment made her forget about all the paintings except for one they’d just seen: a 15th century Bernardino Luini painting of Salome carrying the severed head of John the Baptist. She knew how inappropriate it was for a girl attending a Catholic college to imagine herself as an exotic dancer, with Tom’s head on the plate, but the anger and embarrassment made it hard not to.
“It’s actually the latest Parisian style,” she boasted loudly. “I just had it done this afternoon in a très chic salon.”
“I’ve seen a lot of Parisian women today, and none of them looked like that.” He slouched on the bench, apparently exhausted.
“It’s just catching on,” she said, turning away. She flipped open her sketchpad to a clean page, and began to translate the placard affixed near the drawing.
Tom walked to her and read over her shoulder:
About 1491. Initially attributed to Correggio, now considered a work of Michelangelo Anselmi. Anselmi’s early activity in Parma coincides with Correggio’s work in the church of S. Giovanni Evangelista.
Bonnie smiled and added another line, which Tom read aloud as well.
Correggio tried to take credit for another artist’s work. He was a big, fat cheater.
“Right,” he added, yawning and arranging his six-foot frame on the hard wooden bench. “Wake me up when you’re done copying this guy’s brilliant work.”
She frowned and said nothing more, opening up a small container of pencils, charcoal and chalk to begin her drawing.
Bonnie began by drawing a faint, charcoal outline of the face, marking lightly the subject’s eyes, nose and mouth. She then switched to red chalk, shaping and then deepening the shadows along and under the young man’s jaw. In moments she forgot everything around her, including Tom’s snores from the bench. She felt both calm and energized.
She had been surprised by meditative state of mind she could only achieved when she was sketching, though the yoga instructor in her required phy-ed class had attempted to get her into a similar state. But Bonnie’s inflexible body could never form the lithe poses of Ms. Ryan, nor was she ever able to achieve alternate nostril breathing, or pranayama, which supposedly would help stamp out her always present anxiety and merge her left- and right-brain thinking. All she could concentrate on during yoga class was how painfully the crotch snaps of her leotard were digging into the delicate pelvic region tissue.
Through drawing she could achieve a relaxed but creative state of mind; her usual self-consciousness cancelled out by the intent, focused concentration on her drawing. The dissatisfaction she’d felt the moment they walked inside the Louvre vanished as she’d connected to Anselmi’s work in the most intimate way imaginable: by recreating it, with her own hands.
There was a moment when her self-confidence took a dip, and the judgmental world began to gnaw at her briefly, sounding a lot like Tom’s mumbled complaints in his sleep. Then she saw how her initial rough drawing didn’t bear much of a resemblance to the picture in front of her. Then she felt inadequate to the task. Like the long meditative period, this moment of self doubt occurred every time she drew, causing her to want to give up and throw the drawing away.
But she had learned not to give up. She pushed passed the brief setback, and her self-consciousness receded once again, along with her awareness of Tom’s snores. As her fingers became ever more smudged in red chalk and charcoal, she carefully placed a small clean cloth under hand to avoid marring the drawing while she modeled in cheekbones, eye sockets, and the soft waves of the young man’s hair.
Eventually she added the last touches – a few highlights in white chalk on the nose, forehead and cheekbones, where the planes of his face turned to the light. She propped her notebook along the wall and stood back to look at it from several feet away.
“Bravo,” a voice said. As she turned to see who spoke, she noticed a trio of high-school-aged French girls, all wearing matching school uniforms, watching the sleeping Tom with rapt attention. They whispered excitedly amongst themselves.
The man who had spoken had been observing both her and the quiet drama of young girls admiring a handsome young man. He walked up to Bonnie. “Nicely done. I’ll buy it from you since I can’t convince the Louvre to sell me the original. It’s one of my very favorites. How much would you like?”
“Buy it?” Bonnie’s right- and left-brain hadn’t quite disconnected themselves, allowing a full return to reality. Who was this man? And why would he want to buy her drawing?
“I must apologize for not introducing myself first,” he said, holding out a hand. “William Oldenburg, III. I run the Oldenburg Gallery in New York City.”
Bonnie took his hand. She’d heard of the Oldenburg Gallery and had, in fact, checked out a book with photos of all the works it contained. It had one of the richest collections in the U.S. This Oldenburg must have been the grandson of the oil tycoon who’d made the family’s fortune early in the 20th century.
William Oldenburg, III, was a rail-thin, middle-aged man dressed in a herringbone-patterned shirt unbuttoned to his breastbone, a leather bomber jacket draped over his arm. His hair was platinum, and Bonnie wasn’t sure if it was because he was prematurely gray, or if he’d dyed it that color. His face even appeared to have make-up on it – mascara and a hint of eye shadow, touches of blush on his well-defined cheekbones.
“Bonnie Huber,” she said. “Of Saint Agnes College, in Minnesota.” She doubted he had ever heard of it.
“Bonnie Huber,” he said, smiling warmly. “Very lovely to meet you. Please call me Billy. And name your price, I meant it,” he said. “And I’ll be sure you don’t undersell yourself. I knew you were from the Midwest even before you mentioned Minnesota.”
How was it so obvious? Was it the hair? The earth shoes? “Um. Of course, I’d be happy to give it to you,” she said.
“I expected that. Nonsense. I won’t accept less than $800.”
800 dollars! Bonnie’s jaw dropped.
“And even that’s less than it’s worth. So I’ll throw in dinner, tonight. Your friend,” he said nodding at Tom, “is invited as well. At least I assume he’s your friend though in that pose he looks like the vision of one of Michelangelo’s slaves.”
Bonnie was sure she saw Billy lick his lips when he glanced at Tom. The three girls were still keeping watch over him, quietly chattering in rapid schoolgirl French.
“Let’s just say he’s an acquaintance I ran into,” Bonnie said, nudging Tom’s shin with her foot.
“You and your acquaintance are welcome to join me for dinner,” Billy replied. “No discussion on that point. We’ll negotiate your price over wine and whatever you like at one of Paris’ best restaurants. Here’s my card,” he said, handing her an expensive-looking business card bearing his and the gallery’s name.
“My driver is right outside the Rue de Rivoli entrance. You know where that is?”
“Just meet us there and we’ll head off to dinner.” Billy put his bomber jacket on and strolled off.
“What’s going on?” Tom said, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. The three girls scattered like startled pigeons, then settled on a bench across the room.
“We’re going to dinner with one of America’s richest men,” Bonnie said, “who happens to want to buy my drawing for $800.”
“What? You’re joking, right?”
“His car’s waiting outside,” she said, showing him the card Billy had just handed her. ”He’s prepared to wine and dine us right now.”
“This I gotta see,” Tom said, standing and stretching while Bonnie put her art supplies away. “800 dollars? What else do you have in that sketchbook?” he said, reaching for it.
She remembered that she did have several other drawings she had no intention of showing anyone. And one in particular she would rather die than have him see. She snatched her sketchbook away and tucked it in her tote bag. “Hands off,” she said. “You’re lucky to be getting dinner out of this deal. After tonight, your next stop is the embassy so you can be on your way.”
“Fine with me,” he said. “I’m starving. Let’s get what we can from this guy, before he moves on to his next find.” As they headed out of the drawings gallery, they passed by the three girls. She followed Tom’s eyes as he looked at the girls and dazzled them with his best King of Sunray High smile.
When we left our heroine, she had just run into someone she didn’t expect to see in Paris. Remember, it’s January 1979. And she has just gotten a very bad haircut, which she is hiding under a stocking cap. Keep in mind this is a gooey novel, though I’ve heard from a reader that ‘gooey’ may cheese off my male audience. So I’m considering making it a BIG CHEESY novel versus a SWEEPING GOOEY novel. My first concern is that it needs more cheese. So I’m working on that.
Bonnie shrank back, remembering clearly who it was she was talking to. Tom Iversen. The Tom Iversen. Graduated first in their high school graduating class — but just barely — after having slept his way through most of their senior year. Since he’d received a full-ride scholarship to Stanford University, he could let things go. And he did. He came to class hung-over, almost every morning, and tried to hide his bloodshot eyes behind cool, dark aviator glasses. His rare contributions to the classroom discussion – when he was awake — were in the form of crude commentary to anyone nearby, or cutting remarks about the teacher.
And Bonnie could hear it all. She was always placed nearby Tom, her Huber just ahead of his Iversen in the seating chart alphabet.
Even when he was at his worst, Tom was still every teacher’s pet – the golden boy who was going to make Sunray Lake, Minnesota, proud, ace his way through Stanford, become an aerospace engineer with NASA, who knew, maybe wind up piloting the Space Shuttle. Bonnie was sure they already had the “Welcome Home, Tom!” banners printed up and ready to hang from the Sunray Lake water tower when he made his triumphal return from space in just a few years.
So he could afford to slack off. People like Tom always could.
But Bonnie wasn’t like Tom. She couldn’t slack off. She wasn’t sure she even would if she had half the chance. She was a bright, industrious student, and earned a few scholarships, but not enough to attend some pricey West Coast school. So she never bothered looking outside the Midwest. And why should she? Her path had never been as has clear as Tom’s always had been. And she had no one taking her on as a special project, ready to encourage her to try more lucrative, less traditional female professions. Shouldn’t she have been encouraged to think of being a rocket scientist too? Received some extra coaching to raise her college entrance test scores?
Bonnie wasn’t sure what she might have made of such encouragement. She’d never been the type of person to accept help easily, and never asked for it. She’d gotten her first job as soon as she could, working at 15 in a drugstore restaurant as cook, waitress and busboy, sometimes all in the same shift. She took the bus to and from her restaurant job, finishing her homework when the ride didn’t make her nauseous. Sometimes even when she was nauseous, she’d fake work on her homework so the local pothead on his way to the head-shop didn’t insist on carrying on his never-ending anti-government rant in the seat next to her, all the while steadily exhaling remnants of his long-held smoke at her as he spewed his nonsense. It always seemed best to stay under radar, keep your head down, avoid eye contact (especially with ranting potheads), and take care of your business by yourself.
And while she would have done better to save everything she earned for college, she had a hard time not spending all her meager wages and tips on small luxuries. Mostly art books and art supplies, which went to good use, but also the occasional cute angora sweater in pink, a color that she thought looked good against her pale, sometimes blotchy skin and didn’t make her hair look so bad. Oh and a pair of super wide bell bottom hip-hugger jeans. Or two. It wasn’t that her parents couldn’t afford to get these kinds of things for her. Bonnie didn’t want to ask.
And maybe that meant she was to blame for where she was after all. If you don’t ask for help or mentoring, you don’t get it. Instead you got angora sweaters that kick up so much static electricity that your limp hair goes even flatter against your neck and shoulders; hip-hugger jeans that quickly go out of style; and, just that day, an ugly curly, short haircut to fix the frisé frizzies. Instead you wound up at the nearest college that would take you, that your parents could mostly afford, with loans and part time jobs to pay the rest of the way.
So that’s where things stood for Bonnie Huber, visiting Paris, France in January 1979. In a few months, about when the perm grew out, she’d have to declare a major, and she still had no clue which direction she should take. And now she was standing right in front of a guy who had always had a clear sense of direction, and always seemed to have others for pushing him along when he needed to be pushed.
Bonnie shrugged off her feeling of inferiority. Tom Iversen was nobody, like all the other nobodies she’d had as high school classmates, who were all long gone from her life. This chance meeting was nothing.
“I’m studying French – and art — in Paris for the month,” she said casually, adding the “and art” part even though Mademoiselle was teaching only French. It really was a stretch to say she was studying art at all. Sure, she had a talent for portraiture and a few art history classes under her belt, but that was hardly “studying art.” She was, however, carrying a sketchpad and pencils with her, and planned to do some sketching at the Louvre. So at least she had some proof on her. Maybe someone would happen to notice her there, see that she had talent, and something special would happen in her life after all.
“How’s rocket science school?” she asked Tom casually, as if they had just run into each other at the Sunray Lake grocery store. But her voice rang out too loudly in the quiet, empty Jardin des Tuileries, echoing against the stone courtyards of the formal gardens and ricocheting back to her with false rings. It seemed like the wrong place for such an untrue tone of voice.
He shrugged. “I’m taking a break from aerospace engineering,” he said, using the more proper term for his course of study. “Taking a year off to travel.”
“Really,” she said, hoping she didn’t sound too sarcastic or envious. “How do you take a year off?” She thought that might sound rude, and again her voice was too loud, which confirmed it. She wondered whether the chemicals from the permanent had seeped into her brain, and changed her, permanently, maybe for the worse. She decided she didn’t care. “Exactly how do you do that?” she said, her voice ringing back to her a little less harshly.
“Well, let’s just say that everyone thought it was for the best,” he said.
He took a few moments to consider her question, and answered her. He was obviously taking his direction from the solemn atmosphere of the winter garden. “Mostly my advisor. My dad was against it, saying I’d hit my stride soon enough.”
Jim Iversen, Tom’s dad, was the long-time Sunray Lake high school principal. He’d seen enough kids to know whether one would hit his stride at some point, but had a huge blind spot, or so everyone thought, regarding his son.
“So here I am. In the middle of my European tour,” he said with a laugh. “And I’m completely, 100 percent lost in Paris. I just got into town and if I hadn’t run into you, I’m not sure what I would have done. I got scammed by some gypsies in a bump and run. My wallet’s missing, I lost my passport, and I’m down to my last franc. Think you can help me out?”
Interested in more cheese? Why click here, s’il vous plaît.
What are SEX, CHOCOLATE, and ANGELS doing in a press release? This is what our post will answer. After reading it, novice novelists will have no fear handing their own PR. Just use this simple template, insert your own biographical information and your book title, hit send and you are guaranteed to be a best-selling author in no time.
—————————–Book Release PR Template————————————–
“READ THIS NEW BOOK!”
SENSATIONAL debut novel maybe with some SEX and some SEXY SEX but absolutely not any involving ANGELS. You may eat CHOCOLATE while reading the novel. Be warned: there are some dead people in it because it’s a murder mystery.
City You Never Heard Of, State of Confusion – Now – Because the first paragraph of the press release MUST summarize who, what, when, where, and why, let’s quickly get to the point.
Them, murder, not sure, neither here nor there, why not.
If your book title does not use the highly sales-arousing words like ANGELS or CHOCOLATE, it won’t matter because we have sprinkled them throughout this press release template like CHOCOLATE chips so search engines would hit them and direct you here. Who doesn’t like ANGELS and CHOCOLATE?
Next: the SEX.
We know you really want to know: is there SEX in the novel and what pages feature SEX scenes? “We are not exactly sure,” someone important says, what constitutes enough sex in this debut author’s novel, and while this isn’t an endorsement, since, frankly, we haven’t read the advance copy, “we like our SEX SEXY.” So bring it.
We would provide more details about the novel right here, like when you can buy it and where you can find it, but honestly we will just add a couple of links and be done with it.
About the Author
Here you will read a short author bio. And she is quite short and we will go on to say that she is highly qualified to write this novel and NOT the one about CHOCOLATE ANGELS. Do you really read all the way to the bottom? We don’t think so, that is why we are going to not bother too much with it. This is supposed to be boilerplate author bio material, but when we first saw the words “boilerplate” and “bio,” we thought it read bipolar polar bears and we got distracted thinking about the sad problem of bipolar polar bears. To conclude, the author was born and lives somewhere, and writes other stuff too.
Minimum Job Requirements:
- Provoke successful daily writing sessions through stimulating writing prompts, dispensed into writer as if they were colorful, long-lasting candies of various flavors
- Nurture unexpectedly delicious sentences, yummy turns of phrase, and one-of-a-kind metaphor confections that flow from writer with ease and leave readers and reviewers fainting with delight, craving more, a few pounds lighter, and several years younger looking (WIN-WIN)
- Whip writer into extended writing jags (aided by caffeine and anti-diuretics) that result in a minimum 5,000 words per day, leaving enough time for writer to read at least one novel per day, get regular manicures, take long walks through the countryside, watch favorite soaps and cooking shows, and get eight hours sleep
- Inspire writer to produce at least one blockbuster novel each year
- Five to seven years experience stirring writer’s imagination to create unique, quirky and totally convincing characters (creepy uncle who works at the sewage plant, brainy warrior-toddler who saves the world), well constructed plots (dystopia set entirely in car wash), and plot twists (car wash is secretly owned by creepy uncle who works at sewage plant)
- Proven ability to motivate writer to write groundbreaking, category-killing novels (Toddler-warrior novels for senior citizens! Creepy uncle action hero series!)
- Exceptional revision support skills, proofreading a plus
- Connections with influential people (agents and publishers) essential (past indiscretions with these people winked at, esp. if indiscretions made connection more influential)
- Must possess valid muse license (Class A), know how to drive with dictionary and thesaurus, (and NOT online Wiki-anything)
- Fluency in literary cannon and exceptional knowledge of cultural trends a must
REFERENCES WILL BE REQUIRED