Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent: an excerpt, an illustration

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In less than two months, Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent, my 1871 Philadelphia novel (and prequel to Dangerous Neighbors), will be released by New City Community Press/Temple University Press.

This illustrated book (all thanks to William Sulit) is another song to the city I love, and more about it can be found here.

Nearly two years ago, I posted the first words of the book here.

Today I share the whole of a very short chapter two:

Chapter Two
“I keep losing things,” Ma says to William. The room is swampy, the shadows smug. A bottle of Bitter Wine of Iron sits lidless on the near table, a sorry spoon beside it. William wipes his forehead with his sleeve and studies the single mourning dove that will not leave the sill.
“Ma,” he reminds her. “I’m still right here.”
He stands up from the chair where he’s been sitting. Measures the Bitter Wine onto the spoon while the dove watches with the flat disk of its eye. William worries briefly for the dove’s mate, disappeared on the same day that he and Ma lost Francis. The one dove staying and the other dove gone, and William’s mother dying by inches of heartache.
“Take your medicine, Ma,” he says. “Doctor made you promise.”
“Rejuvenation, Ma. Comfort. Says it right here on the label.”
Ma turns. She closes her eyes and leaves William standing with the thick drip of the stuff on the spoon—E.F. Kunkel’s Bitter Wine, bought with Francis’s stealings for a hard one dollar. Lifting the spoon to his own mouth, William sucks it clean, then pours himself a foul second. The mourning dove cocks its head in a sideways scold.
“Mind your own,” William tells it, but the bird just stares. Everything that’s broken is William Quinn’s to fix.


Melissa Sarno said...

oh, oh, so intrigued. and I remember these beeeautiful illustrations from an email long ago.

Anonymous said...

So poignant.

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