What If

The novelist's central question.

Sep 22, 2018

Weddings bring out the best and the worst in families. When my friends’ daughter got married, they braced for the worst. Theirs was an oft-married family, as was the groom’s. Into the church day the older generation—on both sides—entered with their respective, several exes, new partners, spouses with children of their own, and many divorces, some more rancorous than others. There were thorny problems of who-should-sit-where, and testy questions of who-should-be-part-of-what. In short, both families arrived at the church trailing a gaggle of in-laws, assorted step-families, and old, still-festering acrimonies. Disaster loomed.

But disaster never happened. All these sets of steps and exes, spouses and motley partners came together in a spirit of celebration, and love for the bride and groom.  Everyone made certain that this young couple’s wedding was in no way marred by old animosities. People, some of whom had not spoken in fifteen years, were wonderfully cordial, not just civil, but warm, cheerful (except perhaps for a few old, glowering grannies).  I was genuinely impressed with the generosity that pervaded that lovely day.

But I am a novelist, after all, and as I drove home, I mulled over the novelist’s central question: what if?  What could have possibly gone wrong? Thus was born Steps and Exes.


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Graced Land by Laura Kalpakian

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