Uncle Billie installed the small window that just out over the driveway. The small shelf that subdivides the window reminds me of the herbs my stepmother tried to grow there in the minimal Midwestern light. Beyond the window, the neighbor’s porch peaks out of a cache of juniper, a determined jaw on the face of the Victorian. Every couple years, the house would be dressed in new colors, at least three–impressive what the neighbor’s determination could do in the face of the weathering brought on by the temperature and precipitation of the months.
The winters were so cold, nothing grew, and we purchased all of our goods in the cold months from Jewel. In the early years of their marriage, it was the generic, store brands with black lettering on a white field, which was both tasteful and pragmatic. Later, they bought the name brands with bright colors and heavy graphics. My father had to go to the supermarket because he held the money. We had to go to the store because both of the adults went. This made some fun, because we could comb the shelves of each aisle we traveled, looking for something sweetened with sugar or holding a prize inside. Surprisingly, we got a lot of what we asked for, which fattened me up.
My stepmother could cook rather well, and she had great skill at making fried chicken, which was one of my father’s favorites. In fact, there was a blue print of how to make fried chicken on the wall, a framed poster, imitating architectural drawings of a great structure–clad in crispy breaded skin, a program of delicious poultry.
The simple fridge is still here, having stored all of her ingredients, as well as massive quantities of specific foods my father compulsively ate on his special diets that seemed to change with the seasons. I don’t know where he came up with these ideas, being long before the Internet, but he always found some way to make the server’s job difficult when going out or requiring a special plate at home. He never cooked, himself. His wife took up the role of housewife, as he ran the company.
She needed to cook for all of us, and I think that, and the hassling from my father made her open the Rose or make a Bloody Mary so early in the morning. I would come downstairs to start my day, and she had a drink in hand and an eye on Good Morning America, playing from the small television in the corner of the bar Uncle Billie and Uncle Pat made to the left of the cased opening, just after entering the kitchen.
The floor still has the off white vinyl tile that complimented the pinstriped wallpaper and plant border that matched the plants trying to grow in the small window. All of the cabinets and the pantry, hand made but simple, very Midwestern, are stained a maple brown, darker with age than when our uncles installed them.
In order to meet the goal of the house as the protagonist, you must make all actions of the house active and all of the inhabitants as passive, if possible. This flips the typical pattern and gives control to the architecture.
Develop an outline or method to the description of the house. Do you describe the space from first element viewed, or do you catalog the parts of the structure and apply story and description? Likely, it will be both, however relying on what is seen first, then meandering into serial description.
To add interest, you should employ the senses. As with the other work, senses beyond the visual make the description and understanding of the space right and deeper. Try to expand the vocabulary to fully describe the experiential qualities beyond use of typical words–don’t try too hard, though.
Review formal analysis again–your old strength will be a great friend in this project. Look at Joshua Taylor and check out sources on the Internet. How you describe things will go a long way in the development of the text. Start with description of the elements, creating an outline before writing. Then, go to analysis, but especially interpretation. Interpretation is not what we want in typical formal analysis, but because this is literary fiction, we want to imbue the work with meaning beyond the formal. Finally, we can leave the evaluation up to the reader, and the activation of the structure, as given above, should make the building come alive.