Jane George – A Letter to a Snapshot in Time

I just returned from a trip to New York City. So, I was really excited to share this post by Jane George about a city I love.  It’s my pleasure to welcome Jane George to my blog to celebrate Book Clubs, her novel, X-It and the City of New York.

A Love Letter to a Snapshot in Time by Jane George

My novel, X-It, takes place in New York City circa 1980-81, which doesn’t make it quite a historical novel, but we can at least call it a ‘vintage’ setting.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00071]

The Big Apple is as famous for how fast it changes as much as for Lady Liberty or Times Square. Screenwriter Nora Ephron referenced New York’s changeability in You’ve Got Mail, when children’s bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly writes to her secret email pal bemoaning the closing of her business:

“In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it’s a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that’s the sort of thing I’m always saying. But the truth is…I’m heartbroken.”

The tragic events of 9/11, and more recently Hurricane Sandy, remind us that New York City is vulnerable to change from external forces as well as internal ones. This only serves to make the magic of any moment in The Big Apple more precious.

In X-It I made mention of more than one NYC characteristic from 1980 that no longer exists or has been fundamentally changed. One of the most profound is the condition and general ambience, shall we say, of the subway system. I returned to New York in 2009, not having been there since 1984. I felt safer on the New York subways than I do riding San Francisco municipal transit. But what the subways have gained in safety, cleanliness and air-conditioning they have lost in visual interest. The photography of John Conn captured the visceral truth of New York’s subways in the Eighties. The main character in X-It, J.J. Buckingham, takes the F Train from 14th Street to her job in Williamsburg every weekday to paint mannequins. She’s a sensitive soul, and the subway and its environs take its effect.

Several scenes in X-It take place on the rotting remains of the Chelsea Piers. Today, the Hudson River waterfront has been remade into a series of parks and playground on jetties. It’s beautiful, and barely recognizable from its condition in 1980. I took this shot that juxtaposes the old and new piers when I was there in 2009. The old pier is even more deteriorated in the photo than it was when the story takes place. And I’m sure Hurricane Sandy did even more damage. The water level rose above the cement shoreline in lower Manhattan.

J.J. and X-It sit on the rotting pier—it’s their special place— in the evening and watch another long-gone river landmark, The Maxwell House Coffee neon sign of a dripping coffee cup that was mounted atop the Maxwell House building in Hoboken. Here is a photo from the Hoboken Historical Museum of what J.J. and X-It saw. The bright drops have a special poignancy for J.J.


Change does not always necessarily engender some kind of loss. Once in a while we humans can remake something old and decayed into something new but keep, or even enhance, its visual interest and its heart. For instance, see how New Yorkers turned the old Highline elevated track into a community garden, art space, and walkway. This is J.J.’s task in X-It as well, how can she reclaim herself and yet remain true to who she is?




Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00071]

In 1980 NYC, eighteen-year-old J.J. Buckingham is an uptight trendoid. Working as a mannequin painter and a counter girl, she moonlights as a creature of the nightclubs. J.J. falls for aloof, crazy-talented artist and bicycle messenger X-It. In order to win his love, she succumbs to the dark machinations of drug dealer Marko Voodoo. X-It will love her if she’s the queen of underground Manhattan, right? Her plan backfires with horrendous consequences. J.J. must scrap her way out of a maze of drugs, clubs, and danger before she realizes she’s worthy of a better life. And true love might just come in the form of a clean-cut geek in Buddy Holly glasses.


The Reviews are in!

This book completely captivated me from start to finish. In fact, the first night I read about a quarter of it before bedtime. Then I tossed and turned for an hour thinking about the book, until finally I turned the lights back on, and read until a few hours before I needed to wake up. ~ William Hertling

X-It is a coming-of-age novel that is easily identifiable with for anyone who ever felt less-than-cool enough, or alone, or as though they weren’t living up to personal expectations, which, I believe, encompasses most of us. Reminiscent of Maggie Estep’s “Diary of an Emotional Idiot,” X-It contains some perfect moments of quiet truth. ~ Wendy Whiplash

From the very first pages I was drawn to J.J. – From her dripping purple hair dye through her slow, dark, and painful decent into the 80’s punk/club scene. Jane George truly created a dynamic character with incredible depth. To me this book read like a memoir, making it even more powerful and at times bittersweet. ~ Karen Toz

 Purchase Links:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00071]Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/X-It-ebook/dp/B007PSY7X6/

Paperback Edition: http://www.amazon.com/X-It-Jane-George/dp/0985130717


About the Author

Jane George author pic Author and illustrator Jane George lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a BFA in illustration from the California College of the Arts and has won awards for her art.

A dedicated writer for over a decade, she produces and publishes her YA fantasy and literary titles under her personal imprint, Paper Grove Publishing. Find out more at: www.Jane-George.com



We’re early for the show. The lobby contains very few patrons and a huge expanse of lurid purple and blue carpeting. X-It pays, takes my hand, and leads me to the center of the lobby. All I think about is the touch of his fingers on mine.

“Stand here. Close your eyes, and hold out your hands,” he says.

I do as he asks. I am being showered with paper. No, not paper, I realize as I open my eyes.

Dazzling golden leaves rain out of his messenger’s bag. Feather-light, fresh and spicy, the leaves keep coming down. Upon my head. Into my palms. Onto the purple-blue carpet, where they stick in perfect chromic contrast.

X-It’s eyes glitter. “Happy Fall, J.J.!”

He’s magical. He is everything I ever wanted to be. I move to throw my arms about him, but he holds out his bag and shakes it, making sure all the leaves are out.

I take a step back.

We walk home after the film. X-It veers away from me, drawn to a newsstand by the image of Karisma smiling from several magazine covers at once.

“She’s so perfect,” he says.

I grit my teeth, yet straighten my spine in an effort to measure up.

“And here’s Brooke Shields in her Calvins. Incredible. Who do you think is more beautiful?”

I think Brooke looks like a gilded giraffe-child, but that doesn’t prevent me from envying every inch of Miss Shields. I want to scream at X-It, “Look at me! I’m beautiful! And I’m just your size!”

But I say, “I don’t know. We don’t have a mannequin head of Brooke, just Karisma. So it’s hard to say.”

“I think Brooke is perfect,” he says. “But if she was a mannequin, just think of all the Prismacolor pencils you’d go through doing her eyebrows.”

So he was listening when I told him how a mannequin’s eyebrows are drawn.

“Thousands,” I say.

I collapse against the brick wall in a fit of giggles. He joins me. Our heads arc close together. X-It’s face swims before me, isolated by the electric and bracing October night. His breath brushes my cheek. Our lips circle each other more than once.

And never manage to connect.

The first time I visited New York was in 1980 as a young kid and I have been back several times since. I can relate to the changes in the City Jane talked about in her post.  Very few can capture the pulse of the city in the written word and Jane does it perfectly.  

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to visit other stops on the Book Club Bash Tour.  


Sydney Quotes the Movies – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I really enjoy movies about people who are searching for something, both figuratively and literally.  This movie contains both.  Young Oskar lost his father in 9/11.  In search of a way to stay connected to his father, he goes on a systematic quest for the lock that fits a key he found in his father’s belongings.  As you can imagine, the quotes that stood out to me, perfectly convey the emotion of someone desperate to find sense in a situation that didn’t make sense.   Tom Hanks (Thomas) as the father, Sandra Bullock as the mother (Linda) and introducing Thomas Horn (Oskar) elevate the words to another level of emotion that you feel throughout the movie.

The flash backs of his father instilling in Oskar the need to find answers and solutions was his way of getting Oskar to interact with people, something that early on you see is very difficult for young Oskar.
“If things were easy to find, the wouldn’t be worth finding.” – Thomas
And encouraging Oskar not to get discouraged when it gets difficult.
“Another way of looking at it is, how can you ever be wrong?” – Thomas
Gives Oskar all the tools he needs to for the journey is about to embark on.
Many people encourage Oskar along the way:
“You never know what a key is going to fit. There are a million possibilities. That’s what I like about keys.  They all open something.” – Lock Smith
No one is going to get in his way.
“Nothing was going to stop me.  Not even me.” – Oskar
Some, appear to discourage him:
“It’s never going to make scene because it doesn’t.” – Linda
You get glimpse of just how difficult this journey is for Oskar by several rants throughout the movie. This was the most compelling and showed what he had to do to find the answer to this question:
“I count there are 472 people with the last name Black. There are 216 addresses. Some of the blacks live together, obviously. I calculated that if I go to 2 every Saturday plus holidays, minus my hamlet school plays, my minerals, coins, and comic convention, it’s going to take me 3 years to go through all of them. But that’s what I’m going to do! Go to every single person named black and find out what the key fits and see what dad needed me to find. I made the very best possible plan but using the last four digits of each phone number, I divide the people by zones. I had to tell my mother another lie, because she wouldn’t understand how I need to go out and find what the key fits and help me make sense of things that don’t even make sense like him being killed in the building by people that didn’t even know him at all! And I see some people who don’t speak English, who are hiding, one black said that she spoke to God. If she spoke to god how come she didn’t tell him not to kill her son or not to let people fly planes into buildings and maybe she spoke to a different god than them! And I met a man who was a woman who a man who was a woman all at the same time and he didn’t want to get hurt because he/she was scared that she/he was so different. And I still wonder if she/he ever beat up himself, but what does it matter?” – Oskar
Others along Oskar’s journey learned some valuable lessons as well and father son relationships are central to the plots in the movie for several characters:
“He wrote about all the things he wanted to do but didn’t and all the things he did do but, didn’t want to.” – William Black
In the end, whether he finds what he is looking for or not, Oskar and his mother become closer and realize that they can help each other remember what they lost.
“I miss his voice telling me he loves me.” – Linda “Me, too.” – Oskar

I really enjoyed the complexity of this movie, from the sub-plots, to the conflicting journey’s for the different characters and at the center is this little boy who desperately wants to stay connected to his father. It is a 9/11 movie, but the events that take place after “the worst day” are relatable to anyone who has lost someone.

Based on a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer
Screenplay by Eric Roth

9/11 Ten Years Later

It has been 10 years since that life shifting day. I feel like I should honor those who died from that tragedy in some one.  It is more of an effort especially being so far way from America.  But, I have know someone who died in the WTC. His wife and daughter are doing amazing things 10 years later and I am inspired by that.

On that day, I was sleeping in my dorm room in Washington DC.  It was the second day of law school at GULC.  Being that I was in night school, I was asleep that morning.  I heard the plan crash into the Pentagon.  I thought is was thunder.  I was woken up by my cousin calling saying she was on her way to get me.  She lived in Maryland, but they had already closed the bridges into downtown DC.  Even if she wanted to, she couldn’t come and get me.

Phones didn’t work shortly after that time.  I couldn’t call home, but internet was up and running.  Only communicated with my family several hours later and only by email.  Actually, but brother who lived and worked in New York City, actually was able to get in touch with Mom and Dad before I could.  Although he had to walk home from 42nd street to 80th, he was ok.

I sat around that whole day, just like the rest of the world and watched it all unfold on the news.  My next door neighbor did check on my later that day, which was nice. School closed for the rest of the week. The only think I heard outside is the F-16’s doing fly byes over the city all day and all night.  Probably the most disturbing thing to have to deal with for months after.

While watching the news (FOX News if you can believe it) I saw a friend of mine on tv making an announcement to see if anyone had seen her husband who worked for one of the big financial firms in the Towers. I attended their wedding in Vegas.  Which by the way was the coolest wedding I have ever been to. It was so special how everyone who was at the wedding was at his memorial service at the New York Athletic Club after 9/11. My friend was pregnant on 9/11 and several months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Since then, she has done great things with her life. Dedicated to helping people.

She could have crumbled, but she didn’t.  She is an inspiration.

Life in DC went on.  We lived with continued fly byes, scud missile silos at the monuments, several scares.  Airport security was tighten up.  But, we tried to live life as usually.  I took the train to NY a couple of months after and went to the Cowboy game.  Seeing the altered skyline was a jolt to me.  Also, seeing the smoke still rising from the Meadowlands Stadium.  But, we went on with life.  I went to the Cowboys/Phili game and they had a fly bye with an F16.  It was raining like crazy. The whole seen really shook me.  It just seemed inappropriate.  Great example how things are different.  Before, fly byes where exciting, after they are terrifying.

A couple of months later, there was a show on that I watched every week.  It was about NY cops. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called, but in this particular show, it started with Monday night football on the tv and then people went to bed and work up to 9/11.  That is exactly what I did.  I couldn’t watch the show and haven’t been able to watch it or any other coverage since this month.  West Wing did the best 9/11 show.  Had a group of interns just starting and touring the white house.  They sat them in the kitchen the whole day and several staff members came in and our talking about terrorism and how the world sees us.  Very well done.

There was several movies made that were either about that day or reference that day.

9/11 – nicolas cage as cop, really good

Flight 93 – strange docudrama type movie

25th hour – Spike Lee – does a time lapse of the clean up

Remember Me – Robert Pattison – good movie and concluded with 9/11 – didn’t see it coming.

I spent the next two years living a dual life and it was good and bad, happy and sad, inspirational and regrettable, highs and lows. I meet some great friends, but never really got really close. I graduated from law school, but I didn’t take advantage of the entire experience.  That was life. It was my life.

I since have finished law school, worked as a contract attorney for a big firm for 7 months, failed the bar 3 times, failed to take the bar another 2 times. I have gone to work for someone I don’t respect. I have gained and lost 100’s of pounds. Ten years later, I am not happy with my life.  That is a shame.  That is a waste. That is disrespectful to those people who would give anything to continue to live.  I am sorry, so sorry!

They have opened the 9/11 memorial in NY on the 10 year anniversary.  I can’t wait to go see it.  I am sure it brought some closure to some of these families. I hope so.  I hope it brought them some peace.

Remember 9/11!

Ten years later! Are you living a life that honors those that were lost?  Are you living a life that would make those people proud? Are you living, period?

Live your life people.  Live it to the fullest because there is nothing worse then looking back on your life and and regretting everything you have done.

I am going to start living my life.