Forgotten, p.29Catherine McKenzie
“McKenzie endows what could have been a formulaic, tired plot with finely drawn characters, broad humor, and a sweet and satisfying romance between equals. Her descriptions of rehab are as candid as they are sympathetic. She laughs with her characters at the pain, frustration, and, at times, absurdity of the recovery process, which here includes a stint on a trapeze, without laughing at the misery and destructive behavior that bring people to treatment. Her relentless positivity is contagious. She is a writer to watch.”
“Catherine McKenzie, in her debut novel, ably invites the reader into the story. . . . For readers who enjoy a light, breezy love story, this book clips along well and satisfies. Many will likely find this book enjoyable and a worthy debut effort by Catherine McKenzie.”
—New York Journal of Books
“If Bridget Jones’s Diary and High Fidelity had a literary baby, the result would be Spin. A funny heroine and plentiful music references make this book a standout. McKenzie’s tale of girls gone wild and gone to rehab is ripped straight from the latest tabloid headlines and will keep readers intrigued to the very last page.”
—RT Book Reviews (top pick)
“The characters are easily imagined and well thought out. . . . Making her U.S. debut, Canadian author McKenzie introduces a modern literary heroine who will remind readers of Sophie Kinsella’s ‘Shopaholic’ protagonist: flawed but compelling . . . compulsively readable. ”
“McKenzie’s deliciously tart sense of humor and her tough yet tender heroine are as refreshing as a perfectly mixed mimosa.”
Praise for Arranged
“Who says chicklit has to end with a wedding? Canadian author Catherine McKenzie’s new book, Arranged, marries off her heroine, the relationship-challenged magazine editor, Anne Blythe, by the midpoint, after a mysterious marriage broker hooks her up. The perfect strangers become estranged, but getting to happily-ever-after has rarely been so entertaining.”
—Chatelaine, January 2011
“Catherine McKenzie brings a smart twist to marriage and relationships in her second novel, the story of unlucky-in-love Anne Blythe. Arranged is crafted with pathos and subtle humor, and through it McKenzie’s heroine learns—the hard way—that the happiest endings are often the ones least expected.”
—Shawn Klomparens, author of Jessica Z. and Two Years, No Rain
“Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged is a satisfying and entertaining romance that puts a very contemporary twist on old-fashioned ideas about marriage. I inhaled it in an afternoon, rooting for its heroine to find the love she longs for.”
—Leah Stewart, author of Husband and Wife
“A novel that explores what happens when what you think you want collides with what you really need. Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged is a rare book: smart, funny, honest, and absorbing.”
—Therese Walsh, author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy
“Just when you think you’ve got Arranged figured out, time and again, Catherine McKenzie delivers the flawless, unexpected twist that keeps you glued to the book.”
—Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Day the Falls Stood Still
Praise for FORGOTTEN
“For fans of The Good Wife, Catherine McKenzie’s Forgotten is a pure page-turning pleasure that combines a clever premise, a compelling character, and law-meets-life to keep you entirely entranced.”
—Gwendolen Gross, author of The Orphan Sister
“From her big-city legal career to earthquake-battered Africa and back again, Emma’s whirlwind of location, circumstance, and emotion in-volves many an unexpected twist. By turns hilarious and heart-tugging, we follow her on her most important journey—that of self-discovery. A thoroughly enjoyable read!”
—Juliette Fay, author of Deep Down True
“Funny and smart, Forgotten is a wild romp with a fascinating question at its heart: if you’d been erased from your day-to-day life, how would you begin to put the pieces of your existence back together? McKenzie gives us a clever and capable heroine to sort it all out.”
—Kate Ledger, author of Remedies
“Forgotten is a clever, satisfying diversion of a book, but where McKenzie really excels is in the pacing. Quick banter, the new challenges that spring up in Emma’s path and the tension McKenzie creates between her characters send the reader headlong through the pages to see if Emma gets to live happily ever after, near-death experience or not.”
—Globe and Mail (Toronto)
Also by Catherine McKenzie
Read on for an excerpt from
Must Love Music
This is how I lose my dream job.
It’s the day before my thirtieth birthday when I get the call from The Line, only the most prestigious music magazine in the world, maybe the universe. OK, maybe Rolling Stone is number one, but The Line is definitely second.
I’ve wanted to write for The Line for as long as I can remember. It still blows me away that people get paid to work there since I’d pay good money just to be allowed to sit in on a story meeting. Hell, I’d sit in on a recycling committee meeting if it’d get me in the front door.
So, it’s no surprise that I almost fall off my chair when I see their ad in the Help Wanted section one lazy Sunday morning. I sprint to my computer and wait impatiently for my dial-up to connect. (Yes, I still have dial-up. It’s all this struggling writer can afford.) When the scratchy whine silences, I call up their webpage and click on the “Work for Us!” tab, as I have too many unsuccessful times before, and there it is. A job, a real job!
The Line seeks self-motivated writer for staff position. Must love music more than money because this job pays jack, brother! Send your CV and music lover credentials to [email protected]
I spend the next twenty-four hours agonizing over the “music lover credentials” portion of my application. How am I supposed to narrow down my musical influences to the three lines provided? Then again, how am I going to get a job writing about music if I can’t even list my favorite bands?
In the end I let iTunes pick for me. If I’ve listened to a song 946 times (which, incidentally, is the number of times I’ve apparently played KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”), I must really like it, right? Not a perfect system, but better than the over-thought-out lists sitting balled up in my wastepaper basket.
And it works. A few days later I receive an email with a written interview attached. I have forty-eight hours to complete the questionnaire and submit it. If I pass, I’ll get a real, in-person interview on The Line’s premises! Just the thought of it has me doing a happy dance all over my living room.
Thankfully, the questionnaire is a breeze. Pick five Dylan songs and explain why they’re great. Pick five Oasis songs and explain why they suck. What do you think the defining sounds of this decade will be? Go see a band you’ve never seen before and write five hundred words about it. Buy a CD from the country section and listen to it five times. Write five hundred words on how it made you feel.
I stay up all night chain-smoking cigarettes and working my way through two of my roommate Joanne’s bottles of red wine. She’s always buying wine (as an “investment,” she says), but she never drinks any of it. What a waste!
When the sun comes up, I read through what I’ve written, and if I do say so myself, it’s a thing of beauty. There isn’t a question I stutter over, an opinion I don’t have. I’ve even written it in The Line’s signature style.
I’ve been waiting for this opportunity forever, and I’m not going to fuck it up.
At least, not yet.
The next two weeks are agony. My brain is spinning with negative thoughts. Maybe I don’t really know anything about music? Maybe they don’t want someone who can merely parrot their signature st
When the spinning becomes overwhelming, I try to distract myself. I clean our tiny apartment. I invent three new ramen noodle soup recipes. I see a few bands and write reviews for the local papers I freelance for. I clean out my closet, sort all my mail, and return phone calls I’ve been putting off for months. I even write a thank-you letter to my ninety-year-old grandmother for the birthday check she sent me on my sister’s birthday.
I spend the rest of the time alternating between obsessively reading The Line’s website (including six years of back issues I’ve read countless times before) and watching a young star’s life explode all over the tabloids.
Amber Sheppard, better known as “The Girl Next Door” (or “TGND” for short), after the character she played from ages fourteen to eighteen on the situation comedy called—wait for it—The Girl Next Door, is Hollywood’s latest It Girl. When her show was canceled, she starred in two successful teen horror flicks, followed by a serious, Oscar-nominated performance for her turn as Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey. She’s been working nonstop since, and has four movies scheduled to premiere in the next five months.
When she wrapped the fourth film just after her twenty-third birthday, she announced she was taking a well-deserved, undisclosed period of time off to relax and regroup.
And that’s when the shit hit the fan.
Anyone really seeking relaxation would rent a cabin in the woods and drop out of sight. But not TGND. She partied all night, slept all day, and dropped twenty pounds from one photograph to the next. There were rumors appearing on such reliable sources as people.com, TMZ, and Perez Hilton that she’s into some serious drugs. There were other rumors, of the Enquiring kind, that her family had staged an intervention and packed her off to rehab. It seems like there’s a new story, a new outrageous photograph, a new website devoted to her every move every day, and I read them all.
Such is the fuel that keeps my idling brain from going crazy as I wait and wait.
The call from The Line finally comes the day before my birthday at 8:55 in the morning.
Mornings are never good for me, and this morning my fatigue is compounded by the combination of another bottle of Joanne’s investment wine, and the riveting all-night television generated by TGND’s escape from rehab (turns out The Enquirer was right). She lasted two days before peeling off in her white Ford hybrid SUV, and the paparazzi who follow her every move captured it from a hundred angles. It was O.J. all over again (sans, you know, the whole murdering your ex-wife thing), and the footage played in an endless loop on CNN, etc., for hours. I’d finally tired of it around three. The phone shatters my REM sleep what feels like seconds later.
“Is this Kate Sandford?”
“This is Elizabeth from The Line calling? We wanted to set up an interview?” Her voice rises at the end of each sentence, turning it into a question.
I sit bolt upright, my heart in my throat. “You do?”
“Are you available at nine tomorrow?”
Tomorrow. My birthday. Damn straight I’m available.
“Yes. Yes, I’m available.”
“Great. So, come to our offices at nine and ask for me? Elizabeth?”
“That’s great. Perfect. I’ll see you then.”
I throw back the covers, spring from bed, and break into my happy dance.
This is the best birthday present ever! I’m going to nail this! After years and years of writing for whoever would have me, I’m going to finally get to write for a real magazine! For the magazine. Yes, yes, yes!
“Katie, what the hell are you doing?” Joanne is standing in the doorway looking pissed. Her curly orange hair forms a halo around her pale face. She looks like Little Orphan Annie, all grown up. Her robe is even that red-trimmed-with-white combination that Annie always wears.
“Do you know what time it is?”
I check the clock by my bedside. “Nine?”
“That’s right. And what time do I start work today?”
I know this is a trick question.
“That’s right, it’s my day off. So why, pray tell, are you dancing around and whooping like you’re at a jamboree?”
Despite the inquisition, my heart gives a happy beat. “Because I just got the most fabulous job interview in the world.”
Joanne isn’t diverted by my obvious happiness. “I think the answer you were looking for is, ‘Because I’m an inconsiderate roommate who doesn’t care about anyone but herself.’ ”
“Joanne . . .”
“Just keep it down.” She turns on her heel and storms away.
As I watch her leave, I wonder for the hundredth time why I’m still living with her. (I answered her in-search-of-a-roommate ad on craigslist three years ago, and we’ve had a love-hate relationship ever since.) Of course, she’s clean, pays her share of the rent on time, and never wakes me up when I’m trying to sleep in because she’s yelping with joy.
Then again, I’ve never seen Joanne yelp with joy . . .
Ohmygod! I have an interview at The Line!
I resume my whooping dance with the sound off.
I spend the rest of the day vacillating between extreme nervousness and supreme confidence. In between emotional fluctuations, I agonize over what I should wear to the interview. I lay the options out on my bed:
1) Black standard business suit that my mother gave me for my university graduation. She thought I’d have all kinds of job interviews to wear it to. Sorry, Mom.
2) Skinny jeans, kick-ass boots, T-shirt from an edgy, obscure nineties band, black corduroy blazer.
3) Black clingy skirt and gray faux-cashmere sweater with funky jewelry.
I settle on option three, hoping it strikes the right balance between professional and what I think the atmosphere at The Line will be: hip, serious, but not too serious.
In the late afternoon, I receive a text from my second-best friend, Greer.
U free 2nite?
No. Very important blah, blah am.
Must celebrate bday.
Aware. Exam in 2 days. Party 2nite.
Must sleep. Need beauty for blah, blah.
Never be pretty enough to rely on looks for blah, blah. Still insisting.
LOL. Need new friend. Still can’t.
Expecting u @ F. @ 8. Won’t take no for answer.
LOL. 1 drink.
It never ends with 1.
Will 2nite, promise.
Well . . . maybe just 1.
Excellent. CU @ 8.
I throw down the phone with a smile, and try to decide whether any of my outfits will do for a night out with my university-aged friends.
I’m a nearly thirty-year-old with university-aged friends because the only way I’ve been able to survive since I graduated (and the bank stopped loaning me money) is to keep living like I did when I was a student, right down to scamming as much free food and alcohol as possible on the university wine-and-cheese circuit. I met Greer this way two groups of friends ago. She’s the only one who stuck post-graduation. She thinks I’m a fellow graduate student who writes music articles on the side to pay for my education and that tomorrow’s my twenty-fifth birthday.
My own-age friends have all moved to nicer parts of the city. They work in law firms and investment banks, have dark circles under their eyes and pale skin. Their annual salaries are twice what it cost me to educate myself, and the only wine and cheeses they go to are the cocktail parties given by their firms to woo new clients.
They mostly don’t approve of the way I live—the part they know about anyway—but I mostly don’t care. Because I’m doing it. I’m living my childhood dream of b
If I get this job at The Line, I’ll be over the freaking moon.
Shortly after eight, I meet Greer at our favorite pub in my number two outfit: skinny jeans tucked into burgundy boots, obscure-band T-shirt, and black corduroy blazer to keep the spring night at bay.
The pub has an Irish-bar-out-of-a-box feel to it (hunter green wallpaper, dark oak bar, mirrored Guinness signs behind it, a whiff of stale lager), but we like its laid-back atmosphere, cheap pints, and occasional Irish rugby team.
Greer is sitting on her usual stool flirting with the bartender. The Black Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling” is playing on the sound system. She orders me a beer and a whiskey shot as I sit down next to her.
“Hey, you promised one drink.”
“A shot’s not a drink. It’s just a wee introduction to drinking.”
Greer is from Scotland. She has long auburn hair, green eyes, porcelain skin, and an accent that drives men wild. Sometimes I hate her.
Tonight she’s wearing a soft sweater the color of new grass that exactly matches her eyes and a broken-in pair of jeans that fits her tall, slim frame perfectly. I’m glad I took the time to blow out my chestnut-colored hair and put on the one shade of mascara that makes my eyes look sky blue. Nobody wants to be outshone at their almost-thirtieth-birthday party.
Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes