September Sisters

I just finished reading September Sisters by Jillian Cantor, a novel about the disappearance of ten-year-old Becky Reed and how it devastates the rest of her family. It’s told from the point of view of Abby, Becky’s sister, who is exactly two years and one day older. Becky vanished from her bedroom in the middle of the night, apparently abducted, and her family fell apart in the aftermath of the kidnapping. They had been a normal, middle-class suburban family. After Becky went missing, the mother sank into a suicidal depression. The father tried to be the strong one in the family, refusing to discuss his grief and anger or to accept the idea that his daughter might be dead. Abby became an outcast at school, as she was unable to relate to her classmates anymore and there were nasty stories circulating about her family. In absence of any other suspects or clues, the police believed the parents were involved in Becky’s disappearance, but Abby was convinced it couldn’t have been them. She and her only friend, the new boy who just moved in next door, made some attempts to solve the case on their own, but without much success.

The story has a lot of suspense with the whole who did it, why did they do it, is she still alive thing, and quite a few red herrings and leads that went nowhere, just like in a real investigation. The reader knows they will eventually find out what happened, since the story opens with Abby’s father pulling her out of class at school several years after the abduction and saying, “They found her.” Becky’s fate, and the identity of the person responsible for her disappearance, aren’t revealed until the very end, though. But this novel is not a whodunit. The more important thing was the affect Becky’s disappearance had on her family. To me, finding the actual kidnapper became almost irrelevant. It’s like The Lovely Bones that way, except I didn’t really like that book.

I really thought September Sisters was excellent for its detail and the relationships involved. The futile struggle of the Reed family to hold itself together was very realistic, as was Abby’s deepening friendship and growing love for Thomas. This is Jillian Cantor’s first book, and it’s an impressive effort. I will definitely read more of her work when it comes out.

83 thoughts on “September Sisters

  1. Aimee June 10, 2009 / 2:40 pm

    I was thinking “This reminds me a lot of “The Lovely Bones” and then… you mentioned them.
    I like dthe Lovely Bones well enough, I guess, though sometimes it got draggy.
    September Sisters sounds pretty good.

    • Meaghan June 10, 2009 / 2:46 pm

      I read it six or seven years ago and I think I remember I liked it at first, but started to get a bad taste in my mouth as it went on. The part where Susie came back to earth in her sister’s body to have sex with Ray pretty much ruined it for me.

  2. Aimee June 10, 2009 / 2:58 pm

    Yeah, that part was just plain dumb. Like the author suddenly went “Oh crap, look how far I’m along in this thing and not one single sex scene! Quick, let’s get Lindsey and Ray in bed together! No wait! Let’s let SUZIE be LINDSEY! Isn’t this a really hot sci-fi twist?!”

    • Meaghan June 10, 2009 / 3:04 pm

      As a rule I don’t like novels that are a little bit paranormal. Either make the paranormal a major part of the story, or leave it out altogether, I say.

  3. Aimee June 10, 2009 / 3:11 pm

    The only really paranormal books I like are Stephen King’s. Because he manages to make even the most para of the paranormal seem totally believable.
    Also, he has a fabulous sense of humor and a great way with words.
    (This was not a paid political announcement.)

    • Meaghan June 10, 2009 / 3:15 pm

      You ought to try Fade, by Robert Cormier. That book has been compared to Stephen King’s work and King even did a blurb for it. The paranormal is seamlessly integrated into the story.

      (I’m in love with Robert Cormier, as a writer and a human being, and have traveled to his hometown three times in the past ten years to research him. His books are awesome.)

  4. Aimee June 10, 2009 / 3:19 pm

    If he’s who I think he is, maybe it’s time I forgave him for the Chocolate Wars, even though holding grudges against writers is one of my hobbies. 🙂 Ask one Elizabeth Adler, who wrote a truly terrible “thriller” whose very worst fault, (one of many) was the fact that it was just absorbing enough that I kept reading till the end just to see how it would turn out. Grrrrr.

    • Meaghan June 10, 2009 / 3:27 pm

      Why are you mad at him for The Chocolate War? If it’s the bleak ending, you’re SOL. Almost all of his books end up with the protagonist stuck to the bottom of his shoe.

      I knew the man personally and ironically, he was a very kind, gentle soul, deeply religious, a loving husband and father, good sense of humor. The kind of person who turns out to have a bunch of bodies buried in his basement. I think he wrote those books as an alternative to serial murder.

      • Aimee June 10, 2009 / 7:39 pm

        I read the Chocolate War and its sequel back in high school. I guess I didn’t like it because of the exclusive-boys’-school setting (another reason I didn’t like Separate Peace or Catcher in the Rye; don’t get me started on Catcher or we’ll never get done.) and I also just so disliked most of the characters… hard for me to remember much more about it now.
        Speaking of serial murder: I now have a book called “The Last Victim” by Jason Moss. As part of a class project in college, he write to several seria killers, posing as somebody they might think of as their ideal victim. Evidently John Wayne Gacy tooka fancy to him and invited him to come visit him in prison. I’m presuming, though I’ve not started the book yet, that had Gacy not been in prison, Jason would have wound up buried under the house.

  5. Anthony June 10, 2009 / 6:10 pm

    Me?

    I’m still mulling over the sentence, “The part where Susie came back to earth in her sister’s body to have sex with Ray pretty much ruined it for me.”

    Yes, that would pretty much do it. LOL.

    And speaking of murder (but not reincarnate spirits returning to earth in a sibling’s body to, well, you know), did anyone else note the odd circumstances revolving around the infamous Crippen case (from back in my day, almost) of late? It wasn’t Belle’s body in the cellar, apparently. But why did Crippen run off with his girlfriend—the latter with her hair cut short and dressed in boys’ clothing—to NYC then?

  6. Anthony June 10, 2009 / 6:53 pm

    And p.s.

    Kudos for featuring a San Antonian as Missing Person o’ the Week. I’ve driven by the corners of SW Military & Commercial many a time, and was living in S.A. when Ms. Ruiz went missing. Generally—and sadly—any time one’s car is discovered in a field in south Bexar* County, it doesn’t look good for your chances of turning back up, alive anyways.

    (*that’s pronounced, “Bear,” for all you gringos out there)

  7. forthelost June 10, 2009 / 10:11 pm

    Have you read Remembering Sarah by Chris Mooney? It’s got a somewhat similar plot and the ending was very well done.

  8. Meaghan June 10, 2009 / 10:51 pm

    I hated The Last Victim and I thought Jason Moss was an egotistical prick. The way he brought his younger brother into the whole thing was awful. I saw his website and he kept going on about how smart and special he was. He’s dead now. He killed himself in 2006.

    • Anthony June 10, 2009 / 10:58 pm

      Agreed here. Glad I only paid a dollar for it at a library discards place. Even Gacy came across as a more sympathetic character than the author who, after all, set himself up for his “scare,” full-knowing he’d get a book out of it. Never saw his website, shame about the suicide, etc., but that book left a bad taste, especially as Moss elevated himself into faux victimhood and debased Gacy’s actual victims in doing so.

  9. Aimee June 10, 2009 / 11:29 pm

    I think I had heard at the time that Moss had killed himself, but I otherwise knew nothing about him. I agree, setting yourself up to be fantasy-meat for somebody you alreadyknow is a serial killer is pretty repulsive and I don’t actually see how he had much to gain by it other than fame and fortune. And it looks like he didn’t really enjoy those either. Bearing in mind that I haven’t read the thing yet, I wonder if his suicide had anything to do with him not getting the acclaim and accolades he thought he was entitled to?
    Oh well, it’s on my to-read list. But the one I’m going to read next is “Angel of Darkness” by Denis McDougal, about Randy Kraft. Did they find all his victims or are they some still missing? Perhaps on Charley?
    I also have another McDougal book “Mother’s Day” written with Terry (not sure if that’s how it’s spelled) Knorr Grove, the daughter of Theresa Cross/Jimmie Knorr/whatever she called herself. The mother killed the two older daughters, one by shooting her during an argument and later trying to remove the bullet, the other by locking in a closet and telling everybody not to feed her. Both daughters were adult or nearly so when they were killed, which is just one of several things that make the story unusual.

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 1:40 am

      McDougal suffers from being imminently forgettable. I’ve read both those books and don’t really recall a thing about them.

      But I’m a lit snob. Don’t even get me started on Mr. Stephen King.

  10. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 1:11 pm

    *squares up to Anthony, jaw trust out pugnaciously* Oh YEAH?! You may offer a chaste criticism of “The Colorado Kid’ which I will readily admit was lousy, but other than that…
    YOU LEAVE MY STEVE ALONE!!! DO YOU HEAR???!!!
    Now that we’ve gotten that one straightened out, let’s move onto an author that we perhaps both can trash: Clive Cussler, king of Male Mary Sue characters and bizarre dialogue.

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 2:17 pm

      LOL. Okay, truce. (Hangs head sheepishly.) It’s true I suppose, there ARE sub-Stephen King-esque writers out there. (Shudders.)

      It’s just that—well, it’s just that, if we omit ‘The Shining’ as we all know several lines from the tome via Kubrick’s film and Jack Nicholson’s over-the-top performance in it…um, how to put this. There is in King’s oeuvre not a single sentence one can recall from memory, i.e., written with such craft that it’s burned into one’s lobes.

      And…and…and, as a lad, I read the great H.P. Lovecraft, and HIS monsters make SK’s monsters look like pussies!

  11. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 5:02 pm

    “Come play with us, Danny, come play with us!”
    “I’m your number-one fan!”
    I like Stephen King’s dialogue as much as I like his plots, I think he has a way of making even a weakish plot interesting in that his characters talk like real people.
    Not like Clive Cussler, according to my brother, a love/hate fan of his, has a bank robber aroudn 1906 saying “Make no resistance and walk slowly behind the counter.” And whose characters often say things like “You’ve wakened a sleeping dragon and filled him with terrible wrath” and “A few persons walked by on the way to their cars.”

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 5:42 pm

      Okay. ‘The Shining’ is not at bad novel, I will go that far. I did finish the book.

      This Cussler character does sound dire. (Thinks: “Hey, wait, didn’t I use the line, ‘You’ve wakened the sleeping dragon and filled him with terrible wrath’ at least once, maybe with the posh girlfriend, as a kitschy prelude to early a.m. lovemaking?”)

      Where was I. Oh yes, Cussler. Dire sort, him. Steer clear, lol. Steer well clear.

  12. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 8:00 pm

    Him and his Mary-Sue boy, Dirk Pitt. The man who not only plucks victory from the jaws of defeat every time, but always has an allegedly funny wisecrack on the tip of his tongue at any time, and can seduce any woman, even up to and including a female Prime Minister of Egypt. A Muslim, presumably. As if that would’t cause an international incident.
    Oh, and he’s got this doofy sidekick, an little short Italian guy who is very smiliar to the police-novel stereotype of the doughnut-chomping, wisecracking, never-quite-gets-lucky partner.

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 8:04 pm

      “Dirk Pitt”? I think I’ve cracked a rib laughing.

  13. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 8:40 pm

    Yeah, it is kind of goofy. My brother says Cussler started another series of books almost exactly like the Dirk Pitt books, only the Pitt-type character was named Kurt/Curt something. And the sidekick was Mexican instead of Italian.
    Am I crazy, or does “Dirk Pitt” sound like two big burps?

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 8:59 pm

      “Dirk Pitt” sounds as if it were coined to reference, in as crude of manner as possible, male & female sex organs, and in that order.

      If I had a choice between naming a character “Dirk Pitt” and raking in millions as a result, or facing a firing squad, I would cheerfully take the latter, sans blindfold or last cigarette.

      I googled it, and the other Cussler character must be “Kurt Austin.” Which proves Cussler has, at least, sought treatment in the meantime for his propensity to represent implied sexual violence in naming his characters—though the resulting character-name tends toward the ennui of unimaginable blandness and is thus equally horrid.

      BONUS! Kurt’s sidekick is named Joe Zavala. There’s a street in San Antonio named “De Zavala,” which is cool to say as it’s a homonym of “Days of Allah.” Nothing cool about “Joe Zavala” though. But considering the source, who would expect it to be.

  14. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 9:08 pm

    roflmao! I never even thought of the “dirk Pitt as violent sexual reference” before, and I have a mind as dirty as anybody’s, dirtier than most. lol
    Oh, Dirk Pitt’s steady “love interest” (here understood to mean “bed buddy” or something a bit more vulgar that Meaghan probably wouldn’t like us to use on her blog) is a totally stunning, sharp, powerful and DULL AS DISHWATER Congresswoman named…
    No, not Kimberly Tucker, which is about as bland as it gets.
    Loren Smith.
    Not Lauren.
    Loren.
    As in, Loren, the name you might find on a sixty-year-old lumberjack from the North Woods.

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 9:14 pm

      Don’t fret—I was an English major and they train us to think dirty.

      “With a satisfied sigh, he hurled his dirk into the dark and glistening pit. Victory was his!”

      What’s really funny is that a dirk is a type of short dagger.

      “Loren! Fell that tree—and so we shall to bed!”

  15. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 9:20 pm

    Loren, chopping down tre with one mighty swing: There, you SHORT-DAGGERED loser! Go bunk in with that pretty-boy cover model, Kurt Austin! The one that’s all the time knotting his flannel shirt up over his belly button.

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 9:27 pm

      Doffing his cardigan, Dirk carefully knotted its arms around his waist and felt for his tiny knife.

      “Whew! Still there!” he said aloud. “I thought it might have fallen off after that hussy yelled, ‘Timber!'”

      Then he turned and flounced out of the cabin, and made his way to Kurt.

  16. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 9:35 pm

    But Kurt was watching “Fargo” for hte umpteenth time, and everybody knew Dirk had serious issues with that wood-chipper scene. Which is why Loren liked watching it so much too.
    Dirk was a man without a cabin.

  17. Anthony June 11, 2009 / 9:42 pm

    LOL. “The Man Without a Cabin” sounds like a gay paperback in the making.

    “Dirk turned his head quickly. No—no, he could never bring himself to watch ‘Twin Peaks.'”

  18. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 10:16 pm

    So he wandered off into the woods, carrying only his sketchpad, his hair gel and his bottle of Campari, while Loren burped and farted and played air guitar along with his bootleg live cop of “Tied to the Whipping Post” and wondered if Dirkie-boy had possibly had a stash of pot hidden in the cabin, and if so, where it might be. But he was having too much fun to look for it, so he just scratched himself and kept on air-guitaring.

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 10:48 pm

      “Whipping Post”—from the Allman Brothers ‘Live at the Fillmore East’ 2-LP set. Now you’re talking! That soundtracked my senior year, back in, uh, 1972. The gatefold of that album probably still has traces of marijuana in it.

  19. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 10:52 pm

    Which is why Loren never let Dirk get his sweaty little mitts on it.

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 11:01 pm

      In an Allman Brothers- AND Dirk & Loren-related news story, Chastity Bono has just announced she’s switching genders and is in “the early stages of transitioning,” according to CNN.

      Not sure if this means the song can be abridged to “Gypsies Trannies and Thieves” as I don’t know much about the process.

  20. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 11:10 pm

    I thought you were just funnin’ with me, so I snorted and rolled my eyes.
    Then I looked up the story in the AP and saw it was true. I snorted and rolled my eyes some more.
    HOnestly.
    Well I hope she will choose a different name than Chastity, even though Chastity (and it’s even trashier misponunciation and misspelling Chassity/Chassidy/Chasitee) is a great name for a drag queen.

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 11:16 pm

      According to the CNN story, she’s going with “Chaz.”

      Spare me! These days, one doesn’t have to make stuff up. One can just refer to the daily news. No wonder most fiction seems lame.

  21. Aimee June 11, 2009 / 11:24 pm

    I would snort and roll my eyes again, but I’m eating some peanuts and I’m afraid I’ll get one up in my nose if I snort.
    I dunno, I think you and I are pretty good at short, fantastical fiction.

    • Anthony June 11, 2009 / 11:24 pm

      Either fantastical or fanatical. Both at times.

  22. Aimee June 12, 2009 / 12:26 am

    Definitely, how you say, avant-garde.

    • Anthony June 12, 2009 / 12:35 am

      And with a certain—how would one say—and with a certain je ne sais quoi.

  23. Aimee June 12, 2009 / 1:13 pm

    As my brother likes to say “our work is full of pith and verve and joie de vivre.” Like us.

    • Anthony June 12, 2009 / 5:37 pm

      “Our work is full of Dog and Beth and Olsen twins.”

  24. Aimee June 12, 2009 / 7:54 pm

    And the Queen of the Honkettes, Nancy Grace.
    And Cousin Carl (NASCAR reference meets Panzram) and those wacky good-time boys, Jimmy Joyce and Kit Marlowe with their toilet humor. Ain’t theya scream?

    • Anthony June 12, 2009 / 8:17 pm

      “Well yee-hawww Jimmy! Now you just git to jumpin’ over that there fence an’ water hazard behind it, and us-uns’ll add a show jumpin’ title to that there dressage ribbon you won yesterday!” Kit crowed, meanwhile doffing his hat to the Fédération Équestre Internationale judges—including Carl Panzram, who at the time happened to be attempting to mount a skittish Nancy Grace in her paddock.

  25. Aimee June 12, 2009 / 8:30 pm

    Skittish because she hadn’t been properly broken in yet and was also a mite colicky from all the funnel cake the twis had been feeding her. She positively whinnied with apprehension, while the Charley Project Carnival attendant, Oklahoma Tony, tried rather timorously to convince Carl to err on the safe side and choose another filly. Because Carl wanted to be fresh and unbruised for his Strong Man act later on, didn’t he?

  26. Anthony June 12, 2009 / 8:49 pm

    “N-n-now, n-now Mr. Carl, Mr. Carl, why don’t you saddle up this here one—name’s Beth, and she is nine hands high and thirty-one hands wide and can run straight through the walls of any state or federal prison, whether inside it or out. This here other one, she just brays like a jackass twenty-four hours a day. Then she commences to honking,” Tony said timorously.

  27. Aimee June 12, 2009 / 8:54 pm

    Carl flips off Oklahoma Tony and tries once more to mount his chosen filly, but is kicked in a very tender area and howls in pain while everybody else laughs and hte twins squeal and toss popcorn. Gypsy Queen shushes them and, bracelets jiggling, pours Nancy a bucket of oats to calm her down.

    • Anthony June 12, 2009 / 9:56 pm

      Every time I think of gypsies, I remember the old Andy Griffith Show episode “The Gypsies,” which featured them putting a drought curse on Mayberry after Andy tries to run them off. Every time he comes to their camp, they enliven things by singing

      “In the forest wild & free
      Comes the gypsy melody!”

      and generally acting out the Romani stereotype for Andy’s benefit.

  28. Aimee June 12, 2009 / 11:43 pm

    Maybe that’s what my Gypsy name should be! Melody! “Comes the Gypsy Melody.” I always did like Melody better than Aimee anyway.
    SAnd so Sheriff Andy learned a valuable lesson about tolerance and respect for Others Not Like Himself.
    The Gypsy Melody jingles jewelry and puts ehr blessing on the Carnival so that it will reap loads of money and be forever startling and amazing! And so that Oklahoma Tony won’t be so timorous when handling the fillies.

    • Anthony June 12, 2009 / 11:49 pm

      Gypsy Melody: I like, I like.

      The only other thing I can remember about that episode was that Jamie Farr (Klinger in MASH) played a gypsy. There’s also another couplet in the verse of the song but I can’t recall it, other than the end-words in the last line were “….and oh so gay!”

      Considering that episode was probably from 1966, the g-word still denoted “happily carefree.”

  29. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 12:00 am

    Kit and Jimmy-Joyce are snickering over by the Tilt-a-Whirl about that one. If I was them I wouldn’t stand so close to any ride Loren the Lumberjack is operating. You know how he likes to terrify sensitive souls by forcibly putt them on the rides and making them go too fast.
    He also does that because he doesn’t have to clean up the recycled funnel cake and oyster sandwiches off the seats. Dirk and Kurt (or Kirk and Dirt, or whoever they are) get stuck with the mop-and-bucket detail.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 12:46 am

      It’s true—once Loren hit that rough patch in the sexual transitioning process, there was nary a carny who could wrest the Tilt-a-Whirl controls from her. Or him. Faster and faster she went, that ride, and from the sky splashed a sluice of sticky things both liquid and solid, and all of it raining onto the fresh looks and dapper demeanors of Kürt & Dirk, holding hands while scooping prizes at the arcade claw machines.

      Ick!

  30. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 12:54 am

    If they hadn’t held hands while they were doing it, they could’ve scooped up a lot more prizes, and faster too. But no, some people always have to do everything the hard way. *sigh* Loren had tried separating them, putting Dirk in charge of the cotton candy and Kurt Austin, because of his wrestler’s type of name, in the wrestling pit.
    But Dirk got the sticky sugar stuff all over him and it turned out he was deathly afraid of bees, but they reeally loved him. And Dog beat up Kurt in the wrestling pit without really meaning to. And both the boys sulked at being separated so Loren had to cave in to their demands before people started complaining about hairs in their candy or something.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 1:02 am

      To say nothing of Kit Marlowe and James Joyce struggling into an oversized shirt and overalls and appearing as The Two-Headed Man at the freak show down the midway.

  31. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 1:07 am

    Later dubbed “The Two-Headed Man Who Can Only Take Three Steps Before Falling Flat on His Faces” because they never did get the hang of synchronizing their movements.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 1:24 am

      “…Before Falling Flat on His Face and into a Pile of Dubliner Dung.”

      That’s if Joyce is the dominant “head,” per a prime motif in his prose.

      If Marlowe:

      “Before Falling Flat on His Face and into a Pouch of Tobacco and Boys.”

  32. Anthony June 13, 2009 / 1:27 am

    EXTRA!

    “This just in.”

    Lead headline on CNN.com:
    “Hyena attack on girl spurs manicurist to build school”

    All one can do is to nod one’s head sagely: “Yes. I can see the reasoning behind it. Certainly.”

  33. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 1:28 am

    Yeah, forgot about that. Theirs wasn’t a popular exhibit, in part because it was bandied about that Kit was bad to offer tobacco to young boys.
    The really hot game of chance was to see who could catch Kurt Austin engaged in normal or strenuous activity, which would negate his claim that he was permanently and cripplingly injured in the wrestling pit. There was an unconformed report that Kurt was seen teaching the Macarena to Kit-n-Jimmy.

  34. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 1:31 am

    Because people who have been educated are less likely to be bothered by hyenas, of course! I mean, I used to get picked on by those things all the time but after I went to college, they left me alone.
    Or maybe it’s a school to teach hyenas how to avoid attacking people. In which case, I think it’s a great idea. Nobody has ever givena thought to wonder if hyeans simply Didn’t Know Any Better.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 1:42 am

      I believe Kürt to have been injured whilst wrestling in a pit of Joycean ordure.

      And I know that the State of Delaware has been the sight of many a terrifying hyena attack, particularly among those who have scored low on their SATs, or have not seen a manicurist for weeks on end.

  35. Anthony June 13, 2009 / 1:43 am

    Excuse me, basic homonym error: “…has been the SITE”

  36. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 1:48 am

    Delaware has a small but sometimes troublesome hyena population. Usually they keep to themselves, feeding on chickens that are so abundant here, but occasionally they get bored and go looking for some uneducated person to pester.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 1:55 am

      In Oklahoma, of course, Tasmanian devils have interbred with the native lemur population, and the human cost of the subsequent carnage has been nothing short of horrific.

  37. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 2:02 am

    In Virginia, where I went to college, the worst we had to worry about was red pandas who had eaten too many overripe apples in the fall and went on drunken toots through the streets. Damaged a few cars, knocked over a few trash cans, but that was about it.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 2:13 am

      LOL.

      Basically the same thing happened to Orwell in Burma, except with elephants.

      And, as I’m sure you’ve read, in Kansas we were plagued by packs of rabid coati—or “hog-nosed coons,” as I think people back East call them, and in which case the collective noun changes from “pack” to “gaze”: “a gaze of raccoons” (or “a gaze of hog-nosed coons”—both take the same noun).

      But I’m sure you knew that. I don’t think anyone can graduate from college in VA without knowing that.

  38. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 2:20 am

    Oh of course! Jus tlike I know about a murder of crows, an exaltation of larks, an arm of frogs. And a clowder of cats but a kendle of kittens.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 2:23 am

      An ampersand of Anthonys and an applecart of Aimees.

  39. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 2:28 am

    How bout a menagerie of Meaghans? And a chatelaine of Charleys?

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 2:41 am

      Or a caboodle of Charleys and a medley of Meaghans.

  40. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 2:46 pm

    Yeah, that’s better. And a twitching of twins and a barrage of Beths and a cult of Carls.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 3:34 pm

      “A twitching of twins” wins first prize! Love it. Also “a barrage of Beths.” And, for some reason, I woke up this morning with the collective noun “a cheddar of Charleys” revolving in my brain.

  41. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 3:42 pm

    Maybe you misheard the voice in your head and it was really Chowder of Charleys.. (There’s a mean joke about what became of little Charley in there somewhere, but tempt me not, evil muse.)
    A nattering of Nancys.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 3:51 pm

      Come on, let’s hear your “chowder of Charleys” collective noun/joke/blasphemy. Don’t clam up on me, lol.

  42. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 3:56 pm

    Well, it was kind of half-baked, at that. No sense stewing over it.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 4:08 pm

      Full fathom five poor Charley lies.
      Of his bones are websites made.

  43. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 4:22 pm

    Old Davy Jones he rants and raves,
    bout poor Charley, ‘neath the pounding waves.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 4:35 pm

      I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and sky,
      And all I ask is that Charley’s not there, like a fish too small to fry.

      — John Masefield

  44. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 4:48 pm

    Come join us in our lively play.
    We make our jests both night and day.
    No one’s safe from our brand of fun.
    Sacred cowburgers, on a toasted bun!
    Lightly spiced with wit and whimsy
    A joke is made, even if flimsy.

    • Anthony June 13, 2009 / 5:07 pm

      LOL.

      Wheee! We should get our own spinoff series. Or website, or blog, etc. Maybe all three. Or at least a Charley T-shirt. Something.

  45. Aimee June 13, 2009 / 9:19 pm

    Yeah, I know. That would be cool. Especially with Meaghan going to be gone a whole week to DC and no new posts here to play in.

    • Anthony June 14, 2009 / 12:42 am

      We could go back and play in older some ones. (Uh, why does that sound so sinister? lol. “Yarrr and ho-ho, young Aimee, won’t yer step inside this post from 2008 and rest yer weary bones for a minute with me?”).

  46. Aimee June 14, 2009 / 12:46 am

    Oooh, shiver me timbers, Sir! That would be unseemly!

    • Anthony June 14, 2009 / 1:06 am

      “There, there, mein leibchen—it’s into the shadows we’re a-going, there to meet Erlkönig and have us a bit of a fright.”

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