Tag Archives | Lynda Rutledge

The “Faith” in Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale

Guest post by Julie Kibler | @juliekibler

If the word Faith is in the title, you can figure there’s going to be some discussion of it in the story.

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale, Lynda Rutledge’s debut novel from Amy Einhorn Books (May 2012), doesn’t tiptoe around the issue. Nor does it stomp. Here’s a little bit about the book from the publisher:

“On the last day of the millennium, sassy Faith Bass Darling decides to have a garage sale. Why is the richest lady in Bass, Texas, a recluse for twenty years, suddenly selling off her worldly possessions? As the townspeople grab up the heirlooms, and the antiques reveal their own secret stories, a cast of characters appears to witness the sale or try to stop it. Before the day is over, they’ll all examine their roles in the Bass family saga, as well as some of life’s most imponderable questions: Do our possessions possess us? What are we without our memories? Is there life after death or second chances here on earth? And is Faith really selling that Tiffany lamp for $1?”

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Rutledge a few times in person at book events, and when I told her I was considering a blog post about the faith aspect of her novel, she grinned. She said she’d be interested to hear what I thought. Her reaction indicated she fully believes readers will make their own interpretations, and they might be completely different from anything she thought or intended as she wrote the book. This is just the kind of book I love to dig into. Serve me literature that makes me think, please.

From page one of Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale to its very last sentence, the subject of faith is clearly pivotal. Take a small town in Texas, where, as in many Texas small towns, the Baptists and the Methodists run pretty much everything, whether directly or indirectly—even the banks. Throw in a slowly dying Episcopal parish and a priest who isn’t sure about anything anymore. Add a heaping cup of tragedy and a character named Faith, and you’re going to have to deal with the topic.

Faith Bass Darling has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and time has evolved into a new continuum. One minute she’s in the present; the next, she’s in the past. And she’s surrounded by all the worldly goods her family—the family who basically ran the town and the bank for years (along with the Baptists and Methodists)—collected. These possessions, some with incalculable monetary value, have become more than their physical properties. They have defined each family member and are the impetuses that changed the course of their collective lives.

Author Lynda Rutledge

Faith has clung to these things too long. She believes she hears the voice of God—a voice, in fact, that she hasn’t heard in more than 20 years for reasons not quite clear to herself or the reader at first—telling her she will soon die, and she must rid herself of the things that have held her hostage in her huge, lonely mansion. She drags them out to her yard, one by one, and practically gives them away, much to the delight of Bass, Texas’s curious population—except for a few characters with more vested interests, whether legal or emotional, who try to convince her otherwise.

Strains of familiar passages of the Bible tickled the back of my mind as I read this novel—both the first time, all the way through, and again after I turned the last page and went back to re-read the first few. While searching for the phrases that floated in my memory, I found Matthew 19:21 (from The Message, which is a paraphrase of the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures rather than a word-for-word translation):

“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”

It could have been that one. But maybe it was these:

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26, also from The Message)

Yes, it might have been those. Especially as I consider the rest of the story, where Faith Bass Darling—not to mention those around her—wrestles with the events that led to her being alone and lonely, surrounded only by her beautiful possessions instead of by the husband who died under mysterious circumstances, or the son who died under tragic ones, or the daughter who disappeared when it all became a little too much to deal with.

At various points, Faith turns to the Episcopal priest when she feels betrayed by her own understanding of faith, thinking he might have better answers. But the priest himself is in the midst of his own faith crisis, and their interchanges serve only to bring each of their questions into starker relief.

The reader could bring countless interpretations to what the author intended for this story to “say, ” about faith, about forgiveness, about the afterlife. I drew my own conclusions about what Faith felt she had to do to make her peace by the time the new millennium appeared. You might draw your own conclusions, too. What do you think Rutledge might have been thinking about faith as she wrote Faith’s story?

I do know this to be true: one friend who read the book said, “Lynda Rutledge has written one of the most tender, holy end-of-life scenes I’ve ever read. ”

FAITH BASS DARLING’S LAST GARAGE SALE is our May book club selection. There are still two days to enter this month’s giveaway–a Texas themed gift basket. Click here for details.

Julie Kibler’s debut novel,  Calling Me Home, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in February 2013. She lives in Texas and is currently writing her next novel. She likes books, movies, and music that make her think about the hard questions. You may find her online at her  website, on her group blog,  What Women Write, and on  Facebook.

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A Room of Her Own – The Writing Space of Lynda Rutledge

Despite the fact that I’m still pining away for an office of my own, I’m not so bitter and twisted that I can’t appreciate a great creative space when I see one. And this month’s featured author, Lynda Rutledge, was kind enough to share hers with us. She has this to say about her lovely little office:

“I live outside Austin on the side of a hill in what’s aptly call the Texas hill country.   My office is a little room with French doors two convenient steps from the kitchen. Its big double windows said: “Write Here. “

The view from my keyboard out those windows is the front porch with an honest-to-Gawd porch swing, the 1/2 acre downhill wild area I call a front yard, and the illusion it all creates that I’m all alone in the world with whatever muse that might show up to play with the deer, lizards, tarantulas, and hummingbirds under the sun, sun, sun. Which sounds pretty good until it hits 100 outside, when the two steps to the kitchen and its margarita-making blender comes in mighty handy.  The little dancing figure? It’s a tiny mannequin I contort to mirror how my writing is going. This must have been a good day.

Something you can’t (quite) see: I’m an antsy writer so I have a desktop/laptop set up. I sit;  I stand; I do back-flips; I move with the nervous energy. So I have an oversized Mac screen (bottom left) and a wireless keyboard that I hook up to the laptop perched on a pedestal table you see. I can unhook and go when I need to move-move-move.

Something I wrote here? Well, thank you for asking. See the screen? Just in: That’s the first glimpse of the designed title page of my novel with  Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. It’s about antiques, death, bargains, and God.  Of course, it’s the Great American Novel…yeah, okay, maybe not. But you never know what you might find at a garage sale, right?”  

You can read an except of FAITH BASS DARLING’S LAST GARAGE SALE here.

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If Antiques Could Talk – Guest Post by Lynda Rutledge

Lynda Rutledge

I’ve come to believe writers don’t have ideas, ideas have writers. And the one that inspired my novel Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale occurred to me so long ago, it had to bide its time until I figured out what it wanted to say to me. You see, years ago, my mom, who still lived in our old two-story house full-to-busting with stuff that five kids left behind,  began having garage sales. I found this out, living thousands of miles away by that time, when she called to tell me she’d sold, for a dime apiece, my long-forgotten stash of comic books yellowing in the back of one of   her closets (My dad owned a drugstore; I had hundreds).

“Do you want the money? ” she asked.

“No, Mom, that’s ok, ” I said, “keep it. ”

But I felt suddenly, inexplicably sad. I remember laughing at myself, surprised by my feelings. Why was I so attached to those old things? Heaving a nostalgic sigh, I shrugged it off. Then, not a month after that, I heard the first Superman comic book sold for a million dollars, and I knew exactly what I was feeling: shock.   And awe. And sadness that I didn’t own that comic book.

I was already watching PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow ” series with the rest of the world, mesmerized by the spotlight sections–the “omigod” stories in which, garage-sale finds were treasures unaware.   Or the stories revealing that Granny’s chamber pot, say, was worth a fortune, the grown grandchild admitting to using it as an ashtray, and the fun speculation of whether the family keepsake gets kept or sold. I began to think not just of an object’s value, but its history, its provenance—its own “life story” often consisting of dozens of lost human life stories. How objects live on after their owners vanish with the memories that made the objects valuable, and how poignant that was in such a human way.

May Book Club Selection

And that’s when the ah-ha bolt of inspirational lightning struck.   What if our antiques could talk?  I glanced at my granny’s antique bookcase in my office.

“Hey, ” I asked it, “what would you say? ”

My spouse and my dog both looked at me askance, but since this sort of behavior from me was not all that unusual, they let it pass, although I think they both secretly paused to see if I got an answer.   Later, I learned the bookshelf was not really my grandmother’s; it was my great-grandfather’s, a sheriff in the little Texas town in which my family lived for a century.   And then I really wanted the bookcase to talk. Alas, it kept mum.   But that long-ago garage sale idea gave me a poke:   Garage Sales + Antiques = Hmmm. Are we possessed by our possessions? Or are we possessed by our memories of them? Or both?  Glancing at my granny’s bookshelf, I realized it does talk to me in it own way, as all our most precious possessions do. Don’t they?

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale is Lynda Rutledge’s debut novel and this month’s featured book club selection. If you haven’t entered to win the Texas-themed gift basket for our May giveaway, click here to toss your name the cowboy hat. We won’t choose a winner until the end of the month. Good luck!


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Literary First Love – Lynda Rutledge

Lynda Rutledge

When I was a kid, the only time I wasn’t trying to break my little tomboy neck every single day was when I was reading, which was also every single day: I devoured Superman comic books from my Dad’s drugstore and all the Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew mysteries at my small town’s Carnegie Public Library.   And they led me to The Phantom Tollbooth, Tom Sawyer, A Wrinkle in Time, then To Kill a Mockingbird and beyond.   But I wasn’t one of those kids that cherished one book; I cherished them all. It was the fact of reading, the new worlds I entered every day that mattered.

I read my way to a B.A. in American Literature, where my required reading was the classic Southern literature that would haunt my style and story-telling psyche when I began my own writing: Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the stories of Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty,   the “easy ” William Faulkner such as “As I Lay Dying, ” and the “hard ” Faulkner, like “Sound and the Fury, ” which I hated as a reader/later appreciated as a teacher/and much later   surprisingly loved as a writer.  These are in my ear and in my voice.   I love them still.

And what of favorite books by modern writers? The touchstones on my own modern writing journey? There’s Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping for language, Lee Smith’s Oral History for voice, and Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove for sense of place, Amy Hempel’s At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom for brevity, and Margaret Atwood’s  The Handmaid’s Tale for fearlessness.     They keep reminding me what can be done with words. But my literary first love were those empowered kids’ series that made me first love the imaginary world of words as much as the real one.

Lynda’s debut novel, FAITH BASS DARLING’S LAST GARAGE SALE, is this month’s debut novel. We’re giving away a Texas-themed gift basket to celebrate. If you haven’t already entered to win, you can do so here.

On the last day of the millennium, sassy Faith Bass Darling decides to have a garage sale. Why is the richest lady in Bass, Texas, a recluse for twenty years, suddenly selling off her worldly possessions? As the townspeople grab up the heirlooms, and the antiques reveal their own secret stories,a cast of characters appears to witness the sale or try to stop it. Before the day is over, they’ll all examine their roles in the Bass family saga, as well as some of life’s most imponderable questions: Do our possessions possess us? What are we without our memories? Is there life after death or second chances here on earth? And is Faith  really  selling that Tiffany lamp for $1?

**E-mail readers can view the video here.


Question for you: what was your literary first love?

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May Book Club Selection


**Update: entry in May’s giveaway has been closed. We will select winners this weekend. As always, thank you SO much for participating and we hope you stick around in June. We’ve got a great novel lined up for you, along with some exciting giveaways!!

Science is pretty clear that there are two defining chromosomes: X and Y. But, having been married to a Texan for eleven years, I propose that there is a third, even stronger chromosome that trumps all others: TX. Texas. My husband would be the first to tell you that he’s a citizen of Texas first and then the United States. My parents, both Texans, would agree. Years and years ago I dated a man from New Zealand. When I told my grandmother (a third generation Texan) she sniffed and replied, “Don’t go dating any dern feriners. And anyone not born in Texas is a dern feriner.” (She made an exception for me out of necessity–I was born in New Mexico)

All that to say, I have a deep fondness for those with the TX chromosome. So when I heard about Lynda Rutledge’s debut novel, FAITH BASS DARLING’S LAST GARAGE SALE, I knew it was a book I had to read. Charming, quirky, thoughtful, and deeply Texan, it’s a novel that I immediately loved and wanted to share with you.

The talented and generous team at Amy Einhorn Books  has sponsored this month’s giveaway. In honor of Faith Bass Darling we’re giving away a Texas-themed gift basket from New Canaan Farms. Simply leave a comment on this post to enter. I do hope you’ll buy a copy of this heartfelt story and join us this month and we discuss it on our online book club. There is no cost to participate and no long-term commitment. However, everyone who joins us this month will be entered to win a signed copy of Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale. Every comment on the forum equals another entry.

And now, a bit more about Faith Bass Darling and her eye-popping garage sale:

May Book Club Selection

ON THE LAST DAY OF THE MILLENNIUM, sassy chain-smoking, 70 year old Faith Bass Darling decides to have a garage sale. Why is the richest lady in Bass, Texas, a recluse for twenty years, suddenly emptying her mansion and selling off her dearest—some even priceless—worldly possessions?

Why? God told her to.

As the townspeople grab up the heirlooms of five generations of the town’s founding family, a crowd gathers to witness the sale or try to stop it. Faith’s estranged daughter, Claudia, is summoned home, but after spending half her life running away from Faith and the day everything changed forever, she’s not sure she can face them all again. Bobbie Blankenship, the town’s antique shop owner, who spent her childhood dreaming of life in the big Bass mansion, can’t believe her luck—but will her conscience get in the way of making a killing? Deputy Sheriff John Jasper Johnson, who owes Faith his life, knows he’s got to save her from herself, but can he find a way to stop the sale before everything is gone? And the one person Faith actually calls for help, Father George A. Fallow, is having a crisis of faith.

Before the day is over, they will all examine their roles in the great Bass family saga, as well as some of life’s most imponderable questions:

 Do our possessions possess us?

What are we without our memories?

Is there life after death?

Or second chances here on earth?

And is Faith Darling really selling that 1917 Louis Comfort Tiffany lamp for a $1…???

You can read an except of the book here.

A fifth generation Texas, Lynda Rutledge has hopped across literary and geographic boundaries in her writing career. She’s been a freelance journalist, travel writer, ghostwriter, restaurant and film reviewer, copywriter, college professor, book collaborator, and nonfiction author while living/ writing/ studying in Chicago, San Diego, New Orleans, Madrid, and lots of other heres and theres around the globe.

Currently, she is behaving herself in front of her computer screen in the hill country outside Austin, pursuing those pesky literary pretensions as she enjoys the debut of her novel with Putnam’s Amy Einhorn Books. [Pause for a deeply-felt Hallelujah here.]


(*Sensitive readers will want to know up front that is some emotionally-driven adult language in this novel.)

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