So I have something for you. I’m holding it out to you like a kid holds out a painted clay lump: This is for you, this novel, Midnight Bowling.
One night almost twenty years ago, a friend of my husband’s was visiting and he talked about his small hometown since swallowed up by a sprawling southern city.
Friday nights at the local lanes it was midnight bowling — house lights down, music up, disco ball throwing stars. Jukebox, popcorn, beer. My husband’s friend snuck joints in the bathroom, whiskey from car trunks.
Stoned, dreaming between rolls, he looked at the spinning lights and pretended he was someplace else. Did that again and again. And then figured out that he had to leave.
So despite the sweet dreamer I make him out to be, I didn’t really like this guy. It’s too much to get into, but bottom line I was putting up with him because he was my husband’s friend; he was putting up with me because I was his friend’s wife.
And yet when he talked how he’d wanted to leave, well, somehow I felt a connection with him. Who hasn’t wanted to leave?
His story got in my head and heart. And so arrived Tess Wycheski, a teenage star bowler from Sandusky, Ohio, coming of age in the seventies. And the boy she loves. And her father Joe, who wants her to love the art of the sport. And her father’s former coach Leo Florida, who has a plan to make Tess a pro — and a secret that involves them all.
All the best stories are love stories. I really don’t care to argue about it. Here’s mine.
Quinn Dalton is the author of a novel, High Strung, and two story collections, Bulletproof Girl and Stories from the Afterlife. Midnight Bowling, a novel forthcoming from Carolina Wren Press on March 1, 2016.