Read the beginning of "Colander" from Such a Life by Lee Martin:
"One summer morning the telephone rang in my grandmother’s house, and, because she was busy washing dishes at the sink, I ran to answer it. She kept the new dial phone on a library table by her bedroom window, a bedroom off the kitchen in the modest frame house where I’d spent the night. It was 1962, and I was seven years old. Progress had come to our sleepy, backwoods part of southern Illinois in the form of telephones you dialed instead of cranked and seven-digit numbers instead of a series of long rings and shorts. My grandmother had all this before my parents did in our farmhouse just two miles east on the County Line Road.
My grandmother’s phone was on a party line, and I loved to sneak into the bedroom when she was occupied with her soap opera—she was faithful to As the World Turns—and pick up the receiver and eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. “Well, I swan,” I heard a woman say one day, and I thought how marvelous it sounded when she said it, her voice nearly breathless with disbelief. “I swan.” More splendid than it sounded when my grandmother said it. More wonderful because it came to me over that phone line, a voice without a body, just the pure sound of it.
When the phone rang on that summer morning and I answered it, a woman’s voice on the other end of the line said to me, “Lee,tell Grandma to bring her calendar.”
It was my Aunt Anna, my mother’s sister, and I said all right, I would. I’d tell Grandma that instant. A calendar, I may very well have thought to myself. I swan.
I ran into the kitchen, and I tugged on my grandmother’s apron. “Aunt Anna’s on the phone,” I said, “and she wants you to bring your calendar. Hurry. Quick.”
Grandma whisked a calendar from the nail where it hung next to the crank phone she no longer used. She hurried into the bedroom, where I’d left the receiver lying on the library table. She picked up the receiver and held it to her ear. She said, “Anna, I’ve got the calendar. What’s wrong?”
But there was no answer on the other end of the line, and my grandmother looked at me with suspicion in her narrowed eyes, her bunched-up brow. She laid the receiver into its cradle. How I loved that sleek, black phone with its dial that whirred along so merrily when I put a finger into one of its notches and spun it.
“Lee,” my grandmother said, “it’s not nice to story.”
She thought I was fibbing, but I wasn’t. Aunt Anna was on the phone. She said, “Tell Grandma to bring her calendar.” Now suddenly she wasn’t there. Just silence, and I said to my grandmother, “Just ask her when she comes to get us.”
Aunt Anna was coming in her car, and she and I and my grandmother were going to my parents’ farmhouse, where my mother was canning tomato juice.
“Not me,” Aunt Anna said when she arrived and my grandmother asked her whether she’d called. Once again, I was suspect.
“Little boys who tell stories grow long noses,” my grandmother said, and I kept quiet, not knowing what to say in my defense."
Lee Martin is a professor of English and teaches creative writing at Ohio State University. He is the author of the novels The Bright Forever, finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and most recently, Break the Skin, as well as two other memoirs, Turning Bones and From Our House, both available from the University of Nebraska Press.
To read a longer excerpt or to purchase Such a Life, visit http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/Such-a-Life,674935.aspx.