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Thursday, May 10, 2007


by Rochelle Ratner

Cherry Hill. The closest New Jersey town to Philadelphia. If you didn't count Camden. And slum-laden Camden didn't count back in the 1960s. One of the first honest-to-god malls she ever saw was in Cherry Hill. It was there she bought the charm she pretended her high school boyfriend bought. The Latin Casino was there. Her uncle promised to take her someday.

Cherry Hill. The suburbia of her childhood dreams and adult nightmares. But she doesn't often have nightmares. That's where she chose to set some scenes in her novel. She and her husband spent the day at the mall, recording the names of stores, staring at teenagers. They asked the clerk in a record store where to go for dinner, and were directed to the first Olive Garden they'd heard about, not knowing it was a chain, not expecting the crowd from that day's high school football game. They filled up on garlic bread but the pasta made them slightly queasy. They should have just gone to some local dive for subs, or pizza.

Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.