Sneak Peak: The Beating Heart of Squirrel Hill

Working on the first draft of the second Squirrel Hill High novel today, and I wrote a piece of a scene that I wanted to share.

The scene is set in a public library based on the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill branch, located in Squirrel Hill at the intersection of Forbes and Murray [map].  From the library’s second floor, the character looks down on the intersection of these two main roads running through Squirrel Hill and characterizes what she sees:

My corner table looked down from its second-story perch onto the Center of the Universe.  At least that’s how any life-long resident of Squirrel Hill thought of it.  Murray and Forbes, the intersection of the neighborhood’s two main arteries, one running north-to-south, the other west-to-east.  Center of all activity in Squirrel Hill.  It was like looking down on the very heart — the literal heart — of the town, the very spot through which all life in the neighborhood eventually would flow.  The pulse of this beating heart, regulating the flow, was timed by the endless cycling of the traffic lights at the intersection.  Green light on Murray.  Ba-dump.  Green light on Forbes.  Ba-dump.  Red lights all around, inducing a chaotic flow of pedestrians in all directions as automobile traffic came to a complete halt.  Ba-dump.  Over and over the cycle went.

And now, once again, sitting here at my table, surrounded by books on the shelves behind me that contained the accumulated knowledge of human history, I looked down on this beating heart, watching the flow of life through Squirrel Hill.


About JMVarnerBooks

With the days of international travel behind him, J. M. Varner now exercises his language skills in his English classroom and on the page. A second life as an author affords him another way to encourage his students and fans to read, write, and think independently. Borrowing terms from noted media critic Neil Postman, Mr. Varner summarizes his 'Philosophy of Fiction': "Writing a novel is a creative process of World Building and Word Weaving. Authors build worlds in our minds; these can be fantastical worlds or fictionalized variations of our own reality. By writing and rewriting, we weave these worlds into words on the page." Mr. Varner is currently writing the next novel in the "Squirrel Hill High" series, a series launched with the debut novel, "Digital Me". Set in a fictional high school located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at Squirrel Hill High students and teachers live through true-to-life drama in the emotionally charged environment of the American high school.
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