THE CONTORTIoniSTS:

The TRUE story of the ross sisters

I've been accepted to the Lighthouse Writers Workshop's Book Project to work on this:

 

Three sisters from West Texas saved their family from the Great Depression when a chance encounter with acrobatic neighbors sparked an unexpected career as singing contortionists.

The Ross sisters quickly traded in their childhoods for roadhouses and rodeo shows. Soon they were on Broadway and in the movies. At the urging of their mother Veda--who trained them relentlessly--the girls lied up their ages.

Just after WWII ended, the Ross Sisters sailed on the Queen Mary to London to perform in a hit stage show. Free of their mother for the first time, they each met a fellow performer and married: Betsy Ross to a schizophrenic and charismatic dancer from America, Vicki Ross to a lovable French ventriloquist and baby Dixie to an English actor and comedian.

Dixie would die on her 15th wedding anniversary, and her sisters would be left to pick up the pieces and save their own children from what they feared had become a family curse.

The Ross Sisters fame was short-lived, but bubbled up in the '90s when their act was featured in the film That's Entertainment III, and again in a new century when their contortions made them Youtube sensations.

The Ross Sisters story is of the American Dream in an age where men were firmly in charge (or thought they were).

"Tales alternately gentle, dramatic, surrealistic, that collectively affirm the beauty of being alive, even as they acknowledge that all of us face the necessity of making our own 'evacuation plan.' "
Austin American-Statesman

 

"The tales are nicely written and quite compelling; “The Male Nurse,” for one, is a dreamlike reverie."

Texas Monthly

"An excellent, thought-provoking diversion from our own inevitable plummet toward the grave, and we highly recommend it to you, the living."
The Austin Chronicle

"Sympathetic, true-to-life characters, intriguing details and compelling dialogue. The stories remind us of those times when a brief encounter with a stranger left us wondering about that person’s past. In Evacuation Plan, O’Connell satisfies that curiosity. "
The Texas Observer

"Nothing short of remarkable … a novel that walks hand-in-hand with death and yet, somehow, the reader finishes the book feeling inspired to live.”
– The Paisano

EVACUATION PLAN

 

Welcome to the world of hospice where no one talks about the weather or other trivialities. Enter Matt, a fledgling screenwriter who volunteers to work with the terminally ill in exchange for a good plot for his next script. He meets the people who work, die and mourn in this world of last moments.

 

Winner of the North Texas Book Award and shortlisted for the Writers League of Texas Book Award.

Window ©Joe O'Connell

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© Joe M. O'Connell, 2020