It was just like the little tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas, except with furniture.
In pursuit of a low-cost item for the living room, I’d exhausted my usual shabby chic sources in Round Rock and on Craigslist. Determined to locate a downtrodden but sturdy fixer-upper, I tried Austin Furniture Consignment. Amid the amazing variety on offer there, my hopes once again dimmed. These were not desperately needy furnishings; they frankly looked too nice for my purposes and budget.
Except for that poor little 40s-era dresser. With drawers missing their hardware and chips, gouges, and evidence of years of ill treatment registering on the top surface, it seemed forlorn and resentful to be caught looking so terrible. Clearly meant for better things, it still emitted a faint snazzy vibe. And it was the perfect size.
For $27.00 I acquired a useful piece with good proportions and solid, all-wood construction. Paint, sandpaper, and a few tools are helping me recapture the charm of this vintage find—a makeover which now has me reconsidering a thriller I read recently.
Taylor Stevens’ The Informationist: the advance copy (it’s due out in March) was my airport reading choice on a cross-country trip, and I appreciated having something suspenseful to while away the miles. What didn’t excite me was the protagonist’s similarity to that other popular heroine—the brilliant, ultra-resourceful loner possessed of edgy attractiveness and a tragic adolescence. Unique skills, damaged personality, and fearless resolve are traits shared by Stevens’ Vanessa Munroe and Lisbeth Salander of Millennium Trilogy fame.
Now, my furniture re-do reminds me how relevant this brand of investigator/expert can be for many readers. She’s a more complex, more real version of the plucky, peppy type who’s starred in scores of plots over the decades. The can-do spirit is still there and still speaks to readers, but we’re now seeing more of that element that elicits a universal response–something (in this case a psyche) in sad need of first repair, then transformation. Most of us value the opportunity to recognize and salvage that which is worthwhile. The challenge is to see beyond the damaged “before” and envision the ”after”.