By Stephen Page
Ginnetta Correli’s The Lost Episodes of Beatie Scareli is a novel written as a TV script. The prologue is a description of the cast. Chapters are episodes. The main cast are Beatie (the child protagonist), Woman (adult Beatie), Frata (the schizophrenic mother), and You (the reader). Minor cast are a neighbor who tries to help Beatie, schoolmates, and a stuffed bunny named Petey. Beatie, as the name means in Italian, is a voyager through life.
You understand from the beginning that You and Woman are watching a television series marathon about Beatie. Beatie is constantly on the move, going on outings with her dysfunctional family, walking or riding back and forth to school, shuttling between her parents’ homes after they are divorced, moving temporarily into a friend’s home, a foster home, and even venturing out on a road trip.
When Woman first introduces Frata, she describes her as “our (instead of “my”) schizophrenic … mother,” which is ambiguous—meaning a number of possibilities: she is imagining You as her sibling, You are Petey (the stuffed bunny she talks to throughout the series), You are the schoolmate she pretended was her sister, or You are a facet of herself, signifying that Woman has multiple personalities. The final possibility is that Woman is in a state of detachment from her child self, the Beatie in the series.
Innovatively and well written, the novel is a quick read because of its format and lean prose. By using the word “lost” in the title, Correli is probably implying that the time covered in the novel was once blocked out of Woman’s consciousness, and that the only way she can remember and cope with that period in her life is to remember it is as a fictional TV series. Several episodes have dream scenes, and the entire book seems like a long nightmare—the type of nightmare you can’t wake from no matter how much you try, where you are running away from a monster, but no matter how fast you run, the monster is always on your trail; or the type of nightmare where you are running away from a place but wherever you run to you end up arriving in the same place you started.
You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Episodes-Beatie-Scareli/dp/0615213847
Stephen Page is the author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at