Lots rolling around in the old noggin but what else is new. A friend of mine who I’ve never met from the Internet sent me three books in the mail. I have a few creepers about, but in this case there’s no agenda; dude was just being nice. What a blast to get a secret special package in the mail. They weren’t even used books! I saw the receipt.
Quick digression: The relationships I make with people on the Internet are the realest. Shut the fuck up about technology isolating us and making us all terrible and it being so unfortunate. I love these people and they love me. Without the internet, living in Waterford, Michigan right now with my mother would be unbearable, instead of just temporarily unpleasant.
One of the books he sent me was a short story collection by Robert Boswell called The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards. Boswell came to my school in Montana during my first year for a guest workshop. I didn’t know who he was but I thought he gave us pretty good advice about writing. He explained to us why Chekhov’s “Lady with a Dog” is so good and why John Cheever rules, which I already knew but it’s always fun to take a moment to be like, “Hey, remember how much Cheever rules?” So much.
After the workshop we took him to one of our bars, The Union. The waitress has feathered blonde hair. All told it’s a pretty shitty bar; back then they didn’t even have a credit card machine. But they have this game called “Cornhole” where you lob beanbags across the room into a platform with a hole in it which I like because I’m pretty good at it for a girl.
This was back when I drank but I must not have drank too much that night for some reason, because I ended up driving a few of my friends home, plus a drunk Robert Boswell back to his hotel. One thing led to another and somebody in the car brought up salsa. Boswell was adamant that Montanans couldn’t possibly know anything about good salsa. None of us were from Montana but it was a point well taken nonetheless. For authentic and true salsa we would have to visit him in Santa Fe. “Come visit me in Santa Fe,” Robert Boswell told us, “And I will feed you authentic salsa.” It was one of those promises where even in the moment you know you’re never going to fucking visit Robert Boswell in Santa Fe to eat salsa, but still, I knew we were making a nice memory.
So far I’ve read the first story in the book. It’s called “No River Wide,” and it’s 38 pages long. I didn’t like it at first because the prose is sort of dense and the beginning is confusing. For example, I don’t know why the fuck it’s called “No River Wide.” (The allusion is in there somewhere I’m sure, but I missed it.) It sets up a complicated time structure from the start: we are two years in the past, the present and then some weird mix of the two at the end. Needless to say the story grew on me or why else would I be talking about it. It turned out to be the kind of novel-sized work Alice Munro used to write before she just started throwing whatever bullshit she wanted to in a blender.
Digression: I don’t know why I’m shitting on Alice Munro. (That’s not true. I do.) I’m sick of her publishing stories in the New Yorker that seem good but aren’t. She used to be a writer with a secret, but now she’s just using the same formula to give us the same secret, which would be fine except these long, fake secrets are taking up too much space. I’m the jealous type. Let’s move on.
Boswell’s story is highly literary. It’s the kind of story you can’t get for free in the online indie journals we often read and write for. What am I saying? this is a friendly reminder, I guess. Don’t forget about old white men who write books. They’re filled with painstaking craft and hard to get at emotional truths! If you used to love Alice Munro but have since turned on her, you’ll love Robert Boswell! /Reading rainbow.
One last thing. I wrote a blog post last week about blah blah blah because it was a topic that caused me concern. But for some reason it bugged me and I didn’t advertise the update on facebook, where most of my traffic comes from. I thought I didn’t like it because there are a couple of bad sentences I’m too lazy to pinpoint and fix, but really I don’t like it because it’s stupid and I’m full of shit and I should stop apologizing all the time. It’s boring. You don’t care. I needed to write it for me, but not for you. I would delete the post but then you wouldn’t know what I was talking about now.
My good Internet friend who I’ve never met named Aaron left me a comment to this effect and I was starting to get it. Then this real life friend of mine got drunk on my couch and told me I was beautiful. He kept repeating himself because he was drunk and stuck in a loop. I never once believed him and it never got old.
Reading and writing in 2012, yo. Onward and Upward.