Saturday, November 7, 2009
A Heartbreaking Work
of Staggering Genius
I bought this at Talking Leaves..Books in, o, probably 2003. We were trying to figure out an author to bring for "If All Of Buffalo Read The Same Book." These kind of civic reading programs happen all over the country and they tend to have a kind of pre-programmed feel to them, so when we used to do it, I tried to pick authors that were not being chosen by other cities.
Dave Eggers' name came up as someone whose work was contemporary and who, as a younger writer, might draw some fresh blood into Buffalo's reading audience. I tried to contact him to see if he'd be interested, but had no luck.
In fact, in all of my years of bringing writers to Buffalo, Dave Eggers holds the distinction of being the only writer with whom I could not make contact. It felt like there was an active conspiracy on the part of people around him to keep people like me from contacting him at all. I called the publisher, I called his Valencia St. non-profit in San Francisco. And so on. Nada.
I ended up giving up and trying my second bright idea, which seemed even more impossible -- to bring Arundhati Roy from India. It took all of about a week to put that together. Kind of amazing.
from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Through the small tall bathroom window the December yard is gray and scratchy, the trees calligraphic. Exhaust from the dryer billows clumsily out from the house and up, breaking apart while tumbling into the white sky.
The house is a factory.
I put my pants back on and go back to my mother. I walk down the hall, past the laundry room, and into the family room. I close the door behind me, muffling the rumbling of the small shoes in the dryer, Toph's.
"Where were you?" my mother says.
"In the bathroom," I say.
"Hmph," she says.
"For fifteen minutes?"
"It wasn't that long."
"It was longer. Was something broken?"
"Did you fall in?"
"Were you playing with yourself?"
"I was cutting my hair."
"You were contemplating your navel."
"Did you clean up?"
I had not cleaned up, had actually left hair everywhere, twisted brown doodles drawn in the sink, but knew that my mother would not find out. She could not get up to check.