Saturday, June 16, 2007

2 am and I disappeared for a moment.

I have toyed with the idea of subscribing to the New Yorker but have not, only because on a weekly basis, I watch the pile of New York magazines pile up unread already, that I feel I shouldn't add to the waste.

But I bought this week's issue - the summer fiction issue - because it holds a bunch of big names - Denis Johnson, Edwidge Danticat, Junot Diaz, to name a few. I'd heard Johnson's piece "1966" was fantastic, and was forwarded a bootleg copy, so I went ahead and forwarded that along to someone else I know who likes Johnson, asking him if he'd read it yet. He replied and recommended the Miranda July piece instead. Highly.

Okay. I confess. I don't know anything about Miranda July. In fact, her name only sounded vaguely familiar because NYMag's Agenda email sent out something about her reading recently (I guess to promote her new book). I'm not sure if she's someone I should know (and certainly, I will now be keeping an eye out), but I am not nearly as well-read as I should be, so maybe it's just me. I don't know her. Her name means nothing to me. I can't connect her with anything. So, her story would never have been a story I flipped to first.

Had it not been for the recommendation by someone whose literary taste I trust implicitly.

So. Sitting on a bus back to Jersey at 2 am. Under a dark orange glow of a small bus light, I start reading. Somewhere on the second page of the work, I smell the acidic, unmistakable smell of bile and leftover pizza - oh yes, someone upfront puked straight into the aisle (as an aside, don't you hate that? I mean, if you're going to puke, can you do it in the back so that we don't all have to cross over your chunks as we exit? But anyway...). Nonetheless, I keep reading. The girl next to me is eating Baked Lays. But I forgot I'm hungry. Windows open and cold air whips the corners of the pages. People are grumbling. But I am reading.

Third page - starting from the obscenely large bold W down to "No."

"And I'll know what you mean. We'll know the secret meaning." My heart gives a little tug.

I asked myself if I would kill my parents to save his life, a question I had been poising since I was fifteen.
My throat catches, feels my heart just squirming.

It was him. Except that it wasn't him, because there was no voice in his eyes; his eyes were mute. He was acting. I said my line. And then it all cracks. Just a little bit. A missed breath not taken. A missed beat not in rhythm. Nothing lost, nothing that anyone would regret not having occurred. But for a second there, for that one and a half columns of words - I was bought.

I don't want to talk about this, or deconstruct it, or tell you what I think it meant or why it touched me the way it did. I don't even want to tell you the plot if you haven't read it yet. I just wanted to record, for myself, for a second, what cut through to me early this Saturday morning, through the puke and the chips and the smells and the sounds and the wind and the dark and the ghetto orange-y glow. Just a column and a half of words, and if you really want to be precise, I was bought by about a paragraph. Why do I want to be a writer? It has everything to do with these few lines right here.

The story is "Roy Spivey". The author is Miranda July. The magazine is The New Yorker and it is the June 11/18 2007 issue. Read it. I don't know if you like what I like, but if you have a chance, please read it.

2 am and I was sold. 2 am and I was lifted and crushed all at the same time - maybe I'll never do this for someone else/all I ever want to do in life is do this for someone else.

And that, my friends, is me dropping out of character for a moment here.




p.s. But I did just check out her website for her new collection. And maybe it's because it's late, but it cracked me up.

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