Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dear Donna Tartt

Dear Donna Tartt,

Fatal flaws certainly do exist outside of literature, though it’s widely known they remain far less romantic. I noticed this as summer ended, as I was glowering, dirty-haired. I was in the park, the sky a terrifying blue, the people picturesque, not differing in their sameness, their stained v-necks, cigarettes and dogs.

I had no plans to meet anyone, though I had long-since perfected the motions of seeming on this very point. I had a book with a ratty, esoteric cover and many hours which stretched in front of me. No one in days had known where I was and to my knowledge, no one had asked. Was it then that I realized suddenly, and moreover, with such sadness, that I would be reading a great deal this fall, and quite alone? Even familiarity of the idea offered no solace. The joy was gone the instant another indulgence became petrified and standard. It was expected and so it lost all reprieve.

My time in California, all orange groves and glittering pools in conversation, was not as lovely as then, in the park so many miles from anyone who had to love me. It was far removed from shag carpeting, the meanness of my father, our ugly lawn. I carried with me to the East Coast my petulance and nothing else. Children fell over their own feet. Birds flocked around bread. People kissed and meant it. The brochures had told me the truth.

I hadn’t heard from him in a month by that point, and even now I am a bit afraid to admit how much I missed him. Still it was not something I was yet used to. Throughout my childhood I was prone to melancholy because I thought it artistic while all the inclinations in the world did not make it so. I was merely small, in person and not. I will tell you now, it did not fit in with the beach slopes and taco stands. I did not fit in there at all.

The time I spent on a hard bench, avoiding those who tried to engage me, talk to me, rouse me out and throw a Frisbee, to marry myself to each passing day, brought me a mild comfort. I acquired a seventeen year old boy’s libido, lusting after almost anyone and anything. A glimpse of the most mundane could set me off; a slender foot, the veining of an arm, two walking together or one sitting alone. I found later that those around me had been just as wary and intrigued by me, ridiculous I know, as I was a bothersome man and my want for another’s life, no matter whose, permeated my every act.

I kept my front on this long after the benefit left, I was desperately trying to impress him with my brilliance, though I had none. Anything he could have said to me would have been fresh heartbreak, apparently he knew this too, and so he kept quiet and away and he must have been as glad as I was for that.

Did you understand this, the emptiness which flowed over us all or at least me in this time period? The formative years which kept me from connection, which remain beautiful only in memory because they can never exist again? I think that perhaps you did. It is your greatest life's work to have known this and further to have captured it. Our lives together, gin-drunk, lazing with our feet on the dinosaur egg rocks of the lake. My loss of memory. My aging and your agelessness. How another autumn can bring these feelings, stirred again like tea leaves, brought to the surface, and my need to push them down so I don't boil over and destroy us both.


My favorite book since I was thirteen was always thought of as sad, thrilling, adult-even, but could the prone-to-florid-when-imitated-musings become my style?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love reading your writerly writing. How's the book coming along?

bohémienne said...

What is it about autumn that can take us back to another time and place, usually a melancholy one?

Nicely written.

Broady said...

I love this. And I heart Donna Tartt... I like her influence on your writing. I am prejudiced, though, as "The Secret History" is one of me faves.

I would also like to know how your book is coming along. Mine is s...l.......o............w.

k said...

Oh the book...like Texas BBQ.

Low and slow. UGH! Plan on knocking it out this fall, how about you?