So, yeah, I should have published my second book like five years ago. I try to make myself feel better by thinking about other, much much better writers who are also mysteriously silent. Hey, I'm sure all of these people will come out with something awesome very soon, and maybe I will, too. Right?
Lorrie Moore hasn't published a book since the incredible Birds of America, in 1998. I wouldn't want to have to follow that book up. In fact, if I were Lorrie Moore, I might just quit altogether. I'm pretty sure I've seen a few stories of hers since then, but maybe not enough for a collection. Perhaps she's working on a novel. A big long one?
And how about Bruce Duffy? His The World As I Found It, as I think I mentioned here, is possibly my favorite novel ever. It came out in 1987. He published a coming of age novel maybe ten years later, and now: silence. I'd kill to read another book like TWAIFI -- well, not a person, but I'd kill something.
Nicholson Baker's Checkpoint came out in 2004, not long ago at all, but he used to publish quite regularly in Harpers and other mags and I don't think I've heard a peep from him in a very long time. Last I heard he'd moved to a small town in New England and established a newspaper repository to preserve hard copies of newspapers that libraries are copying digitally and pulping -- an admirable endeavor that JRL and I heartily support. I wonder if his silence has anything to do with the state of the union. Checkpoint is a Bush-era Vox, a kind of cri de coeur that revealed genuine anguish. I loved his long, obsessive essays, and I do miss watching his mind work.
Jo Ann Beard is a wonderful writer and terrific person. I met her once, on my own front porch, where she brought an elaborate dessert in a box, but then she moved out of town before I ever got to know her. Her work is the same way -- a real delight that I want more of. I can't imagine it's easy to follow up a memoir, especially one like Boys of My Youth, but it would be a shame if we never got to hear from her again.