Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mary Robison

I have loved Mary Robison since I read her short story "I Am Twenty-One" in an anthology, I think, back in college. The collection that story's in, An Amateur's Guide to the Night, is an 80's-style minimalist masterpiece. Aw, crap, it's just a masterpiece! This is what I think minimalism was, in those days: every sentence had a whole story packed into it.

Right now I'm rereading Why Did I Ever, a 200-page novel told in about 500 fragments. It's about a middle-aged woman with two messed-up adult children, several ex-husbands and a job as a script doctor, which she is about to lose. She also has a speed habit, which explains the fragments. Here are a few of them:
Rifling this copy of Rolling Stone, I say, "Here's a full-page ad for the U.S. fucking Army. And do I hate Jann Wenner for running this ad? No. It's they who don't write him letters saying, 'Cancel our subscriptions, Butterball! You better rethink!"

That fat man driving around with his little pooch? Now why don't I know him or someone like him? That man, I bet, could make me very happy.

"What's with the bandage?" I ask the Deaf Lady. "Did you hurt your hand?"
"This? Just a mattress fire."
"Oh, don't tell me," I say.
She says, "Calm down, I made sure it was out."
"When did his happen?"
"Uh, yesterday."
"You couldn't mean yesteday. Yesterday -- "
"All right, all right. Then the other day it was," she says. "Get off my ass."
I hear her and deep down I realize that God put the Deaf Lady next door to me for a reason.

I shouldn't be, at this late hour, but I'm up in my room, walking all around, and I've got my hammer but not a goddamn thing to nail.
And I wasted too much time and spent too much time painting in here and painting everything. Yellow and red? It looks like a Midas Mufflers.

Sometimes I read a book and wish I could just call up the writer and take her out for a sandwich. Some writers seem like long-lost friends. It would probably creep them out to know it, though.

1 comment:

mansuetude said...

isn't that why we read each other, and communicate, to make intimate hearts, or tear the heart out of each other, to get to the living pulse of it!!