This week I've been caught up with petty drama, saying a drawn-out byyyyyye to Matt (he leaves in, like, 36 hours and won't be back for, at the earliest, another 1008 hours after that), e-mailing back and forth with old friends and miraculous new ones (more about that shortly), and wanting to do nothing else aside from read this book. It's a library book right now but I'm definitely going to buy it sooner or later.
I am troubled by the book, for numerous reasons: 1) it feels like a cash-in on DFW's death, which is irredeemably shitty, if true; 2) it has a stupid deckle edge, and having read a few of them in the last several months, I now officially hate reading deckle-edged books, they feel horrible in my hands; 3) it is edited in such a way that it's very difficult to read, if you ask me, with many stops and starts and notes from the author [interviewer] that you can't tell when they were written, and which sometimes refer to a sort of inner dialogue the author [interviewer] is having with himself and only partially lets you in on; 4) it is dude-tacular, in an unsurprising but sort of depressing way. But it's also jammed with fascinating little paragraphs about DFW, writing, and life in general, and all of that specific and exceptional good outweighs the general issues I have with the book.
Prior to this I read Meghan Daum, like I said I would (and was disappointed by her book in a way that sort of took me aback. I thought she was a lot more like me than she turned out to be, and it felt weirdly like she disdained me, which is impossible since I was reading her previously-created work), and I got about halfway through Edna O'Brien's most recent book of short stories before I had to stop. I got to working full-bore on revising the [non-]horror novel and reading any fiction other than my own would have fucked me up. But I also had to take my mind off of the book so I could sleep, hence the DFW interviewesque book. Which, as I noted, is addicting. So I'll go back to O'Brien after I'm done with the Davids.
Re: new friends. I read an essay on the internet some weeks ago that just blew me away in its awesomeness. It was about a mother who advised her daughter, a new college grad just getting her feet wet in the adult world, to quit a well-paying office job that her daughter truly hated. The job was sucking her soul away, and Mom, although nervous about the economy and whatnot, told her daughter to go on and quit the job, take a barista job, and things would just have to work out from there. I thought this was such exceptional advice--advice that I had to give myself when all the authoritative voices in my head were screaming from the opposite side of the balcony, and I felt sure they were dead dang wrong (and six months in, they certainly have been)--that I wrote her an e-mail and told her thank you for being such a good mom to her daughter, and how much I wished I had an adult like her to have confidence in me.
To my great surprise, she wrote back very rapidly (that day, as I remember), thoughtfully and touchingly, telling me to consider her one of those adults, and to keep her posted on the things that go on for me. I thought it would be stupid to let an opportunity like this one get away and told her that I was planning to flog my book at the writers' conference in April, so if something big happened there, she'd be on the e-mail list. Several more missives went back and forth, and the other day I attached the PDF of my [non-]horror novel to her in an e-mail. I told her it was in beta stage (her (perfect) word, actually) and that I'd love any feedback.
She's the first author I've been significantly in touch with (more than just one e-mail back and forth, I mean) who has an agent and a platform and everything. She's both self-published and traditionally published, and is also a ghostwriter. It's kind of daunting to have a pen pal like this, but I'm finally not too deaf to hear opportunity when it knocks, even if it's a soft knock, so I'm awfully glad I wrote that e-mail.
Another good thing about having done so is that she asked me in her second e-mail to "send me a blurb", and it forced me to actually write a blurb for the horror novel. And I think it's not terrible. Maybe I'll post it here, next time I'm able to actually sit down and pound out a post. On Saturday, perhaps, when the house will be really, really empty, me by my lonesome on the last day of March.