Slowly unpacking from a weekend trip to Tuscaloosa, I had iTunes play an On The Media interview with the New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones and my browser on a Slate article worrying that JD Salinger might have been writing all this time and, worse, might be getting ready to burn it all. I sat down to a piece of cheese toast and browsed Ron Rosenbaum’s article while SFJ explained his use of jargon and allusion in various publications and formats. Salinger had a right, like Nabokov, to keep us from reading what he considered to be unworthy of the public, according to RR. If we didn’t want to encounter phrases we didn’t know, we shouldn’t follow SFJ’s tweets. The microwaved cheese had over-softened the toast—no toaster oven. Where is my phone charger? Maybe still in the wall below the Glade plug-in. RR went to Salinger’s house once, just stood in the driveway. Once, a New Yorker editor wasn’t sure if enough people knew about Echo and the Bunnyband. Sic–that’s the kind of joke you get if you’re as worldly as SFJ. He sat in a Denny’s down the road and wrote the author a confessional letter, then went back to the driveway and slipped it in with the mail. The green underwear with the gray band: I hadn’t worn them, but they’d acquired a bad smell packed next to my running socks. I got up to get a sharp knife for the rubbery toast. What is it that has always hardened my heart against Frere-Jones? That note of pride in his voice confirms whatever it was. The dog cowered under the coffee table as I dug in the bag; I was planning to leave him behind this time, wasn’t I? Too many people misreading Catcher: that’s why he had retreated into Live Free or Die obscurity. Twitter, and a New Yorker article for that matter, they’re instruments, and he wants to see what they can do. He wants some cheese too, I see, as he licks his chops sheepishly, ears turned down to a driver’s ed ten and two. What did Emerson say? That there’s no worse feeling than finding your great idea in print under someone else’s byline? Is it the same thing, or some sort of opposite, discovering a shared love for the wrong reasons? Don’t tell me what to like and how to like it if that’s why you wrote that. Have a bite, boy. This cheese isn’t that great anyway. Nabokov, he was a perfectionist, sure, but at least he published eventually. Pharoah Monch: you couldn’t expect anyone to remember him decades hence, and isn’t it delicious to know what that means in the mean time. Maybe it’s his knowingness, his eagerness to avail us of his definitive empiricism. And about what? A mash-up of a song that wasn’t punk rock enough to begin with? Maybe it’s seeing what you hope isn’t your reflection extended into a landscape of cheesiness itself overlayed upon a real place with too many important particulars, some gray leaf-strewn driveway on a gray near-winter afternoon. Who writes that letter? Who writes about writing it twice? Some version of me? If I don’t write my version, I’ll comfortably never know. Maybe if you write as much as Emerson you have that feeling seldom enough that you can steel yourself against it, instead of letting it bombard you with the bone-softening recognition that you do not really yet know how to talk to the imagined many because you talk to yourself so much about yourself. Enough. That’s enough, boy. Don’t whine. This bag is just to go to the coffee shop so I can work on a new chapter. Where are the keys? I’ll sort the laundry later.
Archive for June 9th, 2009
Posted in Commentary, Pontification, Publishing, tagged all mixed up, cheese toast, collage, Emerson's great burden of responsibility, J.D. Salinger as a novel unto himself, Sasha Frere-Jones' knowingness, Self-imposed literary exile, the illusion of allusion, Zombies on June 9, 2009 | 3 Comments »