Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Beginning . . . .

An old love's birthday just passed -- and it seems good to begin this conversation about him, whoever he was. This former love was hugely interesting to me. There was something about him that seemed unknowable, unpredictable, that I could never capture and contain. I wanted to own him, but feared always that if he chose to, he could own me.

This is what he looked like: tall, consciously in shape, careful about his clothes, hairy where you could see and where you couldn't, blunt-faced and handsome -- women took notice of him, and he knew that. He had what the Wife of Bath in Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES had that marked her as sensual: a sliver-sized gap between his front teeth. I have always liked that. He had a grinny, superior smile. It took years for the warmth between us to flare up into fire, and in the meantime we thought and thought and fantasized about each other.

People often ask a writer: "is this story about you, your own life?" The answer is nearly always "Yes," and "No," and "I don't know."

If you read STEAL ME! you will meet him there, or a version of him. As the movies say, any similarity between the characters in this story and real life is purely coincidental. But that, of course, is a lie. Sausage isn't pork loin and meat loaf isn't steak. They are far from the same thing, but there's a relationship. The events in STEAL ME! are fiction, a fantasty. The book is wild and funny and a little crazy, but there's truth in it too -- at least that's what I think -- truth, or some human thing I found out, or think I did, about love and marriage and men and women in the years we knew each other. It took a long time to write the first line -- "He looked so sweet standing there..." and then came the story.

The first line of the new, new, newest idea for a book I'm working on is this: "Everyone chooses the wrong person. Sometimes it works out."

What, I wonder, will that book be about?

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