June 07, 2024

You say it better than I ever could

After 5 pm I try to switch gears. I put away your manuscripts and take out my own projects and volumes of poetry I'm currently in love with and novels a la mode. The place slowly empties out and I finish my iced coffee and I put on my headphones and try to write. But lately it hasn't been going so well. Tonight it was a struggle. My back got all knotted up. I thought of this passage from James Baldwin's Another Country:

The wind blew through the empty streets with a kind of dispirited moan; had been blowing all night long, while Vivaldo sat at his worktable, struggling with a chapter which was not going well. He was terribly weary--he had worked in the bookstore all day and then come downtown to do a moving job--but this was not the reason for his paralysis. He did not seem to know enough about the people in his novel. They did not seem to trust him. They were all named, more or less, all more or less destined, the pattern he wished them to describe was clear to him. But it did not seem clear to them. He could move them abou8t but they themselves did not move. He put words in their moths which they uttered sullenly, unconvinced. With the same agony, or greater, with which he attempted to seduce a woman, he was trying to seduce his people: he begged them to surrender up to him their privacy. And they refused--without, for all their ugly intransigence, showing the faintest desire to leave him. They were waiting for him to find the key, press the nerve, tell the truth. Then, they seemed to be complaining, they would give him all he wished for and much more than he was now willing to imagine.
My guys entered perfectly appointed rooms, perfectly dressed, and acted all bored and shit. Making small talk, fingering yesterday's newspapers, ashing on the carpet. Bored as hell. I gave up at six pm and wandered downtown. It was hot and the streets were humid and bright. I had a beer at the Brass Rail. I overheard this conversation:
"So my dad is dating a new woman..."
"Oh yeah?"
"So what's the problem?"
"Problem is, she's my old tenth grade girlfriend."

Posted by jason at June 7, 2024 07:29 PM

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