Wednesday, May 09, 2007
To be specific, today I would be reading for the purposes of finishing. Last night I went out to a reading at a rival bookstore. (This is not a Sharks/Jets, Cubs/Cardinals, Jonathan Franzen/Ben Marcus-type rivalry...more of a chess team/mathletes fight for brilliant new recruits sort of rivalry.)
I betrayed my University Book Store masters—and my legally questionable loyalty oath—to see Amy Fusselman read from her new book, 8.
Was it worth it? Was it worth the hairshirt they are making me wear as I shelve for the rest of the week? Heck yes!
Many years ago I worked in Events here at University Book Store, and Amy Fusselman was the very first person I ever introduced. I'm, therefore, partial to her work. It's been far too long since she published something, too, so this was a reading I just couldn't miss, possible reprisals or not.
Since last night, I've read about half of 8, and it's quite beautiful. It's a series of meditations on family, childhood, the healing of trauma, motorcycles, monster trucks, and the Beastie Boys. Fusselman writes with humor and grace, and has the deep observational powers of the domestic work of Nicholson Baker at its very best.
Here's a bit from a section I read waiting for the bus. It concerns Amy's attempts to sleep train her son. For those unfamiliar with the technique (as I was) sleep training involves taking a child who, after being put to bed (a real bed without the confining bars of a crib) celebrates their newfound bedtime freedom by getting up to play a game of "I'm awake and walking around, and I'm going to do it again after you return me to my room!", taking said child by the hand, not speaking to or looking at said child, walking said child to bedroom, putting said child to bed, and repeating every time said child leaves said bedroom. [Wow. How's that for a sentence? Internal Ed.] The ellipses are mine. The material that occurred between them is not superfluous, and I apologize for acting as editor. I am trying to save space and time—which, coincidentally, are two more issues addressed in the book.
"So he surprised me when, about half an hour into it, instead of coming all the way out into the light of the kitchen where I could see (though I chose not to) him, he kept his body in the shadows of the hallway and extended, into the light, his left hand, the one I had been taking in mine all these times...
"It was very moving to me because it showed how much he understood this strange thing we were doing: he knew that I was not looking at his face or body, but that I was permitting myself to look at his hand in order that I might hold it. His gesture not only said that he understood what I was doing, but that he wanted to take part in it, too—to withhold himself, as I was withholding my vision—and to present me with this smallified version of himself...It was such a beautiful mirroring gesture, and told me that he understood these strange rules we had cooked up and was willing to play along."
Here's a link to a video of the monster truck Grave Digger going ballistic. It comes up in the book.
tell all your friends!