I went out to our community swimming pool the other day festooned in sunscreen, reading glasses, and a hat with a large brim, lugging my Giant Book. I put out my towel on a chair near one of my neighbors.
Neighbor: “Gosh, that’s a big book. What is it?”
Me: (Assembling a winch to hoist it high enough for her to see the cover) “Infinite Jest ? I’m reading it for an online book . . . club, sort of thing.
Neighbor: “Wow, and I’m having trouble finishing my thin little book!” (She holds up Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist.)
Me: “Want to trade?”
Neighbor: “Ha, ha. So, have you met any of the people who are reading along with you?”
Me: “No, actually. I’m not even sure they really exist.”
Neighbor: (Polite confusion)
Me: “I’ve actually been Internet-friends with the guy who organized the group for a long time.”
Neighbor: (Clearly she now suspects I troll “Married But Looking” AOL chat rooms after my family goes to sleep at night)
SOME FAVORITE LINES SO FAR
That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt. That you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness. That it is possible to fall asleep during an anxiety attack.
Well come again I said? Come again? I mean my God. I’m sitting there attached to the table by tines. I know bashing, Pat, and this was unabashed bashing at its most fascist.
Here’s how to read the monthly E.T.A. and U.S.T.A. and O.N.A.N.T.A. rankings the way Himself read scholars’ reviews of his multiple-exposure melodramas. Learn to care and not to care. They mean the rankings to help you determine where you are, not who you are. Memorize your monthly rankings, and forget them. Here is how: never tell anyone where you are.
This is also how not to fear sleep or dreams. Never tell anyone where you are. Please learn the pragmatics of expressing fear: sometimes words that seem to express really invoke.
Pemulis’s mark-up isn’t anything beyond accepted norms, and there’s always room in Hal’s budget for spirited inquiry.
Or there’s always quietly sucking off the exhaust pipe of your repossessable car in the bank-owned garage of your familyless home.
The host White flaggers pay this burnt public husk of a newcomer the ultimate Boston AA compliment: they have to consciously try to remember even to blink as they watch her, listening. I.D.ing without effort. There’s no judgment. It’s clear she’s been punished enough. And it was basically the same all over, after all, Out There. And the fact that it was so good to hear her, so good that even Tiny Ewell and Kate Gompert and the rest of the worst of them all sat still and listened without blinking, looking not just at the speaker’s face but into it, helps force Gately to remember all over again what a tragic adventure this is, that none of them signed up for.
There is something creepy about a very fit older man, to say nothing of jackboots w/ Fila warm-ups of claret-colored silk.