I was heading home from my girlfriend’s house and it was taking a while. She lived well south of San Francisco and it was a weekend so the trains weren’t running. Instead you had to go to the station and a take a bus but the bus didn’t stop at every station and I had been at the wrong depot so I had to take a bus just to get to the place where I caught the bus and that bus didn’t come for half an hour so I sat on the long pews with the other passengers and waited for my ride home.

I only saw my girlfriend maybe once a week because she lived so far away and when I saw her I was stuck there for 24 or 16 hours. But maybe stuck isn’t the right word. I was only happy when I was with her but she was so difficult, so intense, that once a week seemed like enough. It took me the rest of the time to recover. And often, after seeing her, I would lie in bed the whole next day, only getting up to eat, constantly hungry. It was like I had climbed a mountain or been beaten up.

I was in the middle of finishing my novel, Happy Baby, and I felt very emotional a lot of the time. She hated the book, at least the pieces of it I let her read, and she wasn’t at all afraid to tell me so. After telling me how much she disliked what she had seen she asked me to read other parts to her which I did while she ignored me. I loved her so much it made me ill sometimes.

At the time I was worried that Happy Baby was not funny enough. My editor had mentioned that to me, that if the book had a little more light in it there would be a wider audience. In fact, the book is not funny at all. It’s a very sad book about a man, Theo, who is molested as a boy in the detention center by a guard, Mr. Gracie. Mr. Gracie physically and verbally abuses him but also protects him from the other boys. In this way Theo learns to associate abuse with affection and searches out Mr. Gracie’s replacement for the rest of his life. I was wondering if anyone would be interested in such a dark book. My publisher didn’t think so.

It was during that long bus ride away from my girlfriend and with my sad novel coming due that I read “I Want To Live” by Thom Jones from his collection The Pugilist At Rest. In “I Want To Live” we meet Mrs. Wilson just as she is finding out she has cancer. It seems, on the face of it, a terrible idea for a story. Like it’s almost too easy to be good, a story about a woman who gets cancer and dies. But somehow Thom Jones pulls it off with perfect, beautiful minimalism. We rise with her highs and lows, though the dilaudid and the pain. We get brief, unexplained glimpses of her estranged daughter, her good for nothing son-in-law who turns out to be the unexpected hero when given a chance. Jones holds nothing back, guiding us through all of Mrs. Wilson’s small, terrible moments:

She began to nod. She was holding onto a carton of milk. It would spill. Like diarrhea-in-the-bed all over again. Another mess. The daughter tried to take the carton of milk away. She… held on defiantly. Forget the Shopenhauer–what a lot of crap that was! She did not want to cross over. She wanted to live! She wanted to live!
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YM Oct 12 @ 3:32pm 
+rep fast and good trade:rloctane:
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Noj come ♥♥♥♥♥
So Hack (SmurF) Aug 11, 2017 @ 2:51am 
+rep good playing:steamhappy: