Friday, May 13, 1983
5 PM. The past couple of days have been a madhouse.
Tired of the activity of the Book Fair, I arrived here to find Teresa starting to paint the living room; Barbara is coming over with a bottle of champagne, their usual painting drink.
Although I woke up with a sore throat, I slept okay last night despite being in the same bed as Teresa. After moving the car to the other side for alternate parking, Kevin, John and I left for the Book Fair at 10:20 AM.
The Fair opened up at 11 AM to the trade; Kevin and John have a pretty good location, and they set up their table quickly.
Some women from Baker & Taylor came over to say that they’ve ordered White Ewe Press books, and that was enough to make Kevin’s day, I think.
I saw George asking Carolyn Bennett about where to find his table, and when both of them recognized me, I got a hug and a kiss. Still with Gull Books, Carolyn is working for her daily bread at Macmillan Book Clubs; she seemed pleased that I’m going to review Marvin Cohen’s book for American Book Review.
George looked very well; he’s staying on Long Island with Lynne Savitt, who’s recovering from surgery (“I can’t have sex, but I can give good blowjobs,” she told him). Lynne has plastic penises all over her house and has a collection of nude photos of male small-press writers.
We went out to lunch, George and I, at Burger Heaven, and had a long talk about our careers, love lives, and miscellany.
He is now copy-editing, a big step down at the paper, but he wants to keep his house in Camp Hill and needs a good job. George is also now editor of Menu, put out by Lunchroom Press, which published George’s critical book.
The press is owned by David Bianco, who’s rich and works for Gale Research. Another friend from Gale’s New York office was there at the Fair to help George, and I told him I know Fred Ruffner and Rosemary Jones.
George still has his book column in the Patriot-News and is getting more into the art scene.
Back at the Armory, there were tons of people, but Ed Hogan never showed up; the Zephyr Press table was empty.
Pete Cherches, back from San Francisco yesterday, told me he saw Paul Fericano and Miriam out there, and they both said to say hello to me. Paul had gone to the San Francisco Book Fair, which he said was terrible.
Pete introduced me to Michael Kasper, whose latest book is out from Diana’s Bimonthly Press – he’s a librarian at Amherst who’s ordered all of my books – and to Allan Bealy of Benzene.
At the Brooklyn College Alumni Association’s Brooklyn Literary Review table, I got a hug and lots of gossip about campus goings-on from Elaine.
Apparently, President Hess is even worse than Kneller; he’s a real dictator who hates and is hated by the Alumni Association. Jackie Eubanks was up in arms because Hess has decided to name the library after Harry Gideonse, BC’s old red-baiting president.
I finally met Matty Paris, the editor of the BCCA literary review. My story about Libby appears in the new issue. Matty introduced me to Bob Fox of Carpenter Press, who’s published Steve Kowit’s new Lurid Confessions.
The Fiction Collective table was run by two women who are graduating from the MFA program later this month.
They said that Jon Baumbach is teaching in Seattle this term, and that Peter Spielberg probably won’t be around because his father is very ill. The Collective has some new books now – a lot more titles than we had back when I worked there.
I spotted Ron Sukenick, whose hair has turned all grey, and Suzanne Zavrian, but neither seemed to remember me.
George introduced me to Diane Kruchkow; like a lot of people there, she said she’d gotten my new book.
Moving through the crowd, I exchanged hellos with Jim Carroll, looking every bit the rock star with his leather pants and pasty complexion. I also said hi to Harry Smith, a permanent fixture at the Fair going back to the first one at the Customs House (eight years ago, I think); Casey Hill of New Pages; and a lot of publishers, editors and writers I’ve seen around the small press scene forever.
However, as usual, there are always new presses and magazines starting up: you can see the young, ambitious people who are enthusiastic now, imagining they’re going to conquer the literary world.
This old-timer got tired by 4 PM, and I took two buses home. But I can’t really relax here. It’s now 6 PM, and I’ve been interrupted dozens of times to help Teresa clean up the living room.
This is a crazy weekend. I probably should have gone to Rockaway.
Sunday, May 15, 1983
7 PM. I just walked into Teresa’s apartment. She’s out at Barbara’s, a note on the door says.
Yesterday at the Book Fair I spoke to Donald Vining of Pepys Press, author of the four-volume A Gay Diary dating back to 1933. He said he doesn’t write every day, nor when he is tired, so I decided to follow his lead.
This has been one hell of a weekend. I’ve gotten very little sleep; I feel bloated, exhausted, achy and dirty. Hopefully I can relax a little.
On Friday night, I went back to the Fair and found Ed Hogan and Susan Gubernat, who’s really neat.
Ed said the book is selling okay even though they haven’t done much work. I should be getting my hardcover copies to sign soon – they had a few, and the book looked even more beautiful in hardback.
I spent Saturday and Sunday at the fair, which actually was a big bust. The Armory isn’t meant for a book show; today there were fumes from National Guard trucks inside, and soldiers running around carrying M-1 rifles didn’t lend much atmosphere to a literary gathering. Everything seems a blur now.
Kevin went home this morning, and John took the train back to D.C. yesterday.
Last night Kevin only wanted to go to Times Square and see sex shows and prostitutes; I refused to go. He claims he’s writing a book about strippers, but he likes sleaze because of his own problems, which are now clearer to me, particularly after discussing them with Teresa, George, Carolyn and others.
Today, without him at the fair, I ended up giving away all his hardcover books. On Friday and Saturday, Kevin refused to be introduced to anyone; he comes on very shy but with a chip on his shoulder.
Yes, he’s idealistic and kindhearted, but he doesn’t have the noodle of an Ed Hogan, who can check up on bookstores, distributors, etc., nor does he have the personality of – well, just about anyone who can schmooze with other writers, editors and publishers.
Stupidly, Kevin left satisfied; he said it was “a break from his routine,” and he was “pleased to have done any business at all.”
As Susan Mernit said, he seemed thrilled when anyone paid attention to him; Kevin lit up when the two women from Baker & Taylor said they’d heard of him, and after that he was satisfied.
Myself, I’m a shy extrovert.
My reading, after Martin Tucker’s, was sparsely attended but I was dynamic and got big laughs – especially from Leonard Randolph, former NEA Lit Program chairman.
But what I loved about the Book Fair was going from person to person, gossiping and chatting and having fun. It was terrific for me to see people I hadn’t seen in ages, like Anna from the MFA program; Tony Zwicker of the National Arts Club, who bought my books; and Connie Glickman – remember, at the second Book Fair in 1975, she gave me a copy of my first published story in her New Writers.
I chatted with loads of people: Lynne Savitt, Diane Kruchkow, Bob Hershon of Hanging Loose, Ron Sukenick, Rochelle Ratner, Dorothy Friedman, Matty Paris, Bob Fox, and a hundred others.
Yesterday Josh and Artie brought copies of Grinning Idiot, which we gave away at Kevin’s table; it had just been reviewed in Literary Magazine Review and the editor called it “good-natured sleaze.”
Ronna was there with her friends Pat and Russ from Penn State, and she and George renewed acquaintances.
George was a delight as usual: he can kid me about my sexual preference or I can kid him about his divorces. Although we don’t see each other often, the bond of affection is strong, and this weekend cemented it further.
Look, I don’t like making contacts for contacts’ sake, but the best part of being published is getting to meet nice people. (And don’t tell me I sound like Manny and Zelda in Eating at Arby’s.)
I saw Mitchell Kaplan of Coral Gables’ Books & Books (which thanks to me, was listed in Poets and Writers’ new Literary Bookstore Directory); he told me he’ll order copies of my book from Bookslinger.
Ed was upset the books aren’t in most NYC stores, but he said they’ve been selling well in Boston and Twin Cities bookstores.
I spent lots of time at tables: the Brooklyn College Alumni Association Literary Review table, Kevin’s table, and Ed’s combined Boston table. It was ironic how many copies I sold of Ploughshares, a snooty magazine I dislike.
I loved seeing people laugh at my titles and at my bumper sticker, though Josh seemed very upset by the latter. I was surprised at how many people said they’ve read me, or at least have heard of me – not just exhibitors but people passing through.
“A new book by Grayson!” one guy told his girlfriend before they bought it.
Everyone seems to know me. Mark Leyner, whose I Smell Esther Williams was published by the Fiction Collective, even asked me to submit a manuscript.
I chatted with Martin Tucker and Ken Bernard about LIU and the literary scene, and it just went on and on. . . While I thought I would stay only a couple of hours today, I ended up being there till past 5:30 PM.
On Friday night, Kevin, John and I walked around the Village and hung out at Jimmy Day’s on West 4th Street till midnight.
I slept in Teresa’s bed both nights and had awful insomnia. On Friday, the living room was painted by the time we got home, and John and Kevin took Teresa and me out to breakfast on Saturday.
Last night I was up till 6 AM, not able to get comfortable with Teresa hogging her bed. She does say she doesn’t want me to go back to Florida; certainly, she was extremely generous in allowing my friends to be her guests.
So . . . apart from naming names, what can I say about this weekend?
I learned that I’m a fairly well-known writer; it ain’t just Richard Kostelanetz and myself who think I’m any good. I enjoyed myself and I didn’t collapse despite a big change in routine; I’m really much more flexible and adaptable than I thought I was.
Everyone seems to know me as “the guy who moved to Florida”: maybe that in itself makes it worth having moved.
But I do feel a part of a group involved in something important, and I have that sense of community that I first found in student government at Brooklyn College.
I enjoy being known; I enjoy selling books; but while I enjoy the limelight, I think I’m self-aware enough to know when enough is enough.
I get along with people; Kevin said that I’m very easy to talk to.
Most of all, I feel that my career is no pipe dream, that I can succeed as a writer – and I can also take disappointment, like learning that Cheri Fein didn’t like my book and won’t review it for the Voice.
And I definitely can laugh at myself, including my tendency towards self-congratulation and being boring – as I am writing all this down right now.
Now where do I go from here?
I’ve been in New York for over ten days. Tomorrow Grandma comes home, so I should spend some time in Rockaway. I’ve got to call Francis Marion College to see if that writers’ conference is still on.
My money is going fast – I bought too many books, though I was paid $7 for the reading and sold $8 worth of books today.
I no longer feel this compulsive need to see everyone in the shortest possible time, and I do wish I could be alone more.
Tomorrow the maid comes, so I’d better go to sleep early.
Monday, May 16, 1983
10 PM. Today was a rainy, chilly day – but I enjoyed it as a change of pace.
I caught up on some sleep last night, and though I needed more, Teresa’s maid was coming in so I had to get up early.
After breakfast, I decided to go into Brooklyn: I took the IRT to the Junction and the Flatbush Avenue bus to East 56th Street. At Deutsch Pharmacy I got my prescription for Triavil and paid Mom’s bill of $45 with a Visa check.
Then I walked up the old block past our old house – it’s really a very pretty neighborhood, still. At Kings Plaza I decided to take a ride on the Utica Avenue bus, one of the new ones with wide windows.
When you’re driving, you don’t really look carefully at neighborhoods. It soon became apparent, after we passed Avenue M (and P.S. 203, my old school), that I would be the only white person on the bus.
I enjoyed the nostalgia of the ride and didn’t feel I was in danger at any time, but I was confirmed in my belief that Brooklyn is more like Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit or any other decaying, mostly-black Northern city than it is like glittering Manhattan.
I didn’t see a white person on the train ride from Eastern Parkway to Nevins Street, either. Downtown, I visited Long Island University and went up to the Humanities offices. Margaret was as friendly as ever, but George Economou, leaving to become English Department chairman at the University of Oklahoma, was fairly cool to me.
The place looks the same except for outside construction, but it’s been five years since I left the job at LIU.
Also, it’s been ten years since I graduated college and fifteen years since I graduated high school. Going back to the borough of Brooklyn was a way of seeing how far or how little I’ve come.
After lunch at Junior’s, I went back to the West Side to read Publishers Weekly in the library.
When I returned here, the maid was just finishing up; Teresa soon arrived, and we drove to the Y across town and worked out. I don’t really like the 92nd Street Y’s equipment, but it’s a lot better than nothing.
We picked up Chinese food – my favorite, cold noodles in sesame paste, along with Teresa’s favorite, lemon chicken – and ate dinner at home.
I phoned Grandma, who had a terrible flight. First the plane was delayed four hours and then it seemed to catch fire after all the passengers were seated.
Many of them left, Grandma said, but she decided to stay on; the flight was not good, and she said she felt dizzy and nauseated.
I told her I’d be over Thursday; at first, I thought I’d leave here earlier, but Teresa says she likes having company around.
I do miss being alone – for example, she’s breaking my concentration now by calling out to me from the bedroom. But I certainly couldn’t ask for a better hostess: she’s really terrific.
Ronna and I made up to see each other on Wednesday. Because yesterday was her great-uncle’s funeral, Jordan took her friends around New York.
Pat was surprised I was “built like a fireplug”; when I asked Ronna what that meant, she said “short and muscular.” Short and fat is more like it.
I should really start giving some thought to what I’m going to do with my life from here on.
Tuesday, May 17, 1983
4 PM. Today was bright and lovely but very cold for this time of year.
Teresa has gone out with Amira to the Vatican exhibit at the Met and to dinner afterwards, so I’m alone in the apartment.
This morning the new couch was delivered, and the old couch was moved downstairs into the apartment for which, conveniently, Juliana signed the lease today.
Teresa didn’t go to work, and it appears as though she never has to go in to work. Right now I’m a little tired of her energetic style; we’ve just been together too long. I haven’t seen many of my other friends, though I’ve tried to reach them.
Today I ended up tagging along after Teresa on her round of errands and then wandering around Manhattan on my own.
By the time Pete Cherches and I connected just a little while ago. it was too late to see him because he had to go to work.
Getting out of the subway at 86th Street, I did run into Mikey, and we made tentative dinner plans for tomorrow night. Mikey was on his way crosstown to drop off tomorrow’s clothes at Amy’s and to look at an apartment on 90th and Second.
Basically, I guess I’m bored after all this time in New York. I think I’ll skip going to Fire Island this weekend because I need time away from Teresa (even if the reverse isn’t true).
Tomorrow will be okay, with seeing Ronna and maybe Mikey; on Thursday, I’ll head out to Rockaway to visit Grandma Ethel and go with her to dinner in Oceanside.
I really should call Robert Parham in South Carolina to see if that writers’ conference is still on. In any case, I’ll be ready to go home around my birthday: that would make a month away from Florida.
I feel very dissatisfied with myself now. Why? I just don’t feel very productive, for one thing, and also, I miss my privacy; here I feel I’m an appendage of others.
And I feel disgusted with my body – around all these beautiful bodies in Manhattan, I feel enormously fat.
Today, one’s body is a commodity; in fact, we’re all commodities to be used by other consumers. Thus, Ronna describes Jordan as “extremely marketable.”
Alas, I think I’m about as marketable as Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog.
Part of today’s malaise is just a sense of boredom that plagues me on vacation; I often felt it on afternoons at VCCA the last two summers. It’s the sense that I’m not contributing anything worthwhile.
I’m happiest when I can sustain both a sense of being in the world and a balance of time spent in solitude.
Everyone seems to think my going into the doctoral program at University of Miami is a good idea, and I’ve almost convinced myself that it is. It will be a change, but not a radical one. It’s a way of catching my breath and figuring out my next move.
10:30 PM. Just got in, and like the typical New York single, I check for messages on the answering machine.
I called Robert Parham at Francis Marion College, who’d phoned Mom earlier. He’ll have to let me know by Friday whether enough students have registered to make the writing conference go.
It looks right now like it will just about make it. I’ll probably fly to Charlotte – or maybe Columbia – rent a car, and drive to Florence. The work days are next Friday and Saturday and I’ve got to be there on Thursday.
I think the whole thing sounds like a disaster, and I pretty much hope it doesn’t come off, though I assume it will. In either case, I intend to come back to New York unless I get very disgusted between now and then.
I’m spending around $150 a week here, but I have lots of credit to run up bills on, so I’m pretty much okay.
This evening I met Josh at B. Dalton in the Village and we walked over to Dojo’s, a cheap but good Japanese-American restaurant on St. Marks Place.
I like the East Village scene, even though it makes me feel very unfashionable, and we had a delicious dinner of sautéed vegetables with cheese sauce.
After another walk, we stopped on Macdougal for cannoli and cappuccino at Caffe Reggio.
All in all, it was a fine evening, as we bookstore-hopped and window-shopped and gossiped. Josh said he felt really sorry for Kevin, whom he thinks is a nerd; that opinion of Kevin among my friends seem to be unanimous.
I’ve decided to buy up all the Dog books from Kevin and then see if I can get Ed to find a distributor for them.
Mom said the two hardcovers have arrived in Florida with a note from Susan telling me what I already knew, that they were selling fairly well.
It’s very hot in Florida, and I don’t mind the chilly temperatures here; tonight’s 40° low is bound to be the worst of it.
When I wrote earlier in the day, it was boredom talking; now I feel I really am having a very good time in New York. If I can make my life in Miami more like this and less like the suburban style I’ve had in Broward, I’ll be happier come the fall.
I need some smart, hip friends – something very hard to come by at Broward Community College. It’s really very important to me to have a sense of belonging.
Of course, I’m certainly not sorry I’ve lived in the suburbs because I’ve been able to see what that’s like.
Teresa should be home soon, but I wanted to take advantage of the silence to write.
Wednesday, May 18, 1983
Midnight. Teresa and I were just talking in her bed about our sexual experiences and loves. It’s so nice to have someone to confide in.
I spoke about Sean. It was a year ago that we were having an affair. That period of my life was very pleasant, and now that the hurt is nearly gone, I can’t think of Sean’s boyish face without smiling and feeling good.
Whatever the neurotic reasons we were drawn to each other, I’m certain we did each other good. The only thing I really want from Sean now is to know that he feels the same way: that he got something out of knowing me.
Teresa says I could have any woman I want, that all of her friends think I’m adorable. I said I’m more attracted to men, but after sleeping with women for so long, I find homosexual lovemaking problematical; it just doesn’t fit right in the same way.
Ah well . . .
I didn’t get to sleep until 2 or 3 AM last night: Teresa came home late from a sushi dinner with Howard and Amira, and of course we spent an hour or so talking.
But finally I slept fabulously – till 11 AM, after Teresa had gone to work – on this queen-sized mattress of the new couch. I felt so rested and peaceful, and weirdly, I also felt good-looking.
At 11:30 AM, Ronna called from midtown, and I said I’d be over at her place in an hour.
The day was clear and still quite cool, but I enjoyed it. Both Ronna and I had errands to do: she was looking for a book of John Sayles’ fiction to give as a present and I had to do some xeroxing and go to a travel agent.
So we wandered the West Side and went down to Union Square; for old times’ sake, we had lunch at Brownie’s, just around the corner from Dad’s old “place.” For dessert, we ordered their famous carrot cake, only to find it inferior to our memories of what the cake had been.
But Ronna and I go on. I think she’s prettier today than she ever was, and she feels I’m better-looking. Of course, we’re both fatter, but that’s age. All I know is we can still talk and laugh the way we used to ten years ago when we were in love.
She told me about her breaking up with Jordan because he feels she’s not assertive enough (she isn’t) and because at 27, he needs to sow wild oats. (“Merna is a firm believer in that,” said Ronna, speaking of their therapist.)
We talked about bodies in a way that only two ex-lovers can; there’s a strange way that lovers can end up as co-conspirators.
Walking up Fifth Avenue, past Ivan’s family’s old office, talking about our friends, Ronna and I seemed to be completely at ease with each other.
And the hug we shared when I left her at her therapist’s conveyed genuine affection. We shared a lot, and I’m so glad we’re still in touch.
Back at Teresa’s, I got in touch with Mikey and we made plans to meet up here for dinner. He, too, is dieting, and on Teresa’s recommendation we went to The Forest and The Sea on Amsterdam.
Mikey looks terrific; both Ronna and Teresa commented that he’s so much better-looking than he used to be. I think it’s the confidence and poise that comes with age that has improved us all.
We had a decent meal at the restaurant although I avoided their specialties, fish and venison.
Mikey feels my going to grad school “is a step backward,” but I think he understands why it’s the best alternative. He’ll probably start job-hunting in the fall.
Oddly, he didn’t talk about Amy, who was taking a singing lesson tonight.
After buying some Pepperidge Farm cookies, we came back here to chat with Teresa.
Stacy called, and we’re meeting on Monday at the 50 Park Place unemployment office. Stacy said that she and Jeanne loved their trip to Jamaica, and they plan to move to Florida.
At Liberty Travel, I got tickets for a round-trip Newark/Charlotte flight for next Thursday and Sunday. The Supersaver fare is $249.
It’s silly to keep repeating this, but I can’t say enough how wonderful it is to be with old friends, people my own age. I feel different here than I do as the loner in Florida.
These past two weeks have been paradise.
Saturday, May 21, 1983
11 AM. It’s a cool, cloudy morning. I’ve got a breeze coming in from the open window and jazz playing on the radio.
Last evening I spoke to Susan Ludvigson and gave her the details of my flight; she’ll pick me up at the airport in Charlotte on Thursday and then we’ll drive to Florence together for the writers’ conference.
I’m a little nervous about the trip, of course, but over time I’ve become more flexible and adjustable.
Just four years ago, I was really tight-assed and, in fact, had to go to therapy because I was scared to move out of my parents’ home. In the ten years previous to that, I must have slept in my own bedroom every night except maybe 15 or 20 times.
Getting out on my own and traveling has opened up a new world for me.
After speaking with Susan last evening, I walked down Broadway to 72nd Street and ate a Big Mac at Mickey D’s. I’ve been having so much good food lately, I needed a hit of junk food for a change.
Afterwards, I strolled over to Columbus Avenue to watch the tenth day of kissing by a couple who was trying to break their own Guinness world record. They looked pretty awful, and their kissing didn’t seem like much fun.
Up the avenue I walked, past all the chic boutiques, the snazzy crowds, the dog walkers, the sidewalk Sichuan eaters, the horse-and-carriage riders, the flashdancers . . . If I lived in Manhattan all the time, I’d be overloaded with sensory material.
Back home, I exercised – I really miss the Nautilus machines – and then washed the dishes, spoke briefly to Brad and to Josh, and wrote letters to Crad and to Blair.
When I was at Grandma’s, I picked up the mail that Mom had forwarded from Florida. It was mostly junk except for a new California Federal Visa card and two letters from Blair – or Blah, as he signs himself.
One letter contained some writings, mostly stoned, by him. He smokes pot every day and told me about a three-day alcoholic binge with some friends.
The kid has been into Satanism, yet in a way he seems very innocent. He’s close to being a delinquent – high school dropout, druggie, arrest record, etc. – but he does write better than almost any 17-year-old whose work I’ve seen. (His letters are much better than, say, Sean’s.)
Still, I’m afraid I may be getting in over my head with this correspondence. Henry Miller and Erica Jong have written about the crazy people who sent them letters after reading their books.
If I get famous, eventually I may get lots of mail and won’t be able to take the time to answer everyone – unless I want to be like Margaret Mitchell, who used her correspondence with readers as a way of avoiding another novel after Gone with the Wind.
This morning, I went downstairs to see Julianne’s apartment; she’s working on the bathroom now.
Then Justin called to say he just quit his job after a two-hour harangue by one of his bosses.
Judy came by to borrow the vacuum. She said that her friend (and Deirdre’s cousin) Gena and her two kids will be staying here tonight.
Gena’s father died suddenly in Philadelphia last month, and she and the kids flew back here from Saudi Arabia. Tomorrow is their return flight to Riyadh.
So I will not be alone in the apartment this evening.
8 PM. Gena and the kids came here this afternoon, and now she’s out having dinner with her mother, who drove her here from Philly.
Now Judy says they’re staying all week before going back to Riyadh, so I think I’m going to go to Grandma’s for a few days. Tomorrow morning I’m supposed to meet Pete for brunch, but I’ll head out to Rockaway after that.
If I’m still in Rockaway on Thursday morning, getting to Newark Airport would be a real pain in the ass, but what can I do?
Right now Grandma isn’t home, and I can’t get ahold of Teresa. All in all, I’m feeling antsy.
Maybe I should go back to Florida after all. I’ll have to give it some thought.
At the moment, I feel New Yorked-out.
Sunday, May 22, 1983
10 AM. Last night Gena slept in Teresa’s bed, and Judy brought in a crying Omar during the night, but they left while I was in the shower.
Apparently, Teresa didn’t know anything about them staying here, and when she called from Fire Island, she hit the ceiling.
But for me, this hasn’t been a bad weekend.
Yesterday afternoon I had a salad at a health food restaurant on 72nd Street and then went to see John Sayles’ Lianna, about a professor’s wife having an affair with a woman psych teacher. It reminded me of my relationship with Sean, of course.
I don’t see good films often enough; I should, because they give me ideas for writing. The novel is simmering in my brain, and I seem to be thinking about it as I ride buses or trains and as I walk around New York.
I think I may have reached the point of no return with the novel; I’ve got to start writing it now or I probably never will.
From the movie theater, I went to Brooklyn and had an early dinner with Josh, who was going on a blind date with a couple he knows and their female friend they want to set up with Josh.
He told me that a friend of Todd’s lost his father and for some reason wrote a long letter to Norman Mailer. Todd particularly loved one line in the letter to his friend and wrote Mailer, asking if he could use it in a story he was writing – as the epigraph.
Mailer graciously wrote back, saying he wanted to rewrite the line, making stylistic changes, and said Todd was free to use the revised sentence.
Then Todd decided the line wasn’t right for the story, but instead of leaving well enough alone, Todd wrote Mailer explaining why he couldn’t use the quote.
What self-destructiveness! He ended up making a fool of both himself and Mailer.
Josh wants me to call Todd to encourage him, but I said, “Todd’s too sensitive to be a writer.”
Josh blinked in disbelief, but I meant it. Todd takes his work ten times more seriously than I do, and that’s bad.
Later in the evening, I rode around Manhattan by bus, stopping at Gimbel’s and at the atrium of Citicorp Center, where there was a photo exhibit all about Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Tuesday’s the centennial of the Brooklyn Bridge, and flags were all over the parade route at Cadman Plaza.
3 PM. Just got in. Gena and her kids are outside with Brian and Judy and their kids, so I’ve got a private moment.
I took two buses to the East Village to get to Pete’s place by noon.
Also there was his friend Donna from Baltimore. Last year she found out that the mother who gave her up for adoption was Jewish, so Pete wanted to help her discover her ethnic roots.
So we walked down to the Lower East Side, to the Garden Dairy Cafeteria, a very old-style Jewish place where we got herring and lox and kugel.
I’d never really been in that neighborhood before. Pete said he’s getting into Jewish culture, and he knew who Uncle Dave Tarras was: “The last old-time klezmer musician.”
We strolled up Orchard Street with its bargains and shouting merchants, and then headed back to the world of St. Marks Place, where we got ice cream.
It started out as a bright, warm day, so I left my jacket home, but when I left Pete and Donna, it started raining and had turned cooler.
I now think I’ll come back to New York after going to South Carolina for the writers’ conference. After all, it’s going to be a long time till I get back to New York again. I probably won’t return next fall or Christmas, so it may be another year before I’m back.
And while I am a bit homesick for my apartment in Sunrise, I’ll be giving that up soon.
Anyway, what I really miss is my privacy. Still, despite the chilly rain here, it’s very hot at home in Florida, and I should have enough of that from mid-June till November. What would I do at home now anyway?
I’d think of stuff to keep me busy, of course, but right now I’d like to be far away from Broward Community College for as long as possible, so I can get it out of my system. I just want to teach that six-week second summer session and move to Miami.