As promised, here is the part of the acknowledgments section of my book that has to do with you, guys:

It’s a little pompous but believe me, not nearly as much so as these things usually are.


Want to Make God Laugh?

You know how you make a detailed plan of your research for the summer, scheduling exactly what you need to do every day? And then God decides to make fun of you and sends you a ton of huge fresh assignments that destroy all your carefully laid-out plan?

Yeah. . .

The date I have to hand in my index has been moved to June 2. And now I have to do the proofs by that day, too. And I’m still confused by how to do the index.


Health and Happiness

So I think I shared before that a close friend of mine was diagnosed with inoperable late-stage lung cancer at the age of only 48. She has very good healthcare and is battling it bravely. But here is the thing. Since the diagnosis, she’s become a different person. She’s so happy that there is a light that comes off her. She is literally luminous in spite of harsh and painful treatments that have destroyed her immune system and exposed her to serious viral infections. She is enjoying life the way I’ve never seen her do. All of a sudden, she has tons of friends and social engagements, and she’s doing amazingly well professionally and in what concerns her personal life.

A month ago, I got some really shitty test results. It’s nothing like what my friend has but the results are bad for diabetes and heart health. And I mean they are “Oh, Jesus, WTF?” bad. The first 3 minutes after getting the results I was scared and anxious. But then all of a sudden I felt really happy. I felt like I finally had an excuse to ditch the unhealthy lifestyle and all the bad foods that I’d been eating my whole life. I had to change my lifestyle completely and I basically have to live like an invalid not to be an invalid. But I’m happy in a way I wasn’t before the test results.

What I wonder is why it’s impossible to feel this way without a kick in the gut that one feels when seeing these shitty test results and getting bad diagnoses. It’s as if we all had a huge reserve of joy inside us that we are not tapping into until something forces us to access it.

So, folks, don’t wait for bad test results is what I’m saying. Go be happy now because it makes no sense to wait until things get really hairy.

Book Notes: Richard Russo’s Everybody’s Fool 

Richard Russo is, in my opinion, the greatest living American writer. Read Russo if you want to see 21st-century American literature at its best. 

Everybody’s Fool is a sequel to an earlier novel titled Nobody’s Fool but it’s much stronger than the original. It is not a novel of the crisis because Russo isn’t noticing the crisis. He isn’t noticing anything but the single subject he writes about almost obsessively: the tragedy of the patriarchal mentality that posits men and women as irreconcilably different from each other. Russo’s characters are dying of loneliness and sadness but it doesn’t occur to them that their spouses and lovers don’t have to constitute an enigmatic and threatening presence in their lives. 

This is a novel that should be taught in every gender studies course. Not only would it be an absolute joy to teach because it’s a work of art but it also would help students develop a profound understanding of the ills of the patriarchy better than miles of poorly written and unhinged “theoretical” screeds by disturbed and boring people that are being taught right now. 

One thing I didn’t like about the novel is that Russo introduced several African American characters, and he’s not very good at writing about African Americans. They end up being little more than collections of stereotypes. My guess is that Russo must have been criticized at some point for creating lily white character casts, and instead of staying true to who he is, the writer decided to diversify. The result is quite awkward. One can only be thankful that the writer spared us a couple of characters who are Syrian refugees or illegal Mexicans.

There is also homosexuality in the novel, but it’s treated in a way that’s a lot more nuanced and convincing than race. 

If there is anybody here who has read the novel, let’s talk about it. Have you noticed, for instance, how Raymer and Alice are mirror images of each other and what it tells us about the future Raymer has with Charice?