The final months would be a lot easier if I could be assured that, after death, we’d get a chance to see people who have died already. I’d like to shake hands with my best friend, my father, who died in 1972 and whom I’ve missed every day since. I owe him an apology. When I was 12, I stole 50 cents from his trousers, two quarters. The guilt was suffocating, though, and 10 days later I replaced his 50 cents, and I added an extra 25 for interest and atonement.
The only thing we argued about was politics. He was an ardent Republican. I am a boring liberal. When my son was born in 1994, the doctor held him by his ankles, upside down, as they do in movies, and announced that it was a boy. “I know that,” I said, nervously. “Is he a Democrat?”
It was only after watching this video repeatedly that it occurred to me: What I was tired of was not art but the predictability of how we encounter it. It is always at a distance, frequently behind glass, often in sterile galleries that resemble airports. Much of the world’s art is not encountered at all; the financial value of artworks has led more and more collectors to purchase them as investments and store them, unseen, in climate-controlled vaults.
There are some novels that are more like conceptual art works than standard narratives. This is no bad thing, and I would certainly not want us to be stuck with three-volume Victorian works, much though I love three-volume Victorian works. The clue’s in the name: the novel ought to be novel. If it doesn’t stretch what being a novel means, then it is merely a form of unknowing plagiarism. So it was rather a delight to read Blue Postcards. It is an ingenious book, and I think it will linger with me for quite some time.
and stirs them in sea salt and vinegar
She takes a drag from her Silk Cut