This is not the letter I owe you, the one letting you know how my motorcycle fared when Guns N Roses performed Welcome to the Jungle at their Once In A Lifetime tour’s concert in L.A. I’ve been working on that letter for over a year now. It’s sitting in a drawer. Marinating.
This is a letter to tell you thank you for writing another kick-ass book. I thought about putting a stamp on this and mailing it to you, but figured I’d put it on the internet instead for the whole world to see, to let it all hang out like you did in this beautiful memoir of yours. Your poor wife. Your poor children. Especially Stargoat!
Seriously, thank you for reminding me why I read books, that it’s not about getting from event A to event E until you finally get to THE END event. Thank you for reminding me that “a story is simple, that all you need is a human with an empty place inside them they’re hoping to fill, that we turn the page because we all have the hole in us, too, and we’re all trying to fill it and we’re hoping the story will give us some ideas about how to do that.”
Thank you for helping me find my inner freak. Thank you for pointing out that sales are just numbers, prizes are just prizes, and interviews with Terry Gross are just . . . . . . . . man, that must have really stabbed to have been that close!
Thank you for lifting the hood on the publishing industry and telling us all how the dookie went down. Dookie is one of my favorite words. If I could criticize anything about the book, it would be that you didn’t resurrect the word ‘tallywacker’. When I came across that word in your first book, it was like . . . . . it was like I KNEW you.
Thank you for making me feel a little better about myself for chasing a fatalistic dream. Speaking of dreams. While reading Congratulations, Who are You Again? I had one. It was the not so distant future. Dystopian perhaps. You were dead and very famous.
In the dream, I met an old friend in this stark white restaurant. White tiles. White leather booths. White tables. White forks and spoons. White crumbs on the floor. The old friend had just finished a cooking shift, and he sat at the booth with his white apron puddled on the white table, reading one of your books. Oddly, it was not white. It wasn’t The World’s Largest Man or Congratulations, Who Are You Again? It was something thick. Massive. A Himalaya of literature.
The old friend and I went on a Harrison Scott Key literary tour so to speak, kinda like how people go and visit Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home where she taught her chicken to walk backwards or take a sojourn to Milledgeville in search of pegged legs and peacock feathers. It was like that. We went into this huge, enormous warehouse, not white but very dank, where the printing press existed that printed your Himalaya.
“Look Jana,” my old friend hollered, “it’s the printer that printed Key’s Himalaya!”
I was over in a corner somewhere staring at the picture of the 17th century poet to whom you’d dedicated your Himalaya. I don’t recall his name. All I know, he was a master of iambic pentameter.
I ran over to the printer. We both touched it, caressed it, as if a Roman Putti. I woke up after that, smiling that I’d spent quality time with my old friend and hopeful for you. I do believe you will be famous one day and that everyone will know your name, but maybe you have to die first???
In closing, when a book about dreams is powerful and vivid enough to invade one’s dreams, it’s done its job. It’s a successful book. CONGRATULATIONS! . . . Who Are You Again?
Longer Letter Later.