My very best friend Edward participated in Four Days twice before it was reorganized and retitled Public School. The second story he told, although it strayed from the format by being 17 minutes instead of 7 (LOL, I love my man.), was just really compelling and funny and heartfelt. It’s about his experience when he moved back to LA after working in Iowa and finding himself employed by his family’s cold storage company. There are Cholas and fish involved.
If you have 17 minutes and you’re in the mood to laugh and learn, check this story out.
I’m so glad this was preserved for posterity. I remember sitting there and thinking that Irma/Norma is the most amazing person I have ever heard of. “Reality TV isn’t ready for her yet” indeed. “Her lack of eyebrow.” LOL. Edward’s chola voice. “I had took some pills in which they get me very drowsy?” “Take care of yourself.”
Hot damn this blog keeps bringing the (in my mind) hits. I love this song. It’s a little bit Liz Phair’s Courtney-channeling moment, in the best possible way? “I’m obsessed, I’m a wreck, I’m insane/ isn’t that what you want me to say?”
It took a while for me to fall in love with this book. The first third or so is fine, interesting and competent but detached from me as this town becomes. The second half, on the other hand, is read and digested in some other region of the body altogether.
Initial stories of nights waiting in blues clubs and college frat parties and moving to New York file in to the head and, skimmed at a brisk clip, hold interest.
But stories of Joseph and this nonsensical, unavoidable falling apart are gulped straight down to the gut, wet and frantic with air bubbles. Consumed too fast for their richness.
My therapist said once that I use food analogies a lot. That even now my monologue descriptions of How I Ought to Feel or Act (this is a common theme in her office) are dotted with jargon better suited for discussing meals, appetites, hunger, restriction. I suspect I would use the same language if I were to really talk to you about this book. At some point, it begins to feel vital and to demand descriptions of consumption.
I think I love that Gould is still half sad. That life has rolled out of or on to itself and down the line. That there have become new men and new jobs and successes, really. Honest successes. And still, she speaks of him and those years achingly, reverent as a widow. And I wonder what kind of person loves her enough to let her do that.
In the end, I don’t just like this book. I end up loving it and I don’t begrudge the memoir of a not even 30 year old girl. I want to thank the publisher, funnily, for recognizing that all the snide young pride burns off eventually and in the end, there is just this surprisingly sincere account of loss. Loss that, maybe, needed to happen, but isn’t any cleaner for it. Loss and how it lingers, how it changes you. How you can’t stay with it but you don’t exactly move beyond it; not the same anyhow. Maybe this is the first or best presentation of loss as an unregrettable, wholly unavoidable part of the modern process: Here is what we will all leave of ourselves along the way and what else could we do?
There are at least ten dog eared pages in the second half of my copy of the book and the lines are not just memorable, they are the sort that you reread until you can’t for a while because they are too apt and it all begins to remind you. And at some point, you just can’t anymore. Rereading all this life doesn’t do you any good. But there she is, riding bike and going to nonchalant weddings too, saying it isn’t gone altogether so let’s not pretend it is, ok? And you respect her for that.
In the end, you should know that the heart does not at all say whatever, even if that is the generational shtick, the salve. It just takes 200 pages to undermine the irreverence of the title.
I didn’t reblog this when I first saw it because I felt like even letting its author know that I’d read it would puncture it somehow. But I love it too much not to want to push it on the world.