Sunday, March 15, 2009

reality check

As somebody supposedly versed and submerged in the literary world, I am often horrified by how unwell read I actually am. There are an unreasonable amount of books out there!! And there are more being published every freakin' moment! Not to mention periodicals of the daily, weekly, monthly and annual variety, blogs, emails, snail mails, daily meditations, horoscopes, facebook updates AND a garden variety of other crazies vying for face time, like WORK and FAMILY.

So. I admit it. I have never read Moby Dick. I haven't read the collected works of Jane Austen. I only made it through .094 of chapter one of Gravity's Rainbow.

And I had only read one short story by Richard Bausch when I interviewed him by phone two days ago from my home office. I hate interviewing someone with whose work I am only marginally familiar. (with whom's work I am only marginally familiar? whose work with which I am only marginally...?? PLEASE, if you have an idea about how to make this sentence grammatically correct, I would LOVE to hear it!) And Richard Bausch has written about 100 books. And at least 1000 short stories. The one I read was compelling, excellent, enviable. And he's very distinguished and important looking.

But I was on a deadline. And I had to make the call. I felt the entire time like a complete, bumbling idiot. "So, uh, you've, uh, written, a lot of ummm, books, right?" is, I, believe how I started the conversation. And in my mind, it only got worse from there. Soon, I gave up all hope of sounding intelligent and just prayed that he would politely overlook my idiocy and say something quotable. He did. He said a lot of great stuff and thankfully I have an article to prove it. But the thing that really floored me was what he said at the end. "Are you a fiction writer, too?" he asked. "Ummm, yeah," I said. "I could tell," he said. "You're questions were more intelligent than most."Oh, geez, uh, thanks," I said. I told him how honored I was to be able to interview him and when I got off the phone I did a big, stupid dance around my house. I'm not sure if our conversation proved that most people who have interviewed Richard Baush shouldn't have been let off the farm or if, maybe, possibly, I am too hard on myself and have a slightly skewed perception of reality. Or maybe, it's a lucky combination of both.