Saturday I was out running errands (legitimize the new car, donate all those excess clothes, pick the last two zucchini from the garden plot) and had a few moments to kill in between places of business that open at 8:30am on weekends and stores that didn't open until 10:00. Barnes and Noble presented itself, conveniently in between these times, and I wandered in to browse.
my favourite shelves in bookstores are the ones with the blank books. there's only so long you can gush over those, though, so I also explored the games aisles and the news aisles and the clearance bins. there were tempting boxes of chocolate in the clearance bins... but I was only there to kill time, not spend any money. I'm still subsisting on the tail end of tiny slash nonexistent summer paychecks, so I'm putting off as much spending as possible until next month.
my other favourite shelves are the ones with new books. Barnes and Noble has one of these too, perpendicular to the coffee-dispensing section of the store.
I picked up and perused the first pages of a little paperback with a yellow-pea-coated girl on the cover. white block letters, out-of-focus trees in the background. it was the title that caught my eye. The Opposite of Loneliness. Marina Keegan. Introduction by Anne Fadiman.
I must admit I didn't remember any of that information over the weekend. I didn't remember what it was called or what it looked like or how it was bound. all I remembered was the twist that jumped out from the middle of that glowing Introduction by Anne Fadiman, and the reason I put the book down.
but in order to write about that, I needed to remember all the other details. an isolated, poignant twist with no detailed context wouldn't quite be a story worth telling, would it?
as anyone else would have in this forgetful situation, I turned to the world's favourite (or least favourite?) external memory aid slash search algorithm.
these are the words I ventured to feed into the search box:
writing student dies dead student publishes collection
and there I've given away the whole sad, slow, sinking, twist, so there may not be much hope of painting for you the sense of holding a lovely book of essays in your hands, of reading along about the quirks and dreams and pleadings of its author, starting to wonder, to envy, and feeling even a bit anxious to skim through this Introduction and taste the insides of this collection--to traipse right into the essays this student of Anne Fadiman's must have had such writerly fun drafting and polishing...
...and then realizing, without knowing why it took you so long, that Anne Fadiman's past tense was is not the regular, innocent past tense was.
I snapped the book shut and half-tossed it back on its shelf, not even bothering to straighten it up with its fellow copies.
her last Yale Daily News column comes up first in the search results.
a Huffington Post eulogy-esque review (or is it more a review-esque eulogy? I'm not sure) is second.
I'm not sure what made me so suddenly give up on that shiny new book. maybe, after hearing so much praise and promise, it seemed unfair. maybe the praise and promise seemed pasted-on and obligatory to me, too thick, once I knew their recipient wasn't around anymore. I felt cheated, disbelieving. maybe I couldn't swallow the implications of envying a talented but tragically dead Yale graduate.