Thursday, September 13, 2007

even sometimes to think what I just don't know anymore

an addendum to Tuesday's post:

I ran across a Times' article from September 20, 2001 entitled "Novelists Reassess Their Subject Matter" that kind of touched home. I'm not, even wasn't, a novelist, but I do hold the aptly monikered terminal degree in Creative Writing-Fiction from a not disrespected university program and wrote a bunch of fiction before and after moving to New York (some of which I'm thinking of posting here; I mean, it's far enough away from now that it doesn't seem like it could hurt anything), including a novella entitled "Utah" that was written during a creatively timed leave of absence from a different day job way back when.
anyway, I empathize with the subject matter, if not the execution as I haven't written a single piece of fiction since the planes hit. and, in fact, was full bore into the book that became Cup of Coffee within a month after. it just didn't seem to me that made up stuff was all that important anymore when there were so, so many stories of living, breathing people who would not be living and breathing forever.

I don't mean that as morbid, callous or unfeeling as it sounds. but anyone who's the least bit familiar with Cup of Coffee can see the similarity between the men I spoke with and the Moonlight Graham character from the movie Field of Dreams.
and, of course, when Ray Kinsella and Terence Mann drive to Minnesota to speak with Moonlight Graham, he'd already passed away.
and I didn't want that to happen to me.
I didn't want to miss an important, all-too-human story just because I hadn't moved quickly enough.
so I got started.
I had to wait for a while to begin making phone calls to the men I would later interview because it was a strange, strange time. people everywhere were nervous, jittery. and I didn't think that right after was a good time to be cold calling strangers.
but soon enough I did. and I got started in earnest.
the first flight I took after 9/11 was in service of Cup of Coffee, and it was well, well worth it.
I doubt that I'll ever work on a book that will provide me with such a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
and though nearly all the questions were mine in these interactions with short-term major leaguers, I can't think, offhand, of a single man who didn't ask me what it was like to be in New York on 9/11.

enough already.
there's a wonderful article in New York magazine this week on Emma Rathkey, a determined young woman just now entering college, whose father died in the Trade Center attack.
the line that got me?
"Emma’s teammates were there, in uniform."

in the meantime, Springsteen's Rising still plays ("You're Missing"):

"Shirts in the closet, shoes in the hall
Mama's in the kitchen, baby and all
Everything is everything
Everything is everything
But you're missing

Coffee cups on the counter, jackets on the chair
Papers on the doorstep, but you're not there
Everything is everything
Everything is everything
But you're missing

Pictures on the nightstand, TV's on in the den
Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
For you to walk in, for you to walk in
But you're missing, you're missing
You're missing, when I shut out the lights
You're missing, when I close my eyes
You're missing, when I see the sun rise
You're missing

Children are asking if it's alright
Will you be in our arms tonight?

Morning is morning, the evening falls,
I got too much room in my bed, too many phone calls
How's everything, everything?
Everything, everything
But you're missing, you're missing

God's drifting in heaven,
Devil's in the mailbox,
I got dust on my shoes,
Nothing but teardrops."

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