Maya Angelou, (I realize and recognize she is Dr. Maya Angelou but I grew up reading her as Maya Angelou) died yesterday and I am truly affected by her death. I read her in high school and I quickly became obsessed with her and read everything she had written. Former President Bill Clinton nominated her as our nation’s poet laureate, and she read a poem she wrote for his inauguration. Regardless of what he does, for the rest of his life, I will always respect and admire his decision to ask Angelou to write a poem for the United States. He acknowledged how important art, and specifically, Angelou is to our country.
My friend and colleague excitedly showed me the books she had just purchased. One of them was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. She and I sit across from each other at work. Our cubicles are hidden in the very back corner of the office.
A Naked Singularity tricked me. I don’t mean the author, Sergio de la Pava, tricked me. Nor do I mean, Casi, public defender, narrator, tricked me. No, the book itself tricked me. I saw its spine, psychedelic with white and black and fuschia design and lettering. It called to me to pick it up. I did. I read the back and thought, sounds ok. But maybe I just want to read it because the cover is beautiful. I put it down. I would not pick up a 678 page book for $18 by an author I never heard of because it was pretty. I am not that easily seduced. I walked away. But later I wondered about the book. Did I use the book’s length as an excuse? Was I lazy? Was I not giving a new author a chance? I picked up the book at another bookstore and pondered it again. No, still not what I wanted. I thought about it so more. Did I pick it up the second time because it was so pretty? So I looked at it a third time at the first bookstore. This time I reread the blurb and decided it was for me.
Almost two months ago one of the curators at work said to me, “Rumor has it you like copyediting.”
“Yes, I do!” I said, a little more emphatically than she probably expected. She asked me if I would help copyedit the catalog (for the upcoming exhibition, Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism) but they were on a tight deadline. I agreed and we waited for the proof to come in. It arrived around noon on a Friday so we had the weekend to work on it.
I woke up early Saturday morning and went to La Boulange because they have coffee and food and tables. And I don’t have a desk.
Writing my masters thesis was one of the most exciting periods of my life. Initially I wanted to write on James Joyce’s Ullyses (but who hasn’t?) or Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita or Pale Fire (again, who hasn’t?). Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer? Then I moved to more contemporary writers. What about Don DeLillo’s White Noise? Maybe Zadie Smith? I know, Salman Rushdie! But not The Satanic Verses. Everyone and their mother has written about The Satanic Verses.