Yesterday in Rockaway: Cartwheel Symphony, as performed by four grown ladies who can (just barely) still perform the trick.
The Three-Day Kingdom or, One Afternoon in Tuscany
From where I’m sitting, at a table under a canopy that’s shielding the sun but allowing the breeze, a mostly empty bottle of wine, along with glasses, frames a plate of bread and cheese, also mostly gone by now. A stone path leads to a large stone patio. Beyond that, the place we’re staying, Montorio, perches on the top of this little hill just outside the much higher hill of Montepulciano. To my left, there’s a grassy space and then a gravel lawn with a table for four, too hot now without any afternoon shade, but beyond words in a few hours, with the sun behind the cypress trees that line the hill. Past that still, Montepulciano sits there above us, houses dripping down its sides, miraculously unchanged in 800 years, but for details that don’t seem to count, like a new stucco facade here, or an electric lamppost there.
Getting right to it, here is the timeline for the creation of my book Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors:
March 2012: signed with my agent
Summer and Fall 2012: Prepared the book proposal, wrote sample chapters
April 2013: Secured a book deal
June 2014: Completed draft of book
The human race is notorious for not emailing back.
On How Not To Be Wrong
My cousin-in-law* Jordan Ellenberg published a book last month that is currently #19 on the New York Times’ bestseller list. Jordan is insanely smart and eloquent, and even more importantly, he helped me a lot with the chapter in my own book on David Foster Wallace when I was having ridiculous trouble with it. Last year at Thanksgiving we geeked out about Wallace for a good 45 minutes while everyone else was like, who’s David Foster Wallace, oh wait is he married to Yolanda from Housewives?
Even more more importantly, Jordan is beating Bill O’Reilly, and you should do your part to perpetuate that trend.
Oh right, the book is called How Not To Be Wrong, and it’s about using math to understand things like why good-looking guys are jerks. Jordan is so all-around smart that he has a PhD in mathematics from Harvard AND an MFA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins. Don’t even try to compete, just let his way with words and mathematical aptitude wash over you and help you understand things better.
*I am only domestic partnered with S. Jam Fitzgerald, so Jordan is really just my domestic partner’s cousin—a relation that has no name.
I think sometimes that the best reason for writing novels is to experience those four and a half hours after you write the final word. The last time it happened to me, I uncorked a good Sancerre I’d been keeping and drank it standing up with the bottle in my hand, and then I lay down in my backyard on the paving stones and stayed there a long time, crying. It was sunny, late autumn, and there were apples everywhere, overripe and stinky.
-Zadie Smith. (via behindthepage)
I now 100 percent understand this quote from Zadie Smith, tears and all.
So long, I’m finished with you!!!! Time of laying to bed: 11:15am on June 13, 2014.
Sarah [cries tears of joy and relief]
A Note I Made at an Undetermined Point in Tuscany
The best parts of our trip to Tuscany: One night, heading to the nearest restaurant from our room in the country, a place at a small-road junction next to a gas station and nothing else, and once there eating the most exquisite food: an asparagus salad that was fresh and sweet, a cheese plate with a side dish of truffle-specked honey, gnocchi that was fluffy, which I hadn’t been aware was possible; sitting at night with a glass of wine and our feet in the pool; the rustly early evening breezes; old men on bicycles; old men with canes; old men calling out to us with a smile as they climb the hearty hill into Montepulciano.