It is 4:15 a.m. on a dark, wet morning, and I am massively congested--a walking, talking headache disguised as a dim-witted yeti, who bursts a few more brain cells with every galumphing sneeze.
If I had been feeling better yesterday, I would have written a longer post, one that began unpicking the knotty connections between Garth Greenwell's novelistic and Walt Whitman's poetic personae. I may do that eventually; I may do it with Garth himself if I end up interviewing him later this year. But really I'm sure you can see those knots for yourself, without my intervention. Garth, like many of my favorite writers, cannot keep himself out of the books he reads . . . and by himself I mean his questing imagination, for his narrator is not an autobiographical clone but an exploration of "the same old role, the role that is what we make it, as great as we like, / Or as small as we like, or both great and small." This character is a sensitive and civilized young teacher who regularly cruises public bathrooms and dark walkways in search of sex. Yet the damage he does to himself and others does not accrue because he takes these risks of the body. Rather, he will not take equivalent leaps of the heart, clinging instead to "a life lived almost always beneath the pitch of poetry, a life of inhibition and missed chances, perhaps, but also a bearable life, a life that to some extent [he] had chosen and continued to choose."
I won't go further with these thoughts now, lest they suddenly disintegrate into a viscous puddle. My goal today is to become healthy enough to sit in the audience of my son's high school play. Medicine, do your work.