i went to see my favorite (contemporary) writer speak last night in bexley. i went with my two best friends aaron and chelsea, who were thankfully as big of fans as i was. there's something about sitting in silence in a dark room of strangers that is wholly unnerving to me. i've long had a problem seeing movies, though generally i am able to engage in what i'm seeing enough to forget about that discomfort thank God! the ticket gave no explanation of what the event was going to be like. it only used words like "presentation" and "an evening with jonathan safran foer". book signing? reading? creative writing mini session? pictures with him? the lights dimmed and he was introduced and he just started talking like a normal person. well, an eloquent, kind, sweet, entirely high brow sort of normal person. i mean the guy went to princeton and published a worldwide best seller at age 25. what immediately stuck me, after an almost 20 minute introduction by an emmy award winning local journalist and another introduction by the president of the bexley education foundation, was his deep humility. he was entirely gracious and unpretentious in accepting the wordy praise of these people. humility goes a long way with me.
extremely loud & incredibly close came to me in a dark time. i remember laying in bed and crying while reading it but feeling simultaneously inspired by the main character to work through the crap i was dealing with. the main character, oskar, is probably my favorite modern literary figure. which is a little odd because he's only 11. but the book is just so beautifully written and emotional. the movie was pretty meh. i mean there really was no way for that project to succeed given the text, let's be real. anyways, his writing means a lot to me because it is one of the few books that i can remember reading and identifying with a character so much that i feel like i actually drew strength from them.
so naturally it was my plan to tell him a shortened version of that when he signed my book but really i just turned into a deer in headlights and squeaked JENNY when he asked who to write it out to. later when my friends, who were much farther back in line than i was because i thoughtfully (IM SO HUMBLE) brought my book from home and both of them had to purchase theirs from the lobby, got their book signed they told him my little story and he said that meant a lot to him. of course i was in the gallery waiting for them to finish up, probably picking my nose when they motioned at me for him to see who the story was about.
he closed with this poem, written by by Yehuda Amichai
A Man In His Life
A man doesn't have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn't have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
Was wrong about that.
A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
takes years and years to do.
A man doesn't have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.
And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and its pains.
He will die as figs die in autumn,
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there's time for everything.