Monday, October 27, 2008
The Everything Hater
I'm looking forward to class today, where, among other things, we're going to talk about a story by Leni Zumas, whom I teach with at the Juniper Institute (see recent post). I'm excited about this one, as I spotted a few of my students already reading passages of it during break last week. It's from Leni's devastating and funny first book, Farewell Navigator, which has received praise from none other than the great Joy Williams, who says, "Leni Zumas's writing is fearless and swift, sassy and sensational." Below are the first two paragraphs from "The Everything Hater," one of the ten stories in the collection. How could you stop after an opening like that?
To read an excerpt from "Dragons May Be the Way Forward," another story in the collection, click here.
And to check out Leni's playlist for the book, see Largehearted Boy.
THE EVERYTHING HATER
My brother has enrolled in a writing class at the community center and says the other students make him want to kill himself and one day soon, he warns us, he probably will. Our mother laughs, but tells me to keep an eye peeled. My duties as the non-suicidal child include frequent phone calls and unannounced visits. I call frequently, and if he doesn't answer I call back until he does. I drive over to his apartment and stay an hour or two, coughing on his smoke, listening to crackly records whose brilliance he says I don't appreciate.
There is often a pile of dishes crusting next to the sink. Not in the sink, because Horace needs the sink for watering and draining his large pots of decorative nightshade. You don't have to, he might say feebly, as I turn the taps, to which I reply, It's not a big deal, because it isn't, after all, a big deal to soap and rinse a few cups. So why doesn't he wash them himself? I accuse my mother of raising a boy who can't do his own dishes and of raising a girl who feels obliged to do them. Don't give me that, she says, did you check the bathroom? and I nod and say, Just mouthwash! because it would not ease her mind to tell her what is in my brother's medicine cabinet.