I spent an hour today digging up old reviews for a university that’s interested in hiring me as a visiting professor. It’s a mark of the Doty-Lisicky’s peripatetic life that those reviews could have been in one of five places, in three states:
1) a box in the Houston condo
2) a box in the attic of the Fire Island house.
3) a box in the storage unit in North Truro, Massachusetts, that contains a third of the furniture from the Provincetown house sold back in 05.
4) A box in the storage unit in the aptly named town of Bohemia, Long Island.
5) A box in the bottom of my closet in the Manhattan apartment.
Luckily, option #5 came through. But my closet, like most closets in Manhattan, holds a veritable country of clothing and papers. It goes through periods of meticulousness and confusion. Right now it’s confusion. My closet insists that entire regions of it remain out of reach in order to maintain order. But I needed that box, which meant that I had to take out every shoe, boot, container, etc. You get the picture. Maybe. Thank God no one else was around to see the disaster I'd made of the bedroom. It took me a good hour to put the whole thing back together again.
So I found the reviews. I don’t mean to blow my horn, but…not bad. I don’t think I’ve ever read a review without keeping one eye closed, as if in waiting for the snake to spring out and bite me on the mouth. And I’m certainly not in the habit of thinking about them, positive or not. So I’ve probably never approached a single review of mine with a clear head. But, for some reason, I could practically do that today, as if I were reading about a different writer, with whom I'd had some passing, friendly acquaintance.
How could I have missed this funny bit, from the October 1999 Flaunt? It’s part of a review that considered both Lawnboy and Jim Grimsley’s Comfort and Joy. (See, in particular, the last three sentences.)
… Any novel that opens with dual quotations from Hart Crane and Charles Ludlam is bound to defy all reasonable expectations, and Lawnboy certainly does. “Once a week,” the teenaged Evan narrates, “I went to William’s house, mowed the lawn, weeded the garden, and had sex.” Sex with William that is: fortysomething, divorced, and the first stop on Evan’s Holden Caulfield-esque journey to manhood. Paul Lisicky has a bright, narrative style... [etc. etc. etc. etc.] That aside, I’d love to push him onto a waterbed with Jim Grimsley and see what develops. Lawnboy will mow your lawn and trim your hedges. It gave this reviewer both Comfort and Joy.