Thursday, January 21, 2010

Being One of Those People to Joshua Ferris

Joshua Ferris gave a reading from his new novel this week, and it occurred to me that this might be a chance to give him a copy of this Post-it Book that I did based on Then we Came to the End.  This is very much against my nature, which is very uncomfortable with self-promotion or even anything that could be considered self-promotion, and tends to view people who approach more successful strangers about their own work with an unfair level of scorn. (This blog doesn't count, because it is so easy to ignore if you are not interested in what I'm doing.) The thought having occurred to me though, I knew that if I wussed out and did not actually approach Joshua Ferris, I would go home feeling disappointed with myself and vaguely depressed.

The reading itself was really good. The new novel, The Unnamed, seems compelling and well-written, and Ferris was refreshingly opinionated during the Q&A afterward. (He was quite strident on the point that the disease in the novel is a disease, not a metaphor for anything else, and mentioned how high school English teaches people to read all wrong). Once that wound down, he signed books, while I stationed myself in a nearby chair, catching fragments of the fragments of conversations he had with book-buyers and trying not to clutch insanely at the envelope enclosing the print out of my project, with a brief explanatory post-it on the front.

After the line was exhausted, I made my approach. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi
Ferris: Hi
Me: I'm really nervous.
Ferris: Why are you nervous?
Me: I want to give you a copy of an art project that I did based on your last book, and it's weird.
Ferris: That's not weird.
Me: It is weird. (I put the envelope with the copied project on the table in front of him)
Ferris: Is that it?
Me: Yes, it's a copy. I liked your last book a lot, by the way.
Ferris: Oh, thanks.
Me: I was nicer to it in my project than I was to other books.

And then I basically bolted for the door. I was very nervous and self-conscious throughout, and
by the time I was sitting watching the last few people get books signed, my nervousness had reached the pitch of discomfort that I feel when waiting in lines to return clothing that I've altered for Shell Game. The sensations were so similar (the sweating, the feeling that I'm creeping toward panic), that it made me think that the Shell Game nerves might be not so much fear of being caught, but rather a strange reaction to the act of giving my work to someone else. But I still don't want to get caught.

No comments:

Post a Comment