portrait of the author as a writer
You should write a book, my mother says. She likes my blog. That’s the same thing. I just have to expand what I’m writing already. I make our family seem more interesting than it really is, so that means I should make it into a book. Are you writing a book, my friend asks. She thinks I should be. Because writing a book is exactly what I should be doing, and everyone knows that but me.
Expanding on my blog, I’d write a caustic novel about the family, which would be larger and funnier than life. It would represent the life of the whole clan as a series of humorous mishaps, with typical amusing character traits, language quirks, and habits. Everyone would be portrayed grotesquely Jewish, but, it would be emphasized time and time again, not religious at all. The only religious character would be A., whose commitment to God and Judaism would be blown so far out of proportion you’d think he was the next incarnation of the Baal Shem Tov or the Lubavitcher Rebbe, only hilarious. My superior position would be self-evident from each page.
My wonderful work, under its clever title with a pun referencing three different cultural notions and understandable to seven people in the world, including me and the six others I’d have the patience to explain it to, would go straight from the New Arrivals shelf to the Half Off shelf, bypassing the Top Sellers and the Staff Picks. There would be no critical acclaim, nor negative reviews, nor any professional notice at all. There would, however, be talk all over town: in my parents’ house, my grandparents’ house, and that of my close friend who has a ridiculously high esteem of everything I do. I would be proclaimed a promising young author both by my grandfather and all three of the family cats.
I’d spend several months to a year writing the thing. At the end of the year, I’d have grown to hate the entire enterprise, and would be typing with a permanent scowl and maybe a cigarette in my teeth (not that I smoke, but it would only be fitting that I should start). There would be an immovable mug of stale cold coffee installed by my side, and to complete the cliché, I’d have unkempt hair which I’d stick my fingers into every time a sentence would refuse to form – and growl.
This would be the only book I’d ever write. Disillusioned after the huge flop that the thing would have been, I’d stick to reading other people’s work, mumbling derogatory comments and imagining that I look jaded. My friends and family would own copies of my slim oeuvre in uncracked covers, proudly telling the guests browsing through their bookcases that his one was by someone they knew. When I’d die, my tombstone would read “Author of [Title]”. Or maybe, “The Grumpus”.