Wednesday, August 12, 2009

biography perilous

Well, we knew this was going to be weird. I didn't know it was going to sound like this tho.

There is an appendix wherein I'm attaching the clever bios I created for other books, as well as quotes about my work from famous people, and of course a publication list and my cv-- anyway, this is long enough. I'm not sure why I had to tell the story at the end. But I did. And I think it will stay.

A Few Biographical Paragraphs

I do not pretend importance. Though, at twenty-nine, I have four books variously to my credit, have been an acquisitions editor at a small but distinguished publisher, and am five years into the creation of a middle-plains winery, I have not been granted any letters to adorn my name nor made an equivalent fortune. I manage a small pub in the San Francisco Bay Area, I spend a lot of time on the family farm in Kansas, and I write.

I offer, instead, perspective and capacity. Rural Kansas is a hard strange place. My struggle, ongoing, to fit myself into it, has given me a unique lens through which to view the world at large. My time spent as a student of Russian, as a political activist, as an editor at a regional publisher, as a bartender, has given me the ability to address everything from globalization to the pornography of food. I can tell a dirty joke or ruminate on the role of drink in mystic tradition, with, I think, equal aplomb.

I tasted my first ripe pear last year. Our neighbor, from whom we buy hay and who occasionally gives us venison, pulled up the long driveway, parked, and pulled a box of overgrown squash from his the bed of his truck. His mother was dying; the garden had been let go. He’d appreciate it, he said, if we’d take a trailer over and harvest the rest. And the pears, he said, don’t forget the pears.

Most of the tomatoes had already fallen or split. We filled the trailer with butternut squash, zucchini and melons and then moved over to the pear trees, taller than his farmhouse and wild from struggle with the winds. We did as our neighbor instructed: after each pear was picked, we wrapped it in a page from the local newspaper and placed it gently into a box that once held a vacuum cleaner.

They ripened in our storm cellar for a couple weeks. The spiders mostly left them alone. I was halfway through my second pear when I learned that our neighbor’s mother had died. I had just started my fourth when a box arrived from California. The advance copies of my first book were inside, each book carefully wrapped in plain brown paper.


Kyle said...

What, you aren't actually going to tell a dirty joke? That's what blog's are for yo.

WordWrestler said...

I've been thinking for a few days about why I find the pear story jarring, and I think in the end there's a simple explanation. Ripe pears are extremely delicate and ephemeral, hence the need to wrap and cushion them. Your writing is not delicate or ephemeral, but strong. I suppose that some books belong to a particular passing moment, but I don't know that this is the case for your book. Can you say more about why this image seemed to fit for you?

WordWrestler said...

P.S. Yeah, I'm inhabiting the English teacher's skin again. But it's a serious question.

Whim said...

Good question. Much of the manner in which I am writing this proposal is involved with tricking myself into writing it. That story came to me when I was thinking about my biographical statement and so I told it--

The form is wrong, is my conclusion. The pieces that seem distinct can cohere, but would need more time, air, and space. it's a short story or a long prose poem. It is too big or this brief moment.

So, in essence, you're right, it doesn't belong there. I had already decided but thanks for affirming.