I'll let you in on a little secret. Charm is about the rarest quality in all of literature. You don't often see that which we can classify as charming on the page. It's harder to bring off than it is to make people laugh aloud from what is on the page. It's a lot harder, actually. But you know it when you see it, and you instantly know it.
This is an excerpt from "Dunedin." The charming part, of course, is the stars part. But it's not my favorite part. The reason something like this will last is because of the truths it holds, the unique way in which those truths are conveyed, which has the effect of giving the truths more truths. Does that makes sense? My favorite part is that life-ness. That extreme life-ness. The soul of life. Which you can actually see and feel in the words. And you can hear it in the words, too.
We always stayed with the Rineros. The time before Share had kissed me when we left. In her room. She had stamps and we were looking at them.
You know that moment with someone that you know is going to be the last moment? Or the last moment at this amazing resort you are at in Hawaii? The last bite of a special meal commemorating something you’ve done in life that you won’t be able to repeat? The last dance you have at your wedding with your new spouse?
You bite into that moment, but to hold it—not to puncture it. Time is going to do the puncturing. Because the moment meant to define so much for you, is going to end, no matter how hard your grip, no matter your reminders to make it last as it is pulling away from your present. You can go on to better with that person, with the next holiday at a new special place, you can do better at what you do so that the next commemorative dinner is more gravid in its very momentness.
But we are never quite sure. There is the specter of the unrepeatable and the matchless.
Not long before Max’s stroke we were at the ball field. We had lost the baseball. There is a special stat in the stars which will tell you that kids somehow manage to lose more baseballs than they use. We didn’t want to go home. So I pitched Max rocks and we both laughed till we snorted and drooled because he was better at hitting the rocks than the ball, and one nailed me in the dick, which was the ne plus ultra of hilarity for us, after so much build up.
At the back of the book she had a photo of herself, without her shirt on. It was pasted in there. A display. When she kissed me all I could think about was how I could do better with her next time, and how that might not be for another year or two, or no next time at all.
“You are a great kisser,” she said, as she pulled back. There was a string of spit between us. A stringy bridge. I didn’t know if that was the norm. As we drove to the airport to go home, I had thought about hitting rocks instead of a ball. I was very happy, but I was very sad, sadder than happy, because I wanted what was next with the happy part, to sustain it, and I wasn’t sure life worked that way. I’d need to get back to Florida.
That is, my friends, what we call big boy prose. Not a gender thing. I should also add that a story that contains lines like this is a story that publishing does not want you to see. You should see the entire thing. It's like a shot of soul-sourced adrenaline to your heart and your head. I dug deep on this one. Well, I dig deep on them all. You reach a lot of people and you make a lot of money and you do a lot of good and provide a lot of entertainment and connection with work like this. There's an endless amount of it here. When is it time?
I've seen little of the series, so I'm not sure what it happening there, but I am much more more than surprised that the Lightning are down 3-0 in their series. The Bruins are down 3-2 to start the third. If they lose this series they will be blowing a big opportunity. This is going to be opening up--they can win the Cup. Meanwhile the Red Sox--you are abysmal, Red Sox! What a dead ass team. Do you know what a dead ass team is? A dead ass team has no kick, fight, life. You see either the indifference or the signs of mounting pressure. If all does not go right, all goes wrong. This is a team that collectively, in the minds of players and staff, was partying like it was still 2018, when everything went perfectly. They were dining out on their experience, they thought they could show up and do it again--may just win 101 games rather than 108--and they are a bad team. They are a bad team that is going to be lucky to be a Wild Card. I can tell that already. Mookie Betts? He is not there mentally. He's not your future. My tip: trade him at the deadline. He's a frontrunner. And a lousy--lou-sy!--postseason performer. He's out to lunch defensively this year, too. Benintendi has zero power and hasn't had any for about five months' worth of season. David Price is your brightest spot! That's not true. It's J.D. Martinez. Now that man is a professional. He is by far their most unwavering talent. Also, Cora looks lost to me. And like he's in denial. Did he think it was always going to be easy? Looks to me like a guy who thought it was always going to be easy.
Today I climbed the Monument five more times, walked three more miles. On the first climb, I tied a personal best by running the first 200 stairs. The Monument totals 294 stairs. Imagine running up the entire Monument? I wonder if I can get there. Then, for the next four climbs, I ran the first 100 steps each time. I had a little leg fatigue today--that's twenty-three climbs in three days. The most ever for me in three days. I asked the people in my life on account of this to stop fat shaming me for a week. That's not true. Then I received a text from Emma who has spring break and had spent the entire day in bed. I think something is up with her. She wanted to know if I would go for a walk with her because she had to get out. That worked out well. People help each other through times of their lives. Mine, obviously, is pretty hard right now, and she has her stuff. So, after I've written two blogs, composed an op-ed, and finished a lengthy story that was emotionally draining to create, it can be good to take a walk down to the Starbucks with someone smart and witty, then sit by the water, or in the park and watch the rabbits. And I feel like I'm doing some good. I want there to be a time when I'm in my house in Rockport, or in my house on Cape Cod, and I've done all of this great work like I've done today, and now I'm going to make an espresso in the kitchen and listen to a Stone Roses bootleg, and everything is organized in a house that doubles as multi-form museum, or go for a walk with the brilliant person I am hoping is out there who is my wife, but for now, one has other things, little things, that get through a half hour of the day, and allow one to come back strong again for the fight in hell the next day. I think about what I would be like if I had kids myself, because of Emma. I am very conscious of how she feels and is doing. And she looked pretty down today. So, she wanted to tell me about anime, which she is passionate about. Besides asking some questions, I didn't say much. She had a whole lecture. It was pretty good. Earlier in the day I had texted her and told her that I admired her. People usually don't say nakedly nice things to each other. They hold back the positive thoughts they have, because they're worried they'll come across as awkward, or they're not secure enough to say what they think, or they're worried they'll embarrass themselves. I never worry about those things. Why would I? People also hide behind sarcasm as a defense mechanism. It's funny, people can be unnerved, almost, when you say a bald kindness to them. Because they're not accustomed to it. People put a lot of stock in what I think. They crave my approval, and they fear they never have it. They usually don't. Not a lot impresses me. John Clare's "I Am" impresses me. People are usually very simple, which is good if you're simple--you're never out of your league--and less good if you're not, unless you get where you are trying to go, and you meet the right person. Then, you can have more than the simple people all added up. It was amusing. Emma asked what was going on. She wanted to know why. I said because she was kind and smart and funny and mature and wise and talented and polished, and those were some of the things that made me admire her. It's true, I do. You'd be surprised, maybe, that I have my moments where I at least look hard at someone and try to determine if I can learn something from them; if there's a drop of learning for me to be gotten from them, I will get it. In whatever area it might be. I'm not just what I am, to lean on Mr. Clare; I reload every second of every single day. I never stop adding. I add more than I breathe.
This was a pitch I sent out early tonight. Attempt for quick $. And it would be a good piece.
This could be interesting/timely--and I'd have it to you tomorrow AM--if someone isn't already doing this. Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is the greatest architectural novel in literary history. The main character is the cathedral. And the cathedral represents all of French society, and how Hugo wrote about it would influence people from Flaubert to Dickens. He even wrote it in part to save Gothic architecture, as lots of Gothic structures were being ripped down. It was the novel as literary architectural grassroots movement. And he went out of his way to provide description of the structure. It even spearheaded a renovation for the cathedral.
I have started a list of chapters for a second volume of Meatheads Say the Realest Things, should that be relevant in future. A friend keeps banging the drum about how it would make a fortune adapted into an animated series that he thinks should be called Chad.
Also, more time needs to be spent listening to Massive Attack's Mezzanine. Thank you, Liz Fraser.
Feel today's Easter op-ed would go down a storm if the right place published it and someone else's name was at the top of it. I read something like that back and I think, "Damn, you will go anywhere, won't your brother?"--it says things about Christ and faith and de-fantasticating religion and what I term the Easter challenge that I have never seen anyone say in print, not even Renan. It doesn't just go there, it sets up a second residence there. And you cannot expostulate it. You cannot expostulate a lick of it. Also, my little street incident last night gave me a fine idea for a little thing I can work into a story or novel when the time is right.
I should add that this journal, begun a little over a year ago, is now three full books in length, and we have started the fourth book. I guess you could make each year a book, but they'd be very long books. This is what I am thinking for the first three books:
Ask a Question and You Present Your Heart: The Fleming Journals Volume 1
What's the Problem, Reality?: The Fleming Journals Volume 2
I Don't Mind Being Around You: The Fleming Journals Volume 3