You've heard about this--both this work and the book it's in--from me, and of course on the blog.
Here it is at last: "Big Bob and Little Bob," all 10,000 words of it. Years in the making.
It's the first work in Big Asks: Six Novelettes About Acceptance, which is nearing completion. You will recall me saying that the big ones will be rolling in soon--this is what I meant.
What I would say about this story--and it's what I'd say about the also recently finally-finished "Dot" from There Is No Doubt: Story Girls--is that a human can't produce something finer. I don't believe one ever has, and I don't believe one ever will. I don't see how you could.
To be able to do this has taken all of my abilities, and the dedication of every hour of my life in the harnessing and development of those abilities for more than forty years. All that I know within me, and beyond me, which I have also come to know, because that's how it works.
Several years ago, this was a 1300 word story. It was not exactly breezy, but it got in and got out. And it kind of passed by. I would say it was light. Almost surface-level New Yorker social commentary, with a touch of the (gentle) acerbic.
Last year, I returned to that story, and immediately realized it was not what it could and should be, and began work. Then the work did the work, because that's how it always works for me--the characters tell me their story. It's not my story. It's theirs.
Throughout all of this year, I continued to work on their story. As I was writing hundreds of other things, revisiting works, all of which have their own backstory of how they came to. The book--Big Asks--emerged into view. All of it going at once.
As the characters tell me their stories, so too did this book tell me what it needed to tell me about itself. First that it was here at all, after I had played my initial role in its making, before I consciously knew it.
It's strange that the better I get, the less directly involved it seems that I am in the creation of my own work.
Those who know me know that I am not a proud man. I am able to do something at a level no one can do anything else. That's just how it is and who I am. Who I entered this world with the ability to be if I applied myself ceaselessly. Which I did and which I have.
But there are a few works--"Best Present Ever," "Fitty," "Dot"--which do cause me, as I look at and experience them in full, to say, "Well, sir...Oh my goodness. How can there even be such a thing as this?"
And I am proud that I have helped that thing to be, regardless of my nature and awareness of what I am.
This is a major work that starts a major book, a major work of art for a major work of art.
Check it out. It's more than writing, which is what the best writing is. Has to be. Which no one who writes seems to understand, especially now.
It's a life experience. And I don't think it's one a person will ever forget, once they've had it.
The rest of the book is every bit as good.