Just When You Think You’re Out, They Pull You Back In

You write a book. A while later it is published. A lot of other books are published at the same time. You do some publicity. You travel and read for strangers. You appear in some media. Strangers talk about your book in places you have never been. And then it stops. Your book is on all the shelves it is going to be on, in all the libraries it’s going to be in, the world has moved on, because there are more books to stock, more books to buy, more to read, always more. And that’s fine with you, because you have another book to write. Because there is no cure for writing, you just do it, you don’t think about why, and so the old book becomes, quite literally, “old,” perhaps not forgotten, but of the past.

I remember reading from Waiting for the Man once and thinking “I’m never going to read from this thing again.” I hope that’s true. The last two times I’ve read in public have been from my first draft of the next thing.

This past week, a reminder that your past is there, always, stuck to you, like a shadow. First, a box of this:


That’s the paperback of Waiting for the Man. It comes with something called “BackLit” – so a discussion guide, a Q&A (with me), a list of the things that “inspired” me to write (both pre and during). The book is now available as a hardcover, in e- versions, as an audiobook, and now in paper.

And then, a day later, I received this pdf:

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.33.35 AM

That’s the French version of the book, out this October, published by a great little publishing house in MontrĂ©al Les Editions Marchands de feuilles. The translation is by Daniel Grenier (who has a book of his own coming out soon as well). All in one week.

Here’s a zoom in on the cover:

french cover cropped

So this book, something I’ve long now seen in my rearview mirror, is back. It still lives. Like the old dude Gilgamesh finds at the end of his travels. The original pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Do we create things to attain immortality? Is that what art is? Or “art”? Or Art? Are we so different from those cave dwellers from thousands of years ago? Or do we just need to create in order to prove something? To be consumed. That we’re delicious. That we exist. That we’re alive. Or were. (Until you consumed us, you monsters.)

A taco is a rental. Delicious, sure, but a rental nonetheless. Fleeting. Sometimes more fleeting than other times.

Art is the potential of forever. I guess.


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