becool-coverSplit Screen

We are hunkered down around the little white television we use to have.

The television was my then girlfriend Debbie’s when we were in college, and it fits our current surroundings: a somewhat dingy, much too small, yet hoping to be more, one-bedroom apartment, that is really just a studio with a wall.

It is June 17, 1994.

We are watching Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Knicks are playing the Rockets at the Garden, and we are hoping to watch them go up 3-2 in the series.

We want this win, we are focused on the game before us, and we are not moving.

The Knicks deserve our full attention and they must have it.

This is their night.

This is our night.

James Tadd Adcox author picBen Tanzer (for TNB): Does Not Love has a lot to say about the state of marriage. Did you start the novel wanting to comment on the state of marriage or did you end up there anyway?

James Tadd Adcox: What has fascinated me about the domestic novel, and novels in general, is this argument that the novel traditionally has been structured by marriage. The form of the novel has been based on the institution of marriage. Marriage is this massive irreversible decision that change dramatically the rest of your life. Once you’re in it you can’t get out of it. The taboo against adultery is like a horror. What can the novel be now that we don’t have the taboo of adultery and divorce exists?

Ben.Author.EmptyBottle

Self-interview, have you?

I do.

 

Talk about yourself, you will?

Yes. Sort of.

OrphansI slow to a walk and as I move along BeiShan toward my office. I pause to kick a bottle and as I watch it spin, it starts moving so fast I become dizzy just staring at and have to stop for a moment to get my bearings. I place my hands on my knees and focus on my breathing, thinking about the stars and the waves and just how long it’s been since I picked up an electric guitar and played it until my fingers bled and my ears buzzed from the endless distortion.

I also think about Al B as I get moving again, about choices, choosing family, what that means in terms of what you give up and how you can ever truly compare what gets lost to doing the right thing regardless?

I am snapped out of my reverie by someone shouting at me.

6a00d83451ce9f69e2017d42a16e57970c-250wiIs it self-indulgent to quote myself? Probably. But do I get credit for being self-aware enough to acknowledge that I recognize this? I pose these questions because my job today is to riff in a most biased fashion on Wheatyard, the debut novel by good friend Pete Anderson.

Which I will do now. Promise.

Debut novels are, by their nature, both self-indulgent and self-aware. Self-indulgent because who said that anyone has any right to assume anyone cares about anything writers have to say? And yet self-aware because without at least some level of self-awareness, all debut novels would tell the same story again and again–someone meets someone, someone leaves someone, someone’s family is fucked-up, someone finds redemption–but bring nothing new to the table. Or the Kindle if that’s your thing.

What should I wear tomorrow, jeans, fine, t-shirt, sure, what color, does it matter, not sure, did we pay the mortgage, yes, maybe, okay, what about the electric bill, not sure, phone bill, yes, definitely, but why is the texting portion so high, is there an unlimited plan, and why do I need to text anyone, couldn’t I call, or e-mail, yes, I could even Twitter, though what is that really, and why would someone do it, does anyone besides Liz care what I’m up to all the time, every second of the day, why is that fun, maybe I am too old to get it, Monica, man she’s smoking, and the locks on the door, did we lock the door, last night, yes, tonight, maybe, but both locks, can’t say, should I check, no, yes, no, no, probably, maybe, is that moaning, yes it is, weird, and shit, is the alarm set, yes, yes, check, checked, check again, cool, and the door, just ignore it, nothing is going to happen anyway.

Is it true that you have an amazingly small carbon footprint?

It is if that’s not an euphemism for something else.

 

No, never, this is a family site.

Word. Why do you bring this up then?

In the beginning of You Can Make Him Like You, the new novel by Ben Tanzer, the narrator introduces himself: “Hello, my name is Keith, and I am a selfish cocksucker.” From that point forward, hearing Keith’s voice was just like hearing my own voice, but the version of me I don’t have to live with. Which makes it that much more entertaining.