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Monday, September 04, 2006

book-ish



Originally uploaded by kristalynn.
i have my favorite bookstores that i visit when i travel - the strand in new york, the book warehouse in vancouver, powells in portland... i can spend hours browsing the surplus bins, amassing books that i promise i'll read.

i just finished reading the better of mcsweeney's, which i picked up in vancouver. one of the short stories blew all the others out of the water. so i did what i do with everything i become obsessed with (john wayne gacy jr. anyone?) - i googled the author for 3 days straight.

i learned that amada davis had written two books before dying an untimely death at the age of 32.

i wondered if it was suicide. but the little that i knew of her from her short story didn't really speak to me of suicide. but i could be surprised; i've been surprised before.

it had to be cancer, i surmised.

wrong. her and her parents were killed in a plane crash. the three of them were flying a small cessna to all of the locations on her book tour. i was oddly affected. i searched for her books on ebay and and made a mental note to ship the books to my friend's the next time i visited new york.


on a spontaneous trip to new york this past weekend, i found myself at strand books. it was at this juncture that i realized that had i forgotten to order and ship the books. in addition to that unimpressiveness, i was also realizing that i was not remembering her name - thereby hindering me from purchasing the books then and there.

i asked the strand people if they had the mcsweeny’s book she was compiled in.

"our literature is at the end of this aisle. it's not organized in any particular order," replied the unfriendly, unhelpful sales person.

"what would this book be filed under?" i had very little desire to sift through 18 miles of books.

"our literature is at the end of this aisle. it's not organized in any particular order." repeated the unfriendly, unhelpful sales person.

i was mouthing the words, “wha?” when a slightly more friendly salesperson informed me that i had to walk beyond the poetry section to find the literature.

i walked past poetry and found nothing. and then the store announced that it was closing in 15 minutes.

i found my boyfriend. he asked me what was wrong after he saw my mopey face.

"i'm mad at myself for forgetting her name. i asked that asshole back there, but he was no help."

"yeah, that guy's an asshole."

"why are people such asses? i hate that guy."

"me too. ask her. she looks nice." he pointed to a girl at a computer.

i explained my situation to the nice-seeming girl.

"she wrote for mcsweenys and she died a tragic death in a plane. can you find her?"

"what should i google?" she asked me.

"um, mcsweenys, plane, crash?" i suggested.

she googled.

"nope. nothing. we're closing."

"fuck. how frustrating…" i said as i got onto the street. i moped for at least 20 blocks. this woman had written such a beautiful short story, crashed into a mountain with her parents, and left two siblings behind and i didn't even have the wherewithal to purchase her books.

we delayed our etd the next day, forfeited a trip to a gallery to see avedon, and returned to the strand.

"i'm looking for an author by the name of amada davis” (i had been on a recognizance mission), i said to the woman who had replaced the woman from the night before.

her eyes widened and she actually hopped in excitement. "yeah... she has book called i wonder when you'll miss me." she said not missing a beat.

my heart sped up. "yes! she also has..."

"oh my gawd! she also has a collection of short stories. i didn't know she had another..."

"you read her novel?" i asked, thrown at what a difference a day makes.

"yes, it's amazing - amazing."

her eyes returned to the monitor. "they're both in stock."

she excitedly pointed me in the right direction. "there should be three copies of each. go!"

i took off like a shot.

the "davis"es were on the bottom shelf. i was on my hands and knees when i found her two books. there was one copy of each.

one of them quoted jane siberry: "Pour me a drink now. Let's have a toast to who we really are."

i loved this woman. she and i were meant to be together.

"you found them?" asked my boyfriend as i approached, one book in each hand.

"they were the last two copies..."

suddenly it all became too much. i thought of the poor dead woman and of the two amazing - and finite - pieces of work that i held. i thought of all the bad news i had received over the past month. i burst into tears, in the middle of the strand. i wanted more for and from her.


from what i've learned during my 3-day stalking bender, she seemed like an amazing person - a teacher - who is greatly missed. she was funny, self-effacing, essential, and vital.

the quote in the second book, which she dedicated to her parents, reads: "And I was yet aware that this was only a moment, that the world waited outside, as hungry as a tiger, and that trouble stretched above us, longer than the sky." - James Baldwin

you can read fat ladies floated in the sky like balloons here.

3 Comments:

At September 05, 2006, Anonymous Louis said...

Whoa. Reminds me of when I discovered Bill Hicks. I didn't realize he died just before I found his comedy recordings. I didn't think you could miss someone you never met.

I must admit I'm now looking forward to each new article - you're a good writer.

 
At September 05, 2006, Blogger Anne C. said...

I'd read her tribute site, but not her work. I'll get on that. Thanks, Krista.

 
At September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes, it’s true Homer, I do have everything a man could ever want. But I would give it all up for....just a little more." – Mr. Burns (The Simpsons)

 

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