Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Bats Have It Made
About the epigraph for SHUT UP, UGLY: after my terse announcement, I know a lot of people are very concerned about where it stands! Probably! What's a book without an epigraph? A piece of trash, that's what it is! John Berryman is being replaced by Jon Host. This is the second time that I have started out with a Berryman epigraph and switched to something else later. Sorry, John Berryman! My novel AWESOME (due out mere months from now) ALSO once began with a Berryman epigraph which made very little sense for it on the first draft and none at all by the seventh. It was, "I am the little man who smokes and smokes./ I am the girl who does know better but./ I am the king of the pool./ I am so wise I had my mouth sewn shut." Wow! When you read the book now, you will think, "Man! The first draft must have been a lot better than this to have an epigraph like that!" After Berryman, Lorrie Moore briefly took a turn ("Plots are for dead people, pore-face.") before I settled on Celine Dion. (Lorrie Moore! Whom we love for taking an epigraph from Jerry Lewis.) Well, now that I have replaced the Berryman epigraph for the detective novel, I can go ahead and reveal it for your pleasure: "Bats have no bankers and they do not drink/ and cannot be arrested and pay no tax/ and, in general, bats have it made." Acknowledgment: Our "blog" corporate spy "L." first brought those lines to my attention. The poem from which they were drawn was my first exposure to Berryman, back in our college days. One more Berryman note: people in and around Oxford, Mississippi, would do well to come by Off Square Books at 5 PM local time on Friday. The poet Beth Ann Fennelly will be reading from her new book UNMENTIONABLES, a third of which (I believe) is written in her stunning approximation of/reflection upon the Berryman voice of THE DREAM SONGS.