Thursday, November 07, 2013

Philip Roth's Kangaroo

Now that Megan Abbott has moved to town (temporarily) it is a pleasant thing to occasionally sneak off to the City Grocery Bar to have a drink with her and our mutual buddy Ace Atkins. Such was my plan yesterday, and so begins my thrilling tale. It was a rainy day, so I dug a sturdy jacket from the closet, one I have not worn in a year or more. Friends, there was a $20 bill in the pocket! I arrived at the town square an hour before the bar opened, so I poked around in Square Books. "Hey, why don't you have that new biography of Norman Mailer?" I asked Richard, the owner. He said he believed it was hidden away upstairs. Then he sprang up there like a gazelle and got it for me! What could I do but buy it, friends, after such a helpful display? Just holding it made me recall a book I had leafed through on the new release table recently, about Philip Roth and his writings. I thought I should buy it too. As I recalled, it had contained an amusing anecdote in which Roth and the author of the book were reading Cormac McCarthy together for some reason, and the author blanched at Mr. McCarthy's fulsome descriptions of the slaughter of both man and beast. The next time she came over to Roth's apartment, she rang the bell and he was delayed in answering the door. She heard him call to her from within, "Just a minute, I'm skinning a kangaroo." That made me laugh. I may be paraphrasing, because when I looked for the book IT WAS NO LONGER THERE. Someone else had beaten me to it, friends. But the bar was still not open, so I went up to the poetry section. (I was thinking of Herrick. I just read in this other book that he lived "with a trusty housekeeper named Prudence and a pet pig." Everything I read about him makes me like him more.) There I saw, misplaced, a book of Stella Adler's lectures on American playwrights. Curious! I had sort of wanted to read it when it came out and had never seen it in the theater section. Here it was! In the wrong section! In paperback! I bought it too. So let that be a lesson, kids. Wait until the bar is open before leaving the house or you will end up buying two books. I might have bought three had I not been spared the Roth! I met Ace and Megan at the bar. Ace saw my Stella Adler book and said, "There's a good Stella Adler story in Adrienne Barbeau's memoir." To which I responded "!" Hey wait did I never tell you about Ace and Adrienne Barbeau? Adrienne Barbeau appears in Ace's most recent novel in his "Ranger" series, THE BROKEN PLACES. Anyhow, Adrienne Barbeau read it and contacted Ace, delighted! So there was some talk of reading Adrienne Barbeau's memoir in the Doomed Book Club. Ace has already finished it. I just ordered my copy. And Megan... is GOING TO BE ON A PANEL WITH ADRIENNE BARBEAU in New Orleans next year...? And so I ended up buying three books after all. Life sure is something. And it revolves around Adrienne Barbeau.