Lesley Residency 4.2

Driving home on Friday, the second day of the Lesley residency, one sentence uttered as part of the audiobook I’ve been listening to was able to make me laugh heartily and forget the troubles of the day. This sentence, from the fifth or sixth chapter of Straight Man by Richard Russo was, “Always understate necrophilia.” Before I give any explanation as to the context of that line, just roll it around on your tongue for a second. Say it aloud. Say it aloud and tell me that it doesn’t make you laugh.

It made me laugh and I thought I would have an awful hard time doing that when thinking about the shit that went down on Friday. Basically, in the story, the main character is a fiction professor and he’s going over the student story they’ll be covering that day. The story is about a murderer’s ghost who comes back to haunt the descendants of the people who got him arrested, or something, every twenty years. During his most recent visit, he kills and then rapes the dead body of a young girl. In the margins, or on a post-it, he asks the professor if he’s gone too far with the rape scene and the professor answers in the margins with that line.

Instead of continuing to think about how my car couldn’t get up to 50 mph on the highway on Friday morning, or thinking about how I was late for the second event in a row, or about how much work I have to do in the next two months to complete my thesis, or any of the other innumerable things that went wrong today, I just thought about the moment, and I laughed.

When I got home, Stef had the great news that my car seemed to be running fine again. It had seemed to me to have worked out it’s shaking problem on the way back to my house. I had barely gotten underway on my journey when it started and I came back here to take Stef’s car instead. So, my car should be fine for Saturday morning. I hope.

But, whatever the case, I find myself in a substantially lighter mood because of the power of literature and a good line. I only hope that one day, hopefully some day soon, my writing might have the same effect on someone in the same position I’ve been in.