But me, I know a different Sarah, one I remember with great fondness and, perhaps, even a nostalgic tear. Yes, yes, indeed, I know a Sarah hidden from the public, a passionate Sarah -- Sarah on an afternoon long ago, when son Gabriel was just a tyke, asleep in his room, and Sarah and I -- modesty commands I say only that we "churned up the water" in the children's wading pool in her backyard.
Unfortunately, that backyard is located halfway up a limestone bluff in the hills northwest of Austin -- they don't call Sarah's street Wheezing Mountain Climb for nothing -- and well, husband George, sadly familiar with Sarah's athletically amorous antics, had, quite deliberately, failed to anchor the pool in any real fashion that morning before he left for work in the Texas State Department of Measuring Something Vague. So our passionate sloshing around (we were younger and more vigorous then) caused it and its heated-up contents to slide over a 40-foot drop. The sudden downpour, the floating rubber toys flying about, the Official Mighty Morphin Power Ranger Wading Pool bouncing down the hillside like a loose hubcap along a freeway and our wet, pink skins stroboscopically flashing through the branches and leaves startled a number of coyotes, deer and grackles, not to mention two members of a lawn maintenance crew and Sarah's exuberantly incontinent Yorkie, Tinkle.
Many years -- too many years -- later,
when Sarah had become a much-published, much-honored novelist and I was the long-suffering book drudge for The Dallas Morning News, struggling to get the paper to give serious treatment to historical monographs on the stunting influence of Icky Twerp on the intellectual growth of Dallas-Fort Worth children, the two of us looked back on that felix culpa, that happy fall, those bruises and scrapes and the emergency operation on my compound leg fracture aggravated by gangrenous coyote bites -- and we chuckled affectionately.
It was a phone call I remember with tenderness. Sarah was on another one of her glamorous author tours, jetting through Dallas-Fort Worth after signing books in London, Bombay and Hollywood and had bothered to call me up in my shabby, dusty, book-crowded cubicle with the battered old Underwood that always needed a new typewriter ribbon..
Was it, I couldn't dare to hope, was it to see if we might perhaps ... share a little toy-boat-bobbing water again?
No, actually, Sarah just wanted me to give her novel a shameless plug and her bookstore appearance a glowing advance, the better to generate public interest and peddle a few more copies. I gulped. Haltingly, I explained that as a miserable book critic, my professional ethics dictated that I could never review the book of a friend -- let alone a companion in near-death wading-pool-hillside tumbles.
There was a silence on Sarah's end.
"You mean," she squawked, "I've endured you for 20 years solely in the hope of some publicity payoff, some feeble shred of newsprint attention, and this is what I get? It was hard enough putting up with your wandering stories about newspaper management, your pathetic jokes about other authors that everyone's already heard, and your scrounging for tortilla chip crumbs at my house parties, but now -- to learn it was all for nothing?"
She groaned and the line went dead.
So now, the lovely, amusing, talented, glossy-magazine-published Sarah is coming through town once again, supporting another highly-praised comic confection, and I know I will be there when she walks out to the lights of news cameras and flashbulbs popping, strides past the long line waiting along the velvet rope, heads to her author's table with its stacks of books to be signed and the swarm of eagerly helpful publicity assistants standing by. I will know that for our love-that-dare-not-wiggle-too-much-in-wading-pools I have done my tiny part to memorialize it, to honor it.
By making sure every link in this blog post is inaccurate. Except for one.
Critical Mass (National Book Critics Circle blog)
Again With the Comics
Brit Lit Blogs
Buzz, Balls & Hype
The Elegant Variation
Grumpy Old Bookman
The High Hat
The Litblog Co-op
The Literary Saloon
The Phil Nugent Experience
The Quarterly Conversation
Quick Study (Scott McLemee)
Boston Globe Books
Chicago Tribune Books
The Chronicle Review
The Dallas Morning News
The Literary Review/UK
London Review of Books
Times Literary Supplement
San Francisco Chronicle Books
Voice Literary Supplement
Washington Post Book World
AJ BlogsAJBlogCentral | rss
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
David Jays on theatre and dance
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
John Rockwell on the arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog