I’m still processing Brett Favre’s retirement*, which if you’re from Wisconsin is a little like experiencing a death in the family — you’re sad he’s gone but you feel joy in remembering your time together, etc., etc. — so in honor of the moment a couple literary items about death, dying, and staying forever young:
• From a review of Julian Barnes’s new memoir/treatise about death, Nothing to be Frightened Of: “The youngest in his family, nothing if not competitive, Julian who longed as a child to grow old enough to crack the whip himself has finally achieved a lonely and illusory autonomy: ‘Far from having a whip to crack, I am the very tip of the whip myself … what is cracking me is a long and inevitable plait of genetic material which can’t be shrugged or fought off.'”
• Vampire books never grow old:
And Columbia University comparative literature professor Jenny Davidson, 36, who is the author of a forthcoming paranormal YA book, The Explosionist, argued that vampire books going back to Dracula, Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, often represent anxiety about modernity. “The Stoker novel really is a book about technology and modernity,” she told me. “It really is a book about telegraphs and letter-writing and wax cylinders that you might record madmen speaking onto. And that intersects with the idea that the vampire isn’t modern, the vampire is from the deep past. … The vampire seems to be a place for that intersection–very modern, but very much from the romantic past.”
* Earlier this week I was emailing with some friends from high school about the retirement. My friend K., who has two young sons, wrote, “The boys will be crushed. Sometimes when I say,’Hi Erik!’ first thing in the morning or getting in to the car with him, he’ll say, ‘I’m not Erik, I’m the children’s Brett Favre!'” For myself, I can say I know the exact moment that Brett decided to let go. It was during the playoff game against the Giants. The temperature at Lambeau was, you may remember, something like -200 degrees with wind chill, so that every time a player fell on the frozen field you thought their bones would just … shatter from the impact. Somewhere during that grueling overtime the camera panned in on Favre and I distinctly saw him think, “I am too old for this shit” And he threw an interception and went off the field.**
** Sorry to go on like this. I know this is an arts blog. But as long as we’re here celebrating Packer greatness, let’s also take a moment to remember Reggie White, who passed away a few years ago and who I don’t think gets talked about and remembered nearly as much as he should. Reggie, I remember!