Six Kinds of Sentences

Two years ago, Richard Powers did a rare author appearance in New York. I got doubly lucky by attending, as Rick Moody was also in the audience, writing a review of Gain. Moody was very much the hipster: he had flopsy, bleached-blond hair, black plastic-rimmed glasses, and a loose, brightly-patterned shirt.

Well, he was at Elliott Bay today, and I didn't recognize him. His hair is close-cropped and undyed and he was turned out in a demure button-down shirt with a dark grey sweater. It's odd. It's not as though the drugs or sex have left his fiction. If anything, his metaphors are more ambitously strange, his stylistic tics more pronounced. He reads like an author who ought to have bleached-blond hair.

Have I mentioned that I expect death around every turn, that every blue sky has a safe sailing out of it, that every bus runs me over, that every low, mean syllable uttered in my direction seems to intimate the violence of murder, that every family seems like an opportunity for ruin and every marriage a ceremony into which calamity will fall and hearts will be broken and lives destroyed and people branded by the mortifications of love? Is it all right if I ask you all of this?

In this city of the Ruin, an entire manufacturing run of human beings was completed, Jorge said, and then the molds were all used two, three, maybe four times, to save money on newer molds, and if you are lucky you never meet your own double. If you're lucky.

This one's about the stuff that Lucy said. Lucy, a woman I knew once. Lucy, who took seventy hits of acid in one day and, in a way, lived to tell. She'd been living in a squat in Burlington, Vermont, when she did it. Living like a runaway. The source of the drugs is unimportant. They were available. Lucy took the poison and meandered along the streets, meandering until it kicked in, until its contingency was her contingency.