I admit it. The secret has been with me so long. I must finally reveal the truth. You’ve wondered what kind of person buys teenage boys beer? Look no further. I’m the guy.
Photo by Bernt Rostad.
My memoir, Relief by Execution: A Visit to Mauthausen, is now available anywhere book are sold. You can buy it directly from the publisher’s website, or you can order it from your favorite bookstore. The launch party is Saturday, October 12th at 7:00 at Volumes Bookcafe, 1474 N Milwaukee, Chicago, IL.
I hope you’ll check out and share the trailer for the book.
There is a large gap in the story I’m presenting in my latest article on The Good Men Project. It’s titled Missing the Days Before You Were Married, and recounts a conversation I had with a young man at work and the resulting mind-trip. That trip, memories and reconsiderations of the many journeys I had taken before meeting my wife, moments beside closed train stations or deep in the bowels of European ports, is much more complex than what I reveal in the short piece of about 1,300 words.
I remembered, just after finishing the piece, a drawing I once completed in one of those notebooks I always carry around. I actually tried to draw the woman I’d marry. I saw her from multiple angles all at once, definitely inspired by what had been an addiction to cubist art, and the drawing was an embarrassing mess. On another page, I tried to draw her profile and then a representation of frontality, straight on 90 degrees. It was much like composing a poem in high school. You are satisfied with it for a moment, but then embarrassed when you find it later—that embarrassment rises to the pitch of a steam whistle when you remember it as an adult. It is worse than this if you showed that poem to the girl you were imagining. If she’s the only one who has the sole copy of the poem and can use it to blackmail you at any hour, you are constricteed to the space of an atom of lead.
However, I remembered that drawing when, rising from an underpass in Linz, Austria, I approached the tram station where Maria, my wife, was waiting for me, one moment without much emotion, but then beaming so soon as she saw me emerge from the dark tunnel. I realized, when she turned her head, that that old drawing had been a premonition of sorts, or an accurate display of what attracted me, at least in terms of looks. I later went to look for it but found that it had been in one of the notebooks I had left in the States. I never did find it, so I could not test the memory. Had it been tainted by the image of my wife at the station?
There were so many of these private moments in between. I continue to have them, shocking discoveries of what brews in my consciousness, that cocktail of memory and emotion and imagination and reason that, mixed by forces greater than me, equal this construct of “me”.
This essay, published today, is a mere fraction of the experience. But I hope you enjoy it.