In October of 1992, a long-haired, erstwhile rock star boarded a cruise ship and sailed towards the Virgin Islands.
That would-be guitar god was me. An unrefined and generally self-absorbed bit of stock I was.
Part of the way my epic non-refinement was presented to me was when I discovered there would be a wine and cheese tasting event on the ship. So my friend and I decided, “hey, let’s go see who shows up to something this.”
And granted. I was non-refined enough to recognize a wine snob from thirty feet away, but that did not stop me from trying all the little things they were handing out. I actually had fun, swirling my glass like the bedecked Tartuffian next to me, and acting like I knew things like “Bouquet” and “movement” and such. When in reality, I was just repeating the stuff the snobby gold-maven next to me was saying.
But they also gave you access to these crackers between their little screeds about the wine and cheese allotments, called a “Palette cleanser.” And even though I hated wine, and actually never did really ever drink it during the days I still DID drink anything, I did see the purpose; it would kill the previous taste reference, and allow me to taste the next item, free from the contamination a of the previous.
So the other day, I lent my friend Greg Flannery O’ Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard To Find. After having digested a few of those stories for a few days, he asked me the most revelatory of questions.
“When you read her stuff, do you find that when you read the next story, you are thinking about the previous story too much to concentrate on the new one?”
And BAM! It hit me: that is exactly why I can read a 300 page book about Auschwitz without a hitch, but I have to piecemeal Flannery in the most punctuated and gap-laden of fashions; her stuff is just that indelible.
I’m not sure it’s possible to figure out how she did it, either. At least I’m not snobby enough to think I can . . .
Yes, her stories do have a way of lingering around in the old cranium…