...and I wrote a memoir.
A blog is a blog is a blog.
This is my first blogging gig, my "web diary." And everyone knows "diarists" are just self-aggrandizing liars, so most of this stuff is just made up. It's like fiction disguised as nonfiction, disguised as 5% true, so don't get all fact-checky. That said, here are some Suggestions for Reading and Enjoying My Posts:
- I will steal shamelessly: ideas, words, loose change.
- I will try to be satirical and not sarcastic because Maureen Dowd said satire will get me dates and sarcasm will get me nothing but an obligatory laugh.
- I apologize in advance for offending your religious beliefs/sexual orientation/sense of style.
- I will write these posts in my pajamas (the per-word rate doesn't warrant getting out of bed).
- I will not use a four-syllable word when a perfectly good curse word will do.
- I will end each post with gratuitous quotes from my book.
- The opinions and ideas stated in this blog are those of the author and in no way reflect the views of Powells.com. What's the fun of blogging if you can't say the most hilariously dreadful things you wouldn't be caught dead repeating in real life?
- I am not done talking about this because it's simply too much fun.
The stairway to heaven is littered with promises to not add to the Frey fray. But I'm not making any such proclamation myself. Of course, all the important things to be said have been said. (See Tom Scocca and writer-poet Mary Karr — that her award-winning memoir is called The Liar's Club, is just, well, poetic.)
Which leaves the funny things for me.
It's hard enough to make life interesting enough to carry a whole book, let alone without making it up, but this was my first time. I was new. I was naive. Oh, curse what I only know now! But there's still my trade paperback. Dear Darling Editor, my changes:
- Your prissy insistence on facts robbed me of a stint in Angola for manslaughter, so that's back in. (I was there, working on a death penalty story, but close enough. I met a guy who killed someone!)
- And on page 82, I'll swap Grandma Millie's pot plants for a meth lab and pit bull. The pit bull will rip apart Uncle Joey while I watch and Cry in muted horror.
- That day I skipped school and called in disguised as my mom? You bet that's going in, along with our bloody fight on the soccer field. Me puking and bleeding, and mom, Crying. Crying. Then mom and me, Hugging. Hugging.
- Oh, and on page 90 where my brother jumps in the creek to save the drowning kid, in the interest of "obvious dramatic reasons" I'll jump in while my brother continues his softball game.
And then I've got the perfect idea for my second book — a memoir. About a Russian Brazilian bikini waxer I meet in jail after assault charges for the hit and run. (Fine, I didn't actually hit a person, it was a tree. Okay, a bush.) And how she protects me from throw downs every week and gives me free brazilians when we get out. I'm calling it Tuesdays (in Stirrups) With Olga.
Two things happened last September — one anticipated by millions of submissive book buyers, and one anticipated by me.
The first? Oprah Winfrey promised to endorse live writers again, after a three-year commitment to the dead ones. The second? Oprah invited me to be on her show! One morning, producers at Harpo called. "We loved your book," they said. "Oprah couldn't put it down," they said. "She thought it was beautiful, well-written, gracefully done," they said. Oh my God, my little inner voice squeaked. Oh my God, oh my God!
She's asking me, me, me and my book to be on her show! Suddenly my agent was returning my calls! My publisher was picking up the lunch tab!....
I obsessed for 10 days on my outfit. I obsessed for 10 days on what I'd say. I borrowed sparkly earrings. I thought up smart things. I had imaginary conversations with Oprah in my apartment. "Well, in the end, it's just old-fashioned hard work," I said. "What writers inspire you?" Imaginary Oprah asked, and "Tell us about the themes and the metaphors you weave into the delicate tapestry that is your work." We laughed and hugged. Oh, the world was fine.
And then on September 22nd, I was hustled through Harpo security into a cozy room with mangoes and green tea. They brushed my hair, they puffed my lips, they lifted my cheekbones, somehow, half an inch, and then threw me out. Onto the brand new set, the brand new couch, the Wizard of Oprah perched at one end. Then click, we're on.
"Blah, blah, blah John?" she asked me. "Blah, blah, John, blah," she said. "John, John, marriage, Kennedy, John," she exclaimed very seriously. "My memoir is about me, I thought to myself, and my Grandma Millie and my mother and my husband and Gigi my dog! It's about my career and traipsing in Cambodian jungles" "Blah, blah, blah, John, John, Kennedy, John," she replied.
During the commercial break, Oprah said, "Your legs are very shiny." "Thank you," I replied. Shiny? Shiny? What the hell does that mean? Does Oprah like shiny legs? Do shiny legs sell books? I couldn't think of another damn thing the whole interview. All that time I wasted self-obsessing when I should have been fabricating! "Well, your people put lotion on them," I mumbled limply.
Three days later the show aired, my story met up with (fleeting) infamy. Because Oprah picked my show to be the one she'd plug another writer. My show was the one she picked to breathlessly plug another book.
You see, I had the unique opportunity of being the author invited by Oprah to talk about my book, on the exact same show that she announced James Frey.
Me and my new book and my shiny legs were all whisked off the set.
Dammit! I thought, a million little ringing sounds in my ears. I could barely remember what I'd even written over the roar. I stumbled into the harsh glare of early light...what the hell just happened in there? I ran to check my Amazon rank.
Sorry, but it's just too easy. :-)
Tomorrow: My Wikipedia Entry Sucks
"I was reading love stories, the classics one after another. You could lose yourself in someone else's heartbreak while you held your breath for your own."
— Carole Radziwill, What Remains
Books mentioned in this post
Carole Radziwill is the author of What Remains: A Memoir of Fate Friendship