February 17, 2009 § 5 Comments
Kyle Minor discusses his Brevity 29 essay
“Suspended” is the latest installment of a failed book-length memoir that I hope will one day become a no-longer-failed book-length memoir. Two other pieces have been previously published: “You Shall Go Out with Joy and Be Led Forth with Peace,” in Random House’s Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers, and “This Is Not That,” in the online journal Waccamaw.
The still formless book is about a hard-to-articulate something at the core of my being, where worry attaches to such matters as religion, doubt, the problem of evil, a bully I knew in middle school, my abortive attempt to be a preacher (and, more generally, an evangelical Christian), the death of a friend from leukemia, an adult acquaintance with two pedophiles, a brief sojourn in the backrooms of American grassroots right-wing political power, a girl I loved who was also my best friend’s little sister, my high school principal who died of brain cancer waiting fruitlessly for his “wayward” wife to return to him, the taste and shape of the starfruit, the trace amounts of neurotoxin in the starfruit, the cutting down of a hundred Australian pines, and the story of my fifth grade teacher, a Cold War hero who escaped East Berlin by swimming a river with elderly relatives on her back so she could make her way to West Palm Beach, Florida, and ruin the lives of fifth grade boys.
The scary thing about these riches is that they tempt me. I want to gather them together into a single memoir, but already I’ve started to peel them off, fictionalize them, turn them into short stories and novellas, publish some of them that way. I worry that process will further distort my memories until I will no longer be able to write them as memories, and they will be available to me only as myth. I wrote “Suspended” out of this fear, and sent it to be published to give it permanence. After I forget, I want to be able to remember.