There’s another passage from The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing that always sticks in my mind and has been in my thoughts lately. It comes right at the end of the book, on the very last page.
He hands me my wine. And I tell him that his cartoons are beautiful and funny and true.
I ask him what else the review of his dreams says about him. He likes this question. He thinks. Then he says, “Robert Wexler is a goofball in search of truth.”
I think, I’m a truthball in search of goof, and I realize that I can say whatever I want now. And I do.
Why do these lines stick in my head so. A goofball in search of truth. A truthball in search of goof. I am still not sure which one of these I am, and it is a question I have pondered often.
Which are you?
Hearing of the death of Elizabeth Edwards yesterday reminded me of my favourite story from Melissa Banks’ first collection, The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, about the continuing adventures of Jane Rosenal. Melissa Banks is a much underappreciated and underestimated writer by the way (and yes, I know she is very popular, but she deserves much more attention than she already receives), in that way women who write about love are never taken seriously as authors.
Anyway, my favourite story is the second last one in the book, “You Could be Anyone.” It marks a shift in tone from the rest of collection, both because it is written in the second person, and because it tells the story of how Jane discovers she has breast cancer while she is dating not the right man. The relationship ends, and radiation treatments begin. Jane sees a therapist.
It was easier when the menace came from the outside, you tell a therapist; she nods, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Thursday after Thursday, you tell her about your relationship with him. You talk and talk, waiting for the cure. After a while, though, it occurs to you that even a perfect understanding of failed love is the booby prize.