Some Novels I Might Have Sadly Missed

In a box of books my sister shipped to me years ago, I found a copy of Arthur Nersesian’s The Fuck-Up. In those pre-internet days, I didn’t realize this little gritty novel had garnered its own classic cult following. When I recommended the book to someone else who was reading Crime and Punishment, he laughed and said that would have been a good title for Dostoyevsky’s book, too.

From the fifty-cent bin in a library book sale, I pick up Joshua Mohr’s Some Things That Meant The World To Me. My 19-year-old lifts the book from the kitchen tale and mentions the cover is from “Wheel of Fortune,” which makes me ask how she’s so intimate with that game show.

My daughter reminds me she works in a nursing home.

She asks about the ink splatters on the cover below the “Wheel of Fortune” lettering — the half of the cover that made sense to me. Rorschach test I tell her, and offer a brief explanation.

I’d probably fail that test, she says, not perturbed in the least.

She bundles up, heading out for a ski. 11 below zero.

We’re all writing about the same things, we’re all trying to evoke emotion. How are you going to find a new image, a new way to say it that your audience hasn’t experienced before? If a character comes in and just blurts out, “I’m sad,” it’s a pretty bad way for a story to start. But, if I describe a woman in Dolores Park at three-o-clock in the morning, drinking tequila out of the bottle while sitting there hunched up, and suddenly the sprinklers come on. She doesn’t even move. She just continues to drink tequila. The reader comes out of that scene understanding she’s sad by putting the pieces together.

Joshua Mohr

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Photo by Molly S.

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