Joys & concerns

This has been a kind of rough week. There have been highs and lows, with politics and Halloween, and that’s fine. We didn’t get that many trick-or-treaters, but that just means we have more candy, and we did get a few, on whom I thrust handfuls of candy while their mothers said, fretfully, “No, wait, just take one.” There was this amazing list of Halloween costumes thought up by a neural network, and as a result of that Dave and I carved Saxy Pumpkins, which I am pretty proud of, though maybe next year I’ll also get it together to dress up as a Punk Tree and live my best life.

A few days ago, I remember thinking, “the veil between the living and the dead seems particularly thin this year,” and then thinking, “you are being ridiculous, Adrienne.” But what can I say. My ear is still infected, and it’s spitting out globs of truly remarkable putrescence, and I feel a little woozy and bad. (I have a doctor appointment! Don’t worry!) I have also been reading a lot of ghost stories. There are reasons to think this way.

Then, a couple of days later, I found out that a very talented writer from my MFA program passed away. Her name was Naira Kuzmich. I am stunned, to be honest. I haven’t lost very many people in my life, and certainly not many who are younger than me or around my age: I understand this is a luxury. When my father-in-law Doug died, it was terrible, and wrenchingly sad (it is still those things), but at least we knew that it was coming, and had been with him in the months leading up. With Naira, I hadn’t seen her for year, and she existed in my mind mostly as a projection of what I assumed her goals to be, which is to say, books. I was expecting to see a book come out in her name any day now. I assumed she was out there, writing. (Which indeed she was. She won an O. Henry Prize the year before I did, and was widely published.) I had no sense of her body as fallible, since her personality, as I knew it was so powerful and undaunted. I had no doubt she would do everything she wanted to do.

So that has been terrible. I have been very sad, and have felt very strange. And that is where I would have left things today, but I also found out this very morning that my dear friend Alice Hatcher just won the Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction, and she deserves every ounce of celebration related to that enormous victory.

I am so, so happy for Alice, and excited for the world to read her book, The Wonder That Was Ours. The judges describe the novel as “jaunty and horrifying,” which may be my new favorite pairing of descriptors.

There is so much good and so much sorrow, and they take place all at once, all the time, don’t they?