Essays Don't Die
The first time I remember seriously thinking about my own death, I was twenty-six years old and working on my first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. No matter where I went, I carried the entire cast of characters with me--the heroines and heroes and supporting players, as well as the towns they lived in, their houses and cars, all the streets and all the trees and the color of the light. Every day a little bit more of their story was committed to paper, but everything that was still to come existed only in my head. Remembering things is how I work. I didn't have outlines or notes, and because of that, I was hounded by the thought of stepping off a curb at the wrong moment, or drowning in the ocean (this second scenario was more likely, as I was living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where I swam in the freezing water and was prone to cramps).
Marriage has always proven irresistible in my family. We try and fail and try again, somehow maintaining our belief in an institution that has made fools of us all. I married twice; so has my sister. Our mother married three times. None of us set out for this. We meant to stick our landing on the first try, but we stumbled. My parents divorced when I was five. My mother and stepfather Mike had their final parting when I was twenty-four. She married Darrell when I was twenty-seven, and they stayed together until he died in 2018, when I was fifty-four.
I can't wait to dive in an earlier book of essays: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (2013) was a favorite read of mine. What do you think of the intros?