Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book 18: A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving

Let's get one thing straight. My memory is about as reliable as trying to turn on a laptop with a TV remote. Not only is the central act faulty to the point of absurdity but there is a basic disconnect between the tools involved and the results achieved.

This blog might not seem like the blog of someone with a bad memory seeing as each piece usually involves revisiting important moments in my life via music or literature. But like all art this blog is a big fat fucking lie.

For example, 'A Prayer For Owen Meany' by John Irving came out in 1989. I was deep into the University of Rhode Island Theater Department by this time. I am sure that I read this book close upon the heels of its release because I'd become a die-hard Irving fan after 'The Cider House Rules' and 'The World According To Garp'.

And even though thinking about the finale of this insane tale of faith and friendship brings me to tears twenty years later, I could no more tell you where I was when I read it than I could tell you what John Irving had for breakfast this morning.

In fact, the connections that I have made between certain books and memory on this blog are in themselves fictions. I can connect emotional dots but the real nitty gritty might have seen me reading a book years after I have claimed. Good thing I have no plans to run for any office ever. Plus I inhaled.

Which could be why I can't remember Jack-Doodle if it doesn't involve a story. So instead of trying to reach into some murk which I actually have no recollection of, I will instead cherry pick from this era an act of friendship comparable to the lifelong love affair the characters in Owen Meany have.

And by love affair I of course mean any friendship, not merely the physical kind.

Joe LeDuc was one of my best friends. We played music together. We were in plays together. We raved into the night about music and plays we were in together. We raved into the night about music and plays we WEREN'T in together. Cuddles I called him because I have this thing about backwards language.


I miss Joe. I have reached out to him on a few occasions via email to email addresses I do not know are accurate. Which when I think about it amazes me even further because our friendship began in high school one neighborhood apart from one another and stretched through half a decade of college, all before the internet was a gleam in Al Gore's dick.

Joe yelled at me because I hadn't listened to The Who 'Who By Numbers' album and yet claimed to not really be into The Who. He held beers and almost cried about Roy Orbison and the beauty of his voice. Joe had taste. I still consider him to be a great friend even though we haven't seen each other in probably 15 years.


When I began writing this review of 'A Prayer For Owen Meany' I was not planning on writing about Joe LeDuc. The memory of the book is not connected in any way to Joe. But thanks to this blog it now will be.

Joe was the one who told me about a friend of ours who had died that morning in a car accident. Somehow a smile came to my face the moment he said it and that smile has kind of haunted me ever since. Where did it come from? What synapse misfired to such an inappropriate degree?

Joe never said anything about it to me. We cried at her funeral and wound up out in a field drinking beers that night and recycling Spoon River Anthology monologues in an impromptu acting seminar just for ourselves.

I wish I could ask him if he remembered that smile. What he thought of it. Did he notice it at all? If he did, why didn't he say, "Hey, what the fuck are you smiling about? She's dead." And then I could say something like, "I don't know...I guess I'm freaked out."

Maybe he'd have understood. He probably would have, he was that kind of guy. He probably did.

So while I don't remember shit about shit, I'll never forget Joe LeDuc even though he seems to have disappeared from my life. And yeah, I'm writing this in hopes that he'll email me. There might be some band he knows about that I would like.


Anonymous said...

I love that 'I don't remember shit about shit' line. I am similarly afflicted and would worry about OldTimersDisease escept I have been this way for my entire adult life.
elizabeth westcott

Anonymous said...