It was winter, and I took the bus home, or maybe it was the train, from Massachusetts to New York, so “home” is up for debate, and then a subway, probably, into my little apartment thing with a kitchenette and a big bathroom and no bedroom. Actually, maybe my sister drove me. It’s unimportant. I’d read Part 1 of White Noise, a copy I’d borrowed from the library over winter break. It made me feel happy, the descriptions, the opening chapter which I’d read on the internet several months earlier on a slow day at work. I already knew it was the novel I’d wanted to write the previous summer, the novel I’d abandoned at 30,000 words and character names that seemed true, but also false, and a number of edits that seemed confusing. I laid down on my bed. I think it was mid-morning, or mid-afternoon. The sun was in my window somehow, giving me natural light, but not enough to read by. I read Part 2, and it was about some sort of chemical disaster. I read it in a sitting that day, with the space heater from the bathroom on full blast. Then maybe I slept.
I’d returned from Vermont. We’d stayed at a bed and breakfast, and that week I would announce I was single and she would go to Germany, and I would be unable to read Part 3 of White Noise for several months, glancing through chapters on the subway to Bushwick, feeling drunk after zero beers. By this time, I’d returned my copy to the library and been gifted one from a friend who’d found the author underwhelming. I wondered if I should feel the same. I didn’t. I looked at the words. The sentences. The long paragraphs and the short, sparse dialogue. The radio and the television saying postmodern things. Things I’d later discuss with a friend that seemed similar to Updike’s “A&P” despite his distaste for “postmodernism.”
The semester passed. I was back in the former relationship. Vermont, but actually the next time we went to New Hampshire, stayed in a tent, drank PBR and bourbon and pickle juice. It was 90 degrees and we sweated in a pancake house. This was about two weeks after I’d finished the novel, back in Massachusetts, on a rainy afternoon, within a rainy week, the week before I would start work on a farm and listen to first Blood Meridian on my iPod, and later two other McCarthy novels.