Forthcoming from Future Tense: Legs Get Led Astray by Chloe Caldwell
Legs Get Led Astray is a full-length collection of creative non-fiction. The connective threads throughout the book are love, relationships, obsession. The title alludes to getting lost looking for something that doesn’t exist: the perfect place to live, the perfect desk to write at, the perfect person to love, the perfect person to sleep with. There is no perfect anything and this compilation is about Caldwell coming to these realizations.
Pre-orders start at the end of the year but it is never too early to get excited about an interesting young writer. A couple excerpts from the book are below and you might also enjoy Chloe’s essay, at The Rumpus, a really moving piece about where she writes.
Excerpt: He Doesn’t Know Your Birthday
Cape Cod. January. You didn’t know they made beds this big. You’re wearing plaid boxers and a t-shirt that says “African Beer” and he’s wearing package-enhancing boxers. Last night when you were fucking he said he felt like Jesus with a halo around his head and you said you couldn’t feel your feet. The second night of course, goes to shit. You talk about how the relationship is toxic. He cries in an honest way you’ve never seen. You’re scared. He is eager to show you the documentary “Cruise” by Timothy “Speed” Levitch. You fall asleep. In the morning he makes you French toast.
He meets you at a bar on Second Avenue. It’s late March and air makes you horny and brave. You fuck in the bathroom. You sit on him while he sits on the toilet and you pull your black tights down and he says he never saw anyone pull their tights down so fast and you come in one minute. He knows your vagina like the back of his hand but sometimes you wonder if he even knows your birthday.
In April you wear an Indian headdress and happily let cocaine run through your veins. You tell the woman you are buying cocaine from that you are on your way to your first orgy. She lends you a red dress. You walk to Lucy’s Bar on Avenue A and pound two whiskey sodas. You walk up the stairs to his apartment. He does some coke and declares himself the goat prince while he prances around in your headdress and his neon pink American Apparel briefs. You give his brother a blowjob and have sex with his best friend because it turns you both on. You fall asleep when the sun comes up with his hand coiled tight around your neck.
Excerpt: He Doesn’t Know Your Birthday
You are stoned and you are thinking about how you have had four lovers that changed you while living in New York. You met three of them in Brooklyn. You met him in Manhattan. You think this has something to do with everything because you are stoned. The radiator bangs and bings dominating the apartment. It sounds like deer humping, he says, and in your mind, you marvel at his. Only he would come up with something so brilliant. But at this point you know that that is something everyone thinks about the person they love.
You are both very high. It’s eleven a.m. You are both manic by nature. He starts to cry. You start to cry. You panic. You’ve read and re-read The Highly-Sensitive Person In Love. They don’t prepare you for these kinds of mornings that begin with oat bagels and morph into high riding anxiety and tears streaming from four eyes. You decide that when two highly sensitive people in love fuck for three years—a random Thursday comes and they crash. Author Stephen Elliott said something about two people he knew once that weren’t capable of love. They were capable of passion. As Carrie from Sex And The City would say, “I couldn’t help but wonder…”
Today is Thursday and he came into town on Monday. You’ve been drinking Wild Turkey Whiskey since then. You didn’t know Wild Turkey was 101 proof. You feel tricked. Hunter S. Thompson loved Wild Turkey, so did Stephen King, he tells you. Well we are not them, you think. We are us.
He is still crying.
“Man. What’s it like hanging out with rain man?” he asks you. He is speaking slowly. He draws out both “mans.” He is not making a joke. He really wants to know.