January 20, 2010


Ooof, ooof, ooof. The last 24 hours were hijacked: a flight to book, a photoshoot to schedule, a poetry reading to reschedule, an new editor to chat with, a crisis to untangle...all accompanied by the endless pitter-patter of emails at my door. I managed to finish Stephen Elliott's The Adderall Diaries, and give a reading to my fellow fellows with the lovely Mary Buford Hitz, and--that's it. Lost time. 

This reminds me a little bit of my first two days at Jentel, which were spent sorting out my health insurance and some other pressing matters. Each time I needed to make a phone call, I had to hike the half-mile to the hilltop where reception could be found; each time the person on the other end of the line asked for me to reference an email, I had to hike back down to where my laptop could get internet. Life happens. 

Tomorrow (Thursday, January 21) I'll make my way to Richmond to read two sets of poems (at 6:30 & 7 PM) as part of the "Art After Hours" program at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Do come if you're nearby--there looks to be quite a bit going on, including live blues from Mo DeBree, who covers everything from Etta James to Susan Tedeschi. After that I will return to VCCA to burrow, then workworkwork. 

To return to my lone victory, which was getting a little reading done.... The Adderall Diaries was an interesting book.***  I went into it worried that the mixing of memoir material and true crime would seem self-indulgent. Part of Elliott's (pre)occupation throughout is the trial he is supposedly covering for his next book (i.e., this book), in which a computer-engineer ex-husband has been accused of the brutal murder of his onetime Russian mail-order bride. Complicating that trial is the pseudo-confession of the woman's first post-divorce boyfriend (also the husband's best friend) that he has killed no less than "eight and a half" people. But he's sketchy on names. Does his victim list include the Russian mother-of-two, who had since left this guy for another boyfriend entirely? Complicating that is the fact that this confessor has more than a few friends and girlfriends in common with...Elliott, since they are all part of the same California BDSM culture. 

Got that straight? Yeah, me neither--but it makes sense when you read it. The book is truly a victory of voice. Elliott's writing is so disarmingly frank and observant that you find yourself nodding along as if you, too, have had the ennui of watching one girlfriend finger-trace insults pinpricked into your upper thigh by another girlfriend. He doesn't sensationalize, even when he's addressing some pretty murky and/or salacious scenes. He finds enough lyric parallels between the many stories (the couple, the confessing friend, his father's, his own) that the story has a woof and weave, but he doesn't try to tie up all the loose ends into a pretty bow at the end. I like this book. I respect it. 

***(Also, I should mention that the book as an object is perfectly in synch with the book's thematic focus. The binding feels like a strip of electrical tape you'd apply to a composition book, right as it starts to lose its pages--the well-worn notebook you're using as a journal. The font is easy enough on the eyes, not froufrou. The cover image of two figures in the woods--their flashlight arcs combining to evoke a heart--doesn't seem all that relevant at first, but you will have an aha! moment.)


Aashni said...


I've just opened a new site: http://www.a-poem-a-day.co.nr where the idea is that I write a new poem everyday, for as long as possible! I was hoping to get feedback, and possibly suggestions on what I can do to improve my poetry, and would really appreciate your help!
And even if you don't want to comment, I'd love for you to read my poetry!


P.S. Wow, you have a very busy life! Hehe.

Jessie Carty said...

whew! busy day!
i've been hearing a lot about this book recently. might have to add it to my ever growing list of things i wish to buy!

hope your reading went well :)