Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Curtis Sittenfeld Book | Lefsetz Letter

“You Think It, |’ll Say It”

You want to read this.

Ever feel alone, like no one understands you, like you’re an alien and everybody else is connecting but you’re not?

I do.

And then you meet someone who gets you…

It’s always a surprise, it’s always when you’re not looking, you get into conversation and…it just flows, you’re the real you, you’re riding an endless wave like Laird Hamilton and then…

The encounter ends.

That’s when you realize how special it was, when you exit and feel numb, start to tingle. Just when you’d given up hope, the universe delivers for you.

Now what?

To tell you the truth, I’m always anxious about the subsequent encounters. To the point I avoid them. I know, I know, that’s ridiculous. But what am I gonna say? How am I gonna act? I’m gonna be self-conscious and tongue-tied and it just won’t be the same, better to wallow in my memories of the connection.

But sometimes you continue to run into the person and it’s just as good, over and over again. And you’re wondering… Is this romance?

They might wink at you. Touch your arm. You can stay up all night on the buzz, thinking of them, what could be, imagining a whole life between the two of you and…


This is not your typical romance. Wherein you get signals and ask. This is serendipitous, you’re not looking for love, and neither is the other person, but could this be the real thing?

You’re looking for signals, signs. You share something you’ve rarely had before, maybe never.

I said something once. She used to call me for hours after midnight. She’d insist we go to gigs without her husband. I kept keeping her at bay, saying she was married, she’d send me postcards from vacation, telling me she was missing L.A. Finally she got the message, she disappeared.

And then a year later, she called to tell me…

She was getting a divorce.

And in the ensuing conversation, as she was driving in the hills, as the connection was breaking up, I said… “You know I love you ____.”

I never heard from her again. I wasn’t gonna reach out to her, in our conversation she told me she needed time, I was willing to give it to her. And then I became self-conscious, and then I went with my buddy to the all night electronics store and…

There she was. In her cowboy boots.

With another guy.

She came over to talk, but unlike previously, not forever. She was both flirty and distant. I managed, spoke earnestly, albeit with a bit of attitude, poking fun, but that was the nature of the relationship.

She e-mailed me a couple of years later, I did not respond.

I Googled her, I think she’s married with a couple of kids, even though she said she wanted none, but she’s got a somewhat common name, and she’s not all over social media, assuming it’s her, but who knows.

A few years later, I met someone I’d denigrated in print.


The same thing happened, we connected, we made jokes, she invited me to events, she’d e-mail me her hopes and dreams, she’d whisper in my ear and this time…

I didn’t have the balls to confront her, to ask her, to profess my love.

And I thought of all this when I read the title story in Curtis Sittenfeld’s new book.

I loved “Prep.” I hated “Sisterland.” But reading “You Think It, |’ll Say It”…

We live in a culture where the inner voices is repressed. It’s the antithesis of hip-hop, if you’re talking about yourself, you’re a driver, you’re a winner.

And it’s hard to do inner life in filmed entertainment.

But in writing…

But today’s anointed books are all character development and little plot, like the new one by the unreadable Rachel Kushner, lauded by the cognoscenti.

And then you stumble on to something like “You Think It, |’ll Say It.”

I started reading slowly, I didn’t want it to end.

It’s short stories, so a few leave you wanting more.

Then again, you can’t wait to dive into the next one. For the peek into people’s souls.

We’re all broken, we all have hopes and dreams, we all have secrets, WHO DO WE TELL?

That’s what makes us feel so alone, the inability to share our stories, not the facts so much as the nuance, especially if you’re a guy, you can talk sports and money but emotions? No way.

There’s a morass of product and then there’s something like “You Think It, |’ll Say It.” That’s what people don’t realize in today’s world of art, that very little is truly great, that very little truly speaks to us, but if it does…

We just can’t get enough of it. We want more than the single, we want EVERYTHING!

And I will say it’s hard to cut through the clutter without marketing but…

The goal of art is to make us feel so not alone.

I haven’t felt this connected with art in years.

Read this book.


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