I’m standing on the corner of Jackson and St. Charles, waiting for a streetcar that’s running obnoxiously behind schedule. To pass the time, I allow my mind to float away. Like an unencumbered magpie, it lifts gently over the midair maze of streetcar cables, the bedazzling beadcovered branches, and the antebellum architecture. After a moment of aimless breezegliding, it settles in the branches of the reoccurring dream that I experienced again last night.
In this dream, my novel has been published and I’m reading at a bookstore, someplace classy like Garden District Book Shop or Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine. My dreamreading is going great; I mean, spectacular. My voice sounds strong and confident, and there’s not a hint of its normal nasally, kinda girlie quality. I’ve chosen a passage to read in which I don’t mispronounce every third word. (Lagniappes? How on earth would I ever know how to pronounce THAT?) I’ve also successfully managed to avoid the “sad flirting” that was so brutally depicted in a recent New Yorker cartoon. (December 9, Page 57: it’s worth looking up.) And most importantly, I haven’t shed a single tear. (Seriously, why am I so weepy in public?) In my dreamconsciousness, I’m looking forward to ending the event with a puff, vaporizing like a cloud of smoke, and rematerializing at a nearby bar that serves affordable absinthe or Irish coffee.
But outside the bookstore, Marina Abramović and Paul Auster are plotting my murder. Abramović is wielding the same gigantic bow and arrow that she used in her 1980 performance Rest Energy; while Auster is carrying the same revolver that Blue and Black wrestle over in Ghosts. As they argue over who gets to inflect the first deathwound, a mysterious third murderer appears. (Yes, I’m aware that this scene is “magpied” from Macbeth; and yes, I find it worrisome that even my dreams are peppered with “scissor and paste” bits.) In last night’s dream, this third murderer was Peter Sellars; other dreamtimes it’s Peter Gelb, Julie Taymor, or even my old boss from New York City.
(As a novelist, I sketch from life. My novel is overstuffed with references to real people, places, and events, including Abramović’s 2010 mid-career retrospective at MoMA and Auster’s outrageous author photographs.)
Oblivious to the murderous plotting that’s taking place nearby, I conclude the Q & A session and ease into my seat at the booksigning table. After quickly realigning my spine and taking a deep breathe, I begin fielding the normal inquires.
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