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I am uneasy, and what makes it worse, I can’t figure out exactly what I should be uneasy about. It is possible that I am simply suffering the effects of excess wine with dinner last night. It is possible that I am suffering because I followed this excess with an over-generous serving of strong, black coffee this morning. Or maybe this unease has a genuine cause, as yet unknown to me. When I tried to call the guy who is transferring his lease in Villeray to me, his number was not in service. When I tried to call the landlord, whose name I don’t actually know, I had to leave a message. So I have entertained worries that maybe I fell prey to some kind of scam. But then I can’t figure out what exactly the scam would be.
Or maybe I’m just suffering the anxiety of influence. I was reading more of Peri Rossi’s Museum of Useless Efforts this morning. Then I started doing some writing of my own. Lo and behold, it turned out in a style that seemed to be emulating Peri Rossi. Only occasionally does a prose writer impress me so much that I want to write just like him or her – and that is what has happened with this writer. But I mustn’t deviate into an attempted replica of her style. No! I’ve got my own style, don’t I?
I really value books like Rossi’s that draw me out of my comfort zone. For too long, I’ve considered authors like Saul Bellow or Phillip Roth exemplars of what modern writing should be about, but that’s narrowminded. It’s important to be dragged out of the North American tradition. Peri Rossi has almost nothing in common with any N. American authors I’m familiar with. Her landscapes, while familiar for the depiction of rocks, leaves, beaches, etc., have none of the particularity of mainstream authors. There are no place names or other identifiers. The stories thus seem universal. They are also often surreal, in that impossible things are happening. In The Rope, the narrator is someone who inexplicably lives his whole life up on a suspended rope in a room.
It’s liberating to read someone whose thought processes are so different from my own. It liberates me to think in a different way. Although I’m not happy with the story I started writing in Rossi’s shadow, I’m very excited about the plot. It strikes me as something that before this week, I would have been unable to concoct on my own. Now, thanks to Rossi, my mind has been subtly rewired. Neurons are able to fire and transmit messages in an altered way — they are capable of new things.
My story, once I get around to writing it, is going to be called, “The Temporary Closure of the Airport.”
It might have the potential to elicit in the reader a sense of unease.