A champ, a chump, and a chippie
What I am reading: The Yellow Birds
by Kevin Powers
I have to admit a desperate fight against the green-eyed monster when I
attended the Lighthouse Writer's Studio with Junot Diaz. What writer
doesn't dream of filling an auditorium with an audience who have paid
money to see him? As people crowded into the theater, I waited, stewing
in jealously, to find out just how good
Diaz could be. His short fiction has been published in The New Yorker, African Voices, O. Henry Prize Stories
, etc., etc., etc., His The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He teaches creative writing at
M.I.T. (really? I thought the school was nothing but techie geeks.)
Besides a boatload of the expected awards (Guggenheim, PEN/Malamud,
etc., etc., etc.,) Diaz recently won a MacArthur Fellowship--the
"Genius" award. I wanted to hate him!
After a gracious introduction by Lighthouse directors Michael Henry and
Andrea Dupree, a subdued Diaz took the stage. He didn't
bring anything to read from and asked the audience for a copy of his
most recent book, This Is How You Lose Her
. (I was one of the few among the hundreds without any of his books.)
Let's get past the foreplay.
Diaz was amazing. His reading was a model performance. It wasn't simply a
reading but a theatrical presentation--plenty of eye contact with the
audience, dramatic inflections, gestures with his book--nothing hammy,
just a guy excited to tell you a story. What every author should do but
we're too dense to learn how. His story knocked me flat with its voice,
suspense, and humor. The man is a master of narrative immersion and plot
twists. Afterwards, he dazzled us during the Q&A. At the end, I was
no longer envious but inspired and humbled by his charm, smarts, and
And now...for the 2012 Lisa Nowak award: Paula Broadwell.
You've no doubt heard plenty about the resignation by Gen. Petraeus for
reasons of adultery. This torrid affair shoved the Biting-Edge Irony
index into the red
. And we writers love irony.
Broadwell's adoration of Petraeus is what wrecked his career. His number one fan became his femme fatale.
Although we don't have mug shots of a disheveled and
disgraced Broadwell (as with former astronaut Nowak), the otherwise
perfect Broadwell morphing into psycho-bitch when she threatened another
woman is what eventually brought the FBI into the picture.
Thanks to news leaks, we have the image of Broadwell
and Petraeus' scholarly chats devolving into porn scenes with sex under
the desk. Brown Chicken Brown Cow.
Until now, the two of them could've been the gooder-than-good heroes in a Vince Flynn novel.
I'm sure that as we learn more, the ironies will continue to pile up like discarded undergarments.
But don't cry too hard for Ms. Broadwell. Like they say, there is no
such thing as bad publicity, and Broadwell's adulatory bio of her
four-star booty call, All In
, is tearing it up on Amazon. But some snarky reviewers have dismissed the book as "A Valentine" and "Pillow Talk." Ouch!
Labels: Broadwell, grinding glands, Junot Diaz, Lighthouse Writers, Petraeus