from my bookshelf: early work by andrew martin


peter is attempting to write his first novel and passively stumbling through life with his live-in girlfriend, julia, when he encounters leslie, who he is drawn to immediately. peter’s relationship with leslie may not last forever, but it carves out much-needed space in peter’s life for him to assess where he has been and where he is going.


“And the fact is, I do tend to like people in practice, even though I’ve built an airtight case against them in principle.”

“Adults were allowed to have fleeting fits of delusion, periods in which they briefly imagined their lives different, even took a jittery step toward ruin before retreating, no?”

“What happens at the end of a story? Something changes, or it doesn’t. I like it best when things just stop.”

“We just sat there for a minute contemplating this. Then we got out and walked quickly away. No turning back. I remembered that my car was in the parking lot, and sure enough, it beeped obediently when called on. But even on my own car, I couldn’t shake the feeling of dislocation. If you could blithely get in the wrong car, do everything but drive away, what else could you do by mistake? Maybe because I spent so much time failing to write short stories, I thought a lot about the arbitrariness of personality, the shuffled randomness of character. I was a certain way because I’d learned to Sonic Youth when I was fourteen; someone else had heard the siren call of Sublime and taken off in another direction. When you analyze people at either a very wide or a very narrow angle, their actions become predictable, regularized. And maybe beauty’s in specificity, in the particularities of character, but probably we’re just flattering our curiosity, our desire for gossip without social consequences. What’s significant, forget beautiful, about a particular triumph or failure? Or: How could it possible matter which car you get into?”