25 September 2011

Goon Squad

He's standing at the railing, looking out. It's the first time I've seen him be still.
I go, Do you even remember being our age?
Lou grins at me in my chair, but it's copy of the grin he had at dinner. I am your age, he goes.
Ahem, I go. You have six kids.
So I do, he goes. He turns his back, waiting for me to disappear. I think, I didn't have sex with this man. I don't even know him. Then he goes, I'll never get old.
You're already old, I tell him.
He swivels around and peers at me huddled in my chair. You're scary, he goes. You know that?
It's the freckles, I go.
It's not the freckles. It's you. He keeps looking at me, and then something shifts in his face and he goes, I like it.
Do not.
I do. You're gonna keep me honest, Rhea.
I'm surprised he remembers my name. I go, It's too late for that, Lou.
Now he laughs, really laughs, and I understand that we're friends, Lou and I. Even if I hate him, which I do. I get out of my chair and come to the railing, where he is.
People will try to change you, Rhea, Lou goes. Don't let 'em.
But I want to change. No, he goes, serious. You're beautiful. Stay like this.
But the freckles, I go, and my throat gets that ache.
The freckles are the best part, Lou says. Some guy is going to go apeshit for those freckles. He's going to kiss them one by one.
I start to cry, I don't even hide it.

From A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.

I did one last thing before deciding to stop using Facebook. I looked for Jennifer Egan's page and left a comment. "You've got a reader in Manila, Jennifer Egan!" I wrote. "Thank you kindly for writing A Visit from the Goon Squad, which is friggin' incredible and quite unlike anything I've ever read. I should buy copies for my friends, because we all seem to get caught up in the tragic romanticism of our quarter-life existential crises (growing up without knowing it, in other words). Your book reassures me—us—that we'll somehow survive."

She wrote back a few days later. (This is all public, by the way. Anyway, if a Pulitzer Prize winner sent me a message in some form or another, I'd wish not to keep it private! Pompous man that I am, I'd brag about the correspondence to anyone who'd listen.) "Migs," she said, "I love the thought that the book has meaning to you in Manila. Thank you for these fantastic words, which have made my night. I'm very happy to have you as a reader."



  1. Wonderful. I haven't read the book, but the small glimpse you've provided brought back (fond) memories of conversations I've had with women over the years. I'm now at an age where I still appreciate them, without hormonal urgency overriding my cerebral delight in their company (of course, I prefer the intelligent ones, especially if they're also articulate).

  2. Hi Victor! Yes, you must read the book; it's absolutely incredible. The passage above is one of many that made me ask, So how again did Jennifer Egan know about my life?

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Hey Migs,
    I have been following your write-ups. Wonderful.
    Do you accept proof-reading works?

    Drop me a line: g219h@hotmail.com if you are interested.