Your Name Here

Editor’s Note:

Eight years ago, the reclusive novelist Helen DeWitt published The Last Samurai. This told the story of a cash-poor young linguist and the education of her intellectually curious young son. The critic Sven Birkerts recently called it, in New York magazine, the most underrated book of the last decade. Still, the book is hardly unappreciated: The Last Samurai was widely praised, translated into other languages, celebrated as a “cult” book, and reached a large audience.

Many readers’ reaction to The Last Samurai focused on the bond between mother and son and the peculiarity of the son’s gifts. These things reflected only part of DeWitt’s purpose and her range. What was more rarely said was that The Last Samurai was also an angry book, about the curse of living with too much curiosity and intelligence in too pinched, prosaic, and conventional a world.

At age 47, DeWitt’s success and frustrations led her to leave the United States again and take up residence in Berlin. She has since written a new novel, Your Name Here, in collaboration with the Australian journalist Ilya Gridneff. It continues the preoccupations of The Last Samurai, and it is an important and complicated work of art which unjustly has not yet been able to find a publisher in the United States or England.

Your Name Here begins with a reclusive novelist, Helen DeWitt, alone in Berlin, who starts to mix into her writing the emails of a globetrotting paparazzo, Ilya Gridneff. It is a Pygmalion story with the sexes reversed. Gridneff is the young writer who sends DeWitt reports from the front lines—of his affairs of the heart, of the media pursuit of Britney Spears, and of Iraq, where he goes to report on the war. The character Helen seems to have found a way to grasp the real world without leaving her writer’s desk: she’ll make a novel of it all, and bring both herself and Ilya back into the world of money and success.

But making a novel from real life is easier said than done, the more so when Helen’s creation turns out to include the frustrations of the collaboration itself—along with readers’ constant efforts to read the final result before we have read it, this book that DeWitt has put together. Your Name Here begins up in the air, literally: among a group of airplane travelers, readers of paperbacks from the airport newsstand—one of which happens to be Your Name Here. Another happens to be the bestselling cult classic Lotteryland, by the reclusive author Rachel Zozanian, who turns out also to be in email correspondence with a young paparazzo and world traveler, A. P. Pechorin . . . All the travelers’ books, to their great consternation, are intruded upon by the Arabic language, a reminder of the supposedly “terroristic” world out there, for which “entertainment” is supposed to be a means of denial and escape from reality. And this is only the first chapter.

n+1 is proud to publish, for the first time in print anywhere, the opening chapter of Your Name Here.

My favorite solution was to make the insta-death choice very rare (You chose door number two? You’re dead!) and focus on a wide range of variables to track choices with the main story. Players don’t have cut-and-dried choices that point in obvious directions, but more subtle choices that could each turn out well. Each choice has real consequences and real rewards far beyond issues of death and survival. They take the player along differing paths through the main story and result in a range of consequences and endings, depending on the preponderance of choices made throughout the game. This lets the player feel more in charge of his destiny.

Daniel Greenberg (Marc Saltzman in Game Creation and Careers)

Boogie Mornings

You’re going to Paris. It’s an 8-hour flight from New York. You want something to read on the plane. You’ve been meaning to read Robert Fisk’s Pity the Nation, but you’re not sure you’ll be able to concentrate. The last four days have been wrecked.

The name on the ticket is Antonios Demetriakis. It matches the name on the passport. The picture in the passport doesn’t match what you saw in the mirror. The feeling that aliens from Planet Zworg have performed plastic surgery while you slept is not unfamiliar.

The plan suggested by the documentation leads inexorably doomwards, to passport officials, security guards, petty teetotalitarian apparatchiks unlikely to be open to the Zworg hypothesis. Failure to follow the plan may prompt swift reprisals from Zworg. You want something to read on the plane, but this is no time for Pity the Nation.

The book is on a table in [Barnes & Noble/Borders/Waldenstone’s/Dalton’s/Other, delete as appropriate], part of a 3-for-2 offer. You’ve also been meaning to read Seymour Hersh’s Chain of Command, and this too is in the 3-for-2 deal. They’ve got Gravity’s Rainbow by the notorious recluse Thomas Pynchon. Mao II by DeLillo, The Border Trilogy by McCarthy, Catcher in the Rye by Salinger, notorious recluses to a man. They’ve got The Loser, a novel about the notorious recluse Glenn Gould by the notorious misanthrope Thomas Bernhard. They’ve got Lotteryland by the reclusive misanthropic Zozanian. You feel surly and uncommunicative, you hate your fellow man, reclusiveness and misanthropy could be the hair of the dog. They’ve also got Helen DeWitt’s new book, Your Name Here.

Your friend Mike has been telling you for years to read DeWitt’s first book, The Last Samurai (which is not on the 3-for-2 table). He went to his friend Dan’s place in Seoul in 2002; the book was lying on the bed, which took up 60% of the studio apartment. (Dan is now a big pop star with a bigger apartment.) Mike didn’t much like the cover; he asked: “Is this a romance novel?” “It’s fantastic, you should definitely read it,” said Dan. The book was in surprisingly good condition. “You finished it?” “Just the first chapter. But it’s good.” Mike was bored, needed a book, smuggled it out in his bag, read it in two days, called Dan. “Yeah, what’s up?” said Dan. “Yo, Last Samurai is so good. It’s so fuckin’ good.” “Yeah, I told you it’s good. Did you take my fucking book?” Mike hung up, smoked five cigarettes, went to sleep. Told all his friends, including you, to read the book. You’d heard the book was full of Greek and Japanese, a much-needed gap in your life, and Mike said, “No, no, you have to read it, it’s fucking great, there is Greek and Japanese, but it’s motivated.” But Mike is the first-son-of-the-first-son-of-the-first-son-of-the . . . for 11 generations going back to King Sejong, inventor of the Korean alphabet. This may be the warped perception of a descendant of Korean royalty with alphabetic obsession in the DNA. Also, Mike is not unconnected with your present hatred of the world. Not unconnected with bad, baaaaaaaad nights at Kim’s Korean Karaoke. Not to be trusted.

Something’s bothering you, but you can’t put your finger on it.

You pick up Your Name Here. There’s a quote on the cover.

“I give it 8 1/2!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Janet Maslin, New York Times.

You open the book. Who are these people? What’s going on? Where is it going?

Throbbing Uncircumcised Member of Dr. Raoul Duke

I’ve been talking to my John Malkovich, who tells me he feels like Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. What’s going on? Where is this going? What do you want me to do? I have no idea what the character is supposed to be doing. People ask me what the book is about and I don’t know what to tell them. Can you just explain to me what it’s actually about?

The reason we had the meeting is that earlier in the week he had had a brilliant idea: his character could go to Cambodia and engage in sexual tourism à la Michel Houellebecq.

DeWitt: Why would you do that? If Houellebecq had your sex life he wouldn’t be going to prostitutes. His access to sex has been dramatically improved by money and a Mercedes; you’re a penniless paparazzo who has coke-fuelled sex romps with investment bankers.

“Malkovich”: Look, Helen, I don’t want to go down in history as a great fuck, I’d rather be known as a great writer. Just what is the nature of your interest in me, anyway?

What did I do to deserve this? What did I do to deserve this? And what is the character supposed to be doing? What is Your Name Here about? What’s going on? Where is it going? How should I know, I’m just a writer with a character who tells me he is not being a prima donna. If I’d made him up I could kill him off and take the plot elsewhere. For better or worse, he actually exists. What’s it all about? How did I get into this, anyway?

OK.

“John Malkovich” is Ilya Gridneff, a 26-year-old Australian journalist. I first met him in an East London pub when he was 24. I gave him my e-mail address on a receipt and went to New York to take up a fellowship at the Cullman Center. Got an e-mail a month later, anarchic, obscene, insanely funny, Hunter S Thompson meets the Byron of the Empty V generation.

I had problems of my own. Did not reply. Big mistake.

Ilya Gridneff was in London upstaging the BAs formerly known as Y, trading insults with Jake & Dinos & Damien & Tracey & other newly neurotic former Saatchelites. He was in Cairo chasing Angelina Jolie for the National Enquirer. He was in Berlin chasing Britney Spears for some other rag. He was reading Deleuze, DeLillo, Burroughs, Bukowski, Houellebecq. He used his tabloid money to go off to the Middle East, wandering around Iran in search of pharmaceuticals with a dodgy phrasebook: “Give me painkillers, the strongest you have.” Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iraq (not necessarily in that order), Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, the who what where why when remains unjournalistically unclear.

I went to Berlin, sent him an e-mail after 2 years, got more anarchic e-mails. He turned up a month later. He talked about London, drink, drugs, everything to excess, black-outs when he can’t remember what happened. “I met him at the train station. Woke up in my room next day and he wasn’t there. Something didn’t feel right.” He says he can turn any situation to his advantage with a flick of the wrist, clickclickclick. I say: “Tell me more. Tell me more. Tell me more.”

I love The Sweet Smell of Success. I love Malkovich in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. I love Kaufman’s Being John Malkovich; I love Adaptation. Brilliant idea! We could write a book about this! Write a book about writing a book about this! Bad idea.

I say: Look, Ilya, everything’s going to be all right. How’s the Arabic coming along?

He takes out a softened, stained, much-folded piece of paper. Down the centre of the page are two columns of typing

???????? Angelina

???????? Angelina

???????? Angelina

???????? Angelina

???????? Angelina

???????? Angelina

???????? Angelina

???????? Angelina

Beneath the typing, in the margins and on the back, are a handwritten scrawl:

This is not the time to quibble about missing dots. I say: This is great! This is great! Look, Ilya, what this shows is that Arabic is something everyone can enjoy, it’s not just for specialists, it’s something that can appeal to a character they can identify with [i.e. a manipulative, calculating, promiscuous drink and drug fiend, an engaging potential serial killer]. Look, Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings to provide a background for languages he invented, and by 2003 the books had sold 100 million copies. 100 million copies, Ilya! 100 million copies! What would the world be like if someone had done that for the languages of the Middle East?

He says: Yeah. Yeah. So the point of the book is to get the message across, without actually coming out and saying in so many words, You stupid fucking morons, you’re learning fucking elf languages!

I say: Exactly. Exactly. It’s about building bridges. Look, don’t worry, Ilya, everything is going to be all right. Everyone will know you’re a great writer. David read the draft with your e-mails and he talked about your Joycean gift for language. The e-mails are there, everyone will say you’re the best thing in the book. So look, I think this has been a productive meeting, thanks for your constructive comments. I think the plot and characters will be clear in the next draft. Everything is under control. Leave everything to me.

Later in the day I get an e-mail in which he says “about being a great fuck, no such thing as bad publicity, go ahead, send it out and let’s make a million!”

I then get an e-mail from my ex-husband David, who says

It seems to me that there are works which are more destabilising than that, and where it is often hard to see the status of the distortions and the relationship between different bits – I’m thinking of things like Bertolucci’s The Spider’s Stratagem, where it is frequently hard to see whether a particular scene is supposed to be in the present or the past. And I think works like that can be brilliant, as indeed the Bertolucci is; I suppose I felt that the occasional difficulties in Your Name Here were because you were aiming at something similar.

This is, on the one hand, good (comparison with brilliant Bertolucci) and, on the other hand, bad (I have just calmed my star by talk of Tolkien’s 100 million copies sold). A comment which could cause untold damage if it fell in the wrong hands (those of Miss Bergman). One to be shared on a need-to-know basis (what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him).

The sexual-tourism-in-Cambodia idea has undermined my faith in the project, but the difference between a professional and an amateur is that a professional pushes on in the face of discouragement.

Sometimes a plot and characters sort themselves out if you think about something completely different. I go to the jazz café on the corner for a beer and start reading the correspondence of Hunter Thompson. I think Thompson is grossly underrated and Wolfe grossly overrated, so it’s good to see Thompson calling Wolfe a worthless cocksucker for touring Europe in a white suit promoting The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. (Herr Gridneff was always on the Thompson side of the fence.) Three beers into the afternoon I find a letter to Thompson’s agent, Lynn Nesbit, written while he was finishing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson did not want the book to be sucked into his existing two-book deal with his publishers; he wanted Nesbit to submit his novel, The Rum Diary, to satisfy the contract, or rather suggested rewriting The Rum Diary as the Final Pornographic Novel:

I kicked the fucking door off its hinges. The girl backed into a corner, trying to cover herself with a curtain. I could see she was going to scream so I bashed her against the stove. She fell. I sat on her naked chest and pulled her front teeth with my Chinese bolt-cutting pliers. Then I grabbed her by the hair and forced my throbbing, uncircumcised member into her mouth . . . etc. etc.

Yeah, one of those. I figure that kind of opening would make Ian Ballantine cry—and god only knows what it would do to his wife. . . .

Anyway, if faced with the specter of having to use Vegas as a contract breaker, I’d prefer to send in a tentative draft of The Rum Diary, rewritten as above. I don’t think I’d have to submit more than 10 pages, to get us off the hook. You could explain that my numerous experiments with LSD have changed not only my writing style but my whole personality—and that I’ll never be the same again.

I’ve had to do this kind of dirty work for myself, so I warm to HT for purely personal reasons, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that this is the character! This is the character! This is what we’re trying to achieve! I write an e-mail to my sister about the throbbing uncircumcised member. In an earlier e-mail my sister had said

Your use of the f-word (as we always say in elementary school!) jars me, but that’s probably just because I seem to have inherited the old Vermont puritanical streak and Grandmother’s Victorian sensibilities. I know most people don’t respond to “colorful” language in that way.

But the throbbing uncircumcised member has her laughing out loud! My mother (who likes the f-word in the gerund) says she was rolling on the floor! David likes it! Tony Holden likes it! Tony Holden thinks we could get illustrations by Ralph Steadman! Ilyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! The throbbing uncircumcised member is our “Springtime for Hitler”! We’re going to be rich!

Credit where credit’s due. I thought the fucking-a-family-of-five-in-Cambodia idea was an idea of unsurpassable stupidity. Unfunny. Why would this be in character for a journalist who has written about the white slave trade in Trabzon? Who has never paid for sex in his life? What conceivable—But it has led us out of the Bertoluccian labyrinth to the Cock and Bull Story which is the very essence of the book.

The boy’s a genius. Everything is under control. Everything is going to be all right.


So yeah. You bought it. You fell for the uncircumcised throbbing member and coke-fuelled sex romps. You did. They were not actually actively funny in the store, where Why don’t more people shoot more people? was the question of the hour, but you thought this was something your future, unhungover self might find good for a laugh. So what the fuck.

You had to show up three hours before the scheduled departure of your flight. Sure enough, you’re unable to concentrate. You’re in seat 65B, neither window nor aisle, fish nor fowl. You open Your Name Here, the new novel by Helen DeWitt.

Within a page you are cursing your “friend.” Now you know what was bothering you. You find yourself in some kind of pastiche of Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler, a book with 10 first chapters, narrated in the second person, something always goes wrong so “you” can never finish the book, you thought it was fucking brilliant when you were 19. Now you know you’ll never read it again. Invisible Cities is the one that will last. Why didn’t you buy Invisible Cities while you had the chance? Why don’t they sell books on planes? Bastards. Bastards.

You turn the page.

??????? Fellini

???????? Visconti

???????? Kurosawa

You’d like to call your “friend” on your cellphone and point out that THIS IS NOT MOTIVATED. It is not required by the story because there IS NO STORY, it’s not integral to the characters because there ARE NO CHARACTERS, and you are still trapped in a pastiche of the ultimately unsatisfactory If on a winter’s night a traveler. You turn the page and find

?????

and a little voice in the head says Kafka! Kafka! Kafka! It says Kafka! Dude! Mom! Dad! I can read Arabic! Cool! Awesome! Way-hay!

This is actually not unexciting, but the voice of reason observes that this too is completely unmotivated, there’s no story, no characters (except you and you never wanted to be here in the first place), THIS IS NOT LITERATURE, and you are still trapped in a pastiche of the ultimately unsatisfactory If on a winter’s night a traveler. . . . and you turn the page and find

And suddenly everything falls into place! The book is some kind of Philip K Dick alternative universe spin-off! An alternative universe where the Moors kept Granada, conquered the New World, colonized Texas!!!!!!!! But you love Philip K Dick! You love The Man in the High Castle! You love the wisecracking slime molds! This is great! This is great! This is great! And you feel a little glow of satisfaction, because if the plane is hijacked to some remote village of feuding Sunnites and Shiites (see Yojimbo, which you have inflicted on a succession of reluctant girlfriends, see A Fistful of Dollars, ditto) you may be able to decipher a few signs and get back to civilization, while all the readers of The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter are deservedly miming anguish for video ransom demands. Cool. All is forgiven, DeWitt. Strut your stuff.

The fat guy in the next seat is reading a real page-turner. The albino drew a pistol out of his coat, you read out of the corner of your eye, and now the fat guy has to answer the call of nature. You and the girl on the aisle get up. When you get back into your seat you see that the book on the empty seat lies open to a page on which is displayed:

?????? Banana

???????? Titicaca

In the words of the immortal Manuel,

¡¡¡¡¡¡¿¿¿¿Qué????!!!!!!!

Or as we says in America,

¡¡¡¡¡¡¿¿¿¿What the fuck????!!!!!!!

And the voice at the back of the head says: Huh. Okay, I geddit, the straight line is a, the thing like a dotted i is n, the thing like a dotted i with a dot below is b, Mom, Mom. . . . Titicaca, now this is seriously cool, the one like a dotted i with two dots above is t, the one with two dots below is i, ka ve have seen zis sing before. This is an interior monologue you have been trying to silence for years, but you can live with it because you love Laurie Anderson’s “Babydoll,” in fact, wait, if they have conscripted you into being a character in this book does that mean you can quote the song and someone else will clear the permission? You didn’t sign a contract or anything, you just found yourself here, you’re not quoting any songs if they’re going to make you clear permissions.

Anyway, the voice in the head says No way are we buying The Da Vinci Code for this, so you take out a pen and copy

?????? Banana

???????? Titicaca

onto a napkin and put it in your laptop case for future reference. One thing, Titicaca looks so much better in Arabic, this is the way it would have looked for the last 5 centuries in fact if Boabdil had kept Granada in 1492, reversed the reconquista and replaced their Catholic Majesties as the conqueror of the New World. Possibly not exterminating the Aztecs in the process.

You still don’t know what’s going on. The fat guy is back. You and the girl get out of your seats, the guy wrestles his bulk to the window, you and the girl return to your seats. The girl is reading an adult edition of a Harry Potter, not Harry Potter plus leather fetishist lesbian triangles, just same old same old with a marginally less juvenile cover, which means this could not be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. You return to Your Name Here, the new novel by Helen DeWitt. To your left, the girl murmurs softly: Beckett!

You glance, startled, to your left; implausible as it may seem to argue that the unspeakable Potter “gets people reading” so that they can ultimately move on to Murphy and Malone Dies, it’s surely infinitely less plausible to imagine a reading trajectory that starts with Waiting for Godot and moves on to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when the reader is old enough to appreciate it.

Your eye falls to the open page. You see

????? Beckett

In the words of the immortal Manuel,

¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿Qué??????????!!!!!!!!!!

What’s going on? Is everyone writing PKD spin-offs these days? Is this something everyone knows about but you, something you would have known if you had taken out a slash-and-burn trial subscription to the New Yorker or Harper’s or the New York Review of Books? If so, you wish you’d known sooner and soberer. You like keeping up with new literary trends, but if everyone is doing it you’d rather read an example that doesn’t involve revisiting Calvino’s ultimately unsatisfactory If on a winter’s night a traveler.

You decide to make a trip down the aisle before the drinks trolley is wheeled out. You apologize smilingly to the girl, head toward the back. There’s a short line. While you kick your heels, your eye is caught by a book open on the lap of the kid in seat 103C. 103C is reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s new novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Except that a page displays the following:

???? Foucault

???? Queneau

ITWOTIM,

¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿Qué?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a book you’ve read. From cover to cover. This was not in it. You might not remember every little twist of the plot (and this was a book with a plot, unlike some you could name) or every single character (and this was definitely, but definitely a book with some characters other than you), but if the Arabic for Foucault and Queneau had made an appearance you would have remembered. The Cuba Libres and caipirinhas and Tequila Sunrises have taken their toll on the little grey cells, where once you would have expatiated on Habermas/Wittgenstein/Kripke/Kant/Braudel/Gramsci/Foucault/Adorno/Jameson/Bourdieu/the Viennese Circle/New York School/Chicago School/Frankfurt School/Paris Commune/other (delete/add as appropriate) you find yourself adroitly shifting ground. But the Arabic for Foucault and Queneau you would have remembered. This was not repeat not in the book.

You feel disoriented, bemused. Foucault has fared less well than Kafka, arabized to a Manx cat.

Now the kid turns the page, and on the following page is a letter from the young narrator to John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, Washington, DC 20511, Dear Mr Negroponte, explains Oskar, As I am sure you know, J R R Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings to provide a saga of war, loss and exile for languages he had invented. The last volume was published in 1955, a year before the Suez Crisis. By 2003 100 million copies had been sold, disseminating the languages of the elves and the dwarves in a mass market paperback. I think national intelligence would be improved if Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, Pashtu and other so-called “exotic” languages were to be introduced to a text of comparable popularity. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is well placed to promote this. Could I design your program?

This was NOT in the book you read. There was a letter to Stephen Hawking, yes. There was no letter to John Negroponte. No.

So, is this, have you actually stepped into an alternative universe, a world where Texas is an arabophone state?

A world where plastic surgery from Zworg goes unchallenged by passport control?

Or are you in one of the more paranoiac PKDian alternative universes, nothing to do with Boabdil, just the kind of universe that looks like heavyhanded paranoiac satire in PKD, a universe where the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence reign supreme, the kind of universe that only dogfood-chomping amphetamine-munching self-pitying hallucinating PKD could dream up?

There’s some kind of initiative on the part of the Department of Homeland Security, say, or the Office of the Director of National Security, some kind of gimmick to prepare people in case of a hijacking? Say you had a whole planeful of passengers who had been hijacked, and among them they could pool the ability to read the words Kurosawa, Kafka, Fellini, Visconti, Banana, Titicaca, Beckett, Foucault and Queneau, this might improve their chances of survival. Farfetched, daft, getting the pages in the books, just how much taxpayers’ money was spent on this? And they’re also rewriting authors’ books? Not just inserting a couple of Arabic words in the text, like ads in a magazine, but actually changing the text? And now PKD, or possibly J G Ballard, anyway an undisputed writer of cult classics has dreamed it up and either you’re dreaming his dream or he’s dreaming your dream—

When you were 15 you actually in your heart of hearts believed in the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series.

Whatever this is, it’s the actual world, some kind of Big Brotherism we know not of. Deal with it.

So is this some new encroachment on our rights that you would have known about if you’d taken out a discount subscription to the New Yorker or Harper’s or the NYRB? Or just read Salon.com more regularly? Or is it, could it be an encroachment on our rights backed up by an encroachment forbidding mention in the press backed up by an encroachment censoring the web backed up by an encroachment censoring public mention of the fact of censorship backed up by

It’s your turn for the cubicle. You spot several letters you know in the Arabic injunction against smoking! You emerge, head back down the aisle.

A woman in 103D says: Ti-ti-ca-ca. A man in 98C says: Nin-ten-do. A book at 100C is open to

before the reader turns the page, swept up, perhaps, in a book with plot and characters, a real page-turner. Ti-ti-ca-ca, Ba-na-na, Be-ckett, Fou-cault, Que-neau, the soft syllables float up, row after row.

You’re back at row 65. You slip in smilingly past the girl. She’s no longer reading the Harry Potter (have you misjudged her? was it an unwanted gift? a favorite nephew’s favorite book? now that you think of it, she was only up to page 3) and is deep in Lotteryland.

You return to the Arabic map of Texas, hoping for PKDian plot-twisting. But wait a minute. Wait a minute. If the Arabic in Your Name Here is just an act of compliance with some edict from the Department of Homeland Security, it’s not unmotivated, not in fictional terms, because it’s just a page in a book, like an ad for Dell in Time or an ad for Brooks Brothers in the New Yorker. People don’t write to John Updike saying “You lazy talentless son of a bitch, what the fuck was that quarter-column pic of a Brooks Brothers shirt doing in your story, it was completely unmotivated, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the characters, and what about the bookrest and reading lamp, John, you’re over the hill. Finding your inner Breton, John? I don’t think so.” The Arabic, the map of Texas were forced on DeWitt. But in that case you’re not reading the great Philip K Dick alternative universe spin-off, whether one where the Moors kept Granada, conquered the New World and settled Texas or one of creeping paranoia dashed off by a rabid writer high on Pedigree Chum.

You’re back where you started, trapped in a pastiche of Italo Calvino’s ultimately unsatisfactory If on a winter’s night a traveler.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Quidditch

You got an aisle seat, 65C. You’re sitting next to someone who looks like a Blade Runner android cunningly aping human scum. It’s reading Your Name Here, the new novel by Helen DeWitt.

You’re not the kind of girl who’d be in a place like this at a time like this. Not the kind of girl who’d sit next to a guy who’s the kind of guy who’d be in Bright Lights, Big City II and be so [spaced out/coked up/polypharmaceutically prepositioned/(Add/delete as appropriate)] that he thinks he’s the kind of guy who’d be in a pastiche of Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler. It was pre-assigned seating.

You gave Harry Potter your best shot. Your sister gave you a copy of the adult edition (no leather fetishist lesbian triangles, just a slightly less juvenile cover and the Arabic for Beckett marooned on a page), urged you to get on-message with the only book the sprogs will read. You tried. Couldn’t.

Your father went to Christ’s Hospital, hated it, ran away five times. The last time he was sent to a psychiatrist who offered him lithium: This will give you Dutch courage, Vickers. Your father, very stiff upper lip, said he thought he could manage. You will take this. So long, and thanks for all the Quidditch.

So you went back to Lotteryland, by the reclusive Rachel Zozanian.

Out of Luck

1.

A crowd passed over London Bridge. No time to talk.

I said: Any spare chance. Any spare chance. Spare any chance? Spare any chance?

Thousands of legs with no luck to spare legged it by.

I thought: The odds are 50,000:1 that I am a genuine Lottery Loser with a 1 in 5,000 chance of sleeping inside in a bed 3 nights in 10. The odds are 1:100,000,000 that I am a millionaire cunningly disguised as a Lottery Loser, wrapped in a blanket, in the rain, in March, just to make it convincing.

If you analysed the situation purely on the odds, everyone was running a very high risk of being a shit.

Actually I just made up the odds. Well, how was I supposed to check them? Whatever they were, they were bad. The question was only, how bad.

It’s not against Lottery regulations to lose, obviously—somebody’s got to—but it’s against the Rules to be seen to lose. It’s against the Rules to be seen to win. It’s not just that you break the Rules by sitting there. It’s that you put everyone else in the position of ostentatious Rulebreakers, manoeuvred into flashing their luck just by walking to work.

Then someone stopped, and I tried not to look up a short skirt. She was about my age, with glossy dark hair and brilliant dark eyes; she dropped five hard chances in the paper cup. She seemed to have a vague sense of the scale of the odds she was defying: the odds against stopping, against giving so much, against smiling.

She said she was sorry it wasn’t more, and she was sorry I was out there, and she said she was sorry but she had to go.

2.

The next time she stopped she said her name was Gabriella, but her friends called her Gaby.

I said: That’s what friends are for.

She asked about me. I thought that the odds that she had more than five minutes to spare were 578,999:12, so I explained quickly that my name was Richard, that I came from Dublin, that I had gone to Milan to train as a croupier and come to London looking for work and hadn’t found it.

She said: Really? That sounds interesting.

She said: You know, I actually have a couple of contacts. I mean, maybe a publisher would be interested. I’ll give them a call! You never know your luck!

3.

Unfortunately it turned out the story was not interesting enough. It was a sad story but the mere fact of being true did not make it interesting. Lots of people lose the Lottery unfortunately and the bit about the croupier though interesting was not enough.

Gaby added avoiding my eye that they had also said she had no way of knowing if it was true.

I thought: Look, these people are not mathematically trained. In all probability. Let’s be charitable here.

I said: Look, Gab, you get this kind of confusion the whole time with non-mathematicians, the best thing is to

She said: You’re a mathematician? I thought you said

I said hastily: Look. We have four possibilities: Interesting truth. Uninteresting truth. Interesting non-truth. Uninteresting non-truth. What has happened is beyond our control. What’s done is done. Les jeux sont faits. So we just make the non-truth more interesting.

Gaby said: You mean

I said: Leave this to me. I’ll write something today and you can send it in.

I said: The thing I really miss is my lottomonitor. You don’t know what it’s like, not being able to run a luck check.

4.

I had been looking forward to writing Croupier: How I Lost on the Roulette Wheel of Life, and I was sorry Gaby’s friend hadn’t taken to the story. It really was someone’s story, and I was glad I did not have to tell him it did not make the grade. I thought: Regrets are fruitless. Let’s get on with the show.

I still came from Dublin and my name was still Richard. I had been trying to get into one of the 362 struggling Dublin boy bands, but my problem was I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be the cute one or the moody one. Because of the intense competition you had to start specialising very young; that’s a big decision to make at 17. I kept putting it off and meanwhile younger guys who had got their act together were going to auditions and getting lucky.

Then I decided to go to London because I thought people would be more open to ideas. I had a couple of job offers but they weren’t really what I was looking for, in retrospect I should have accepted anything but I was afraid of being locked into something, once you’re perceived as one thing it can be quite hard to move over to something else. Naming no names just look at George Michael, a classic example of an artist who started out as the cute one and had an incredibly hard time being taken seriously as the dangerous one or even the moody one.

There were not so many legs now. I tried to think of what went wrong for Richard. I thought he probably compromised, he actually took a job as the moody one that looked as though it had some room for creativity and then he got into arguments with the manager. One night the manager would take him aside and say “Mick” and he’d say “Richard.”

Manager: Whatever, the point being Shane is the dangerous one, you’re getting very borderline in your interpretation.

So he would swallow his pride and tone it down and the next night the manager would say “Look Mike, in this business we don’t have room for the egos, we’re looking for people who can take a professional approach, Jason is the cute one, you know that, I know that, last night you were all over the place,” and Richard would say “Fuck you then” and walk out. It could happen to anyone.

5.

Gaby picked it up on her way home. She sent it off to her friend and a week later she got a letter saying it was not quite what they were looking for.

I said: Did they say what in particular they didn’t like?

Gaby said: Giles said he thought it sounded as though you were just making it up as you went along.

I said ruefully: Fuck. Well look, it’s no reason to get discouraged, Gab. The number of things that happen not to be true is infinite; some of them have got to be plausible as well as interesting. I’ll just have to keep trying.

Gaby flashed her large dark eyes to my face, then to the ground. She said awkwardly: I sort of get the impression they don’t like the idea of the project, Richard.

What project? I protested. The project is exactly what we’re trying to decide!

I don’t know, said Gab. Something about your attitude

I said: You mean they don’t like me? But they don’t know anything about me.

That’s what they don’t like, said Gab. It comes across as insincere and calculating.

I thought: Fuck.

I did not need a lottomonitor to tell me that I had been drawing PHYSICALLY REPULSIVE for the last few months. The odds against making a good impression on someone who drew FANTASTICALLY BEAUTIFUL on a daily basis were astronomical; the one chance in all the handfuls of millions had to be of drawing ENGAGING PERSONALITY which in turn probably depended on drawing APPEARANCE OF CANDOUR.

I thought: But the odds are that any Lottery Loser wants regular meals, a bath, a place to sleep; only a non-mathematician could believe in the genuine possibility of anything else.

I said, reverting to the story, that it was probably true of someone, given the cutthroat nature of the boy band industry worldwide and especially in Dublin.

I said: You know, there really aren’t that many chances, the other options are liberating consumer durables or drug dealing, if they have the looks they can go the boy band route. They only have a few years before they’re too old, and only three or four bands make it to the top. But it’s still the best chance so they all really work at it, three or four hours a day weight training, a couple of hours working on the dancing, a couple of hours guitar work, plus the gigs. But even if they make it there are problems, people burn out really fast, and if they don’t they have all this powerful material they start wanting to bring into the music when they’re secure commercially and then all the 13-year-old girls defect. I saw a lot of it when I was over in Dublin

Gaby said: I thought you were from Dublin.

I thought: Fuck.

6.

I thought: If I jump off the bridge this conversation will end without further contributions from me.

I stood up, letting the blanket fall to my feet, and looked down the river to Tower Bridge. The river was like a piece of chainmail, of tiny linked scales gleaming and glancing with the lure of pure liquid luck. It was as if someone had sewn together millions of Tickets and cast them down. By the bank the water was the dark dully glinting grey of a Pewter Ticket, a little further out it was the cheap bright glare of Tin, perhaps there was oil on the water because there was a smooth polished slick of Silver just beyond. Where the light flashed from building to building before striking the water it was the white of Platinum, and where the light from the west struck off the great glass panes it reached the water in floating squares of Copper and Bronze and Gold. A boat passed under the bridge, and in its wake tossed out the glittering crystals of Diamond.

I thought: It’s no use. I’ve got to try again.

I said: I’m sorry. I know you want to minimise your chances of aiding and abetting a cunningly disguised millionaire, but it’s too complicated.

She said: It’s not that, it’s just that

I said: There is one thing I haven’t tried. I’ll try it now.

She said: You mean your family?

I said gloomily: No.

I said: I’ll have to go to the Lubavitch.

There was a short pause.

Gaby said: Isn’t that a Jewish sect?

I said: Yes, exactly, it’s a mitzvah to give to charity. The strictly Orthodox take it very seriously. In a really religious community you never see homeless people; if you really have nowhere to go you can just knock on any door and be invited in.

Gaby said: But I thought you were Catholic?

I did not think Fuck because there are limits.

I said: Look, I’d really like to explain all this if you’ll give me the chance, it’s just rather involved. Let me see if there’s any chance I can start winning again. You don’t have to tell me how to contact you, I know you don’t want to trust a potential serial killer with that kind of information, but maybe you could write to me. In a month or so.

I took out a piece of paper and a pen. I said: I think my ether address is still in luck. If not you can write to me care of U:2. I haven’t been there for months but if you write to me there’s a fair chance they’ll forward it.

Gaby looked at the piece of paper.

She said: I thought your name was Richard.


The android in seat 65B is writing

?????

on a paper napkin. You pretend not to see; you don’t want to get dragged into conversation with this replicant.

You don’t mind looking up from Lotteryland to find yourself in some kind of Bright Lights, Big City revival, as long as you don’t have to talk to the local lowlifes. You don’t mind finding yourself in an appropriation of If on a winter’s night a traveler, but Calvino’s tour de force omits everything you know about books.

You know too much. You know that Thomas Pynchon is married to his agent, Melanie Jackson. You know that Julian Barnes is married to his agent, Pat Kavanagh. You know that Don DeLillo is married to Barbara Bennett, a banker. Or rather, Bennett was a banker for many years, and this was what took DeLillo to Greece, where he wrote The Names, but now you think you read she has retired.

You know too much. Your ex-stepmother was a coalminer’s daughter who went to Cambridge in the early ’80s. Thatcher was already cutting back on entitlements for students; they could not sign on for the dole in vacations, they could not claim housing benefit. Your ex-step’s pa beat the shit out of her when she went home. She wrote for Black Lace, which was quite a feminist thing to do in the ’80s; she wrote for Mills & Boon, which was not a feminist thing to do even in the trashy ’80s. Martin Amis was one of her heroes, but Black Lace and Mills & Boon were the publishers who accepted unsolicited manuscripts.

You’ve seen the Photobooth photos of the black eye, the broken nose, the missing tooth. Her life is a trail of paperbacks, glossy black, glossy red, matte pastel, marking the fact that her father was not an agent or a banker or, for that matter, Kingsley Amis.

Calvino had his gimmick, a gimmick you loved when you read the book at 19, his imaginary reader reads a first chapter, something is wrong with the book, pages 17 to 32 are bound into the book many times, the reader goes hunting for a physical object, a book with the missing chapters, each book that seems to promise continuation turns out to be a completely different book, the imaginary reader finds himself in pursuit of more and more and more books to complete the . . . The point is, look, let’s not sneer at plots. The hunt for a physical object or objects is a perfectly good plot. What would it mean to go in search of the books displaced by the glossy paperbacks? Hunting across possible worlds for a world where Thatcher stayed home with the sprogs? Where your stepma did not get bashed to a pulp?

You’re just a Bolshevik, you’re a theory nerd, you’re an avant-garde situationist manquée. Your view is that your stepma was behind the times. You read Kathy Acker, you warmed to Blood and Guts in High School, you think your stepma should have published a limited edition of 100, preferably in matte pastel (you loved the matte pastel), with her black-eyed broken-nosed glamour puss pic on the back cover. She could have been an Emin or a Lucas, she had the chance to be transgressive, the chance to be transgressive while at the same time getting White Cube shows, programme notes citing Adorno, a shot at the fucking Turner Prize, and instead, look, this is someone who wrote a whole fucking doctoral dissertation in New Historicist shtick on Jacobean city comedy and yet she just accepted the, she owns a flat in Chiswick because she scored a heroin deal which could conceivably also have been a feminist thing to do in the ’80s, but there’s this literary purism

You know you’re just blaming the victim.

You’re a romantic at heart.

You want writers to be rebels, revolutionaries, you want them to break the machine or be broken.

But Mr Malkovich Writes

From: Ilya Gridneff <anarchicus@hotmail.com>
To: Helen DeWitt <Helen.DeWitt@gmx.net>
Subject: ‘I want to be considered great writer not fuck’
Date: 30 Aug 2006 15.05 Uhr
Frau DeWitt
yes, i gushed, but i guess my initial comment was a slight hesitation at such sexual overtones in the opening stages, linked also to all this praise for ilya’s writing. felt like boasting or bragging and yet one shouldn’t talk too much prehaps or /// . . . i like the conflict of not wanting to be considered a good fuck but great writer but perhaps this could be turned into a grander character conflict, like all these (book) industry types (penned pent up london office types or brashy nyorkers looking for some ‘real’ dangeerous action . . . all keen to meet on the rumour of sexual prowess and as he enters a more and more fantastic byron esq right the cute koala bad boy boy band delimma strenghtens, lots of i want my writing to be taken seriously!’ ‘shut up and lick i did nt fly from london to talk shop’
but perhaps and perchance the real interest or comedic affect is that he in turn becomes prostituting himself, like playing the game, writing emails with subject headlines ‘i want to be considered a great writer not fuck’, knowing the significance of such comments, it’s enjoyable to be the next henry miller or hunter s thompson, like the winding of the tristram’s father’s clock but its all becoming WORK- jouisannce!

really, you think the gap stays, i hear dentistry is cheap in Hungary.

Paris would be a good backdrop, everywhere i walk the eiffel tower will be in the picture.

ilya

 

Subject: ‘I want to be considered great writer not fuck’
From: Helen DeWitt <Helen.DeWitt@gmx.net>
To: Ilya Gridneff <anarchicus@hotmail.com>
Date: 30.08.2006 17.05 Uhr
Herr Gridneff
I think this AMAZING e-mail is exactly what the book needed. It should be finished by next week. Not to worry, everything is under control.

Helen

 

From: Ilya Gridneff <anarchicus@hotmail.com>
To: Helen DeWitt <Helen.DeWitt@gmx.net>
Subject: fiction fuck factory
Date: 31 Aug 2006 11.17 Uhr

dewitt

yes tuff tug o warped moniker making. what is in the na-I-me? Perhaps steve coogan as steve coogan/tristram shandy/sir walter shandy rather than malkovich/”malkovich” is my true progenitor in this fact/fiction, a fictional name & false beard or shandean wig & high-heeled shoes required to assist the reader ? perhaps misha krapponov from drinking bleach, makes an early appearance?
\ ilya allegedly or some random generated spam personna offering names
does rachel take on a name when pulling tricks?
ilya

 

From: “Helen DeWitt” <Helen.DeWitt@gmx.net>
To: “Ilya Gridneff” <anarchicus@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: fiction fuck factory
Date: 31 Aug 2006 13.54 Uhr
Rachel picks a new nom de guerre each day from her many friends in Boca Raton, spam capital of the western world: Blake Alexander, Krause Kitty, Rolando Bishop, Gladys Cano, Gordon Adams, Dulce Taylor, Ross Lott, Clayton Thompson, Kim Bowen, Marlin Dejesus, Damon Cox, Gwen Yarbrough, Barbara West Sophie Crockett and others too numerous to mention. This didn’t make it into the book though b/c it was getting too long (and I think you are giving away the plot).

Krapponov is not much like yr character in this book. How about Pechorin, hero of our time?
h

 

From: Ilya Gridneff <anarchicus@hotmail.com>
To: Helen DeWitt <Helen.DeWitt@gmx.net>
Date: 31 Aug 2006 15.02 Uhr
Subject: A zero for our Tine

hell en (back),
yes read this a while ago and did think i was often making a fool of myself with various princesses; while my fictional dopple ganger may represent ‘our generation’s vices in full bloom’ i think maybe there are many more words/names that may capture the attitudes of centralist power in fiction.
hold on, let me scan some baby books lying about scrawled with critique.
“ilya”

 

From: “Helen DeWitt” <Helen.DeWitt@gmx.net>
To: “Ilya Gridneff” <anarchicus@hotmail.com>
Subject: a hero degree zero for our time
Date: 31 Aug 2006 15.24 Uhr

found this online:

In Russian folklore Alyosha Popovitch is an epic hero, a mighty warrior and a trickster. Unlike Ilya Muromets and Dobrynya Nikititch and other heroes, who served prince Vladimir of Kiev, protected borders of old Russia and fought with various monsters, Alyosha won battles not by his physical superiority but by insidious tricks. . . .
According to the legend, Alyosha was born under peals of thunder, and the next day he jumped into the saddle and went “to see the world, to boast and to win”.

a zero to hero to zero for all seasons

i’ll try this out while you conduct further research

h

 

From: Ilya Gridneff <anarchicus@hotmail.com>
To: Helen DeWitt <Helen.DeWitt@gmx.net>
Date: 31 Aug 2006 15.38 Uhr
Subject: RE: A hero degree zero for our time

Every name in history is I.

From: Ilya Gridneff <anarchicus@hotmail.com>
To: Helen DeWitt <Helen.DeWitt@gmx.net>
Date: 31 Aug 2006 15.41 Uhr
Subject: RE: A hero degree zero for our time

We are all named Napoleon.

The Sweet Smell of Success

X-Originating-IP: [213.78.30.199]
From: “A.P. Pechorin” <popesonxtacy@hotmail.com>
To: “Rachel Zozanian” <zozanian@onetel.com>
Subject: strangers in the abject
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2003 03:20:44 +0000

found a scrunched up receipt with yer details on it. i forgett yer name but still want to send the pamphlet in the post. wrote this to a friend in Canada.
Alyosha

Orson I turned 24 the other day. not that much changed but the stagnant point of calendar time and place-space rah rah rah met the dot conception occurred time before I am in the present. And now I wait till 5am so I can cycle to Paddington train station so I can catch the train to heathrow airport to pick up mar father. Yes papa bear is in town in three hours. It is 2.58am here. But the past three days have been wrecked. Drunk karoke on Thursday night in abject dalston Chinese restaurant, the prawns, pork rolls, beer and in the style of Tina Turner, me grabbing the mic and singing led zepplin, guns and roses sweet child o mine then watching scarlett my friend stand on the table and spin around on the lazy Suzanne (not a friend but that curious Chinese culinary device) Rhys a welsh friend summed the night up by telling me before arriving he wasn‚t singing a song, fast forward, rhys leaping from the chairs to demonstrate that i‚m going to learn how to fly, high, fameeeeeee!, I wanna live forever—and so and so. Ended with me going home/kissing (the kiss caused a critical moment) the woman, Kate (36 television buyer, lives in Bow, drives a beat up Saab), we say we are in love but she doesn‚t want me full time, she has a danish electro deejay called Jakob whom she doesn‚t love but chose over me last year after we locked horns. she and I deeply desire each other but usually keep apart, because she doesn‚t want me, all this in front of Anna, shock why are we doing this again Kate. You don‚t want me. kiss me kiss me. I love you Alyosha. Anna, who had been kissing me earlier in the evening not impressed, then the Bombay mix went everywhere, guilt maybe with me for that toxic explosion, all while justin performs cunninglingus with april on the washing machine in the toilet. aidan avoiding april cause he doesn‚t want to shag her anymore. More vodka. I scream and on return walk into rhys and anna kissing, I have a kiss with scarlett in front of her new man kyle, who in turn tries to kiss Kate. Flashing her knickers at 4am and playing records at 11. wake up with Kate. She reminds me about how she was going to piss on me but couldn‚t piss. me trying to fuck her arse but too drunk to get an erection on target.

Loads of coffee and another day off. Stephanie takes me to a private view in a house in Bloomsbury where Alexei Sayle turned up. The art was tame (expected) greens and pencil shavings. I proceed to drink the white wine like I was Jesus and unfortunately end up, by duress, queuing in the guest list‚ at Cargo a gulag of shoreditch nightclub arama. Inside drunk. Friday night shit smeared walls and fear. Dancing passionately too quickly. On the bus on the way home a small child has a pretend camera and starts taking photos of me. each click I pose differently and suggest to his mother she buys him a real one. she just ignores my drunk spit and tightens her grip of her child. I regret the modelling jest wake up realising I have a picnic to attend. Fuck. People.

On Saturday there was a picnic in Victoria Park, where a new Yorker slade school graduate was brutally murdered earlier this year, it ended in tears. Six year relationships ended, rhys and anna kissing again, aidan still trying to avoid april, my friend ben and his norwegian girlfriend birgit, don‚t mention the fact I urinated in his mother‚s bed when I stayed there several weeks back attending the Brecon Jazz festival.

Talking to strangers in the bar. They don‚t have tonic water or ginger ale here outrage. Me drinking olive oil in the organic bar later. stop it Alyosha. Ridiculing the signage that informs the concerned modern man that the fish is killed naturally. I grab april‚s camera and take photos inside the paraplegic toilet. Naked torso. an old girlfriend who i can’t stand so much i think of her too much, text messaged me ‘happy birthday, from an old friend’. what does that mean. Penis in the mirror, the toilet plumbing. More tears. Rhys apologising for taking ‘my’ woman. Me laughing. At the thought. Ludmilla the Croatian doctor telling me I am wonderful I am and we should go to the party across from Hackney fArm. Get cab to party then have no cash. No booze. Heavy drunk. we get a cab to shoreditch to get money but mysteriously end up in hackney.

Met a woman whose name escapes but described herself as a novelist and I discuss ardorno having never read any of his texts. More vodka. The cab we were in, drives off without us while we buy vodka and get cash. Ludmilla asks if I like the shirt she bought for me and I suggest it maybe too small.‚ meaning no. Wake up with Ludmilla. There is blood all over my sheets as her period was heavy.

Tonight I saw Visconti‚s The Leopard, amazing film about Sicily late 19 century before italy was italy. Change just brings the same. the self deception of the politician. The decline of the aristocrat.

Eating falafel then got a text message from Kate who wanted to talk to me. I find it odd that someone would want to talk to you by sending a text message. Once again no credit in phone to return call. Shortly after this is rectified. Kissing her after midnight in London Fields. Thinking about the martin amis reading at the end of the month. Maybe singing a song aidan and I developed drunkenly on previous night, martin amis I want to get down on yer anus and so forth..and now I will wait a few more hours till I will get on my bike sold to me on Kingsland Rd for 7.50 after I had thrown Humus on Blockbuster video for ruining film and colonising cinema into further deeps of despair. The half eaten Turkish bread posted in the late video return. Wanna buy a bike man? I really need the money. The washing machine has broken so the dirty clothes pile up. Thoughts of moving to Odessa, Ukraine. Four months learning the Russian and getting some adventure rather than this abject veneer. Sneer.

Alyosha

it is 3.22am.

______________________________________________________

Get Hotmail on your mobile phone http://www.msn.co.uk/msnmobile

To: jbrennan@morgenstern.com
From: “Rachel Zozanian” <zozanian@onetel.com>
Subject: termination
Date: Sun May 16 22:29:35 2004

Please call my cellphone, 917 669 4100. If I don’t answer you can assume that I am dead; in that case, please call my landlord, Michael O’Shea, on 718 273 9925 and ask him to check my apartment. It would be unpleasant to leave a decomposing body in this heat. I have left my mother’s name and phone number by the bed.

If there is no answer on that number his wife, Sylvia, can be reached on 718 273 3851.

It would be helpful if you could also tell Ulrike Szyk <uszyk@yahoo.com> that I will not be able to come to dinner on Wednesday.

 

To: jbrennan@morgenstern.com
From: “Rachel Zozanian” <zozanian@onetel.com>
Subject: change of plan
Date: Sun May 16 23:13:04 2004

This method does not work as well as I’d been told, so I will try something simpler elsewhere. There is no need to call my landlord as the body will not be in the apartment. I will also contact Ms Szyk.

 

Subject: Re: termination
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 06:49:11 -0400
Thread-Index: AcRCMom8uZdEr3CrT1WQn7vz7ggHCwAE2Akj
From: “Brennan, Jennifer” <jbrennan@morgenstern.com>
To:”Rachel Zozanian” <zozanian@onetel.com>

Rachel,
I was very upset by these emails. Please call me or Hari to let us know that you’re ok.

————————–
Sent from my BlackBerry® Wireless Handheld
———————————————————————–
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE:
This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and may be protected by legal privilege. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of this e-mail or any attachment is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify us immediately by returning it to the sender and delete this copy from your system. Thank you for your cooperation.

MORGENSTERN GROSSMAN & BLUM LLP
Visit us on the web at http://www.morgenstern.com

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TO: RACHEL ZOZANIAN

Upon receipt of your application, and it having been determined that you are suitable for voluntary admission, you have been admitted as a voluntary-status patient to this hospital which provides care and treatment for persons with mental illness.

From this point forward, you may stay as a voluntary patient, or be released if you no longer require hospitalization. You may also be converted to involuntary status, but only if you are certified as meeting the requirements for involuntary admission and are unwilling or are no longer suitable to remain in the hospital voluntarily.

While on voluntary status, you may, at any time, notify hospital staff in writing if you would like to be discharged from the hospital. Upon receipt of such notification, you will be promptly released, unless the director thinks that you meet the requirements for involuntary admission and that you therefore need to stay—in which case, he or she has 72 hours to ask a court for an order to keep you in the hospital.

You, and anyone acting on your behalf, should feel free to ask hospital staff about your condition, your status and rights under the Mental Hygiene Law, and the rules and regulations of this hospital.

MENTAL HYGIENE LEGAL SERVICE
ELLICOT SQUARE BUILDING
295 MAIN STREET SUITE 444
BUFFALO NEW YORK 14203
874-7532

I HAVE READ, OR HAD READ TO ME, AND UNDERSTAND THE CONTENTS OF THIS NOTICE.

Patient’s Signature Rachel Zozanian Date May 21, 2004

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Their rarefied verbal music will testify / that many did not have enough to eat.

Issue 6 Mainstream

By now the story of Wayne Lo has been well told, though he has not become a figure of American legend.

Issue 6 Mainstream

To free ourselves, we need to change the very operation of our desires, which the office has duped us into accepting.

Issue 6 Mainstream

Paul ordered, “Hit him for me,” and Russell punched Jacob smartly in the chest.

Issue 6 Mainstream

The fifty-year summer of Cody’s ended forever at 8 pm on July 10, 2006.

Issue 6 Mainstream

Humans can’t fly in Pamuk’s novels, and they don’t wrestle with their secularity in Marquez’s.

Issue 6 Mainstream

If Gawker Media, as Denton called his business, could no longer market itself as an upstart, then neither could its flagship site.

Issue 6 Mainstream

Our future, like our past, may be virtually free of oil, and global culture, and many of the social safeguards we enjoy.

Issue 6 Mainstream

Generalization admits no exceptions and yet the exceptions pop up, often eloquently, to assert their existence.

More by this Author

March 22, 2012
Regrets at Fordham
October 28, 2011

If I’m trying to work on something, I try to be reading the things that are relevant to that book.

Issue 12 Conversion Experience
November 1, 2011

Tutor! Donate sperm. There are ways to monetize your intelligence that doesn’t do damage to your craft.