Good v. Evil: Smackdown

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I’m sorry to disappoint everyone. Last time I had promised to talk about my reaction to A Prayer for Owen Meany, but I am temporarily reneging on my oath.

This is a huge blow, I know. Here you all were, waiting breathlessly for some quality literary criticism—you, whose lives suffer from a lack of fast-paced, high-impact, edge-of-your-seat LitCrit. You were so dearly anticipating a long discussion of my reaction to a novel you’ve probably never read, and here I have cruelly yanked the carrot from before your rabbity noses. Forgive me!

I have a good reason for procrastinating. I may, in fact—I do hope you’re sitting down, this is simply astonishing—I may, in fact, be seeing John Irving, IN PERSON, next week.

John Irving is current my favorite living author. Don’t worry, Neil Gaiman will probably rise back to the top of the pack, after my crush on Irving fades. But for the time being, I would totally jump Irving’s bones, in a literary sort of way. (I don’t think I actually want to sleep with him. Older men have their appeal, but he’s nearing 70. That’s a bit old, even for my liberal tastes. But never say never. But I think he’s married, so nevermind.)

Anyway, Irving is speaking at my alma mater in Greensboro next Thursday. It’s a four hour trip each way, something I really can’t justify for one person—fossil fuels and global warming, you know. Plus I have yoga that night. Plus I have a book to write.

But then again, Irving is the author of the book I just read that has ALREADY, in a few short weeks, changed my life more than any I’ve read since I read The Brothers Karamazov ten years ago.

Still, I had decided not to go, until I mentioned my decision in the presence of Death. (I’d forgotten he was even in the room. Honest.) Death is an even bigger fan of Irving than I am. When he heard that Irving is speaking a paltry four hours’ drive away, it was a no-brainer for him—provided that Mrs. Death agrees. (Apparently, having three kids and a spouse means that you can’t just drop everything willy-nilly to go hear an author speak in the next state.)

So now, everything is hanging on Mrs. Death. If she agrees, that means Death is going—and no way am I letting him drive down to hear Irving without me. Besides, that would assuage my guilt about burning all that gas.

So I swear I’ll deliver the literary criticism you’ve been salivating for, but only once I determine if I’ll be hearing the author himself.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank New Girl for her punning prowess. New Girl is no longer the newest employee at the library, not by a long shot, but I can’t really think of a pseudonym that encompasses “Scares me, but in a good way.” There are no good derivates of her name to work with, so she is stuck with being New Girl.

Most people, out of a finely developed sense of self-preservation, keenly hope that I do not write about them here. It is true that I write about some people for money (have I mentioned that John Irving is the subject of my next read-alike article?), but I do not go into many details about them. When I wrote about Neil Gaiman, for instance, I completely failed to mention his English accent, or his dreamy eyes, or the fact that he shook hands with me once (which I would have interpreted as a marriage proposal, except that he’s already married. These lousy authors, I swear: Who are they to take marriage vows without meeting me first?)

In this blog, of course, I may write about whomever I please, and say whatever I please, though I confess that I temper things in the interests of not getting A) stoned to death or B) fired, in that order. Despite my remarkable capacity for discretion, the people I know can get nervous. They can be on remarkably good behavior—and should they err, in comment or action, they always follow sensibly with “Don’t blog that or I’ll kill you.”

New Girl, however, has been pestering me to acknowledge, publicly, that she is a fine punner. Consider it done.

And now I shall relate to you the conversation that recently took place between Angel Jessica and Devil Jessica. I hasten to point out that this conversation transpired entirely in my own head—but, if you’re curious, I do talk aloud to myself, all the time. Walking to my car, hunting and gathering groceries, putzing about the house, puzzling through stuff at work—no matter the context, it is likely that I am carrying on a lively dialogue with myself. I do not apologize for this. I enjoy a good conversation.

Let’s do this in play form, because that’s more fun.


Angel Jessica, an advocate of staying in Wilhelmsplatz indefinitely
Devil Jessica, who suffers wanderlust

ANGEL: Wow! I love my job!

DEVIL: You’re adaptable. I bet you could love a job anyplace.

ANGEL: Didn’t love my last job so much.

DEVIL: You liked it fine, with certain exceptions.

ANGEL: But I love this job better.

DEVIL: You love working with books and helping people find stuff. You could do that in any library.

ANGEL: But this is one of the best libraries in the country.

DEVIL: Ah, but look at the location.

ANGEL: Wilhelmsplatz is… okay.

DEVIL: Is not.

ANGEL: Why would I move?

DEVIL: You don’t like the climate.

ANGEL: It’s too hot everywhere, and only going to get hotter.

DEVIL: You don’t like the political climate.

ANGEL: The last place was worse.

DEVIL: But you could move someplace cold! And liberal! Like Boston!

ANGEL: Could never afford it.

DEVIL: Then Vermont! I know you like Vermont. Or Maine!

ANGEL: Awfully far from Mom and Dad.

DEVIL: You could fly.

ANGEL: That just contributes to global warming.

DEVIL: So move back to Asheville, right near your parents.

ANGEL: No jobs there.

DEVIL: But you’d have friends there, people you knew back when.

ANGEL: They’ve probably all moved.

DEVIL: You’d make new friends.

ANGEL: Not necessarily.


ANGEL: Oh let’s be honest here, I’m not the most extroverted bulb on the Christmas tree, am I?

DEVIL: So you’re a little shy.

ANGEL: I haven’t had sex in over a year.

DEVIL: Do you have to admit that to the whole bleeding internet? Christ.

ANGEL: I’m just saying.

DEVIL: But you have plenty of friends.

ANGEL: Only people I know through the library.

DEVIL: Is that so wrong?

ANGEL: It’s a bit insular.

DEVIL: You know your yoga instructor.

ANGEL: I pay her money to know her.

DEVIL: You know your hair stylist.

ANGEL: I pay him money, too. And I haven’t seen him in six months.

DEVIL: You made an appointment to see him next week. Don’t deny it. I heard you.

ANGEL: That still doesn’t make me Ms. Popularity.

DEVIL: Maybe a new haircut would help with that, heh heh heh.

ANGEL: Quit trying to distract me. I’m a fundamentally introverted, lonely, solitary person, and no change of hairstyle or geography is going to help that.

DEVIL: …That hurts me to hear you say that, it really hurts.

ANGEL: It’s true.

DEVIL: Well… well, you could USE the solitude, missy! You have a book to write!

ANGEL: Like I was saying. Think I’ll stay here.

DEVIL: …Oh. [pause]
I just lost, didn’t I?

ANGEL: Don’t worry, it fits the literary archetype for the devil to lose against a clever hero. It was predestined.

DEVIL: [abashed] Guess I’ll go write that back now.

ANGEL: Yeah, see ya there.

[Exeunt DEVIL and ANGEL].


One response »

  1. eleemosenary archivist

    Latest 22:00 posting provided a welcome and suitably upbeat afternoon break for another fan. Bring a camera if you go to Carolina for Irving event(request not mandate) Image would be good eyefutter for blogged sidebar upon return to Wilhelmsplatz. Yes W’burg does provide lovely sanctuary in quiet environs, but hang in kid, life is full of suprise turn-arounds in apparent cul-de-sacs(sic?) Nuclear family proximity is a factor not to be taken lightly,your resume is enhanced by entries demonstrating tendencies toward job "stablility" etc,etc. Just think,when you are Mistress of some large,well-endowed research Institute,yr fans of yore can say "Oh,Jess? She too admitted being enthralled by Harry Potter." Can’t recall where this was going to end with some sort of erudite bon mot, but gotta get back to editing a proposal for a stipendium essential to life on two continents. Thanks for workin late. out-4-now tgb


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