Thursday, March 27, 2008

drive, she said

The novelist and essayist Lynne Sharon Schwartz visited the Writers House recently as a "Writers House Fellow." She read from her 9/11 novel The Writing on the Wall on Monday evening; an mp3 is available, and so is streaming QuickTime video. The next morning she was back, and this time I interviewed her and led a discussion with an audience of about 50 people gathered at the House. This to can be heard and also viewed as video.

During the interview we talked in part about her essay called "Drive, She Said," which is a mostly implicit rejoinder to Robert Creeley's "I Know a Man":

drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.

Lynne is somewhat afraid of driving recklessly or fast; her father was the master of the road and she wants his inheritance, but she drives cautiously and slow and cannot get over the fear that a cop will pull her over, ask her to roll down the window and will say, "You're not your father's daughter." She seeks counsel from her therapist, but she neglects to say the most important thing about her driving anxiety--that it's founded entirely on a fear of her father's driving and her incapacity at the thought of being disconnected from him as a timid driver. The therapist preaches the therapeutic gospel of a communalist road, where we share interests even while driving our separate ways. Lynne would like to believe that, but she can't. Nor can she end the essay. She is after all her father's daughter. She's more Creeley-like than not, in the end, because her essay-memoir talks on and on and meanders until finally she's driving the essay forward in the mode of which she thinks she's afraid. To me it constitutes an interesting feminist response to the Creeley of that early Guy Talk/On the Road poem.