Thursday, August 12, 2004

life of buddy don, chaptur 127: the group grows

mayhap the mos successful idee i ever cum up with wuz the group n thatn happend by acksident back in chaptur 122, how the group wuz born. thang is, after we had us that furst meetin, we gut goin to whar thay wuznt no fridy without no group, ceptn maybe roun christmus n i aint even shore bout that. whuther thay wuz ever a fridy without a group once it gut goin, thay wuznt now doubt bout how the group gut to be the soshul center fer everbidy that wuz a reglar.

ye mite wunder how ye could git a bunch of arrowgunt graduwait student woodbe riters together to whar they wonted to spend ever fridy evenin together, readin whutever they dun scribbled out in that week n twuz purt amazin. corse, thay wuz the occashunull fuss n fite, but twernt sumthin that happent all that often.

but the arrowgunts wuz thar frum the beginnin n how could it be otherwise? ifn ye wonta larn yerself how to do sumthin that aint easy, ye gut to bleeve ye kin doot n mayhap that ye kin doot as well as innybidy that ever has dunnit. ifn ye wonta play the peeano, then ye gut to bleeve ye kin even when ye caint. yer furst efforts wont sound lack much of nuthin, sartinly not lack nuthin good. but ye caint quit n ifn ye keep on tiz on a counta bleevin that sumwhars inside ye thars a peeano picker jes dyin to git his fangers limberd up rite to whar he kin play good a nuff that folks wonts to listn. same is true of riters. ye mite could thank how ritin wood be easy n i reckon thats whut makes so minny folks thank theys riters.

ifn ye dun much ritin, ye had to run into loads of folks that tells ye bout how theys riters but whenever ye ast to see sumthin they dun writ, twill be a story bout how they dont have nuthin reddy yet or how they still makin notes bout whut they a'gone rite sumday or even how they gut the hole story locked up in thar heds to whar ifn ye aint keerful, theyll make ye sit still till they dun tole ye ever idee they ever had bout whut they wonted to rite.

agin, ifn ye dun much ritin, ye dun larnt how taint near as easy as it looks. tiz one of the mane problems with mos innythang sumbidy duz well. stand up comicks look lack they jes sayin the furst thang the cums into thar heds only tiz always funny. ifn ye ever try it, ye find out that ye gut to have yer hed full befor ye start n ye gut to practiss how ye stand n how ye say mos innythang ye wonta make funny. grate ackters make it look lack they aint even acktin. same is true fer grate athletes n grate singers n yew name it.

ifn ye dun much ritin, ye know that one of the hardest thangs bout it is how ye gut to start over ever time ye wonta git the nex page writ. i member how mama used to say that the hardest thang bout washin the dishes is gittin up offn the couch. tiz a good line on a counta them dishes aint never as hard to wash as they seem to be befor ye git to the sink. but hard as washin dishes is to start, taint hard to cumplete. ritin is even harder to start n almost impossibull to cumplete. aint lack when ye finish with yer days ritin ye gut a cabnet full of clean flatware. at the end of a good day, ye lackly scribbled on a few pages that needs to be rewrit n then needs to be fit in with sumthin longer.

ifn ye dun much ritin, ye know tiz kindly lack climbin a mountin whar ye go up fer a while n then have to go back down to git to the nex slope n git a lil higher only ye caint hardly tell much bout how far ye dun cum. n bout the time ye thank yer a'gittin close, ye see the nex higher place n cum to find out ye gut to go down furst befor ye kin go up agin. ye could do that till ye give up without never gittin to the top. n thang is, thays plenty a mountin whar once ye dun clumb to the top, aint hardly no view fer the trees. thays minny a thang gits writ thataway n sumtimes tiz only tuther folks that kin tell how good whut ye writ wuz.

tiz one of them odd thangs bout ritin n histry. minny of them we calls the grates wuznt recon eyesd during thar lifetimes. ye gut yer emily dickinson that dint publish but four poems durin her lifetime. ye gut yer kafka who ast his friend to burn everthang he had writ. ye gut yer faulkner that had gone near outta print till them french started a'readin im. even ifn yer grate, folks mite not give ye whut ye dun urnt, witch the way sully-prudhomme beat out leo tolstoy fer the furst nobel prize is purty good proof of that.

a nuther oddity bout riters is how they dont know witch of thar wurks wuz good n witchns wuznt. faulkner figgerd his best wurk wuz a fable. mark twain thought his joan of arc wuz the best. even marcel proust, the worls gratest novelist in my pinion, even he gut to doubtin whuther he wuz inny good n thays a famus moment when he let hisself git intimidated by andre gide a'winnin the prix goncourt n thankin how he had wasted his time a'ritin one of the worls gratest novels, rembrance of things past, witch he gut to thankin he had dun put in all the rong deetails.

so ifn ye git a room full of graduwait students who thanks they all a'gone win the nobel prize, ye kin speck a lot of arrowgunts n lots of folks thankin whut they dun writ wuz grate when twernt or wuz lousy when twuz good or even grate. heres a lil list of the main folks in the group by fall of 1981:
  • henry mouffette. he bleevd he wuz so grate that his ritin wood start a litarairy movement. thang wuz, he jes had the one poem he had writ n even tho he hepped git the group a'goin, he only cum to the furst two meetins, witch he red us the same poem bof times. after than we never seen im at the group agin tho we did have lots of fun talkin bout how he wood git into long monologs bout the abyss, witch he pronounced it lack 'the abbess,' n how twuz all he could do to keep frum fallin in the abbess n givin way to deespair.

  • kerry reed. the feller cum in a'splainin bout how grate he wuz. he wuznt a graduwait student, but he hung aroun em a nuff to whar he herd bout the group. he wonted to be the reincarnayshun of jack kerouac but lack henry, he had jes writ the one poem, witch his wuz a haiku n a dam goodn, but after he red it to us twice, he quit a'cummin.

  • joseph cooper. speakin bout laffin, lack i dun mentchuned bout joe cooper, he writ stories so funny the group wood make im stop sos we could catch our breath. he wuz a graduwait student in the same class with us, but the group killt his graduwait career on a counta how he wood spend his week a'ritin a new story n woodnt do no class wurk. he quit skool sumtime in the summer n went to atlanta georgia to git im a job but thangs dint wurk out. one day he wuz back, a'knockin on our door n wunderin could he stay with us. we had a exter bedroom so we let im roll out his sleepin bag on it. he stayed with us mos of that quarter n writ more verr funny stories, but then he gut im a job drivin a airport limo. purt soon he dint cum to group no more n then he gut im a room over in alcoa n twuz the last we seen of im fer minny a year. but i run into one time on a airplane frum knoxvull to new york by way of atlanta n i ast him how his ritin wuz a'goin. he laffd n sed once he quit cummin to the group, he never writ nuthin else agin. he sed fack wuz, he dint really rite nuthin new once he gut outta grad skool. he sed he needed to be avoidin his real wurk befor he could git in the mood to rite n ever since he gut to drivin limos, thay wuznt no way to avoid it, sartinly not by sittin in the graduwait liberry pertended he wuz a'studyin whenever he wuz ritin a nuther verr funny story.

  • alexis st johns. she wuz a beeyootiful gurl frum new orleans whar her mama had been a pure french creole n her daddy the deesendent of slaves. she wuz verr lite skinned n sum folks wood ast wuz she black behin her back, witch twuz a sign of jes how racist we all wuz in so minny ways, witch i dint really larn much bout how deep that problem went till i wuz a'teachin english over at knoxvull collidge. innywho, she had writ a novel that she sed wuz no good even ifn she did read the furst chaptur n we all thought twuz verr intimidatin, witch the best compliment a riter kin give ye is how he figgerd he wood quit ritin on a counta how he couldnt never rite nuthin as good as the riter he wuz a'complimentin. thang wuz, she never red us a nuther wurd but wood cum n sit by me ever fridy to whar everbidy wuz talkin bout wuz we havin a thang till finely emily ast her wuz she a'wontin to have a flang with her husbin, witch that wuz me n i wuz standin rite thar at a party a pickin out some crackers n cheese to eat n alexis had cum to grab my elbow n ast wuz thay innythang good to eat. after that party we never seen her agin n folks tole me i musta been thonly one that dint notice how she wuz sweet on me.

  • sam johns. he wuz a graduwait student a'wurkin on his docktrut. he innerduced applause to the group whenever he herd me read a chaptur outta crap notes. when i gut to the end, he looked roun the room, held up his hands, n gut to clappin. twuz a bad moment in lots of ways on a counta after that, ye mite could thank the hole goal wuz to git folks to clap whenever ye quit readin fer the week. thang bout sam wuz he could mimick innythang frum a petrarchun sonnet to a raymond chandler hard boiled detective story to italo calvino, but he couldnt rite nuthin that wuznt no parody of sumthin else. thang wuz, he wuz rite funny, but he tuck offents ifn ye laffed.

  • lauren stewart. she wuz marrd to billy stewart, witch he wuz the new york jew i tole ye bout back in chaptur 122, how the group wuz born. she writ poetry n wuz real shy bout it. sumtimes she wood read n ye couldnt hear nothin till ye insisted she speak up a bit to whar we could here. she wood try to pall gize befor readin, witch we dint allow no pall gies whenever a person wuz a'readin, but she wood always find a way to slip one in. thang is, thay wuznt nuthin to pall gize bout. yet i wood be willin to bet she aint never publishd nuthin n probly aint never tride to. we had to beg her to reed ever time n sumtimes, ye couldnt git her to read nuthin no how no way.

  • jake dawes. he wuz a poet n a short story riter. he cum in fer the furst time whenever he herd bout the group after startin the graduwait program in the fall of 81. he wuz bout the mos arrowgunt of all only he had the good ritin to prove it. seem lack he wuz always in the group n he becum one of the main members. he gut to be bes friends with bud rankin, witch that wuz fine fer me.

  • bud rankin. i dun writ a bit bout him. thang wuz, he started cummin to the group the secunt or third time it met. he red us sumthin so bad it led to the furst critic, billy stewart, sayin he lacked stories whar he could tell who wuz in it n whut wuz happenin n whar it all tuck place, witch that made everbidy laff n bud rankin turnt a shade of red ye dont see lessn sumbidys spillin blood. the nex week bud red us sumthin that mite coulda been wurse. ever week he wood brang sumthin new. seem lack he wuz trine to rite whutever faulkner wooda dun ifn he had tuck a lot of lsd n smoked a lot of theevil weed n tride to rite whilest he wuz a'doon it. but thang wuz, bud wood rite sumthin new ever week n i gut to whar i wood add mire how he gut bettern better.

  • bud duncan. folks lacked to call me bud by then on a counta how it made it seem lack i wuz all growd up. later on folks wood git on me fer thankin is wuz leader of the group only they had to add mitt i hadnt never sed i wuz. twuz jes sumthin bout the way i ackted. i reckun ye caint git much more arrowgunt than i wuz n mayhap i aint changed all that much since. innywho, folks wuz a lil intimidated by the fack that i had dun writ a hole novel. furst few meetins, i wood try to rite sumthin new n read it to the group, but after a lil while, i real eyesd how i dint have a nuff time, or lease i cunvintsed myself i dint, so i gut to readin frum crap notes. whenever we met, we wood git together round 7:30 n pass theevil weed n drank sum beer or wine or whutever. i wood be the one to ast who had brung em sunthin to read. i wood ast who wonted to go furst. after bud rankin had dun read, witch he almost always had to go furst on a counta how he wuz so nervus, then i wood ast who wonted to go nex. innybidy coulda dun the astin, but i wuz the one that dun it n then i wood end up readin last. twuz a blessin i wuz readin frum sumthin so long on a counta thay wuz meetins whar thonly other person with sumthin to read wuz bud rankin. so i could read a chaptur n ifn folks wonted more, i wood read a lil more. corse, fer new folks, we had to brang em up to date on the story so far, so it gut to whar billy stewart could give ye a grate lil sinopsus of the novel.
thay wuz a passel more folk that cum n i plan to tell bout em by n by. we started out a'meetin in a big ole apartment billy stewart rented sos lauren could have a studio. thang wuz, we started gittin bigger n bigger. one week thay wuz 12 folks thar. nextn thay wuz 18. it gut to whar the listners outnumberd the riters five or six to one. finely cum a day when thay wuz near 60 folks a'trine to git in. twuz a hot stuffy evenin on a counta mosta them folks had to stand or sit injun style to whar the room wuz over filld with folk.

after that meetin, billy calld me n sed sumthin hadda be dun so i tole joe n he calld bud n bud tole jake n jake run into sam n splaint it to him n purty soon, six or seven of the reglars gut together over at the stewarts in south knoxvull n ast whut could we do to keep a good thing from gittin overgrown n goin bad. we lacked meetin at laurens on a counta twuz large n cumfy n rite thar in fort sanders. she lacked it too. but we had to figger sumthin. we mite start havin dues. or chargin at the door. or jes sayin after the 12th person gut in, nobidy else wood be allowd, but thang wuz how sam johns wuz generly bout 30 mints late n dint nobidy wonta keep him out.

so i cum up with a lil idee, witch twuz the kinda thang i dun that made folks thank i wuz the leader n then hate me fer it, but at the time, they figgerd twuz the purr feck solushun. my idee wuz that we wood move the group frum one reglars place to a nuther. we could deecide on the nite of a readin whar we wuz a'gone meet nex n only the folks that wuz attendin wood know. everbidy lacked the idee n thats whut we gut to doon. we dint take no vote. twuz jes deecided sum kinda way whar everbidy agreed befor they knew it.

when ye thank bout it, twuz the mos arrowgunt solushun we could git: only the insiders wood be in on whar we wuz a'gone meet. twuz a purrfeck fit fer a bunch of arrowgunt graduwait student woodbe riters.

No comments: