First, anticipate it. In fact, anticipate disappearances, jail time, lawsuits, death threats, broken things, cocaine, young wives, younger girlfriends, children. Don’t be fooled by the pauses. They will be full of bluegrass, money, convertibles, grand homes in foreign countries, pet orangutans, and infinite promise.
“Stop!” he yelled, jumping to his feet. He slapped his hands down on the chess sets, scattering the pieces across the sidewalk. People stopped to watch. His face went red, and he shouted, “I MUST TELL YOU THAT I AM THE GREATEST CHESS PLAYER OF ALL TIME!”
“Fifteen years ago, this used to be a wonderful small town,” Jack McGuire, the chair of the museum’s fundraising foundation, told me. “There used to be all sorts of nice shops and cafes. Now you can see the boarded-up places. The old hotel was demolished. Frankly, if it were not a courthouse town . . .”
As a black man with a predilection for the Southern white woman experience, Als can write about white girls in salacious, exploitative detail like Freud writes about Dora. He knows our every move, and everything wrong with those moves, and he appreciates that we make them anyway.