Curmudgeons I Love

Two brief anecdotes, to begin:

1. When I was in high school, my French horn teacher (I know, I know), a sweet but wan young woman who lived with her mother, often wore latex gloves just like, around.  I was always very curious about this: was she OCD?  Was she trying to protect her precious instrument-playing fingers?

2. Right before the release of my book, my editor, my agent, the publicist at my agent’s office, and I went out for coffee to discuss pre-book buzz.  One of the things that came up was potential blurbers––you know, people who provide one or two lines of praise you can slap on the book jacket.  Because Lionel Shriver had recently written a book about her brother’s obesity (my book was about weight issues, to put it broadly), someone suggested her.  My agent got a grave look on her face, and silently and slowly shook her head, “No.”

The reason she did that, I later learned, is because Lionel Shriver is fucking terrifying!  She’s also at the moment (and maybe just generally?) loathed, for lots of un-zeitgeist-y views and what appears to be a broad disdain for people.  At times in interviews, she refutes that, but mostly the impression she gives off is that of a reed thin, slightly eccentric battle-ax.

Recently I was reading old profiles of her because I find her whole persona mesmerizing, and I noticed that she’s often photographed wearing cheap knit gloves.  She reminds me immediately of a strict Muslim who just forgot to wear a burqa but remember to cover her hands.  One article I read said she wears them because she refuses to pay for heating in her house; another said she had a circulation disease.  Is it possible she just wears them to bolster the “weirdo” image?  I get the sense she thinks of herself as very authentic, and not that she isn’t, but there is also a delight evident in knowing that she is very different from the rest of us bare-handed mite brains.

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