In fact, Read’s an She’s also, in a remarkable I’d been impressed Read Books? No curse words, no clip The text that followed was "I apologize for the "So, following proper And so on, into wonderfully The editorial mind reels. So what, I asked Elizabeth, So who was this Doyle? Why "Let’s say he’s Leave off the record that "No, just that he’s Flustered, but face aglow Elizabeth, are you Doyle? "See, that’s why Another silence. An oblique Is he a lawyer, like you? "If you’re going "I’ll put it this Okay. Have I heard of this Pause. "I don’t You can’t even tell "He’ll have to Williamsburg? "Ohhhhhh, you know." We sipped our whiskeys. "You know, maybe he’ll
environmental lawyer at a Park Ave. firm, which fact is…compelling. (A lawyer?
one thinks, watching her peer, secret and bright-eyed, out from behind her tumbler
of whiskey–straight out of the Edward Gorey School of Law.)
little way, a budding publisher. We’d met in Max Fish after work so she
could tell me the story behind the enigmatic pamphlet she’d mailed me.
by the mysterious, unsolicited document. It was the folded and staple-bound
work with which you’ll be familiar if you work in this business–people
often send along their self-published writing. But it was integritously done.
"Confessions of Doyle: Confession One," read the cover, by John Doyle;
the publisher, Read Books, New York, New York.
art, no orthographical eccentricities–in other words, none of the tics
common to the genre. "John Doyle," read a note on the second page
of the 12-page booklet, "is a pseudonym for another man of a similar background."
tardiness of this report, but my doctor ordered me to quit smoking," it
began. "The habit has been symbiotic with all my activities, for all of
my adolescent and adult life. So, as you might suspect, I could only split the
act of writing from the act of smoking with a monstrous and energy usurping
effort. I wish you could see the flexing muscles of my will at work on my nicotine
craving–their bulging might would make you swoon. If I could summon that
strength to some useful purpose, I could rule the world, or at least save myself.
journalistic form, I’ve given you some mood setting (here I sit, craving
a burning bit of tobacco, a haggard young man with a romantic flaw, hacking
away at what I hope will be a long, meaningful missive). And now I will give
you my lede/presumptive moral: Pensive Irish boys from Boston suburbs ought
not leave those humble beginnings far out of mind. Nobody likes Hibernian ambition.
America prefers its Micks drunk and indolent…"
written evocations of said Hibernian suburban Boston childhood.
A fully formed voice out of the great unsolicited Nowhere, a place dominated
by profaners and guttersnipes.
was the story? Here she is, a year and a half out of Harvard Law, working in
a respectable profession, writing legal briefs. She’s a successful young
professional. But then, on the side, here she is calling herself "Read
Books," and publishing enigmatic texts. (The next "Doyle" is
due out any week now. You should write Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org–come
to think of it, that address is interesting, too–what’s up there,
Elizabeth?–and order it.)
did his identity have to remain a mystery? Was he, like, an ex-convict?
between 25 and 30." She cringes. "Oh no! And after I’ve had a
drink! Can we leave it off the record? He’s a really good friend of mine.
And I am his attorney."
he’s between 25 and 30?
not an ex-convict. He’s not currently on the lam."
with secret mischief.
I do want to say more, because it’s not me… He actually
specifically doesn’t want you to know where he lives. He’s not on
Rikers Island. No–that kind of–actually–he doesn’t live
on Rikers Island."
to play 20 questions, I don’t want to go there. If you’re going to
ask, is he this, is he that, I don’t want to play this game. I don’t
really know why he wants to remain anonymous. But it’s not me.
way. We’re very good friends. We talk every day. It’s not Thomas Pynchon
or J.D. Salinger, it’s someone our age… So I’m not under strict
think so, no."
me where he lives?
tell you where he lives, and you won’t be surprised."
Singsong, girlish. "The kids live everywhere these days."
Raven-draped Elizabeth looked conspicuous in the grunge-guy ambience. Bristly
downtown lumberjacks staggered in from the freezing street. She smiled–a
girl who’s just got it into her mind to reach over and mash up her little
get mad at me for divulging this much, and kill me, and it will all come to
In fact, Read’s an
She’s also, in a remarkable
I’d been impressed
No curse words, no clip
The text that followed was
"I apologize for the
"So, following proper
And so on, into wonderfully
The editorial mind reels.
So what, I asked Elizabeth,
So who was this Doyle? Why
"Let’s say he’s
Leave off the record that
"No, just that he’s
Flustered, but face aglow
Elizabeth, are you Doyle?
"See, that’s why
Another silence. An oblique
Is he a lawyer, like you?
"If you’re going
"I’ll put it this
Okay. Have I heard of this
Pause. "I don’t
You can’t even tell
"He’ll have to
"Ohhhhhh, you know."
We sipped our whiskeys.
"You know, maybe he’ll