Friday, April 15, 2011

Blanking on a biggie ...

I brought along a book when I got my taxes done today.* The old man who agreed to use the number pad on a computer in exchange for a fee that exceeded my tax returns asked me what I was reading.

"'The Broom of the System,'" I told him. "It's by David Foster Wallace."
"Ah!" he said, fumbling a bit. "Is that the new one? He has a new one, right?"
"No," I said. "This is his first book. He wrote it in like 1986. I'm totally not going to read the new one."
Chatter. Chatter.

He told me he lives at Barnes & Noble. Me too, I said. Loves reading. Me too, I said.

"Who is your favorite writer?" he asked.

I blanked. Like, totally blanked. I could not think of the name of a single writer who is my favorite. Jennifer Egan came to mind, but I've only read two of her books. That's hardly "favorite" territory. For some reason Chuck Palahniuk also came to mind. He's not a favorite, I've just read every OCD convulsion he's ever committed to paper.

And the more I panicked, the more impossible it was to come up with a name. I must have a favorite writer, I thought. It's there somewhere. Who is it?!

Now, nine hours later, I remember that I really love Ryu Murakami. And, speaking of Murakami writers, Haruki. Hear that, tax guy? A coupla Murakamis. But now that I think about it: Are either of them really my favorite?

What a failure. Finally someone asks me a question that I'd love to answer and I flunk.


* Know that I'm thrilled that you are so adept with your home tax kits and the way you bravely finished your taxes in January by yourself using your body parts to fill in blanks and complete simple math. That is very special for you. But I would do it wrong. I have done it wrong and that is why I once paid the IRS $1,700 for a hiccup from 2006.

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