Monthly Archives: January 2013

Chad Harbach, Dopplegangers & the Near Demise of Insult-Seeking

Chad Harbach Reading @ McNally Jackson Books

Chad Harbach first novel

According to Harbach, my soul, composed of douchiness and tardiness, is both clean as a summer's eve and very often late

The night of Chad Harbach’s reading was to become for me a bizarre, painful evening, an evening whose anthropomorphic traits I, post-disaster, characterized with mildly self-flagellating images, such as nervous nose picking, mumbling, and shame. Oh, reliable old Shame! How the echoes of your approaching footfalls quicken my heart, send rivulets of battery acid to the welcoming lengths of my armpit hair, and call to standing attention on the base of my tongue the ghost of coffees past. It was an evening to remember for its inability to be forgotten.

Though anxiety and second thoughts were familiar feelings prior to asking strangers for insults, dark premonitions were not. For no particular reason I could see, I was suffering from the acute desire to skip the Q train to McNally Jackson and instead ride the L to domestic safety. But I’d humped the bricklike Art of Fielding up and down subway pee-ways and through the grimace of what was then my full-time job, so: dark thoughts circling my head or not, I set out to ask Mr. Harbach to look into my soul and laugh.

Harbach’s work on n+1 suggested he’d be happy to oblige. Happy insulters make for easy, rewarding nights. Add to that the apparent evidence that he was a fellow lover of America’s slowest, most unabashedly boringest game, and I just had to go. The Art of Fielding was a BASEBALL book, and how often can we self-identifying literati hold our heads up proudly in our favorite Brooklyn coffee shops with sports genre type books in our laps? It seemed that Harbach pulled a Chabon – genre subject, literary pedigree.

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