Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Rachel Kushner’s Essay Ground a Lot of Ground, Powered by Powerful Engines

She describes how she was the only champagne colored impala on Long Drive in the late 1990s, with typical aphrodisiac grace. She hits the rain wall, and she writes:

“I have old cars that leak around the windshield; This one did not. It has working heat and AC, a working radio, precise weather stripping, wipers – these things are luxury and civilization in an antique car. This is chamber music: you feel on top of the world as you wither and move along in a slump. In a new car, in which everything is plastic and somewhat ugly and works today but will eventually break down, there is no thrill to act. “

The title of this book is the song “White Room,” Cream. “At the party,” goes the lyricist, “he was kind to a tough crowd.” This is a fine line, Kushner observed.

The author spends time in tough crowds: bikers, truck drivers, tattoo artists, punk band members. This book contains an actual gallery of spirits. One of the important realities of Kushner comes near the end, when she admits that she is herself, not so hard as she thought or wanted.

“Part of my parents’ influence was the Bohemian idea that the real meaning was most brightly with the living, who were free to ruin themselves,” she writes. “I admired these people very much, whom I am describing to you. I put them myself in a hierarchy that is reestablished in the fact that I am the one who lived to tell. “

He continues, as a strong statement about artistic purpose and sensibility that I have read in a while:

“I was a weak link, the mind always removes the rough: looking at myself and other people, absorbing my life and my events. To be tough is to let things stay away from you, for the present. I have to live, not dwell or worry. And even though I was out late, committed to the end, some part of me left early. To be a writer no matter how much time you have left at home .

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