If Wishes Were Horses, I’d Want a Pegasus

So me and my man Nabokov were having a debate about Freud in the wee hours last night. I wondered whether the man from Vienna was ever able to shag off a couch.

The Russian writer responded: “I don’t want an elderly gentleman from Vienna with an umbrella inflicting his dreams upon me.”

Then we got onto the subject of writing. I expressed my love for erudite jolts, wit, satire, bold mocks, and obscure raillery.

Nabby replied: “Whatever term or trope I use, my purpose is not to be facetiously flashy or grotesquely obscure but to express what I feel and think with the utmost truthfulness and perception.”

About this time, as the clock didn’t strike the hour, but I deeply felt the urge to sod off, something struck me. He is a far better writer than I will ever be and the only saving grace I have is that I’m alive and can attempt to do better while he’s dead.

So then I drank a glass of wine, took a pee, and when I returned to the living room Vlad recited to me what he once told his students at Cornell: “Great novels are above all great fairy tales . . . literature does not tell the truth but makes it up.”

I sat down heavily in my director’s chair. Watched my three fish loop the liquid. Angled in on the rain against the dark window. Focused on Vlad reclining on the couch in a lovely dinner jacket.

I desperately looked around for a script, anything to stub out the silence between us that was growing unbearably bright like the slow burn of vexation or the hot element of indignation.

Vlad smiled at me. One of those paternal gestures that could have easily have been gouged into an alabaster bust of an old sage now disfigured by the ravages of some youthful folly.

I completely agreed with what he had said about novels being fairy tales and a small cruel flash of understanding passed between us.

I wanted to add that the fairy tale was maybe a writer’s way to return to the primal woods of myths, a new language for an old tongue, since reason and science have obliterated the wild wood and fairy tales are humanities only hope of ever capturing what is now lost.

But I said none of this and simply cut the lights, leaving Nabokov nestled in a glow of eminence and me groping in the dark for my bed.


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