The papers have taken to calling them the Bridge People which he thinks makes sense in another way because they are a bridge between what passes for normal human beings and animals. They’re like chimpanzees or Neanderthals who eventually would have evolved into normal human beings if it it weren’t for their DNA having got scrambled somehow making them forget how they’re supposed to act when it comes to sex so what seems natural to them seems unnatural to everyone else even though everyone else has the same DNA except it isn’t scrambled the same way theirs is. The Kid wonders if all across America ther is some kind of strange invisible radioactive leakage like from high-tension wires or cell phones or road and mall parking lot asphalt that is turning thousand of American men young and old of all races into sex offenders so that instead of being attracted to grown women their own age they’re attracted to young girls and little children.
From Russell Banks’s Lost Memory of Skin.
This is quite a brave piece of writing about a young (early twenties) sex offender and how he is taken in by a sociology professor. Banks, a writer to whom a crop of us owe our respect when it comes to writing and being from the area, is someone I can’t help but hear my own voice whenever I read him. Sarah and I went to see him read at the Paul Smith’s VIC and after taking the book out of the library, I commented to her that it had been a while since I read something of his, but after getting a few pages in I can’t help but feel like I’m reading my own voice in this text.
“I see a lot of my tics reading this,” I mentioned to her over text message.
“That’s a sign of a great writer,” she replied, referring to Banks. “When the voice they’re using comes off as your own.”
That’s not what I meant. What I meant was that from a stylistic standpoint, I feel like I’m probably very close to him and no that doesn’t make me sound too big-headed and still unpublished. Lord, my ego. Jesus.
Since it had been so long since I read either Banks or Chabon, I noticed that Chabon started a Tumblr a year ago, while reading it I took both of them in considering for a second how much of an influence these two are. They are my favorite living writers and I can’t help but try to figure out who I am more like from a style standpoint. I suppose I’m slightly more like Banks, but I would like the finesse—I guess (hey!)—of Chabon. So I tell myself I’m like neither. I’m myself, which when I get into these circular conversations with myself late at night in bed I tend to get upset at myself for even thinking this way. There is a self-assurance to a writing style, I think, a voice that is specific to a writer that I am constantly questioning. Do I even have a voice that is unique? A style besides sloppy and honest and more than a little nerdy?
I suppose this is my biggest problem: confidence. I’ve never really had any. I’m not sure if anything about me from a prose point of view is particularly original or fresh. Just standard, perhaps below average. Serviceable. Gah. Sad face. I need to lose this attitude. Sorry to be a downer.