It's kind of humbling, which I suppose is healthy, to think that no one in that whole publishing house said, "Hold it; that's the title of a science fiction classic." I mean, would anyone in the straight world rip off FAHRENHEIT 451? Um . . . I guess they would.
But it is grievously bad timing. The first time the book's been (temporarily) out of print in 32 years, and along comes a temporary best-seller with the same title. Yesterday there were nine Google citations of my book before Filkins's was mentioned. Today there are five. Tomorrow, it might be at the top of the list.
Looks like a good book. I wish they'd come up with their own fucking title.
St. Martin's Press, who are bringing out the new edition, should buy an ad in the NYT Book Review, sayiing "Before _The Forever War_ there was _THE FOREVER WAR_! With quotes.
Gay and I biked to the Museum of Fine Art yesterday for the first meeting of the class I'm taking, _The Body in Question_. We got pretty lost, but had allowed extra time. Then found out that the class wasn't in the MFA building. Found it in time to register and was only a few minutes late.
The model was super. Big fat guy, over three hundred pounds, with huge muscles and a big white Zeus beard. His first five-minute pose was stunning. He put one knee on a small stool and then went into a graceful balletic position, and held it almost motionlessly. Then he struck a dramatic pose with an improvised scroll. Then pulling on a cloth as if trying to rend it. Then a fifteen minute pose with a staff. I did them with a water-soluble pencil and water pen.
Then two watercolors, a forty-minute and a twenty-minute. My new tablet of Canson paper is a joy to work with. Colors scrub out easily.
The teacher is a wiry energetic guy of about seventy, obviously an aged hippy. Very likeable but kind of random. We looked at a lot of pictures of nudes in between poses, and he tried to articulate what was good about them.
A lot of talent in the class; I'm about midway. Two high-school girls, oddly enough, taking the course for extra credit.
Went part-way by subway, but biked eighteen miles and was kind of bushed by the end of the day. Relaxed with Prairie Home Companion and had left-over spaghetti squash for dinner.
Today's a strange anniversary. Forty years ago today was my last day as a soldier. On 14 September 1968, the pile of enemy ordnance I was guarding, part of a squad of engineers, blew up. I was badly wounded in many places, but was the only one who emerged alive and with all limbs intact.
A couple of years ago I saw the official army description of the incident, written by a lieutenant who wasn't there. He says it was a dropped rifle grenade and goes on to say that he'd seen the guy who dropped it "playing" with explosives before, and had warned him yadda yadda.
If it was just a rifle grenade, how did I get a machinegun bullet in the groin? It was a .52 caliber Chinese job, the largest military round in use at the time. (Fired from a weapon, it would have killed me and taken my leg off at the groin. But it just cooked off, one of a belt of rounds coiled on top of the pile of mortar rounds and satchel charges.) The surgeon said he'd never taken one out of a [live] person before, and asked whether I wanted it for a souvenir. I cringed and said no. Now I wish I had it.
I have more than a dozen other fragment wounds that are inconsistent with a rifle grenade, including a dime-sized piece of shrapnel behind my left patella. That kind of rifle grenade (Chinese but of American design) contained a coiled steel spring that's notched every millimeter for several meters of steel. It explodes in a cloud of tiny supersonic splinters. They picked over a hundred of them out of me with tweezers. Dozens from the genitals, which ought to qualify me to run for president. (To get into the soft flesh, the splinters had to drive through weeks-old filthy clothing; I don't want to describe the infection that ensued.)
So it's a good day to be alive. Like most of the previous 14,610.