I love that "furious and gorgeous barrage." That helps me see the relation between the introduction and the book's final section, where writing about a fire (and about the attempt to understand the event), also becomes an attempt to understand how writing might get closer to the fire, in so many ways.
I hope, by being honest about what happened to me, to help nourish a culture of honesty that might make something different - and better - possible. We really need to squarely face the issue of child abuse in America, and to look at our perversity, our illness.
I had Paterson, and The Art Lover, to guide me for The Tales of Horror (written from 1988-'97 and published in 1999), but I still was so lost, back then, as I tried to understand what I was writing and how it went together. There was a draft of that manuscript that had all these brightly colored paper clips on the pages so I could visualize what I saw as the book's themes and threads - that was a long time ago.
There's a case in Baton Rouge, haunting me, where a mother left her twelve-year-old daughter to be babysat (every day for months) by a known pedophile and his four perverse friends, and the news broke of the bodies of two children, dead after long-term physical abuse, found in a storage locker in California. What hardest for me is, I suppose, what's hardest for my country
The failure of protection, the importance of recognizing the ways in which we influence (and infect) each other - the fact that being an "individual" can't protect you - these are issues I've been thinking about for a while.
Maybe one way to think about it would be in the context of the historical development of germ theory. The problem of childbed fever was not significant until the development of a male-dominated medical establishment made possible the situation in which a professional might move from touching a corpse (for the purposes of study) to putting his unwashed hands up against, or into, a woman in labor.
There's a nice clear difference between real protection (wash your hands, or wear a condom) and the fake protection offered by institutions which often come, finally and sadly, to be much too interested first of all in protecting their own power.
What was toughest for me in writing "Trust," was reliving it, turning and facing this. We move on and we don't move on, you know? She's still there - and by "she" I mean me - caught in that windowless room, that bad bargain and that violation. No one can touch me, sexually, without activating that memory. But I had walled, I thought, that time off. I say that and then want to say "and I got off lightly"!
Is the professor who insists we read Ernest Hemingway again instead of Gertrude Stein "obsessing"? Because although I did a BA in English, an MFA in Poetry, and a year's worth of a PhD, Stein was an author I had to discover on my own. She wasn't on the syllabus anywhere in all that time.
It's painful, but it's part of the recognition that makes real healing possible, if healing is possible (the jury is out on that, that's the usual phrase - should I say the jury is deadlocked?). Staying with the pain, attending to it, being present to and with it - that's the task, because that's the only (as far as I can tell) hope of finding a way forward.