All of this is to say what so many writers have already said: it’s hard to write a novel and act like a human being. You can’t have a foot in both worlds, half in and half out of your mind. So some writers go on a solo retreat, some writers drink, and some writers wake up to write while polite society is still sleeping—in any case, they find a marker, something that signals that they are no longer in the old world.
fiction by Gerald Shapiro
His name tag said “Sherman Lampert (Barbara Rossovsky).” People were looking at him like he had two heads. Probably half of them thought he’d had a sex change operation. He’d be glad to go along with the idea if it would save him from anyone’s clucks of sympathy, the whole “Oh, you poor man” spiel he’d heard a thousand times (and that wasn’t much of an exaggeration) over the past eleven months. Enough, enough already with “I can just imagine the pain you’re in,” because the fact was, even he couldn’t imagine the pain he was in, and the thought that someone else might presume to understand it made Lampert almost giddy with contempt. He’d moved to a foreign country, the land of grief, and had burned his ships upon arrival, like one of the old Spanish conquistadors.
His children had advised him not to come to this high school reunion, and who could blame them? “It wasn’t your high school, Dad,” his daughter Franci told him. She spoke to him as if he had dementia.