Friday, October 28, 2011

"Despair" by Glen David Gold in The Santa Monica Review

The Santa Monica Review has been arriving in the mail for years since, or just before, its editor Andrew Tonkovich came on the show. In it I've read stories and essays by colleagues, friends, and at least one student. I've always liked the journal. It's literary without being pretentious.

But today, just now, in fact, I was knocked over by a piece in the Fall 2011 issue by Glen David Gold called "Despair." It was originally a talk he gave at Squaw Valley Writers Conference. I've liked Gold's writing since I read another essay by him in an anthology edited by Kevin Smokler that I wish I could remember the name of now. Bookends, maybe?

I want to tell all of the writers I know to read this essay. It's the last piece in the book. Gold talks about how the writing is the thing. The process is the most sacred part of anything we do. You've heard this before, but the sum of all parts of Gold's piece is nepenthean.

I'll back up. I've been writing a chapter on forgiveness for my memoir, Blue Corvair. The forgiveness chapters are short and are sprinkled throughout the memoir. For the current chapter, I started with a quote from a Melissa Bank story. One character tells another that to forgive, all you have to do is decide that's what you're going to do. No reason. You just forgive because you want to move on. I Googled forgiveness with the idea that the first entry that appeared would be the one I'd follow.

It was Wikipedia. Great. What's true, what's made up... I started reading. Forgiveness is good for the health and it's the most elevated was to be, from all religions' point of view. I felt dizzy, and lay down with the journal to finish reading "Despair."

Thank you, Andrew Tonkovich, for publishing Gold's talk, and thank you, Glen David Gold, for your defiantly great prose.

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