Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Disappeared - Charles Baxter




This is my fifth encounter with Charles Baxter and we will meet up with him another three times - unless of course a story appears in another volume after 2016.

Year           Story Publication
1982
Harmony Of The World
Charles Baxter
The Michigan Quarterly Review
1986
Gryphon
Charles Baxter
Epoch
1987
How I Found My Brother
Charles Baxter
Indiana Review
1989
Fenstad's Mother
Charles Baxter
The Atlantic
1991
The Disappeared
Charles Baxter
Michigan Quarterly Review
2010
The Cousins
Charles Baxter
Tin House
2013
Bravery
Charles Baxter
Tin House
2014
Charity
Charles Baxter
McSweeney's

I enjoyed The Disappeared as much as I enjoyed the other selections in previous BASS collections.


Another author that has the skill that pulls me through their story.


We meet people in our lives that completely shake us from our reality.  Perhaps as we grow older we develop “defenses” against these people and their “eccentric” attractions. Anders (the main character) may have these defenses but they are useless in America - he isn’t equipped to fight off Lauren’s eccentricities outside of his native environment. He falls and fails. He’s human though.


I was in the 9th grade when I encountered my first  “Lauren”.


I was taking a math class that was made up of students from all four high school grades. My “Lauren” was a senior. She was also one of those artist types. She didn’t dress like the others., act like the others and I could sense this and it intrigued me.


I was out of my environment I suppose - I was drowning in the floodwaters of algebra and this drowning sensation shifted my atmosphere.


I tried flirting with her the best that I knew and she clearly saw what I was trying to do and played along with my silliness.


She was sweet to me but was careful not to pull me in too far.


I appreciate that.


Flash forward to 2014 - through the powers of the mighty Facebook friend suggestion algorithms, my “Lauren” reappears almost 30 years after I first met her.


She left her Facebook albums open - and there she is.


Amazingly, she still looks the same - perhaps my 14-year-old mind cemented that 19-year-old woman and I am unconsciously overlaying her high school appearance 28 years later. Could that happen?


She is a successful artist - has worked for several large studios in California as a set artist.


She attends Burningman...should that surprise me?  And there she is topless at Burningman (how did that pass the Facebook censors?)  - should that surprise me?


Charles Baxter dedicates this story to Alvin Greenberg. Baxter was a friend and former student of Greenberg's. Both Charles Baxter and Alvin Greenberg were in BASS 1982 - I’m sure they got a kick outta that!  


I wrote about Greenberg and his story - The Power of Language is Such That Even a Single Word Taken Truly to Heart Can Change Everything - that was included in the 1982 BASS.

That was in 2010. I started off that entry stating that he was alive and still writing.

I can’t remember why I wrote that.

Alvin Greenberg died in October of 2015.

Time marches on.

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