Summer for prose and lemons, for nakedness and languor,
for the eternal idleness of the imagined return,
for rare flutes and bare feet, and the August bedroom
of tangled sheets and the Sunday salt, ah violin!
When I press summer dusks together, it is
a month of street accordions and sprinklers
laying the dust, small shadows running from me.
It is music opening and closing, Italia mia, on Bleecker,
ciao, Antonio, and the water-cries of children
tearing the rose-coloured sky in streams of paper;
it is dusk in the nostrils and the smell of water
down littered streets that lead you to no water,
and gathering islands and lemons in the mind.
There is the Hudson, like the sea aflame.”
I would undress you in the summer heat,
and laugh and dry your damp flesh if you came.
Author Chuck Palahniuk first came up with the idea for the novel after being beaten up on a camping trip when he complained to some nearby campers about the noise of their radio. When he returned to work, he was fascinated to find that nobody would mention or acknowledge his injuries, instead saying such commonplace things as “How was your weekend?” Palahniuk concluded that the reason people reacted this way was because if they asked him what had happened, a degree of personal interaction would be necessary, and his workmates simply didn’t care enough to connect with him on a personal level. It was his fascination with this societal ‘blocking’ which became the foundation for the novel.
“See, the thing is, you’ve got this idea of normal that’s not normal. Normal people don’t do everything perfectly. You don’t have to do everything perfectly to be normal. To be normal, you’ve got to kind of relax and let some things go. Your problem is that you’re so used to being in crisis that your whole perception of yourself is as a fuckup, a permanent fuckup, never someone who gets to not be a fuckup, so you have to torture yourself and hate yourself just to be as good as everyone else. You’re having a hard time realizing that you’re not a fuckup anymore. You’re entering a whole different period of your life where you are normal. And you’re having a hard time getting used to it."
I gaze out the window. “But if you’re not trying to be perfect, then how do you know if you’re doing things right?”
“There is no right,” she says. “There’s the best you can do. And that’s fine. That’s normal.”
“The best I can do is sometimes completely fail,” I say.
She shrugs. “Fine,” she says. “The rest of us do it all the time.”