Monday, June 18, 2012

In Search of Thomas Berger

June 18th, 2012
In my creative nonfiction class, a student presented to us his finest (and only) blog. Was it a magical blog, filled with those perfect things that make blogs really pop ("Those perfect things" include candy corn recipes, photos of thrifty fashion purchases, and musings about love)? No. But it was about his great passion: snowboarding.

In his journalism class the professor had the students start a blog about their interests. Rather than go the route of school programs (in which his interest stood at the "empty" line of his fuel gauge of fascination, which is an incredible metaphor), he decided to go for something he could write about for an extended time (from time, immemorial, to time, immemorial). To capitalize on this opportunity, he went about Facebook-stalking snowboarders to see if he might interview his heroes and ended up contacting several of them. Now he is an associate editor for a snowboarding magazine called, inexplicably, Snowboard (apparently a dream job????).

Suddenly the mortality of heroes washed over me like a pile of dead rats (I will not give up on this image) as I realized I would not get to interview Ray Bradbury (not in this life anyway...unless...unless he's...The Undead!), who recently passed away. So I decided it was time to get to work on talking to my more nearly-dead heroes.

"Beatrice, I'll never let go. Never!"
Now imagine a bunch of these...but WAY more deceased

Thomas Berger is a novelist living in Somewhertown, Somewhere, USA (probably, I hope?). In tenth grade I was introduced to him by my brother, Tyler. First I read Nowhere, followed by Being Invisible, then his Pulitzer-prize nominated, The Feud (which should have won, because Ironweed suuuuuuuuuucked. I'm calling you out, William Kennedy).

Give it back! Give back what you stole, William Kennedy!

I was captured (like a wild animal) by Berger's use of absurdity and juxtaposition of the eloquent with the vulgar. I even wrote him a letter as an essay for a writing competition a year later, but it got REJECTED!!!!! (this is the only sports word I know, so I use it often, also, bindings, I guess?)!!!!!!


This year, Thomas Berger is 87 and time is running out. So I wrote a letter to Simon and Schuster, publishers of his later novels, asking if they would send me his contact info so I could interview him, noting that, "At 87, he has one foot in the grave, so I'd like to do it before he dies. Your help would be appreciated."

But I can't leave it up to just one source to find Thomas Berger. I have to spread out, diversify, annoy. I went to Twitter and looked up Samuel L. Jackson's account. He is starring in a film adaptation of Berger's Meeting Evil, one of my favorites. The film can go straight to the vault (the vault is in Hell) for all I care, but I figured that maybe those who worked on it might have actually talked to the author of the source material before sending out the finished product (I'm not holding on to any delusions though). I asked Mr. Jackson ("Sam-a-Ram" I call him, but not to his face) if he would send me the contact info and threatened that, if he didn't, I would continue annoying celebrities until I got it.

I expect either no response, or one filled with profanities. If I get neither of those things and instead get a very cordial response, I will freak out. The following is how I expect that to go:

Sam-a-Ram: "@KendallPack My sincerest salutations, good sir. Attached is the address of Mr. Berger."
Me: "@SamuelLJackson...uh...I am both delighted and concerned????"
Sam-a-Ram: "@KendallPack Oh dear, I would love to clear up the confusion. When and where can we meet?"
Me: "@SamuelLJackson I At Burger King?"
Sam-a-Ram: "@KendallPack Oh, may we? I simply adore Burger King!"
Me: "@SamuelLJackson Sure, yeah. That'd be great!"
Sam-a-Ram: "@KendallPack Oh, one more thing..."
"Never ever try to contact me again."

More on this story as it progresses, fellow Adventurers!

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