Thursday, April 17, 2008

prefatory remarks

Do you give much thought to what an author says or inserts before the main text? Like an author's note, or a quote, or anything? Does that W.B. Yeats quotation really deepen the meaning of a text? Why did they choose that quotation? Did it really inspire them? Really? C'mon. REALLY? Sometimes a prefatory quote is interesting. Probably my favorite quote is the one T.C. Boyle uses to kick off his monster collection of short stories. He quotes Bob Marley's I Shot The Sheriff: "Reflexes had the better of me." Which is not about the content of the stories but about the way he writes, all reflexes, so he claims. How does that guy write so much? He writes, like, a novel every other year and a short story collection in his off years. He's going to make Joyce Carol Oates look like a slacker.

I look back on prefatory remarks I've provided in the occasional program and I wonder what dipshit wrote that dipshit prefatory remark. The Butcher of Baraboo is getting published in an anthology and the editor gave me the option for a prefatory remark. I couldn't think of anything I wanted to say about the play. It wasn't inspired by a quotation or any one thing. I thought about sticking a Billy Joel lyric in the preface because one character's affection for Billy Joel is a running gag in the play and that would make the preface a part of the joke. But - I didn't write any prefatory remarks. I'd rather not write anything than write some dipshit two cents worth of wisdom hooey. I'm not talking about your prefatory remarks. Your remarks are not hooey. They are revelatory. It's not you, it's me.