Because We Are Here…

… is the title of a short story collection by Chuck Wachtel, which I used to possess.

For some reason, though, I felt the  need to withdraw it from my meager library of short story collection. Not sure why exactly. I suppose I was never really able to get into it, for whatever reason.

Anyhoo…I recently came across a used copy and decided to reclaim it. Not that i’s the same copy. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s not.

I’ve often wondered if I’ve ever reclaimed a copy of a book that I’d previously discarded; I’m considered leaving myself a marker, say, circly the page number 67 or someting like that, see what happens. I’ve no idea why, it just seems like a curious experiment.

Anyhoo part deux… I’m pretty sure I bought this collection new, and it was probably in Kalamazoo at the John Rollins Bookstore, a great independent bookstore, which doesn’t seem to have a web page, which seems odd to me. It was published in 1996, the year I graduated from Western Michigan with my MFA in creative writing, afterwhich I hung around Kalamazoo for a couple more years, adjunct teaching and hanging out in coffee shops, drinking too much coffee and smoking too many cigarettes. Ahhhh good times!

Anyhoo take three… at the time I knew nothing about this author but I’d buy just about any new collection of short stories that I happen to come across. Novels required a recommendation, but I was pig for short stories, and right so, if for no other reason than I discovered David Foster Wallace that way, when I came across a copy of Girl with Curious Hair amongst the remainder books. In fact, there were multiple copies. If I’d only known, I would have bought them all. In any case, that one discovery was well worth all the collections that didn’t cut it for me and were eventually discarded.

Why did Because We are Here not cut it? Hard for me to say now. I mean, the first story, St. Ralphie (great title btw) is about a fairly ordinary guy that gets struck by lightening on the golf course one day and is suddenly invisible. Of course, it is about more than that, but just the basic premise rocks!

On the one hand rediscovering a book like this one delights me, but on the other it makes me wonder how many other good books I’ve junked just because at the time I wasn’t digging ’em. Of coures, I wouldn’t  be a GenXer if I didn’t that such an event wasn’t entirely a good thing.

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2 responses to “Because We Are Here…

    • You’re welcome, James!

      I wish you luck with Infinite Jest. I’ve still yet to read it all the way through. For all it’s size and frustrations (namely, wrist cramps from trying to hold the monolith up) it is well worth the effort.

      Please return and share your thoughts. I’d enjoy hearing them.

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