Maybe this is all why I like taxidermy so much. No one would ever mistake a mounted animal for a live one, no matter how intently the taxidermist tucks his eyelids and paints his nostrils. No matter how lifelike the pose. I mean, which—to borrow a phrase—is the authentic animal?
“The home stretch” is a baseball metaphor, right? Far be it from me to be familiar with baseball metaphors, but I think this is where I am. In, on, or at least facing the home stretch here. Two-to-three thousand more words and I’m finished. Carl Akeley, who is dead, has to die, and then I have to show readers what his African Hall is like. Then, maybe, I need an epilogue at the pet cemetery in town, the one that doesn’t bring its animals back to life.
When you’ve been working on a nonfiction book for four years, reading hundreds of source texts and rereading a handful of source texts many, many times, it all starts to feel like this thing infesting your head. This tapeworm or something you need extracted. Because as the texts accrete and the time passes, unless you are a much more organized person than I am, the hard part is figuring out: okay, is this something I read, or something I heard, or something even I’ve just made up? If something I read, where did I read it? Did I take notes on it, or not? Where can I find it?
NYC friends: rejoice. It’s looking as though I’ll be spending two weeks House-/cat-sitting in Brooklyn for my good friends Clay and Elaine as they honeymoon in Italy. Clay and Elaine are mathematicians, with PhDs and everything. I recently wrote something called “Go Pitt”. Clay recently wrote something called “Non-archimedean equidistribution on elliptic curves with global applications.”
Yes, I said cat-sitting. Yes, I’m allergic to cats. I’m coming armed with freshly refilled prescriptions for Fexofenadine and many reporter’s notebooks. I have a lot of (let’s hope) final research to do on the taxidermy book, and here are some things I hope to see on my trip:
And you, perhaps? It’ll be the end of June and very early July. “Let’s do lunch,” and by “lunch” I mean let’s see what five dollars will get us at the nearest bodega.