You finish a long article, revise it, submit it, respond to the fact-checker, revise it further, and resubmit it. Then you wait a year. One day you will receive a fat tome in the mail, one that will be sold for $320 USD to a few dozen research libraries across the USA and maybe Canada. At any rate, I find the situation absurd. Consider the price of the book: $320 USD. (That’s to pay me and the fact-checker and the editor, I suppose.) Then there are the size and the heft of the thing, which are almost too much. I can find no proper link to the table of contents or the list of contributors. Presumably university students and profs whose institutions have a subscription to the right consortium will be able to access my essay on Paul Metcalf in PDF form, though I can’t verify that right now.
Earlier this spring I was in the process of preparing an article on the work and life of Edward Dahlberg to feature in the same series, when I received notice that the series was definitively cancelled. What a pain in the ass. I was already at work on the article. I have racked my brains for an alternative publication outlet that would be interested.
Anyways, I touched a lock of Metcalf’s hair in New York City. To my surprise, it was more auburn than brown. I saw other things in the archive, including a photo of Metcalf in a wetsuit hamming it up in his New England kitchen with his wife Nancy. A picture of Charles Mingus, annotated by Nancy — “Paul’s favorite picture of Mingus.” A medical note about Paul’s dizziness in the months before his heartattack in 1999. A certificate of “excellence in safety” that he received one of the years that he was a schoolbus driver on the outskirts of Asheville, NC. Photos of him in a firefighter’s jumpsuit, also from the Asheville years. His elementary school composition notebook. Much else. The remnants of a lifetime.