"You know I can’t get away…I’m with the brain again…."

The title of this weblog post is from some lines of dialogue from one of my favorite uncollected J.D. Salinger stories–“The Inverted Forest“. (I found it pretty quickly online and I wonder how old J.D. thinks about it.) In this story our main character, Corinne, is left by a childhood love. The childhood love, Raymond Ford, tells her these lines after leaving her for a younger and more abusive woman that is drawn similarly to his mother. Ford is a poet and the lines, in my reading, mean Ford cannot write without the similar surroundings of the life he grew up with. And Corinne was raised affluent and drawn as having so much provided for her and Ford doesn’t have much except for an abusive mother and perhaps the origin of his creativity.

I think of this story as I head back to Colorado possibly within the next few days. And I can say with some irony and half-heartendness after the drama and hurt of the last six months–I’m back with the brain.

Can’t hide in books and academics as I have for the past 16 to 17 weeks. And I talked about it a bit this term in my poetry class after we read sections of T.S. Elliot’s The Wasteland. I don’t know if the poem and the story are meant to speak to one another but they do. I do know Salinger wrote poetry and I imagine so much of his poetry under his bed. Anyway, the chapter associated with the poem is on allusion as figurative language and the Elliot poem has more than 400 allusions to other works–all other works and I kid you not–in the literary canon, western and non-western. In the Wasteland, Elliot describes the emptiness after loss of WW I and how that perhaps allows him and drives him to write oddly enough–honeslty I am not quite sure what Elliot is saying–but I think that is what Salinger is trying to say. That which harms us and hurts us perhaps makes us stronger and fuels are creative literacies–like Ford and his writing on a card table in his new home at the end of the story. This is a pretty thin analysis on my part but that is pretty much what I think Salinger is saying in response to the Wasteland.

OK. So what does that have to do with Pueblo? Well, my family and so much of who I am is in Pueblo. Was in Pueblo. Since the Abuelita died I haven’t been all that well. I have been teaching and I have been writing. Perhaps I have been working too hard in order not to think about things. But I write about Lolo and the Abuelitos and my growing up and so I feel that all that fuels my writing and my creative sensibilities. I mean I approach writing of fiction and non-fiction all through Pueblo and my growing up there. Spruce Street and the southside I grew up on. And soon I will be back and be able to see the family and work in the old/new library on some research and I have to say I am dreading it and also looking forward to it. The paradox to add to another long list of paradoxes I deal with in my life and work.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

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