I went to watch this video of Junot Diaz and Karen Russell talking at the New Yorker festival, but first I had to sit through a commercial about Cover Girl’s Bombshell mascara. I learned that it’s an enormous breakthrough in mascara. It makes your lashes bigger, sexier, bombshell-like.
This reminded me of a commercial for Max Factor’s 2000 Calorie mascara that increases your lashes by 300x their normal size. I’m not sure how they measured this claim, and I really don’t understand why it takes 2000 calories to do this, but apparently, you get really plump lashes when you use it.
I wasn’t planning to get sidetracked with mascara when I went to watch the Diaz/Russell video. I was thinking, these are two writers who are really out there. These are people who wrestle with language like those guys in shiny gold tights and lightening bolt masks. They must practically spit out blood and maybe a few of their teeth when they write. I want to hear what they have to say.
And I started thinking about these two writers after reading this short story by George Saunders, which he submitted to get into the MFA program at Syracuse University. Talk about out there. This story is bombshell out there. It’s way more than 2000 calories out there.
These writers look perfectly normal. They look like they hold day jobs, pay taxes, eat oatmeal, watch television. They could have families, shop at Target, drive hybrids. Maybe they wear mascara, or know people who do.
But inside they are spinning. They are mixing time and space and colors and metaphors. They are jumping off cliffs and walking through desserts and eating raw liver and diving head first down rabbit holes.
How do they do it? Courage, grief, callused to other people’s opinions? I don’t know what it takes but I am in awe.
This time of year exacerbates the madness and horror and beauty of things. It goes off like a bombshell – with glitter and Hallmark and Black Friday and greed and homelessness and family melt-downs and charity and sorrow and ghosts. I think these writers would say there is only one thing to do.
Give in to it. Like a Jedi Knight, close your eyes and feel the force. Plump up. Tell your story. Behold.