There are numerous ways to tell stories. In her turn of the century MFA program, one writer encountered a literary culture that espoused gendered aesthetics and centered on the idea of male genius, in turn marginalizing any forms that went against its preferred linear, narrative, economic style ─ against anything “feminine.” Junot Diaz is only part of this story.
Trying to answer that question sends the author back into her past, where she examines her black middle class upbringing, black upward mobility, and the tenuous prosperity of the educated and ambitous.
“Eloisa acted like she knew more than her mother, even though she’d been handed everything in life. Even though she’d never had to scrounge and save and claw her way through these Broken English streets to finally arrive in Miami’s suburbs. Eloisa didn’t have to force her mouth into unnatural shapes to curve around impossible words like turtle, like cinnamon. English spilled out of Eloisa’s mouth like a newborn baby, slippery and loud and unafraid to announce its existence.”
When relationships grow tired or toxic, some people write songs about the people they leave behind, the way John Coltrane did for his first wife Naima Grubbs. For others, like this essay’s author, there are too many things that can’t be spoken about, so they talk mostly about music.
“It had something to do with how a silly game premised around a fickle relationship between ball and rim fits into the larger story of the universe and how the love of that game is a joy about as dark and dangerous as any and all love should be.”