On the way to Loyola Marymount I have one of the moments where I can’t believe all this is Los Angeles – highways going on and on and on and it really does feel like we’re in the middle of nowhere still this is the city, I guess. People are right that the air is better over here on the West Side where you can smell the ocean, softer too and I walk over to a viewing area on the campus, thinking maybe I can even see the ocean but instead it’s just a cliff overlooking an area where everything has been torn down to make way for a new development.
The school looks like country club and I can’t exactly tell how people are reacting during the reading, but then afterwards there’s a professor who asks how many books I brought, and she says I’ll take them all, and then gives them out to other professors and students, and this one student comes up to me who was sitting towards the back, someone who I really couldn’t gauge at all but now he’s so animated, telling me about the books he read in high school because that was one of the questions and how what I was reading really opened his mind.
And then a conversation afterwards with several professors and one of them says every once in a while we give an award for someone who really stimulates us to think in new ways, and he pulls out a book that he had just recommended to me, Donald Barthelme’s The Dead Father in first edition hardback, he must have gone to his office to get it. The Dead Father because that’s how my book begins. Donald Barthelme because, well I will know once I read it.