I've had more than one person tell me that what's missing from these notes is my sense of humor.
This criticism—and they mean it as a criticism—might be the most acute commentary on my writing generally: every story, every email, every birthday card. Visions of Joanna, too, is a grim, sad book. It delights in the nuances of grief, in the easy lyricism of tragedy. Also, my new book: so terribly, poetically sad—
So the question presents itself: Why do I find comic writing so difficult these days? (There was a day when it come easily—when it was all I did.)
Because comedy, laughter, has always been one of the primary pleasures of my (relatively docile) life.
Professionally, for example: I love laughter in the classroom. I am a failure as teacher when we don't laugh.
(Although recently I've noticed that I'm embarrassed about making a class laugh. As if I've realized that at some point I embraced the role of the Dancing Bear, convinced that I'm good at little else, and now regret that embrace, as it seems to lack, like so much else in my life, ambition.)
Even now the note turns serious—
Better that God had said to Isaiah: "Come now, and let us laugh together."
Reason, you see—this I've learned—is lifeless. Very few people care about reason.
Instead of hearing someone say, "You are so reasonable!" I want to hear: "You make me laugh."