Hello, Goodbye, Hello
FRiGG is 10 years old. Spring 2003–present. We started with three: me, Sean Farragher, and Al Faraone. Im still here, and so is Al, but Sean died last June. Im not over it. This issue is for him, then, although its not the last thing Ill do for him. I want to work with his family to get his writing into books. And, boy, is there a lot of writing. Sean says Taxi Murders, the novel he worked onfor, what? a decade? a long timeis 1.5 million words. Can that be right? Jesus, the guy makes Proust looks like a minimalist. The 1.5 million doesnt even include his poems, of which there are hundreds. He arranged them all in collections, and there are maybe five of these collections. More? Mind you, these are not short collections. His daughter Kathleen asked me if I had room to store the paper copies of some of the words hed written, and she showed up at my door with two enormous, overstuffed suitcases. Incredibly heavy. I couldnt carry them upstairs by myself.
About a year ago Sean told me he had all his writing stored in the cloud. But I didnt think he was going to die soon, so I never asked him, Where exactly in the cloud? And what is the password? God. It was just like Sean to ask me to help curate his work, to help arrange it and get it into the world, and then he dies without telling me where. I traveled to Missoula to see him in the hospital, and some of the things I wanted to ask him were, Where the hell in the cloud is your work? And what is the goddamned password? He couldnt speak anymore, though. He had a tube down his throat. And by the time I got there, he couldnt write anymore, either. All was not lost, though, because his son Ian knew how to find his dad in the cloud, and what the password might be.
Sean called himself a lyric poet. Say what? Before I met Sean, my knowledge of poetry was limited. I was a fiction writer. I was a straightahead writer of stories that I worked hard to make sure everyone understood. I didnt want anything ambiguous. I would edit and re-edit and cut and rearrange and obsess. (Im also a copy editor, which, if youre a fiction writer, is sort of a shame.) Amid my OCD fiction writing, I saw Sean in some rooms in the short-stories wing of the Zoetrope Virtual Studio, and I read some of his writing, and I was like, Who is this guy? None of his words made any fucking sense whatsoever. This intrigued me. (I realized, eventually, that all of his stuff does make sensejust not in a way I was used to.) He told me he wrote for the way the words sounded, for the emotional impact delivered by the arrangement of the vowels and consonants, whichreally? You can do that? One day I read one of his poems about a god on the planet Tolfs. Trippiest shit ever. Long story short, after having had my mind repeatedly blown by exposure to writing that sounded like it was channeled from some alien raised in another atmosphere and who might not use the same spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax that we use here on planet Earth, I became a different writer. Now my stuff makes no fucking sense whatsoever either.
Much of Seans life was unspeakably sad. His childhood was abusive, chaotic, crazymaking. No one came out of it OK. I used to say to Sean it was a wonder he wasnt a serial killer. Instead, he became a poet. He saw a psychiatrist for a while, Menorah, and she told him his story was the worst shed ever heard. Here is a photograph he once sent me of his original family. Thats Sean (then Edward) on the left, grimacing, leaning away from the father. Its hard for me to look at the photo for long. Its damaged. No one there is happy. All of them, in their own way, look stricken. There are ghosts in the background.
A lot of his life was beautiful, though, too. He adored his children, and their children, and his wife Zoe, and some womenwomankind in general, reallyand the Hudson River, the mountains of Montana, a few planets, and all rocks. Poetry. History. Psychology. Geography. Science. Art. He loved a lot of stuff a lot. He was so big.
Some of Sean is here, in this tenth-year FRiGG, and its worth a peek, I think. You dont have to take it all in now, or at all, if youre preoccupied, or disinclined. Theres still time, and all of us at FRiGG, all of the past and future writers and the staff, including Sean, have lots of words you havent heard yet. Stay with us.
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