There are two words I think of when I think of my next writer in “To Grow a Whisper,” my series of literary spotlights devoted to (mostly) emerging writers: isolation and comfort.
I distinctly remember an interview with Kendra Fortmeyer over at “The Toast” (RIP) where she talked about vampires, and how it would be “hard and lonely to live forever, even if you’re the most beautiful creature alive.” I think many, if not all, writers understand that line. Writing is our beautiful creature, and here we are with words we try to make live forever. It’s difficult, isolating work, but if we get it right we can help “someone else to feel less lonely for one damned second,” as Fortmeyer says. Her work tackles isolation but, like a friend, is also there to offer comfort and understanding.
Fortmeyer is a writer whose work makes me feel a genuine sense of joy and pleasure, whose personality glows, and whose presence overall is a unique delight. There is a rebelliousness in Fortmeyer’s writing, a joy that smiles in the face of the finite. In fact, it’s a joy that thrives because of the finite.
“When your life is small and finite, you see each and every finite thing. You see it all and it all means the world to you. I just lived 87 years of precise and vibrant moments and every one of them burned like a star” – “Mermaids at the End of the Universe“
This isn’t so much a quote as a manifesto on how I want to live. Vibrantly alive in every moment.
Often when I’m writing these spotlights I’ll go over, albeit briefly, numerous pieces an author wrote. However, I’m so enamored with Fortmeyer’s “The Girl Who Could Only Say sex, drugs, and rock & roll” I’m tempted to quote from it, to praise it, and use that one gem to shatter you into multiple directions looking for more of her work. There is a momentum to this story that builds and crescendos in a way that I can only describe as falling in love. By the end of the piece you’ll want to run away with everything Fortmeyer writes.
“Life was a game of beauty and noise and she was winning.”
Beauty and noise, the infinite and finite, isolation and comfort. With Fortmeyer we get the universe from one end to the other. She recognizes “something ungrateful about the body in its final moments, a gracelessness,” but despite these messy, temporal bodies, I’m thankful to every little speck of dust that led us to being here, right now, with a writer like her, and her words that capture what it means to be bittersweetly alive.