Ed Park: Intermission II: April 2009—“ Forgive Me”

Intermission II: April 2009—“ Forgive Me”


—Morning, Trix.

—Morning, boss.

—What’s the good word?

—Another letter from Awk.


—The A.A.U.W.C., Asian Americans United Writers’ Cooperative.

—Have I done anything for them?



—Not as long as I’ve been sharpening your pencils.

—I could have sworn I did a fundraiser/reading/thingie for them back in ’03, ’04.

—You must be thinking of something else. Awk was only started last year by the playwright Mungo Kwon and the novelist Deedee Lee.

—Did Mungo Kwon write that play about the Chinese guy?


—I think I saw it. Wasn’t it a movie?


—Then I didn’t see it. Who’s Deedee Lee?

—She wrote a novel based on her upbringing, called Chinese Whispers.

—Sounds familiar. Was that an Oprah book?

—It wasn’t an Oprah book per se—it wasn’t featured on the show, but Deedee was profiled in the magazine.

—Oprah has a magazine?

—Yes. It’s called O.

O, of course. I didn’t realize that was hers. Could you get me a copy of the profile?

—The profile of Deedee? Sure. That won’t be a problem.

—If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you should always keep tabs on the competition. Can you find out if Cee-cee’s writing another book?

—Deedee, boss. She has a memoir coming out in the fall.

—Fuck! Is it good?

—I’ll try to get a galley when they’re available.

—Is she older than me?

—She was born two years later.

—Good looking?

—She is attractive.

—Let me rephrase that: Is she better looking than me?

—I couldn’t say, boss.

—I know. It’s apples and oranges, men and women. But if you had to choose? If you were, like, bi-, and had to choose?

—What are you doing to your hair?


—You just patted down the front and fluffed out the back.

—What? No. That’s—my hair sometimes looks like that. Come on. Me or Deedee. Which is it?

—I suppose I’d choose you, boss.

—That’s what I want to hear, Trix.

—I dodged a bullet.

—Is she single?

—She’s married.


—I’ll find out. So should I tell you what Awk wants?

—What’s Awk?

—AAUWC, the Asian American United Writers’ Cooperative.

—Right, right. Tell me what Awk wants.

—They want to know if you’ll participate in a fundraiser they’re co-curating with Patrick Pending and the Asian American Relief Fund.

—Who’s Patrick Pending?

—It’s a gallery in Chelsea.

—Never heard of it. Wait, did they do the Dark Red Paw exhibit? All the letters glued to the walls? You had to take a tab of acid before you went in?

—I don’t know. I can find out.

—Dark Red Paw. Native American artist. True story: I knew him as “Edward Park,” we have the same name. Dark Red Paw’s an anagram. He’s not Iroquois, as he claims on his W-2s.

—I can check about whether Pending did a Dark Red Paw show.

—That’s my Trix. Actually, don’t bother. What’s the story with this Asian American Relief Foundation?

—Asian American Relief Fund. It appears to be an organization that gives money to various Asian American groups in need.

—Presumably right back to Awk. Sheesh. I don’t know, Trixie. This stinks to me. It stinks to high heaven. But I do sometimes feel like I need to “give back” to the community.

—Awk’s request is not without interest, boss, if I may say so myself.

—You may.

—They want to know if you could write a three to five minute work of fiction or creative nonfiction from the point of view of a pet from the movie of your choice.


—Like, you could do something in the voice of Benji or Lassie. Or one of the animals in The Incredible Journey.

—Why would I want to do that?

—For charity, but also, I don’t know, you keep saying how you need to kick-start your novel. This might be the way to do it.



—Amazing, amazing. These people amaze me, Trix. The things they ask! Jeez Louise. Could I do Toto from the Wizard of Oz?

—I’m sure that’s an option.

—Well, what if Chang-rae Lee’s already doing Toto?

—There’s room for more than one Toto story, I’m sure. Toto’s such an iconic canine.

—I bet Amy Tan is doing a Toto story. Chang-rae and Amy. She just loves dogs.

—Does she?

—Won’t go anywhere without one. Not me. I just eat them! OK. Let’s put that letter on the back burner for now, Trixie.

—You’ve got a lot of things on that burner, boss.

—I know, I know. But I’m in the middle of writing my novel and I can’t really commit to stuff.

—You said last week you were stuck.

—Never mind what I said last week.

—And you said it the week before.

—Trixie, you went to St. Paul’s, with a postgraduate year at Deerfield, then Harvard, Wharton, Goldman Sachs, Enron, did some time at a little startup called Google. You’re a brilliant young woman, but there’s a lot you don’t know about how the literary game is played.

—I’m sure you’re right, boss.

—Haven’t you ever heard of disinformation? Sometimes I’ll tell you stuff because I want you to think things are going badly. But it’s what poker players term a bluff.

—So things are going well with your novel.

—Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, can we move on? Finish this mail call? What else do you have for me?

—A bill for…

—Don’t talk about bills right now, OK? Bill me no bills, Trixie, and I’ll, I don’t know what I’ll do. What else. Any checks? I heart me some checks.

—No checks.

—Some big-ass royalty checks for thirty thousand, seventy thousand dollars.

—No checks, I’m afraid.

—What about for that piece I dusted off for that journal, Arcane Nexus?

—You already got it and put it in the account.

—How much?


Fifty thousand dollars?!

—No, just plain fifty dollars. Five-zero.

—OK. I was expecting nothing, so that’s a bonus of fifty smackeroos. We’ll get lunch next week. You and me, Ayurveda Café.

—Sounds good. Should I make a reservation?

—Nah, screw the rezzies, we’ll wing it.

—You’ll forget we had this conversation, boss.

—No I won’t. Look, I’m writing it down.

—You’re writing it on a dry-cleaning receipt that you’re going to put into your pocket and forget.

—I won’t.

—You will. It will become a Vermont-shaped clump that will bounce out of the dryer.

—No it won’t. Now come on. What else ya got? The Parkian mailbag. Come on, Trix. The fun stuff. Let’s have it.

—Let’s see. Another invitation to be on a panel. On Beckett.

—I already said no to a Beckett panel.

—No. You said no to a Kafka panel.

—I did?


—Why did I say no to a Kafka panel?

—I don’t know. Maybe you thought it was a Beckett panel.

—Listen: Beckett panels I’ll say no to automatically, unless there’s a significant honorarium. Like more than fifty bucks, ha. Kafka panels, you check with me first.

—I did. You said no.

—Probably I thought you said Beckett. Are you sure you didn’t say Beckett instead of Kafka?

—Quite sure. In fact, I didn’t say anything. I forwarded you the e-mail and you wrote back.

—What did I say?

—You said, Tell them no.

—Can you forward me that e-mail?


—And print it out.


—I probably meant to write yes.

—Your message was in all capital letters and said TELL THEM NO.

—Next time, double-check that I understood you were saying Kafka, not Beckett.

—What about Bernhard?

—Yes, what about Bernhard?

—There’s also this Thomas Bernhard panel. Next month.

—Did I say yes or no?

—You haven’t said anything. I put it in your inbox over a week ago.

—My virtual box or my real wooden box?

—Real wooden.

—I didn’t see it.

—But you did. You mentioned it to me on Friday.

—How was my mood? Elevated, depressed?


—Did it sound like I wanted to attend?

—It was hard to tell. You just said, Bernhard! really loudly, and cackled.

—I don’t cackle. That’s what I call a power laugh. It makes people think I’m approachable, yet also makes them nervous. They want me on the panel then, eh?

—They want you to moderate.

—Moderate! Ha!

—Well, will you?

—Well, should I?

—How are you feeling about Bernhard these days?

—How am I what about who?

—Thomas Bernhard. Misanthropic Austrian writer. Your thoughts at the moment.

—What? I’m sorry, Trixie, I was distracted.

—Are you online again?


—I’m standing in the doorway and you’re online? Are you buying stuff on eBay?

—No. I’m updating my blog. Every writer should have one, as my publicist says.

—I shut down that blog. Per your instructions.

—Yes. But I had it on a mirror site as well.

—I don’t even know what that means.

—I don’t either, but the fact remains that my blog still exists, and upwards of 14 people check it out every day, from lengths of 0 minutes and 0 seconds to 23 minutes at a time, though I think that 23 is me.

—You’re supposed to be writing your next book. You’re supposed to be “on hiatus” from your blog, and not checking e-mail, save for the messages that I send to your secret e-mail address, the one nobody knows about, not even your mom. What did you put up on the blog?

—Oh, just some pensées on this Nabokov panel I want to go to but can’t make. Also some links to this great photography site I discovered. All the models have tanlines and freckles.

—Which Nabokov panel? The one in Montreal or the one in Ithaca?

—The one in Brooklyn. I seriously need to look into cloning myself. They’ve cloned dogs; can they clone people?

—No. And no more web for you. I want a full report: What else did you do yesterday and this morning, online?


—Out with it.

—I watched one of those Hitler meme videos, you know from Downfall, where he’s in the bunker, shouting? People are putting different subtitles under that shit. Like, Hitler can’t get a ride to Burning Man.

—Yes, I know.

—It’s really funny! You think it will stop being funny, after the tenth one, but it’s still really funny!

—YouTube is a black hole—your words.

—Even the ones that aren’t funny are funny.

—That’s it, boss. I’m removing it from your browser. What else?

—I also “liked” some friends’ posts on Facebook.

—I took down your Facebook profile.

—Um, I put up another one?


—Um, this morning?

—And refriended all your old friends? How long did that take?

—Not long.

How long.

—An hour. OK. About two hours. And a half.

—And how many words have you written today?

—The thing about words, Trixie, listen to me, the thing about words is that it doesn’t really matter how many of them you’ve written. They have to be the right words, do you understand? What good would it do for me to write a thousand words a day if they all have to be weeded out later? I might as well write no words!

—You’re telling me you’ve written nothing. And yesterday, nothing as well, I presume.

—If you’re talking about actual words on actual paper, then yes, I wrote nothing. But a writer like me, there’s a lot going on in my head, this constant dialogue, really more of a three- or four-way conversation—a panel discussion, if you like. Whenever I choose I can just transcribe what I’m hearing.

—Fascinating, boss. Absolutely transfixing. You’re a genius. It’s no wonder you were a finalist for the Asian American Literary Award.

—I lost to Jhumpa Lahiri. Trixie! Where are you going? Why are you getting your umbrella?

—I can’t believe I quit Google for this. For you. What an incredible waste of time.

—But you’re learning! This is what it’s like—the writing life!

—Goodbye, boss. Or I suppose I can just say “Ed” now.

—Trixie, don’t do anything you’re going to regret.

—You still haven’t read the novella I gave you three months ago. You have no time for anyone but yourself.

—I did read it! It was good!

—Tell me one thing about it.

—Good characters!

—Name one of them.

—Trixie, that’s not fair. You’re putting me on the spot.

—Tell me the title.

—The title?

—Yes. The words on the top of the first page, and every page thereafter.


—I can’t say I’m surprised. Thanks for the opportunity, Ed. Good luck on the novel.

—Oh, Trixie. Come back. Forgive me! Wait…that was the title, wasn’t it? Your novella—it was called “Forgive Me.” Trix? Hey, Trixie? Hello?


Ed Park is the author of the novel PERSONAL DAYS and a founding editor of THE BELIEVER.

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