The Night I Met David Bottoms

“You should come back to our place for dinner,” Jane said. “David Bottoms is coming.”

Jane was the chair of the Department of English at West Georgia, where I was then interviewing. Friday, and the three-day process had pretty much concluded. I thought I had done well, but, really, who ever knows? Besides, why would she, the chair of the damn department, invite me to her own house for dinner, with David Bottoms, after the entire interview process was essentially over? I felt good. I said yes.


At the court of the Phaeacians, a concert by the minstrel Demodocus. This is the age of heroes, of myth, and the blind bard sings of just that: of a quarrel between Odysseus and Achilles. With a taut-stringed harp in his hands, Demodocus performs with such skill and pathos, in fact, that the court’s guest of honor—a wanderer recently happened upon them—subtly draws his mantle down, concealing his tears.

Not Being Original

Two hulking ferries rest at port below us, cars already lined up and dozing in the bake of the afternoon. Just nineteen miles from Naples, we are constantly reminded of our proximity to it, imposing and alive, drawn even on this island to its mania. On Ischia, the real constantly intrudes: those ferries with their sleek black hulls and anchors as they rattle and splash, the constant paring of the water by pleasure boats, the noise and lushness of the port town as it arrives mixed with the scent of bougainvillea, oleander, and motorcycle fumes, and the startling, sincere blue of it all.