Ander Monson

— Tom Chiarella, Foley’s Luck, PS 3553 H448 f6 1992


Three years after meeting you in Indiana, I thought of you again yesterday, wandering through the Esquire website, where you work, where your work sometimes resides. I admit it’s not a magazine I read (there’s something a little sleazy about admitting that one reads Esquire—or not sleazy exactly, but easy, aspirational, the way it’s easy to relax into one’s gender, which more often feels like a pair of skinny jeans I just don’t understand enough to even try to wear). I don’t know how you feel about the magazine—I didn’t ask before—but you’ve worked there for some time, so it must be okay by you. It’s okay by me too, though the sort of okay that’s an oaky façade laid down on top of particle board on the sort of furniture I’m used to buying, frankly the only sort of furniture that you can find to buy these days, things not being what they used to be and all.

But here’s the thing: I found your essay there, “The Art of the Handshake.” I checked my skepticism—what did I need to know about shaking hands or the lives of men? There is some practical advice: “Think of the components: a swift, elegant movement toward the waiting hand, wise use of the eyes, the considered grip strength, even the rhythm of the shake.” But then you take it somewhere else, more meditative and artful, unexpected. So I mean this letter as a kind of handshake—both with you and with whichever reader finds their way to you—this little bound corporeal you. Reader, perhaps you came here, like me, seeking Foley’s Luck, or perhaps you just happened on it (unheralded pleasure of the stacks; try that with your pdfs), liked the smell of the edition, were pleased by the type (Bembo, I note—a font I had an affair with), or got here from one of the related subjects noted in its library record (“Florida—Social life and customs—Fiction”—weird how these grace notes never function: if I wanted to read about the social life of Florida, how satisfying would I find Foley’s Luck?). Regardless, dear Tom, it’s good to meet you here again.