November marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of Neal Starkman’s Dervishes, and we are more excited than ever to give you a sneak peek of it.
Dervishes is the story of physicist Carolyn Anderson, who moved on a whim to New York City after being let go from her job. Too young to have a midlife crisis and too old for teenage angst, Carolyn begins a diary in an attempt to diagnose her mental state…
Starkman wrote the book because he “wanted to explore individuality, specifically from the point of view of a woman undergoing a change from the heterosexual world to the homosexual world. I know something about that (secondhand, of course), and I also know something about the academic world. So it made sense to portray an academic making the transition and coping with the attendant pressures.”
Here’s a peek into Dervishes:
Masturbation turned me into a New Yorker. Or talking about it did. So my career is being sacrificed on the altar of departmental tightwadness. Okay. A slash to my academic innards, a cut to my prime. Five, six years ago, I would have been anxious. Today, I don’t have anxiety. I have angst. Just like all those existentially morose New Yorkers you read about. It’s like the flu or measles, with raging introspection instead of fever and tics instead of spots. My God, I write this, and my pen skips along the page as if eluding some phantom pen-rapist. Why is this so difficult?
All right, Carolyn, it’s time to control these notes. Diarizing is the closest good Minnesota girls are supposed to come to therapy, after all, and while self-examination still isn’t acceptable by family standards, Diary, it will have to do.
Hm. Is the diary an entity to be addressed, or rather my own private vehicle to inner peace and oneness? Vaguely philosophical, Carolyn. If I’d majored in philosophy—or maybe English literature—instead of physics, then I could say that thought was, oh, Descartesian. Or is it Cartesian? Maybe it’s Descartesian only before sundown.
Okay, cut the bad jokes; this is serious stuff. My lover watches the Seattle something-or-others play—yes, it must be football, they’re wearing helmets. The helmets let Stephanie enjoy the game without receiving continual visual reminders that only men play football on TV. It would never work with basketball or baseball. It’s mystifying how she can appreciate what to me is an interminable series of time-rationed melees, but, Diary, Steph would probably find you mystifying as well. We’re such compatible lovers that way. Tolerating our incompatibilities, that is. Ah, a maxim: “Compatibility is the toleration of incompatibilities.” This diarizing is powerful stuff. Reader’s Digest power.