I would not say to everyone, “You must read Amy Fusselman’s 8“, and I would not say, “You will love it!”
I would however say to most anyone, “You will love The Pharmacist’s Mate,” which is the first book Amy Fusselman wrote.
The other day, I went to my favorite yoga class and I was the only one who showed up, so my favorite yoga instructor asked, “You want to just get a drink instead?”
(You see why she’s my favorite yoga instructor.) While we were drinking enormous glasses of five dollar wine, we started talking about books. I said, “Have you read Amy Fusselman’s The Pharmacist’s Mate?” She had not. I said she would love it, she had to read it. I went on and on about the book. I didn’t even mention 8.
I did not mention 8 because if I told my favorite yoga instructor, “You have to read 8″ and she read the book and said, “Eh. It was okay,” I might not like her or her class any more. I might react this way even though I know that everyone will not love this book. Love isn’t rational and 8 is the last book I loved.
The other day, I remembered a scene in 8, which made me smile. I want to tell you about the scene because it is why I love Amy Fusselman. In the memoir, she writes about how she loves a song by the Beastie Boys and how she sees Ad-Rock from time to time. She wants to talk to him but doesn’t. She doesn’t think she has any good excuse to start a conversation with him. Then she writes, “But after the ninth or tenth time I couldn’t stand it anymore and I finally said to myself, the next time I see him I am going to tell him how much this song means to me.”
She sees him again and you know what she’s wearing the day she sees him and decides to talk to him? She’s wearing “my pink Beastie Boys T-shirt and the pink leather clogs I had just taken to the Garment District shoe guy to have embroidered with INTER (left foot) and GALACTIC (right foot.)”
She has pink leather clogs embroidered with Inter Galactic. I think the fact that she owns those shoes is reason enough to love her. But the fact that she was wearing those shoes when she stopped Ad-Rock on the street and rambled about her favorite all time Beastie Boy song makes me happy. I don’t often read about coincidences in stories, fiction or otherwise. I think writers hesitate to place coincidences in stories because they seem not believable. Fusselman’s 8 is filled with these moments, and they make her memoir spontaneous and interesting.
Amy Fusselman writes that her editor “had submitted this manuscript to some students she had had in a publishing course earlier in the summer, and this was what kept coming up for the students: they didn’t believe this part.” The part the students didn’t believe was a scene where Amy as a four year old interrupts a play of Sleeping Beauty. During the play, the prince says he wants to kiss Sleeping Beauty, and Amy runs up the stage steps and says, “I can show you how to kiss.” She sits on the actor’s lap and practices kissing him. She wants him to kiss correctly so he can save Sleeping Beauty.
The editor and these students thought that part of the book was not believable. Yet they had no problem believing that Amy was raped at age four. The fact that they readily accept she had a pedophile but cannot accept that she interrupted a play to save Sleeping Beauty causes Amy to critique our construct of reality. She decides, “Now that I am seeing just how imprisoned we really are by the idea of what is allowed to happen, I don’t care anymore; I’m just going to throw everything in and look like a kook or idiot or whatever.”
If you ever think about holding back or leaving things out because you are afraid that people won’t believe your story, I suggest you adopt Amy’s attitude of Fuck It. I don’t care.
Also, I think we should all start using the word kook and kooky more frequently. It’s a lot more fun than crazy.
In the first few pages, Amy writes, “Let’s make this fast. I had a pedophile and then I didn’t and then I skated for a long time and then I quit skating and then I started drinking and then I quit drinking and then I started therapy and then I got married and then I still had therapy and then I had children and then I still had therapy and finally I decided I was tired of all this therapy, all this talking like a talk machine; I wanted someone to lay their hands on me.”
I knew exactly what she was talking about. Not so much about being married and having children and not about having a pedophile either. Okay. So maybe I didn’t know exactly what she was talking about. But I knew what she meant about just getting tired of talking. I knew what she meant about wanting someone to lay their hands on me in a healing way. When I first read 8, I really couldn’t believe I was reading a book where someone else was done talking to an MSW female candidate because she wanted to be healed through the power of touch. I felt less kooky.
Amy tries Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST) and what happens might seem strange, if you’ve never experienced it before. Patricia, her Cranial Sacral Therapist, touches a part of her body and asks Amy, “There’s some trauma there. Do you want to release it?” Amy answers yes and then Patricia tells her she might relive the trauma and the next day she relives the time when she was four and a pedophile tried to rape her.
I didn’t try CST but I started practicing yoga. During various poses, I would suddenly relive certain events. Sometimes I wouldn’t necessarily remember events but I’d feel some sort energy become unblocked and then I would start sobbing in class. I know how this sounds. I also know the body remembers what the mind forgets.
There are certain things people don’t talk about, precisely because they seem not believable. Stories that require courage to tell, stories about the power of healing, stories that require both writer and reader to examine their concept of reality, these are the stories I love. Amy Fusselman’s 8: All True: Unbelievable is one of those stories.