Thanks to Ann for the title; and Linda for the cover idea; and Katherine for the story that inspired Chapter One, and to Louise for the story that inspired Chapter Two; and to my next-door neighbor Maria, whom I have only met once or twice in the hallway, but who wrote the unproduced play whose table readings, in her apartment, late at night, with the windows open, gave me all the dialogue in Chapter Four, along with the motivation to write a chapter that was composed entirely of dialogue; and to Elizabeth, whose lovely, lyrical, sometimes heartsick letters were reprinted in Chapter Six, with only the names changed; and to Jennifer, who had the idea for chapters that would be nothing more than a single word, and who said those words should be “start” and “stop,” as they are in Chapters Three and Five (though it took me a while to see that she was right that “stop” should be the first of the two; when I told her she said, “You should never second-guess counter-intuition,” which readers may recognize as my epigraph); and to the young woman in the coffee shop who I never really knew, but who worked alongside me for at least a month, meticulously composing and revising a single short story, marking up her manuscript meticulously, and who, one fateful Tuesday morning, fielded a phone call that caused her almost immediately to burst into tears and walk briskly from the coffee shop, leaving her manuscript behind, not returning in five minutes or ten or even fifteen, at which point I felt that there was no choice left to me but to do what I did, which was to take the manuscript, slip it into my shoulder bag, and reproduce it verbatim as Chapter Seven. She was coming in as I was going out, and it occurred to me to say thank you, but I didn’t want to embarrass her.
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