Andrea Canobbio at Threepenny Review:
A few years ago, in a piece entitled “Premonition,” I wrote a lapidary phrase, which to me is perhaps the mother of all lapidary phrases, mainly because it’s false (actually any lapidary or simply assertive phrase has always seemed false to me, or in any case prone to correction): I don’t intend to tell my family history. Since that day, telling my family’s story has become my greatest desire. It seems even then it was one of my greatest desires, but I wasn’t aware of it or I didn’t want to admit it or I didn’t want to accept it. From the moment I wrote its opposite, I could no longer deny it. To more closely approximate the truth, I should have written: “Telling the story of my family is too complicated, and I’m afraid I might not be up to it, so I’d rather pretend I don’t want to do it, although it is clear to everyone, even to those who don’t know me, that my family is the subject I’ve circled around since I started writing.” The lapidary phrase was a prelude to another thought (just as lapidary): I’ll try to make it short (lots of people have had a difficult childhood, and almost all of these have had one more difficult than mine, and there is nothing more tedious than other people’s difficult childhoods, nothing more intolerable than the bellyaching of others). I meant that my family’s story wasn’t worth telling (even though I’d done nothing but that since the beginning, albeit behind the mask of fiction) because it wasn’t dramatic or adventurous enough.