It all comes back to Lardner
On updates to this site.
by Scott Topping
I have never been able to completely rid myself of the urge to plan regularity into my life (I would be able to accomplish all I want if I write one hour a day and read two journals a week and so on), but I have learned to laugh at it. I know I can’t operate in that fashion, and I know it doesn’t matter. Lists lead only to lists. Annual “done lists” are much more enjoyable than daily “to do” lists anyway. I will always organize my papers in stacks, my notes will always remain scraps of paper in my pockets and smears on my palms, and I will never do anything every day other than shower.
For my friends this means that my emails or visits will come in manic blasts; then I will disappear for a few months or years before re-entering the conversation as if I had only excused myself to the bathroom at a party. For my fellow Lardnerians, this means that updates to this site will come when that number comes up on the roulette wheel and only as often as that.
The last time I attempted to update Lardnermania with regularity (about the tenth time) was the beginning of 2006. My plan lasted a few months, and for those few months the “New” list on the main page of the site wasn’t embarrassingly ironic. Personal tragedy struck and I was unable to return to the page, even to read it, for more than a year.
Even if a real interruption hadn’t occurred, I’m sure I would have lost interest in regular updates and additions before the summer was over anyway. The point at which a self-satisfying desire to record and discover becomes yet another heart jabbing chore is impossible to predict, but is certain to come.
When I wrote “Ring and I” ten or so years ago, I had a hard time containing my Lardner enthusiasm and enjoyed explaining connections from whatever was being discussed to Ring. Now I wait to be asked. The strange thing is, I am asked often.
A couple weeks ago a friend wanted me to clear up the connection between Lardner and Hemingway. I quickly went through the litany of ties. In recent months people on Ebay have asked me to explain the significance of family bibles and medicine bottles, for which I had to draw upon my memory of the Lardner family’s movements in and out of Wisconsin. I enjoyed helping them and learned a great deal myself. Who would have thought that old medicine bottles fetch high prices? I also learned of a new performing Lardner, the singer Kyle Lardner, when her proud father Michael, an executive at Madison Square Garden, wrote to tell me about her career and to invite me to the party for her new CD (which I would have loved to attend had it been thrown here rather than New York). Yesterday, a member of the August Strindberg family from Sweden asked me about one of the relatives of the famous author who had married a Lardner. The connections are everywhere. All of them draw me back to to my work here.
So here I am starting another Lardner binge. I hope to add many items that have been stacking up in the basement, but I know I be unable to add all I want to this time, and I know I will never be able to add those things that have faded from the notes on my hand. Still, here’s to another spurt.
Hope all is well,