Things were weird for me in 1994. I was living alone in a rooming house, along with a sore clutch of dying old men and junkies literally itching their way into overdoses. I supported myself with two to three retail jobs at the local mall, minimum wage at all of them, and the bus came intermittently - sometimes not at all. The cliche of eating Ramen to survive was my real life - Ramen and store-brand soda and Little Debbie snacks, because they were affordable.
During that time, I wrote a short story about two guys my age - 19 going on 20. It was the first time I used my own name as the lead character's name in a story. Kev was the hero of the piece, sort of. He has a work friend named Wade, a miserable, sad wretch of a guy, who tries to kill himself in Kevin's car. A melee ensues. Things end up okay. Back then, it was wish fulfillment. The last line of the story is, "This kid's got places to go." And I did. I ended getting out of the rooming house I was in and moving into a studio. I got out of the relationship I was in that ... he wasn't a bad guy, we just were wrong for each other. I made my life better through sheer force of will, which made me believe that Kev was the main character, and that knowing he was on the righteous path was enough.
But it wasn't.
Wade appeared again in a novel I wrote a decade later, a very long book called The Legend of Jenny McCabe. He's had a rocky road to get where he was. Along the way, he's discovered some weird sexual stuff about himself. And he's become a chef. It was around this time that I started to realize what that long-ago short story, called "Last Night at the Bear," was really all about. Kevin was who I wanted to be. Wade was who I was. And in 2007, Wade was still who I was.
I'm entering into a new novel called Eating Animals, whose title is a bit of a description and a bit of a metaphor. In the book, Wade has to go back home to confront his dying father - a father he hasn't seen since 1997. And I realized that this was the perfect time for me to actually go back and confront the guy I was back then. I kept records and journal entries and stories from 1997. I want to know who I was then, and how that's shaped who I am now. I want to figure out Wade from two different sides of the spectrum.
I'm nervous to start. That's part of why I decided to set this up as a Kickstarter - because I always finish my Kickstarter projects, meaning that having an advance on this book means I have a responsibility to write it. If you'd like to help me on this journey into my past, why not kick a few dollars my way? Check out the project, watch my goofy video, and consider backing me. I'd really appreciate it, and thank you!
Eating Animals, by Kevin Quigley: A Kickstarter Project
- Migrating Animals