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This is my last post as Francesco. My trajectory is not entirely clear, but I know that to alter it I need to write in my public persona, the one that links to my transcripts and my email and my bank statements. I will start writing in that voice in another place very soon.

I like the voice I have developed here. I cringe at the moments when it is sullen and self-indulgent, but there are other moments when I find this voice, and this persona, to be likable. Knowing that I had indulgent readers helped.

Two things I have been reading, two novels by two friends, will send me off. The novels are very different: the first is about the deforestation of the Amazon. That book follows a couple of biologists who are collecting specimens in the rainforest, as the rainforest is being destroyed around them. There is outrage in that story, but there is also, strangely, joy— at the experience of being in a beautifully abundant place. And there is joy at the characters in the book who recognize and oppose the destruction of that beautiful, abundant place. Reading that book you recognize the writer’s simple joy at reaching out with a story. There is joy and love in that humbly proffered hand.

The other novel is about a teenager in Melahatchie, Mississippi, in 1964, 1985, and 2013. There is violence in that book too, and horror. But there is also joy: it is a love story, and the teenage girl the narrator loves has one of the best names in fiction: Shalaya Crump. The boy has a great name too: Citoyen (City) Coldson. And City’s best friend is LaVander Peeler. There is violence, and the desire to stop or slow the violence is what links these two books for me. But there is a lot of love in this book too, for its characters, and those years, and that place. There is the same, fundamental gesture of love in both novels: a gentle, proffered hand.

How do you deal with your anger, especially when it is justified? I think of that episode in the Bible when Jesus throws the moneylenders out of the temple. There’s justified anger, anger at the presence of sordid commerce in God’s house. But that’s one brief episode in a book that is mostly about love, and it tells me that if you ever explode, it better be justified and isolated. And the two books I am reading, the two novels by two friends, are helping me immensely with my struggle with anger. When you recognize outrageous injustice, you have to look at it clearly, and chronicle that injustice: no one worth listening to is telling you to look away. But you have to find a way to contemplate and feel that injustice, and also feel joy and love. That is how you live fully. It is difficult, but writing can give you the distance you need to get your head and heart around those different things, anger and love, and allow you to hold out a tentative hand. Not protruding but proffering.

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