Rachel Manteuffel is a writer of upsetting talent. She’s also a good actor. We met when I interviewed her a few years ago for a video I made about a play she was in. But I was already a fan of her writing then. That’s the gift she has that I actually resent and feel threatened by.
My only consolation is the knowledge — because we’re friends, you see; we talk — that her brilliance is not extempore. She works very, very hard to be this good. She earns it.
…and then she sends you a dashed off, steam-of-consciousness e-mail that’s funnier than anything you’ve ever flushed away a weekend sweating over.
Including YOUR MOM. By which I mean your mom, obviously.
I have never met Rachel’s mom nor has she met mine. But we have each made spectacularly vulgar claims and assertions to one another, mommawise.
Rachel and I enjoy the same kinds of jokes. So why can’t I write like this?
“Everyone who cries at the memorial has something in common. It’s a mending wall. It invites a particular contemplation by those who survived and now face the confounding privilege of becoming old.
And finally, in a way, the wall is a monumental, daring deception.
By removing all context from the wall, [designer Maya] Lin only seemed to be declining to make a statement. But the absence of context, of course, wasn’t without meaning—because the memorial says nothing about glory or sorrow or heroism or democracy or freedom, nothing about making the world a better place or making a sacrifice for a worthy cause. All that’s left is loss of life, the only thing everyone could agree on, a single existential truth. These people are gone, and that’s all there is to say about the war.”