If the Carnival of the Mundane were to elect a deity, I would vote for Susan Straight, an author of gorgeous prose about, as she summed it up yesterday at the Riverside Art Museum, “how people got where they are.” Her work embodies the personal-as-political, although her characters are usually too busy working hard and raising children to think much about political slogans. They make soap and coach football and run through the desert. They do what they have to do, and what Susan has to do is write about it.
But I also love the way she talks about it. I’ve heard her speak a few times, and she always mentions her three daughters—not in that self-congratulatory, I’m-a-single-mom-doing-it-all kind of way, but in a loving and charmed and realistic way. Yes, there’s soccer practice, but there’s also the part where she has to explain slavery to her five-year-old biracial daughter, who says, “That’s crazy. You can’t buy people.” Susan seems to believe in transparency on all fronts: There is slavery in the world, and her eye shadow, should you wonder, is Wet ‘n’ Wild and cost $1.99, and she writes on legal pads in the car.
So all hail Susan Straight and all hail colla voce, this week’s hostess. Busy people doing mundane and profound things.