Acerbic Bipolar Novelist (Burroughs kerouacum)
Plumage: Tattered paperback (often The Brothers Karamazov or Foucault's Pendulum) in back pocket of Levi's or brown corduroys, which hug his cute little butt. Bulky sweater (believes he has poor circulation, as this is very glamorous sounding). Small notebook, carried in anticipation of a stab of inspiration or an overheard bit of theft-worthy dialogue. Old-fashioned fountain pen (bar mitzvah gift).
Habitat: Alone at table in cafe with notebook and Camels or Gravity's Rainbow and highlighter. Rundown studio apartment in shabby neighborhood, with bookshelves consisting of unfinished pine boards propped up on cinderblocks. Lumpy futon. If possessor of trust fund, may live in ritzy, yuppie section of town he professes to despise. Newsstand, reading the New Yorker and sneering. Cemetery.
Feeding Habits: Caffeine. Grilled cheese sandwiches made on clothes iron.
Sexual Display: Hovers near the Anais Nin section of the bookstore. When attractive, haunted-looking young woman picks up a volume of erotica or the diaries, swoops in for the kill.
Agonistic Display: Many things set him off. The word of a huge advance for the next novel of a writer he considers marginal. A rejection letter from an obscure literary quarterly in rural Arkansas. A price increase at Kinko's Copy Shop. When threatened by the sucess of a rival, he grits his teeth and recites the Clive James poem, "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered."
Courtship Behavior: Takes you out for espressos (you pay). Takes you to lectures and readings by famous authors (you pay). During lecture or reading by famous author, slumps in his chair, rolls eyes, snorts, occasionally mutters something like "nice mixed metaphor, dude." After lecture or reading by famous author, invariably picks a fight with you. (He refuses to see this pattern.) Asks you to read his work, stares raptly at you as you do so.
Mating Ritual: Starts using many strange adjectives to describe your mystical, hypnotic beauty. Objectifies body parts you didn't know were attractive--your inner wrist, your ears ("shell-like"?), the underside of your jaw. Reads Pablo Neruda's sonnets or Harold Brodkey's borderline-pornographic short stories aloud to you in a husky voice.
Mating Call: "Have you read Tropic of Cancer?"
Field Notes: Ambivalence and the Acerbic Novelist: The Writer's mating dance involves a hugely passionate beginning--overheated letters on beautiful handmade paper and insane, beard-burn-inducing sex--followed by the big chill. This species cannot commit, because the bourgeois monogamy thing would extinguish his creative spark. Thus he is a master at the ritual song: "It's not you, it's me, you deserve someone better, I'm very damaged, I'm working on it," etc. If you leave, he will soon bombard you with pleas to return. If you return, the pattern of chase and flee, chase and flee will continue until you are as frazzled and high strung as a Blue-throated Hummingbird (Lampornis clemenciae).