Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, MN
GK: ...by POEM, the Professional Organization of English Majors.
I wrote a memoir a few years ago called "My Heart Was Going Like Mad" and wrote it in a big hurry and it came out and I didn't think much about it until I was on Terry Gross's "Fresh Air" ----
SS (TERRY): And we're back with FRESH AIR. Talking to Carson Wyler, author of "My Heart Was Going Like Mad" -----could you read a passage from the book ---- say, at the top of page 169, the part that begins "Her hungry fingers tore at my shirt buttons like wild badgers"?
GK: Her what?
SS (TERRY): It's right there on page 169.
GK: "Her hungry fingers tore at my shirt buttons like wild badgers and she panted as we sank into the soft bed of the forest floor, she was mad, mad for me, tearingthe red plaid shirt from my body, pressing her cheek against my pulsating pectorals, humming the Shangri-Las' 'I Think We're Alone Now." -----I wrote that? I don't remember writing that.
SS (TERRY): It's right there. Page 169. And my question to you is: I believe "I Think We're Alone Now" was recorded by the Shandells, not the Shangri-Las. The Shangri-Las recorded "Leader of the Pack". Does that ring a bell?
GK: I think you're right.
SS (TERRY): Okay, I was just a little confused by that. (BRIDGE)
GK: The next day I called my editor –
TR: Yes, it has gone to press. Fifty-thousand copies. We got a lot of orders.
GK: And it's been shipped?
TR: I just spoke with the printer in Plainfield, Vermont. It's on the trucks right now.
GK: Could you check page 169:
TR: You mean the line about the hungry fingers like wild badgers tearing at his shirt? Yes, it's there.
GK: You're an editor, Sheldon ----- how did you happen to let that go by?
TR: I like it.
GK: You like hungry fingers like badgers??
TR: It's got a lot of energy.
GK: Sheldon, when this book comes out, my career is over. Critics are going to rip me to pieces. Hungry fingers like wild badgers??? (HANG UP) So I hung up and I called my agent.
SS (BREATHY): I love the book. I didn't read it but I've heard so much about it and everybody's talking about it, it's huge, people love it, it's dazzling, it's beautiful, it's the book that you had in you to write, the book the world is waiting for (CLICKS) ---- whoops, sorry, I have Calvin Trillin on the line, Carson. I'll call you back, okay darling? Love you. Mwah. (HANGUP, DIAL TONE)
GK: So I chartered a plane (TAKE OFF) and we flew over the Green Mountains of Vermont and I saw the truckloads of books down below (DIVE) and we came in low over the road and (THREE BOMB BURSTS) and blew them up and just to be sure I went back and unleashed dozens of wild swine to (SFX) devour the books and that night I got a call from New York.
TR (IRA): Hi, this is Ira Glass at This American Life and the theme of our next show is Animal Love and I see you've written a book in which someone's hungry fingers are like wild badgers tearing at your shirt buttons ---- let me ask you this-----
GK: Ira---- Ira----
TR (IRA): Yes?
GK: Where'd you get your hands on this book?
TR (IRA): It's on my iPad. It's an eBook. (STING)
GK: So I had to hire some hackers to get into Amazon.com's computers system (TR RUSSIAN WHISPERS) and they found "My Heart Was Going Like Mad" and they zapped it (ELECTRICITY ZAPPING) and erased it and that took care of it, until the next day---- (TRAFFIC) I was walking down West 7th Street and a guy was standing in a doorway ----
TK (LOW, HUSKY): Hey. Wyler.
GK: Who is it?
TK (LOW HUSKY): Listen to me. "Her hungry fingers
tore at my shirt buttons like wild badgers...."
Want to hear more?
GK: How much?
TK (LOW HUSKY): Five hundred bucks.
GK: Turn it over.
TK (LOW HUSKY): Let me see the money first. (STING,
GK: It was one page, printed off a computer. I lit it on fire (POOF) and that night----- a phone call.
SS (ON PHONE): she tore the red plaid shirt from my body, pressing her cheek against my pulsating pectorals, humming the Shangri-Las' "I Think We're Alone Now."
GK: Who is this?
SS (ON PHONE): I want $200 in fifty-dollar bills in a white envelope and place it at the feet of the statue of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
GK: Where'd you get this?
SS (ON PHONE): I Googled "wild badgers" -----
GK: So Google had it----- I flew out West (JET) and I hired a man named Ahmed to drive me to Google's main computer campus by Grand Coulee Dam ------ and we shot our way through security (GUNSHOTS, KLAXON HORNS, RUNNING FOOTSTEPS) and headed for the main building and found the main keyboard and we typed in "wild badgers" (TYPING) and pressed Delete (LOW HUM, SERIES OF WHOOSHES, HIGH WHINE) and millions and millions of documents that included the words "wild" or "badger" were permanently deleted including a lot of work on wilderness and everything about Wisconsin and I've never heard from anyone about that book since then. Nobody. A word from the Professional Organization of English Majors. Be careful what you write. It's hard to get rid of it.
GK: What do you want?
SS: I want to unbotton your shirt.
GK: What? (SMALL BADGERS) Your fingers----
SS: They're hungry....(POP OF BUTTONS)
GK: I think we're alone now. (SS PANTING)
SS: The beating of our hearts is the only sound.
GK: You're mad.
SS: I am mad for you.
GK: I'll be right back. ----- On the other hand, some things that are wrong turn out to be wonderful. The Professional Organization of English Majors.
SS: Oh wow. I loved that.
GK: In here. (DOOR CLOSE. MUSIC PLAYOFF)ONLY YOU