The quirky, intelligent memoir of an artist and fiction writer.
The left-handed brother of a right-handed fraternal twin and son of two Italians—a Sophia Loren look-alike mother who was “all instinct and innuendo” and a brilliant inventor father who was “all logic and intellect”—Selgin (Drowning Lessons: Stories, 2008, etc.) was a born misfit. Rather than trying to fit in like his more conventional brother, however, he consciously clung to his uniqueness “like the survivor of a shipwreck.” He followed his creative leanings into art school at the Pratt Institute, where he discovered that his gift for caricature marginalized him even among artists. Although he continued to draw—and at one time earn money as a caricaturist to the rich and famous—he dropped out of art school and began dreaming of a literary life. “Where drawing had led me only to surfaces,” he writes, “words (I promised myself) would take me deeper.” With the zeal of an addict, Selgin recorded every detail of his life for 10 years, only to find that his writing would become “like kudzu strangling a forest”—something that consumed rather than clarified his existence. Humbled by this and other misadventures—including an encounter with an enraged canine that would cause him to lose left-hand dexterity—Selgin abandoned all artistic posturing. In its stead, he developed a more genuine, heartfelt passion for both art and storytelling that is vividly revealed in the often hilarious but always compassionate portraits he sketches of his eccentric family, assorted oddball friends and lovers.
An engaging, original modern-day picaresque.