Friday, September 17, 2010

The Final Half-Hour of Life

Tuesday night I ventured out to Newton to see my former Harvard Extension fiction writing professor and 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding read from his novel Tinkers at Newtonville Books.  I'm a groupie, and it's great to catch up with him. The other night he drew a crowd of nearly 100 -- though part of that may be because it was supposed to be a joint reading with Rick Moody, who called in sick.  Still, that's pretty impressive if you've ever been to Newtonville Books, which is the size of a closet.  The store employees were bringing in chairs from the basement to accommodate everybody, and a few people still had to stand.  If you ever get a chance to see him, take advantage of it.  Tinkers' path to publication is the ultimate underdog story.  It makes the 2001 Patriots look like prohibitive favorites on their run to the Super Bowl.

On my way home, I got off the Mass Pike on the Framingham/Southboro line.  At the time, the most notable part of my ride was the toll-taker getting her panties in a bunch because I paid my toll with a $5 bill.  This is around 10 p.m. Once I get off the highway, there's some construction on Route 9.  I saw three guys along the side of the road working the site.  No big deal. 

I wake up the next morning and there's a story on the news about an accident at that same interrsection, which happened about a half hour later.  A pickup truck with two guys in it plows into the constriuction site and kills one of the workers.  The two men in the truck are being charged with vehicular homicide and DWI.  It's sad.  If I had stopped to grab a bite to eat, which I was seriously considering, I could've been messed up in that. 

Apparently the victim's birthday was Wednesday; he had a wife and kids. I don't know what his plans were for his birthday, and I guess it doesn't matter. 

I stop and think, one of those three guys I saw was in his final half-hour of life.  And none of us knew it.   


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I too took workshops from Paul Harding at Harvard Extension School!

  3. "I stop and think, one of those three guys I saw was in his final half-hour of life. And none of us knew it."

    That is just chilling to consider.

  4. Poignant... any moment we too could be in our last half hour of life... I am glad you didn't stop for a bite that night!