Gross Page 4
about his family then he was no grandson of his, and that he never would be again.
     Though the obvious course of action after all this was to shred the manuscript, delete the file, disconnect from the Internet to ensure the curse could not escape, remove and burn his hard drive while reciting the proper incantations to cleanse it of evil spirits, finally scattering the ashes to the four corners of the Earth to avoid its supernatural resurrection, he couldn't bring himself to do it. It was his novel. His work. One hundred and five thousand emblems of his soul made concrete. And one day, there might be a time or situation that could defeat the curse. He could be quarantined in a room with another person, jailed, married. Then the reader could not leave and he could watch them absorb every last syllable. It was possible. He hoped.
     So you see, he tells me, the novel may contain the same bullshit, the same arrogance, the same self-

aggrandizing departure from reality, and "curse" might be just another one of those words equally divorced from meaning that describe those very qualities that drove his readers away from his life. But his novel is still different. It is cursed. Even if curse is just a word. He tells me that this is why he's never mentioned it before, that he wanted me to stick around, that all powers of positive thinking, trust and human intention were powerless against his apparently complete and total lack of talent or soul.
     And then, it's there, on the table between us, four hundred printed pages with a black plastic copy shop binding and a big red bow. There is no pen.
     He tells me that he wishes this were about trust, about art, about love, but that it isn't. He tells me that he found the letters, that he knows I'm leaving him, that at least this way he can rationalize it, lay blame, it's not him that drove me away, it's the novel, the cursed failed novel, the one that's waged a war against him for years now, a ruthless