As I began to read Jeff Greenwald’s Snake Lake, I realized I had heard this story before.
I had heard parts of it after he and I hitchhiked to a trail head in Point Reyes, California.
And as he cut up an apple with his pocketknife when we sat atop a hill overlooking the ocean, scanning for whales.
When we pulled away from the group of our guided hike of the Navajo National Monument in Arizona.
As we drifted to sleep by flickering candlelight.
He’d pick up the story again at dawn after a few sips of his special cardamom-infused coffee.
He’d continue the tale as we lay under the stars in Flagstaff.
And ended it as we lay beneath a canopy of trees in Central Park.
What always happens. Life.
There were the questions of geography, the future, children, religion and age—and we both had different answers for each. I was just starting out and he was already well on his path. One of us would have had to rush to catch up while the other would have had to slow down.
It just couldn’t work.
But how glad I was to walk through life with him for a time and to be one of the first to hear this tale of Snake Lake. Snake Lake, where half of this tale takes place, is named after snake gods called nagas. Jeff’s nickname for me was nagini, snake goddess. How lovely is that?
The story unfolds during an uprising between the people of Nepal and its monarchy. While this is happening, Jeff’s brother Jordan is back in the states going through his own internal uprising. Jeff is caught in the middle. Do I stay or do I go?
I have always been a fan of his work. That’s what drew me to him in the first place. He’s a brilliant writer and, on a personal level, a wise advisor. When I read Snake Lake, I walk through two sets of memories. The first is a walk down his memory of a time before I knew him. And the second is of the time we walked together and he told me the tale. His writing is funny, honest and heart wrenching…
“My brother was not above goading our parents for his own amusement. Swearing, for example, was forbidden in our household. Jordan would arrive at table, protrude his upper jaw, and cross his eyes, like Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
‘Who says I have fuck teeth?’ he’d ask, turning to me. ‘What’s wrong with fuck teeth?'” –excerpt from Snake Lake, Jeff Greenwald
Jeff is doing a book signing on Friday, November 5th at Book Soup in Los Angeles. The site doesn’t list the time yet so check back soon and go to the book signing if you can.