My friend Jack wrote two memoirs, Home Ice and Open Ice, both well-received, along with the novel, Saved, a book that found a large readership among women hockey players. All of them are wonderful books in which Jack's voice and his warmth are forever preserved. In the weeks following each release, I could always look forward to receiving emails from him that would contain his ranking in fantasy hockey as well as his ranking on Amazon.com.
In fact, he would sometimes break down the ranking for handy analysis. It always made me smile to learn that he was at 26,783 overall, but number 6 among hockey books and number 50 among sports books.
Now I know he was practicing restraint. The amazon page just sits open on my computer so I can refresh it every few minutes. In this way, I read a new meaningless number and have a new emotion about it. Micro elation if it goes up slightly, micro panic if it goes down. And all the while, there's bright sunshine outside. Someone down the street is mowing a lawn. Larry and the kids have gone off to the pool. I'm supposed to be preparing to teach tonight. This is crazy, far crazier than the phone call I got from my co-author yesterday announcing that he couldn't find the book in any bookstores. The store owners were insisting that the book hadn't come out yet, or they said they had it but couldn't find it. Hey, at least my co-author was outside, doing something active. We've both gone mad.