Richard Ford and Elaine Showalter spoke at the recent celebration of Joyce Carol Oates and Charlie Gross’s wedding. Ford offered the new husband a humorous take on what to expect living with a particular novelist:
… everything Joyce undertakes — including … (yes, Charlie) … including marriage — becomes a literary concoction with a fictive dimension. And therefore the groom — perhaps a dead-beat, perhaps not (all this will be found out as the plot develops) — the groom is hereby put on notice that he can ignore this literary dimension only at his peril. Since everything he’s seeing today, he’ll pretty soon be seeing again, including himself and all his qualities — those good and less good — put on surgical display on some page somewhere. Perhaps even his name will be used, possibly with a different spelling, though possibly not even that). And because he and Joyce chose to elope as they did, and forsook the cautionary formalities of a long courtship, or an engagement, or dating, (or, some local skeptics would say, even forsook the formality of an actual acquaintanceship), the groom has therefore forsaken the chance to think long about his prospective act, as well as the chance to complain about anything, or to be granted a reprieve, or even a hearing. You, Charlie, must realize, now — a little late, you might believe — that he who marries a novelist must expect to see himself in print long before he sees himself in clover. The groom has been blessed with long life, it’s true. But art is much, much longer.
Showalter teasingly notes the differences in their early lives, but leaves unremarked how similarly driven both appeared to be:
He’s a red diaper baby, she’s a blue collar baby. Charlie’s an urban Brooklyn boy; Joyce is a girl from the North Country. While he was maniacally racking up his merit badges to become one of the youngest-ever Eagle Scouts, Joyce was memorizing three hundred Bible verses to win a week at a Methodist Bible Camp near Lake Ontario—one of those proverbial competitions in which 2nd prize must be two weeks at camp. While she was writing her first novels and getting her first story published in Seventeen magazine [sic], he was doing a research project on plant succession and dialectical materialism for the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. He was organizing a Pete Seeger concert at Harvard while Joyce was still trying to get out of her sorority at Syracuse.
Continue here for the complete, and completely amusing remarks by both Ford and Showalter. And as a bonus, JCO will dance for you.