Writer’s ‘Block’: My arch-nemesis wrote a book

Proof of my failure 

You know that feeling you get when someone reminds you that the Beatles achieved worldwide super-fame, revitalized rock ’n’ roll, and changed the course of music… all before they turned 30? Or how Orson Welles wrote, directed, and starred in Citizen Kane, the most important American film ever made… before he turned 26? (Oh, and that whole War of the Worlds thing, too.)

Sucks, right? Well, I’ve had that feeling for the past two weeks.

Tomorrow night at BookPeople, my foil and high school rival, Stefan Merrill Block, will discuss his debut novel, The Story of Forgetting. The story weaves three narratives: a teenage boy whose mother is diagnosed with a rare strain of early-onset Alzheimer’s; an old, hunchbacked hermit burdened by the memory of a lost love and a way of life long-forgotten by the suburban sprawl that swallowed up his farm; and the fantasy world of Isidora, whose inhabitants live in perpetual bliss because they cannot remember anything at all.

I gotta admit: It’s pretty good. Really good, actually. Unfortunately, most of his reviews and critics couch their praise – “It’s impressive…” – with qualifiers: “…for a debut” and “…for such a young author.” They’re just, like I am, jealous.

I’ll be interviewing Stefan later this evening. In the meantime, I’ll work on a list of things I like about myself. Then I’ll fold up that list, put in my pocket, and discreetly touch it every time Stefan says something that makes me feel like an inadequate failure.

([Puts leg behind head] Check it out, Stefan. I’d like to see your literary acclaim try this!)

7pm | FREE | Event information

603 N Lamar • Austin, TX 78703


Adam Avramescu's picture
If it’s any consolation, we know how that Orson Welles thing turned out.
InternetJake's picture

Oh, Todd, come now. You’re an adequate failure.

Lynn G's picture

I always did like Stefan better. You just THOUGHT you were my favorite.

Todd Ross Nienkerk's picture
TOP editor

I know I’m something special when my favorite high school English teacher crawls out from her pit toilet long enough to publicly berate me. Thanks, Miss G!

Mariana's picture

Absolutely hilarious! I get a total giggle attack when I think of you interviewing Stefan. One of my favorite Stefan quotes is about you actually. I know I’m totally going to butcher it - I can’t remember the exact wording. He said it in college, just after I suggested the infamous dinner where I forced you two to sit at the same table and you brought Jason Laney as a buffer. Anyway, it went something like…
“There’s something about the hatred that 14-yr-old rivals feel for each other that might be the closest thing a teenage boy can feel to love.”
Heehee. I think you guys really do love each other. Some day you will admit it. Stefan will be visiting me here in Sydney next week. Well, actually… his book tour is bringing him here and I just happen to be living here. But I am positive it will involve a toast or two to Todd and the good ‘ole days. I hope you’re doing well, and I would love an update!!