Friday, February 02, 2018

Beholding Transformation ...

Let's begin here:

It is – in language Angelo would use – crazy banana pants that he and I are friends.

So many, many things had to happen in his life for him to arrive at being the host of "Rate My Space" on HGTV.

All I had to do was, well, be lying on the couch and watching him on HGTV one day. And then flip out at his reveal because it was the best reveal I had seen in the history of reveals. And then heave myself off the couch and walk a dozen or so steps to my laptop to find out whether he had an account on Twitter – Yup! – and tweet at him.

That was fall of 2009, give or take. It may have still been summer meteorologically.

And here we are now, in 2018.

Over the course of our friendship, I have told him that he's a good writer. He's demurred. But it's true. English is not his native tongue, which makes his talent all the more remarkable. But he is very, very, very smart. And he is that rare person who can do most everything well. He is insanely talented as an interior designer. He's a natural on camera to a degree I've rarely seen. He bakes perfect chocolate chip cookies. And he wrote a novel – this novel – in 17 days:

There is a lot about Angelo I don't know just as there is a lot about all of my friends that I don't know. It's impossible to convey a lifetime. And yet, I really didn't know the story he tells in the pages of this book.

When he asked me to read an early draft two years ago, I couldn't begin to fathom what I was about to learn.

Two chapters in, I emailed him:

"If I see you in March, I may never stop hugging you."

(We were planning to get together for dinner when he was in town. Which we did. I did not, however, hug him the entire time. I mean, there was food on the table and wine to consume. We needed our hands.)

Writing anything and putting it into the world is a hugely vulnerable act. But Angelo did not write just anything. He wrote his story. Fictionalized but autobiographical. And literally brutal. Readers need not guess if this book is based on his life. He spells that out in his author's note.

Over the past two years, I've witnessed two metamorphoses:

The magic of thoughts and experiences becoming words on an electronic page and being tended and nurtured by a host of people who produced the book I can now hold in my hands.

But more so, the awe-inspiring courage of my dear friend who waded into his psyche and bled onto the page to help himself but also – as is his exceedingly kind and generous nature – to help others. There are other Evans in the world who may not believe there is life beyond confusion and judgment and fear. This book is a lifeline.

Last night, I emailed him to ask, "So when do you find out if your book made the New York Times best-sellers list?"

I want that moment for him, that validation, but beyond the honor that landing on the list confers to a writer, it would demonstrate the reach of his story and its good in the world.

Regardless, this book represents a triumph, if only for one.

Bravo, my friend. I love you dearly. You're a hero and an inspiration.

The next dinner's on me.

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Blogger Alison said...

I'm so happy for Angelo. And I thank you for bringing his novel to my attention!

10:43 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

You are most welcome! I am very happy to be one of his evangelists!

8:56 AM  

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