In one hand I hold a small, spiral-bound memo pad that I keep with me to jot down notes--walking around, sitting on a bus, at the movies. That's Wally in My Dinner with Andre: the dependable object, a little worn but still out and about. In my other, a sperm whale tooth, purchased at the natural history museum gift shop. That's Andre: "outside over there," as Maurice Sendak's new book puts it, a not-unwelcome but puzzling, sometimes menacing, thing.
And as I watched the movie, listened to his engaging, insistent voice, his earnest face, Andre conspired like a goblin--or Yeats' faeries--to take me to "the waters and the wild," far from the world "full of weeping." But there, too, is something like tears--more of a growing, horrified conviction that, as Andre's friend in one of his stories might say, that little memo pad is a tally sheet for a concentration camp, one we've built ourselves--New York City, an office, a home--and we're proud of it, too proud, and afraid, to escape.
But as Wally takes his taxi ride home, passing objects turning into memories, I go with him, relieved that Andre stays behind--but he doesn't; I'm still in the trance, his voice still calmly detailing more than one post-hypnotic suggestion I must follow before I can return home safely.