This letter confirms your February 14 appearance on The Jeannie Cheeney Show about “Fathers Seduced by Their Daughters.” We know you wanted something more overtly arts-oriented, but think you’ll find that even the daughter angle can be a productive means to discuss your new cd. In anticipation of certain questions (Sodom & Gomorrah, wife = salt, your uncle and The Covenant, etc.), we’ve prepared some suggested responses to ensure a pleasant and productive interview.
1. Suggested response for the inevitable question, “Why did your wife look back at the burning city of Sodom while the family was escaping?”
Great question. I’ll answer it with a short passage from my memoir, due out in September. “What woman, with the flame-glow on her nape and the bitter smoke in her throat, could flee her home without a backward glance? In those screams of agony that followed us as we ran from the city, she thought she could discern some particulars -- the newborn lamb wobbling around the yard; the neighboring seamstress to whom she confided all, over wine and fig cakes; even our eldest daughter and her husband who had dismissed our warnings as fanatical ravings and would not be dragged from their hearth. She pictured the bodies flailing near the well, the blistering flesh, the fingers melted together. With all the sentiments she may have wished she had or had not spoken, the foreknowledge of memories that would taunt and cleave, the abrupt nakedness of refugee status, tell me, what have history and geography changed that a woman of today could be similarly uprooted without a single peek over her shoulder? I knew that my wife might want to turn back and would not be commanded to the contrary, so I marched along in front of her, jaw set and eyes on the road, to discourage dallying. Unfortunately... “(Note: At this point, Lot, look down at your hands, press your lips together and leave the sentence unfinished. Remember, the implication of yearning is more powerful than any outright expression. Our aim here is to display a marketable appreciation of women. You admire their empathy and curiosity; you crave their companionship; you love them. Every fan wants to imagine herself the feminine perfection you seek in your songs. So, keep the tenderness and melancholy, but lose any appearance of prolonged preoccupation or grief. A little physical gore is okay, but don’t repeat the stories about yanking the baby lamb from your wife’s arms and telling her that the elder daughter was close behind as you fled; we know you lied for the right reason, but the audience will not understand. Stay clear, too, of extended metaphors about brimstone, personal-political catastrophe, the legacy of Orpheus, Eve, and so on. A moment’s pause or crack in your voice (temporarily overcome) is fine, but please, this time, no ungoverned weeping; it highlights dentalwork, exaggerates wrinkles and generally distorts facial features. Focus on the present and the positive. You were devastated, but you’ve moved on.)
2. Questions about Genesis 19:8 in which you told the crowd of libidinous men threatening your male houseguests, “Look, I’ll bring out my two virgin daughters and you can do what you like with them. But don't harm these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."
Yes, I was hoping you’d ask about that. People see the moody guy/lover-poet in me, but are often surprised to find I have a sense of humor. See, when I entreated my two visitors to “tarry all night and wash your feet,” I didn’t mean for them to soak their soles in soapy water. I knew these guys were angels (ringlets, flushed cheeks, telltale aura, the ability to blind groups of people at will) and would never take me up on the obligatory Farmer’s Daughter offer. I also knew that the rowdy xenophobes outside weren’t into women, so I offered my girls to them as an ironic insult. Wit, anyone? (Note: We’re working hard. Lot, to shed the bible baggage and repackage you as a singer-songwriter; is there a musical inspiration to mention here? Be sure to aim for sardonic levity and reign in any tendency to pontificate. Your fans want to comprehend your lyrics, but they’re probably not interested in the ancient near-eastern cultural norms of guest-host relations backed by divine authority, parallels with Zeus and so on.)
3. Questions about Genesis 19:31 and how your daughters could have believed there were no other men left in the world to propagate the human species, when: a. your cave was in the mountains with an aerial view of other nomadic settlements and b. the three of you had just come from the populated town of Zoar:
First, I’m the nephew of the great Abraham who made a covenant with God, so it’s not that outlandish for my daughters to think they had been given a profound task. Second, did I mention that they were perhaps a bit sheltered? By the way, I wrote some of my strongest pieces in those early days of exile... (Note: “Creative-process” anecdotes are good, but a capella singing can be a real tune spoiler. Best avoid.)