Who is the Little Guy?

I moved to Paris, France, in April 1985. It was cold, and the people were anything but warm. Getting anything done was a chore because people weren’t interested in getting anything done, they stopped whatever they were doing between noon and two in the afternoon, they closed on Mondays, and they generally don’t like anyone with whom they didn’t go to high school.

I was lonely.

Even my birthday turned out to be depressing, because it falls on the most important holiday in France – May Day – and all the stores were closed, and the Parisians had all gone away for the weekend.

(Incidentally, May Day, which commemorates the repression of a workers’ strike by Pinkerton cops hired by Capitalist bosses – is celebrated everywhere on the planet except exactly where that deadly event took place – in these here United States, where we celebrate Labor Day in September so we can comfortably forget).

One morning, as I stood in line at the post office, I saw a guy bearing a package with distinctively American-style block lettering. He was Michael Hoover, and we became each other’s closest friend in France. He was a painter, and some of his work has been acquired by important collectors of American art. When my first book of short stories was accepted for publication by Alfred A. Knopf, he gave me this drawing, which was inspired by my title character/protagonist/alter-ego, Michael Missing.

The little fellow doesn’t have a name, but he represents the mischievous zest for life of a slightly sociopathic best friend you might have trussed up and hidden under your bed (as much for his own good as for yours). It’s been many years since Michael Missing was born and moved back to New York. Sadly, my friend Hoover is dead, but I’m grateful that he gave me this drawing, and that lives on in memory through his great work.

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