The Last Estate

Me and Lisa Carver are gonna do DMT this spring – The Last Estate

Me and Lisa Carver are gonna do DMT this spring

I first heard about Lisa Carver in the early aughts. I was living in Boston, not far from where Carver grew up. At 23 I read everything she wrote. Carver entered my radar again in the most uncool, middle aged way possible. I was listening to NPR and this story came on. I was flooded with memories. I cried. 


I reached out to Carver because her upcoming book No Land’s Man gave me courage. Reading is the wrong word to describe what you do with a Lisa Carver book. The book is not the point of Lisa Crystal Carver, the way the album is not the point of Iggy Pop. The point is to check back in with the source, to get juiced up on the art of Carver’s life. 


In reading about her time in Botswana and later, Paris, I was back in her head, communing with an old friend. Her language about herself has evolved and deepened. When she’s sharp, it’s unnerving. When she’s wise, it’s equally unnerving. Carver’s not trying to be anything. She’s documenting her life for herself as much, if not more, than for us. 


Carver approaches her time in Africa as an adventure, but not a swashbuckling one: She makes friends. She walks. She swims. She drinks beer at the expat bar and she dances at church. She goes on safari and gets over a breakup. None of this is rushed. Without being self-helpy, there’s a return to spirit for Carver in Botswana. As she strengthens, the saga of her last marriage (the one she fled America to recover from) finally heals. 


She writes, “This is how I was released from a wounding love: without hurry, without blame, without worry. And smiling at everybody and everybody smiles at me.”


Imagine a white woman going all the way to Botswana to write a book. No doubt there are racist tropes running through your head. There’s always an internal audit that happens when presented with this scenario and a feeling that the white writer will give us a reason to negate their view. It’s thorny shit and white writers usually stay the hell away from writing directly about race in autofiction. But so far as I can tell, a lot of writing happens in the tepid places where identity is neither a threat nor a question. 


I met Lisa Carver over zoom in early January. I’m nowhere near a professional interviewer and it shows. Listeners should be warned that I talk too much and don’t ask enough questions. Listeners should be warned that I used the word “dialectic” when I meant to use “didactic”. Like me, Carver smiles widely, often, and without fear. Like me, she mispronounces words, expresses herself without reserve, and seeks connection above all else. Like me, her heart was open to friendship, and we became friends during our conversation. If you are the sort of person that finds amateur enthusiasm endearing, stay tuned.



Sabrina Small

Sabrina Small is a hustler, a peddler, and the Grand Dame of the Berlin Vriter's Guild. If you visit, she will throw a party in your honor. She is the Last Estate's interior decorator.