Monday, June 29, 2009

meteors, part II -- muriel barbery, the elegance of the hedgehog

my dear friend patty is reading this book, the elegance of the hedgehog. i read it earlier this year, and was very moved by it. it had been recommended to me by someone else i love. yasmine read this book in the original french and was so happy when an english translation was available so that she could share this book with others.

i found myself strangely reluctant to recommend it when i was done. i was besotted by it, it is true, even though the philosophical aspects of it sometimes drove me crazy. but i was possessed of an affinity for these people and their story, and i cried very hard when it was over, very much feeling that a part of me had died. only one other book, their eyes were watching god, by zora neale hurston, has made me feel this way. i can't begin to read that book without tears unbidden starting to my eyes, knowing the journey, and its ultimate end.

when patty said she was going to read the elegance of the hedgehog, i was anxious, worried that she wouldn't like it, that it would reveal my insipid inspirations. i began it again, and immediately it made me cry, as hurston's story always does and will, and i think it's because these are the stories of people struggling to realize their tiny potential, and in the midst of this the reader comes to know the beauty in their characters, the essence that makes them real to us.

and so i stopped, filled with trepidation; unwilling to submit to their journey when i feel so tenuous in my own small lights. i began it again today, when patty reminded me she was reading it, and after a day that had been been bleak. i had left off here:

And then, summer rain...

Do you know what a summer rain is?
To start with, pure beauty striking the summer sky, awe-filled respect absconding with your heart, a feeling of insignificance at the very heart of the sublime, so fragile and swollen with the majesty of things, trapped, ravished, amazed by the bounty of the world.

And then, you pace up and down a corridor and suddenly enter a room full of light. Another dimension, a certainty just given birth. The body is no longer a prison, your spirit roams the clouds, you possess the power of water, happy days are in store, in this new birth.

Just as teardrops, when they are large and round and compassionate, can leave a long strand washed clean of discord, the summer rain as it washes away the motionless dust can bring to a person's soul something like endless breathing.

That is the way a summer rain can take hold in you -- like a new heart, beating in time with another's.

and it brought me back to myself, earlier on this bleak day, when i walked down the grey stairs and into the lobby of an office building, and saw the dulled sky, and rain beating down, and decided i would walk.

it had been a clear day. i don't carry an umbrella because i have no use for them. i wasn't wearing much, but it was ridiculous to me to take transit to the next stop on my journey. it was only a walk of fifteen minutes, and summer rain is sometimes short even when it is fulsome. and so i strode, in the rain, passed people hiding under awnings who looked on incredulously while others called from cell phones to be picked up.

very soon it felt like i was alone in the middle of the day in this part of the city as i walked on down the avenue, normally littered with people squeezing produce, and dog walkers, and wastrels in the watering holes with side walk patios. and i rubbed my fingers together feeling the rain, so thoroughly wet was my skin, and my hair, and my clothes begin to cling to me, but still i strode on. once i saw people make hats from cardboard boxes provided helpfully by the pet shop owner, and smiled to myself.

i strode on and the rain was warm on my skin and i felt very much a part of it, and we were doing nothing but being, the rain and me, and we were resolved to belonging together. it seems to me that what we knew was barbery's endless breathing though this passage seems to tell of a summer day in its epitome, and this day was not that. and yet i know i know whereof she speaks. i still feel strange about actively recommending this book but i will say she also writes beautifully about camellias, and trees, and film, and russian literature.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

behind door number 3

sometimes when i come home late at night when the moon is high and i am alone, i enter the building and feel the last vestiges of the pleasant evening crumble away into the quiet in anticipation of the end. my shoes clap against the tile, reverberate into the silence which seems to edge back, but little.

i stop in front of the bank of elevators. they are presumably empty, these elevators. that they are waiting is certain: pregnant with the expectation that i or somebody else will come and they will submit to our proddings and reveal their insides, mirrored to show reflections of us in grotesque parody.

as it stands, i don't push the button just yet, because i am not convinced there is nothing behind these doors. i know that the world is full of surprises, and not all of them are pleasant. i hesitate, knowing that tonight, as on other nights, there is evil waiting in the elevators, waiting to play the shell game for keeps.

there are three elevators of course. and all of the doors are closed. all three sit waiting for me to press the button to open the doors. inside one there is someone crouched below the mirrors lying in wait. there is a bottle in one hand, a cloth in the other, and the longing for murder in his heart. the knife lies close to it, beating in time. he will use it when he is away from the elevators: he'd like to use this net a few more times yet.

now our hearts pound in unison. he is anxious with anticipation: will my door open? will this be the one? he had heard me enter the building and my feet clap against the tiles. he knows i'm here. he knows that if he is patient, if he is lucky the prize will come to him.

and what's behind door number three? i ask myself. i feel too afraid to press the button now. i am not a lucky girl. monty hall is not here to support me. it's only four floors, i remind myself, and fortune favours the stairs.

as for him: he hears my retreat but does not move. he is content to wait, and see, if somebody else will press the button, press their luck; he'll just see if their number comes up.

archetypes: precision grinding

there was a clanging of a bell and the summer sun warmed me outside in, and i was happy. ephemerally, of course. that seems to be all the happiness i am capable of having: plucking it, and blowing it out, like a patch of dandelions, or birthday candles, until i come upon another moment of joy as burgeoning field, or the next rite of passage.

the bell that is clanging belongs to a truck that has driven me back through the years to the times in my childhood when i first heard that sound. i have a nostalgia for precision grinding which was, is, and always will be what the bell comes to offer. it belongs to the sharpener, the anachronistic man who sharpens the knives. just now he came by in a truck, moving too quickly, not keeping pace with the bell, as the first old man did, pulling his green handcart down the street where we passed our time, tossing frisbees and attempting increasingly higher jumps over a length of knotted rubber bands.

the bell rang and we children could not answer its call. we looked at the old man and his bell, and the cart, and the grindstone in frustrated desire because we did not have anything to sharpen. the scissors we had were plastic and none of us actively wielded a knife. truth be told my mother was still cutting my meat for me. the old man would come and ring the bell and we would all stop the tossing of frisbees and the jumping over of rubber bands because we were drawn to the old man and his bell, dragging the cart with the stone behind him. we would not start to play again until he was some distance down the street because we were watching in the hopes that some neighbour would barge through their front door and stop the old man. they never did.

the day came when that bell rang and i could no longer resist its lure. i rushed into the house intent on stopping the old man before he went along on his way to drag the cart and the stone and the bell through the streets. my mother found me arming myself, availing myself of the cutlery drawer, of every knife contained therein. it seemed very important to me that i should give the man purpose, to make the stone come alive with his foot pedal, and add the spark to the stone to the cart to the bell. i'd never seen the spark because the man was a living relic of a by-gone era -- when getting blades and the sharpening of them was not as simple as it was now. in my own cutlery drawer here in the future lie a few mismatched pieces from the sets that were offered as a premium when you bought x amount of groceries at the store. they don't do that any more. now you just buy cutlery and have done. and you certainly never sharpen it. you buy stainless steel. you buy stay-sharp.

the old man's custom was gone. my mother would not help him. she would not let me bring the knives to the old man. she said it was expensive and we had our own whetstone should we ever need to sharpen a knife. i can testify to this: we did indeed have a small stick of whet, it looked like a grey stick of double mint. and it had been used by somebody somewhere once. there was a groove that hollowed out that double mint that made me distrust it. it was too used, it had seen its day, it would not set off sparks like the grindstone surely would. it was a dull plodding thing, not the spark of a moment. But she would not relent, and i knew i would not be able to meet the bell, the cart, the stone, and the old man's eyes when next i heard the bell.

i heard the bell again today but i did not meet this old man's eyes either. he was driving too fast, racing ahead of the era he evoked. i wonder how he finds happiness in this way, not living in the present or the past but in some strange amalgam of both. perhaps he needs a horse and cart, and a renaissance fair.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

archetypes: kolchak the truth seeker

as i've said before, i like archetypes. i am a fan of joseph campbell, and i've always been susceptible to folklore and myth. when i began to read shakespeare i was thrilled by the archetypes of his own creation (hamlet, falstaff are arguably the greatest among many) in addition to his use of ones already in existence; for example, his usage of ovid's characterization of medea to inform his witches in macbeth -- he even actually cribs a few speeches verbatim. but the archetypes of literature are not stuck in the past. we may revisit them but as human culture changes, our archetypes evolve and mutate. chandler successfully applied a knight archetype to his private investigator philip marlowe, and helped hammett solidify the private eye archetype. before buffy appeared, van helsing was the only model of a vampire slayer, and i would argue that now he exists as a shadow of buffy's refurbished, more relateable archetype (i'm choosing to ignore that hugh jackman movie). sometimes the layering of archetypal characteristics into one protagonist is the most beguiling to me of all. that certainly seems to be the case with kolchak.

i've been watching lots of kolchak lately. i have both tv movies, and the television series on DVD, and i find myself drawn to this character again and again. the original character was created by jeff rice, but it was richard matheson (remember him? i am legend?) who wrote the screenplays for the first two movies. for the television series, named kolchak: the night stalker (which is confusing along the same lines as frankenstein: kolchak was never the night stalker himself he was pursuing him, but that's the first movie's name and i'm guessing they were trying to factor it into the title) set in chicago, there was a variety of writers, but the story editor was david chase, the creator of the sopranos. obviously an estimable pedigree, but ultimately while the writing is fine, it's the character of kolchak i can't resist. he is archetypal: the intrepid investigative crime reporter who will do whatever in takes to get to the facts of the story -- what really happened.

in the first two movies some attempt is made to make him human: he has friends, and girlfriends but by the time of the series, the only woman in his life is ms. emily the old lady who writes the crossword puzzles at the paper, and he never changes his clothes: he wears the same suit and hat every day much to the dismay of everyone around him. he says he's a baseball fan but he misses the world series because all that matters to him is the story and he doesn't disappoint anybody by not showing up because he was going to go alone. and if somebody befriends him, they often end up dead.

kolchak is single-minded in his pursuit of information: he regularly buys from a motley crew of gypsies, monks, hospital orderlies, and morgue attendants for autopsy reports, and looks at corpses. if he can trick the scoop out of an informant for free that is even better, and he tries the public relations angle quite often. sometimes he sneaks into crime scenes by pretending to be an authority figure: a doctor, a cop, a health inspector, and sometimes he just commits to some old fashioned B&E. no rules apply to kolchak unless he is forced to obey them by others. he is unscrupulous except when it comes to telling his story.

he never goes out looking for the paranormal but inevitably, kolchak's pursuit of a seemingly routine violent crime case always leads to facts that cause the forces of society to try to stop him: his editor vincenzo who sometimes believes the stories but worries over the trouble they will bring, and the law: over and over again, the police and/or the government oppose kolchak because they are more concerned with maintaining order than telling the truth. and that's the thing about this character. when you first meet him in the night stalker he seems to have a pretty great life. he is a respected crime reporter and he is proud of his ability to get to the heart of the story. but he is brought low because he refuses to twist the facts for the common good. he is convinced that the facts are owed to everyone (i.e. not just the authorities but his readers) regardless of whether they are mentally prepared for them.

kolchak serves no other function than to be a reporter: a seeker of truth who shares his knowledge with "the people". he will kill whatever monsters he needs to kill (kolchak is always being held on charges of murder, or arson, or something as a result of his investigations) in order to find the truth and bring it to the reading public. he uses good people and bad people to get at his goal, and breaks the law as often as not in pursuit of this goal, but i still love him because of his dogged insistence that this is what he is good at, and he is good at nothing else. as much as i love the slicker stories presented in the movies, it is when kolchak becomes a loner seeking the truth that i am truly captivated by him. this seeker of truth character is amalgam of archetypes: kolchak is part detective, part knight, part outcast, part storyteller, part scapegoat. i am tempted to deride or chide him for his childish pride but his chiaroscuro improvisations still make me chortle. and ultimately, i am always on his side even when he's a jerk (taking advantage of the kindness of old ladies, calling women "broads", stealing books from the libraries of exhausted professors) because i too, am convinced that this is his purpose and that is why i can watch his story repeat in cycles over and over again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

review of the graphic adaptation of i am legend

everything that a graphic novel should NOT be, is sadly what the last graphic novel i read, is. i finally gave the "graphic novel adaptation" of i am legend a read this week. angela gave it to me for my birthday since she knows how much i love the novel, and its author richard matheson (writer of some of the best original twilight zone scripts, the incredibly shrinking man, and many other stories, including this, his most famous work). and she also knows how much i love comics. sadly, this adaptation, put together in 1991 before the film came out, and ostensibly reprinted because of it, falls very very short of what it could be.

steve niles was the writer of the adaptation, and i'm sure he felt very reverent about this seminal work by matheson, as he barely cut any text, as far as i can tell. i've read an anthology of short stories by niles that i enjoyed, featuring one of his own characters, cal mcdonald, called dial m for monster. it featured illustrations from various fantastic comic artists, like gilbert hernandez, and niles' future collaborator ben templesmith, but it's not a graphic novel. i haven't read his 30 days of night, done with templesmith, and i'm hoping that when i do i will see something by steve niles that is a true marriage of writing and art that reflects what comic storytelling should be.

this adaptation's text is surrounded by images yes, but it doesn't really integrate the text with the images. the story is told in a straight forward matter and the art in its best moments reflects the story being told at its most basic level. richard neville decides to go to the cemetery and you see him there. in some places there are giant blocks of text describing the protagonist's scientific experiments that have his face, and themed images floating around them. i couldn't help but think that those long pieces of text, if niles wanted to retain them intact would have been better served by being designed as journal entries and broken out from the narrative. and the art might contain his doodles, or drawings of the theory the character is expounding, or conversely, niles should have cut down the matheson text so that it could work. i don't say that it isn't difficult to make this story live on paper: it's the tale of one man struggling against the extinction of his race, and his hopes that he can stop or reverse the disease that has taken his family, and his life away from him. the story is not serving the images, nor do they enhance the text. it is poorly executed from start to finish. i won't say there is nothing redeeming about this adaptation because if it got the novel into the hands of people who wouldn't have read it otherwise, then i am happy for it. but taken for what it is, it is not what i look for in a comic book, or novel, and actually makes me squirm with unhappiness when i think this might be what people think of when they think of either art form.

have a look at sin titulo by cameron stewart: i have it linked here under mo-centric satellites on the right-hand side. it is a weekly web comic that i'm sure will soon see its day in print, in graphic novel form. in this week's page (79), the fourth panel is a close cut image of a bike helmet falling. three words are shown in relief, and their strength is heightened by the art in which they are displayed. that's the kind of expression that makes me want to read comics because there are two narratives entwined which i can't get from reading straight prose. of course, stewart is writing his own story, not trying to serve someone else's, and has spent a lot of time interpreting other comic writers and their text so he knows how to do it well. my understanding is that this is his first foray into writing the comic he's drawing but his efforts are miles above this wretched adaptation.

i'm not mentioning the artist of the i am legend adaptation by name here because i have nothing good to say, except that i hope he's gotten better since this book came out, or that he has found another outlet for his art. perhaps this was his first book -- perhaps he didn't have very much control. ultimately it's not his style i loathe (though i'm not really taken by it either) but oh, the execution. it's just abysmal.

we all know that the term "graphic novel" is really just for marketing purposes. the graphic novel is extended comic narrative, and this one is terrible. the art does not live up to, or is remotely cohesive with the text. thank heaven there are many more, and better, graphic novels out there to read. i will make sure to review one very soon so you know what i mean. or if you're impatient have a look at some of the comics i've linked to. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

beware of sinking hearts, they might be eaten

my stomach is beating like a heart. i wonder if my heart has sunk into my stomach, and is causing it to pulse. besides this queer feeling of my stomach beating like a heart, which is bad enough, it would be awful for my heart to become lodged in my stomach because it'd be vulnerable to all the other things in there. it'd be buffeted by the ball of bubble gum i have swallowed that people told me not to swallow because it never would digest but rather, lie in wait for the day it could pinball against my heart; (the people who nagged never knew that part).

my heart is not as strong as a pinball of bubble gum or cast iron like my stomach. it would not withstand digestive fluids: bile, and acid, and other unnameable things would corrode it away. i think now i understand this is what it means to eat one's heart out. i didn't know it all started with your stomach beating like a heart. i thought it was just a metaphor, or a reference to a stephen crane poem i adore.

the expression makes sense to me now though i have no idea if what i'm telling you is true. i certainly didn't know it'd start with your stomach beating like a heart. i think now i do.

Friday, June 12, 2009

a list of happy things from just this week!

i want to balance out this blog now since the last thing i wrote is kind of bleak. it's powerful enough to me that i'm going to leave it up but that's why i'm here trying to tap dance my way out of despair now, so i'm putting together a list of happy things to counteract my sad post:
  1. good writing: clearly and most obviously i love books and writing or that wouldn't be the main subject for this blog, though clearly not the only one or i would not be making a list. good writing takes me out of my head, quite often full of unproductive worries, and sadnesses, and for that power i am entirely grateful to many writers living and dead.
  2. buying a new book: i bought one yesterday with a gift certificate i still had from my birthday. it is a deep and abiding joy for me to buy books. i love putting them in piles and running my hands over their spines, and beating the crap out of them as i absorb them though i am sad if they start to buckle under. i don't really much care if they are new, or used, and sometimes i barely register the cover because i'm seeking out a writer i have heard of, either from friends or goodreads or from other books. i don't doubt anybody will be surprised when i say that it was an richard brautigan omnibus i bought: collected revenge of the lawn which i am already reading, the abortion: an historical romance, and so the wind won't blow it all away. yes, i am going through a richard brautigan phase. i'm reading other books at the same time though: a town like alice by nevil shute, and i've just finished steve niles and elman brown's graphic novel adaptation of i am legend -- a review is forthcoming. watch this space!
  3. unexpected meetings with good friends: my friend jacquie was getting her hair cut in my neighbourhood yesterday. she had let me know that, but seeing her and partner-in-crime jenn standing in my parking lot still put a big smile on my face. i walked over with them to the salon, and then went out to the movies. when i was on my way back, i found the two of them standing under an awning in the rain. how lovely to be surprised by them twice.
  4. movies: quite similar to number one except i'm more tolerant of schlock in films than i am in books. i took great pleasure in showing two very lovely friends the miracle that is "they live" earlier this week after jessica told me stuff about kate beaton who we all think is really neat.. david said, i've always heard that line "i'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, but i'm all out of bubblegum" and i was happy i could share with them the original tacky moment. i've glanced at the book the warriors that hexter is reading and none of the characters seem to be the same and i suspect there was very little of the book actually adapted to the screen beyond the idea of street gangs journeying through new york, trying to find their way home. i have always loved that this source material for the warriors was xenophon's anabasis, which relates the journey of spartans out of enemy territory. thalatta! thalatta! has also inspired other writers but it kind of makes me laugh that it's probably the only literary thing about the warriors. and then of course i finally saw up yesterday which, even though it made me cry, it made me happy too.
  5. packages that arrive in the mail: i got a present from a friend named jen in texas today. she is lovely, and the package came at just the right time. she had hoped it would arrive earlier this week but sometimes packages don't arrive until you need them. and i really needed that one. it was entirely thoughtful and sweet, and bacon-inspired, and you can never go wrong with that.

so there's my list. i'm sure if i thought harder i could find more happy things that happened to me but to be honest, i don't think i'd feel very happy doing that. right now the sun is pouring through the windows in my living room, and i'm going to go out onto the balcony and listen to the birds and look at my trees and not think for a bit. :)

i taught you to tie your shoelaces

i taught you to tie your shoelaces. your mother said you were too stupid to learn. i said that was ridiculous and that they should have just been patient with you. and i was so proud when you got the hang of it right away. i thought it proved something. but now i wish i did more. but now it seems like it was the only thing i did for you. but now you are so lost, and when i hear about how you are, all i can do is cry and think, but i taught you to tie your shoelaces.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


i was thinking about the word "ripe" today, and how it captures such an epic event: the moment in which something is at its peak before it goes to rot. when we say "the moment was ripe" we mean the time to act has come because it is the optimal time, where our endeavours have the best chance at succeeding. and yet at that same moment, we say "that shit was ripe", an understanding that optimal time is ephemeral and soon it will be over-ripe. that usage is being lost i think as we begin to confuse moments in our minds. ripe is colliding with over-ripe. if you were around an excessively sweaty person, would you think he smelled ripe? or over-ripe? and when the scent of sex is in the air, is that not also ripe? i have the texture of many avocados remembered in my hands as i have sought the perfect ripeness. that moment in time. the ripe time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

meteors, part I -- richard brautigan, revenge of the lawn

i like transcribing good pieces of writing. sometimes i devote myself with a vengeance and crib whole sections of books: i did all of rolfe humphries' translation of the myth of tereus, philomela, and procne sometime ago because reading it didn't seem to be enough. i'd read it so many times, echoing the words in my mind as my eyes flashed over the words; i had read them aloud too, savouring two words, "in vain", that came after poor philomela's tongue struggled toward her, desperate to regain its seat, and then subsided forever. typing them out gave me a different connection to them because i was inputting them and transmitting them out, saying here! look! this is so compelling that i can't look away but now here it is for all of us to look at! a pleasure akin to having somebody read aloud to you companionably.

in that spirit, i thought i would start a recurring, possibly litigious (i'll have to refresh my mind on free usage) section on my blog where i transcribe sections of writing that i think goes beyond the pale into something vivid and visceral, writing that i admire, that showed me truth or beauty or humour. i guess i also could have called this section in the raw -- i'm sure you'll see through my tastes after a few of these. but it's called meteors to maintain my space theme. reading short passages is like watching shooting stars anyway: a startled moment of recognition.

this first entry is a quickie from richard brautigan's collection of short stories revenge of the lawn, a story called pacific radio fire. as i read the book i may add to this entry, but in the meantime i think this is fine:

His eyes were wounded wet rugs.

Like some kind of strange vacuum cleaner I tried to console him. I recited the same old litanies that you say to people when you try to help their broken hearts, but words can't help at all.

It's just the sound of another human voice that makes the only difference. There's nothing you're ever going to say that's going to make anybody happy when they're feeling shitty about losing somebody that they love.

Finally he set fire to the radio. He piled some paper around it. He struck a match to the paper. We sat there watching it. I had never seen anybody set fire to a radio before.

for the record, i did a quick google image search for "radio on fire", went through five pages of results before i gave up...

update: look at what my friend craig battle found! i guess i was looking in the wrong place:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

hexter's literary adventures

my master/cat hexter rules the roost here, shrieking about the trough being empty, and giving all my guests the stink eye. to get my own back against him, i have a variety of nicknames i use to coddle and humiliate him, including hexter the molester, sonny dew melon, fatsy cline, nino, and tio chico (i have no idea why i decided to call him by the name of a long dead great-uncle that i've never met but it works for us).

today he was having a nice lounge on the new couch that was purchased for human sitting, not cat lounging. it looked like this:

so i forgot he existed for a while. the two of us tend to live in happy parallel oblivion when he is not shrieking. but then, as i was sitting on the couch, basking in my blanket dress, wondering what book to read next, i noticed that my cat was making new strides in animal literacy. please see exhibit b:

an interesting choice for his first book. hexter's sat on plenty of other writing before: he particularly loves short stories for sitting on, and his gut is such that 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper disappear entirely underneath his mighty frame capped by small head. i guess it is in keeping with his snarly nature that he chose the warriors by sol yurick as his first book. he's certainly sat beside me as i watched the film a gazillion times. he was equally as captivated by the young james remar's turn as ajax, the assiest asshole in the warriors, and his frantic battle with a park bench and mercedes ruehl. he was equally as alarmed by the director's cut as i was (perhaps because i kept yelling at the TV -- "what are you doing to the baseball furies?!! you are RUINING the baseball furies!!!") and yet, i can see he's flipped through the pages (witness the bent-up corner) and decided he likes what he sees. then i asked him what he thought of it because i haven't read it yet. big mistake:

he is disdainful of my interest. perhaps he is mad he cannot get into the richard brautigan below his book of choice. but it is obvious he has had enough of me, and my nosey questions. he goes back to doing what he does quietest (not best, i've already mentioned that above).

cats can't read. but if they did i know they would be very upset about lol catz. it's just not dignified, and they put up with a lot from us already. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

i just read the hawkline monster and i loved it so much i'm gonna have to blog about it. have you all read it? if you haven't, get on it! :)

i read the hawkline monster the other day, and i'm still wrapped in it, like a dream. i can't shake it even as i read other books.

you have to read it. i was lucky enough to stumble upon it in the bookstore literally around the corner from my apartment, and for four dollars. original cover price was a buck seventy-five but i would pay a LOT MORE for this book. maybe 10,000 dollars. but i'm glad i got it for four. :)

i just finished a jim thompson but i really just want to read it again. i'm writing a blog entry about it now. :)

p.s. i am tempted to cobble together my blog entry from these paroxysms of pleasure i keep posting on the internet about the hawkline monster. :P


and i did. at least all that stuff up there i have blabbed onto the internet. there was more but since it was a conversation and not really my writing, i'll write about it here, as these ejaculations are hardly sufficient in communicating my delight in this book. even now, i would rather be reading it than writing this. it is helping me to understand what kind of prose i love to read more than any other book to be able to name it. to say, "read the hawkline monster by richard brautigan, and you will know prose i love"; it's a gift.

the gift is actually from a friend, ben loory. he's just finished his own book, stories for nighttime and some for the day, and i decided to read the hawkline monster because we were discussing his influences. i'll say here and now that i love his book -- i've had the privelege of reading it in advance of publication, and it's only in reading someone like brautigan do i begin to understand why. they both give story as essence, a terse dream that is the opposite of jane austen's two inches of etched ivory. they etch their lines purposely as she did, and bring it lyricism, brautigan with his metaphors, and loory with his metre. but austen's world, while beautiful in its own way, is a small one, and constrained and her analogy points to the limited sphere of her world i see as a woodcut, deeply ingrained, whereas the simplicity of the approach these men use is rather different for me. the effect in my mind is this: the spare words become a paint brush that with three wide strokes paint in watercolour a world that becomes more vivid and real every moment i stare at the canvas.

even now, as i write this, still i want to be reading the hawkline monster again. i'm distracted by a pain below my shoulder blade, and i know i should probably eat something because those honey nut cheerios were a long time ago, but i also know i should try at least to exorcise this need to be with this book, stop thinking about greer and cameron, the laconic heroes that have so bewitched me, and have me constantly in conflict as to whom i love the better. i miss the shadow, the honourable shadow. i miss the stark pleasure that this book gave me when i was reading it, which by the way, i could not do straight through. i would stop and absorb my feelings about the story, about the characters and how alive they were to me.

i am enamoured with the distillate of story, which raymond chandler thought was just the starting point but which i am convinced is a reward in its' own right. brautigan and loory have made me sure.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

starting a new blog

i have had a blog at myspace for a couple of years but now it seems to be the only reason to go to myspace, and when i get there i just feel uncomfortable as the tumbleweeds roll by. my good friend dan and i both thought it would be a good idea to find a new place for our thoughts on life, and since this is about me and my world the blog is called "the mo-centric universe". as the summer kicks in, there will likely be more than a few photo blogs logged because i love sharing the things i see in photo format.

more to come soon!