Monday, February 09, 2009

The oyster of imagination

So I finished that little Turgenev novel (more on this on the morrow), and then I finished off that little work of juvenile fiction I'd left off, and I found myself sitting around the house wondering what the hell I'm to read next, it being the first occasion in months where I didn't have a plan, or some next great thing beckoning me — I have instead a very modest selection of somber, or at least soberingly intimidating, works on my shelf awaiting their right time and my proper attention (Bolaño! Lem! Pynchon! and more Lem!) — and all the while there is a recent nagging itch in the corner of my mind telling me, "More Turgenev," that is not eased by the most rational retort that simply there is none on hand, and I almost resort to imploring you, dear Reader, to suggest something — You who are never short on suggestions, but, frankly, more likely to leave me feeling confused and unfocused (no offense; it reflects poorly on me, not You) — when I realize it's late, time to turn in, sleep on it, something will come to me in time for the morning commute, but nothing has come but great fever upon my child, which does save me from braving the métro bookless, or unsuitably or irresponsibly booked, but brings with it, combined with the difficulty of dealing with work issues in a manner not face to face, instead a plague of other worries from which by noon I am in desperate need of relief: a respite of fiction with a cappuccino, please; when my eye should fall upon a book long discarded, abandoned, no — I'd merely set it aside awhile. I speak of The Adventures of Amir Hamza: Lord of the Auspicious Planetary Conjunction, by Ghalive Lahnavi and Abdullah Bilgrami, my bookmark at page 311, propitiously the start of Book Two:

The imperious pen departs to conquer the dominions of rhetoric, girding itself to trek the blank stretches of paper, and delivers the account of Amir's journey, painting a host of new episodes and choice encounters before the mind's eye.

What a lavish feast! Too rich to be devoured in one sitting.

Today Amir comes to a fork in the path and is tricked into taking the one by which his army surely will die of thirst; his "obedient servant" proffers a poisoned goatskin, from which Amir is saved, by fate, by luck, by chivalrous manners and in good humour, and by a voice upon the wind, from drinking.

Really. All that in just two pages.

I am faced with a fresh problem: wanting to know what happens next versus the encumbrance of this very big book. It will not commute easily and I'll have to plan ahead: no room for a packed lunch in my bag, I'll have to dress to wear the shoes I left under my desk, and work will have to stay at work — I won't be able to carry the laptop too.

"Divers of the sea of traditions extract treasures of discourse from the oyster of imagination, and bear forth the luminous offering of the pearls of narrative..."

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