Saturday, July 25, 2009

Spare parts

I've taken quite a break from 2666, to break away from all the rotten death of part 4 (The Part About the Crimes), and just to be able to read something — finish something! — less than 1000 pages long. But I find myself starting in on the last volume (The Part About Archimboldi), and I'm wildly excited about this, I want to take notes as I go, things are gelling.

(Really, I shouldn't read more than one book, or maybe two, at a time. I'm no good at it, never have been. It makes me feel uncentred.)

(Especially when there's no time, there hasn't been any time, where does the time go?, my sister came to visit, and J-F went off for a camping weekend, and the kid and I play and play (she's off to day camp next week), and the weather's shitty rainy the whole time so we can't just go to the park where she'd play and I'd watch and read, we have to do indoor things, which takes a lot more ingenuity and patience, plus you have to clean up, meanwhile work is a little crazy, and there must be 83 loads of laundry to do, the closet shelving is falling down, and I think the bathroom is starting to smell, there's just no time.)

I am currently playing catch-up on the Infinite Summer project; I've re-read the first 80 odd pages of Infinite Jest, which I'd read a couple years ago, and some beyond, but I'm not quite up to schedule yet.

Also, for some reason I thought now would be a good time to finish up The Adventures of Amir Hamza, which I'm not even half-way through, and I can't begin to estimate just how many bathroom trips it might take.

So, between volumes of 2666 seemed like an excellent time to squeeze in some actual reading, of the kind where you actually get to close the book after a few days, maybe feel a faint sense of accomplishment in so doing.

Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Sun Over Breda, which, sadly, bored me, in the way that I'm just not into the minutiae of battle, no matter how glorious the language, but it was quick and it's over. (He's an interesting writer for being so visual. Very obviously he's knowledgeable about fine art and greatly inspired by it.)

And I closed Alberto Manguel's The Library at Night, which was nice — just in that kinship you feel with Manguel, that love for and comfort in books and libraries.

(I never did write about my brief encounter with him, my seeing him deliver one of the Massey Lectures. Apart from the lecture itself, which was fascinating and for which I still have notes lying around somewhere, he's a lovely man. He signed my book for me and I asked him what he was reading back then in November 2007: He smiled shyly and apologized before answering. "It sounds so pedantic." Locke's On Tolerance. Yes, for pleasure. But his face lit up in telling me he'd just finished the latest Reginald Hill, Death Comes for the Fat Man. Manguel highly recommends Dalziel and Pascoe: "You must start at the beginning. They're wonderful!" (I've never read them, but I might.))

And poetry! I'm making my way through a volume of Janusz Szuber, and while I can't say it gives me a sense of accomplishment exactly (poetry causes for me something more like befuddlement), my brain feels stretched in all the right places for it.

Things are gelling. I mean ideas are, in my head.

I whipped across the street to Indigo at lunch yesterday to hear Lewis Black, shilling for his latest book (Me of Little Faith). He didn't read from the book, but talked quite soberly (albeit entertainingly) about the craft of writing, his basic advice being, Just write. Don't think about it. If you start thinking, you realize it's crap, and so you don't bother to write it down cuz it's crap, you feel you have to think it through, and so you go have a think and before you know it you're napping, and you wake up and give up on the whole crap idea of writing. But if you write it down, at least you know where it might go, even if you have to rewrite everything to get there. Basically.

Also he noted that he thinks differently whether he's typing or writing longhand — a different process entirely. And then he answered questions for half an hour.

But about things gelling. I guess I mean associations are gelling. Cuz the whole time I'm listening to Lewis Black, I'm thinking about Infinite Jest. Particularly as Black rants about the fact that television and computers haven't been fully merged yet — it's the same screen!, the problem is money, they haven't figured out how to distribute the money they'd make yet — and I'm thinking teleputers! Wallace had the TP all figured out. And Black goes on about this human urge for entertainment, and really, whether you're flaked out on the couch watching Comedy Central or lolling away the afternoon reading Chekhov, it's really the same thing. And I'm thinking, yeah. And I think about asking Black for his thoughts on Wallace, but I realize I know next to nothing about either Black or Wallace to be able to gauge whether I might be on to something so I discard the impulse, but some kind of neuronal connection has already been made and I can't shake it.
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