Saturday, November 5, 2011

Grazing, Thrilling

Sometimes one feeds on the art of others. During busy times it becomes grazing--poking around to see what might satisfy an urge, balance out an exhaustion, offer up sweetness. This has been a time of grazing, balancing out the intensity of teaching. On my bedside table, just to settle me, as I really do not read in bed:

The Pilgrim Hawk by Glenway Wescott, given to me last summer by the brilliant English writer Sarah Salway, a book I didn't know, my bad--and now I have hunted down all his work and have a stack of it. I'm reading it, one paragraph at a time, again.

A Regular Guy by Mona Simpson. I have read this one a few times, it has some scenes that are breathtaking. There is some Steve Jobs in this book but never mind that. Mona is great.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. This is a very loose book, loose in the writing, maybe a runner's stretching. It is the only Murakami I have ever read. Larry Dark is reading 1Q84, which is heavy enough to break a few bones.

( ) Hold Everything Dear by John Berger. I love him and always feel braced when I read him. And sad.

Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee. I am teaching it again, both in my undergrad course and as a book to discuss in an independent study with an MFA student. So I have read it twice again in the last four months and listened to the audio book. All the stitching and hemming and basting has become very clear to me, but seeing how it is put together hasn't ruined it--this is a good book. IMHO Mr Lee is a great writer. The conceit of this book is very smart indeed--the man figured out a way to write about the alienation of first generation Americans metaphorically. I shall not give the plot away because the small mysteries at the beginning are best experienced. I am not sure if this book really moves me, or if I am jarred by it--the many beautiful sentences and the moments of wisdom have yet to make me cry or ache, but I remember them. I stand in relation to the book much as Lelia, the wife, stands in relation to the protagonist, Henry Park--I make lists of observations about it, I find it a turn on, I pick up on its accent in spite of its effort to be undetectable, and I want it to feel for me as I feel for it, but we're not quite there yet. Maybe that will happen when I teach it yet again.

I needed to graze some art today so went with a pal to Asbury Park to see the Shepard Fairey, a.k.a Obey, wheat pastes and murals recently put up around town. They were like old blacklight posters. Very very fun stuff that hit the spot. And the ocean churned wildly! Wind blew hard down the boardwalk! Thrilling.
Shepard Fairey


  1. I'm always amazed at how reading turns me back to writing. And how when I don't read, I can't write. I'm just about to start a new project now, and as it's commissioned and therefore not organic to me, I've become more aware of the process. The first thing I've done is to gather a pile of books around me to help me on the journey. The subject's not directly linked to the books but there's something about the combined voices that gives me courage! So pleased you liked The Pilgrim Hawk - it had your name on it for me.

  2. It has been so long since I have written anything I feel like reading and remains thus. But I had been thinking about memory, history, lives, death and actually picked up a short piece recommended to me: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes which, while troubling was comforting, too. Aging. Remembrances. Crap. Whatever happened to the golden years. Another lie? Anyway, I can't wait to read The Pilgirm Hawk. Thanks. Give a shout out the next time you want to hit the shore. I could so use a change of scenery.

  3. Thanks for these recommendations, Alice. I have ordered The Pilgrim Hawk and A Regular Guy (seems like a good time to get a fictional dose of Steve Jobs). I have been doing a lot of reading on classical piano composers and piano technique, so these books will be a welcome diversion.