Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mysterious barricades

Not always effective at keeping people out, mysteriously
I blame it on the weather.

You wacky latitude, you, Fort Wayne -- a near-blizzard, record low temperatures one weekend, two snow-days off then torturous drives to work late week, then pouring rain and forty degrees by the next Friday. My God we’re tough. And confused.

No wonder I spend my time reading stuff like Bukowski and Carver and Carter while watching wacky comedies.

Last night -- wow. Was reading Call Me If You Need Me, The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose  by Ray Carver. Re-read ‘Kindling,’ and probably need to read it ten more times before I begin figuring out what it means. Who the people are. Who they aren’t. What they want. If it even means anything. Part of me hates a story that asks this much of me. Another part of me doesn't hate it and I guess that’s why we're here.

And now’s the time to mention that He Who Holds the Remote was watching  The Three Stooges (2012 movie) until even he could not take it and then he (re-re-re...)watched Meet the Parents. So that was the background of me trying to read Carver and maybe it wasn’t so out of place after all -- can’t you imagine Sol and Bonnie watching the same thing? And Myers escaping it by chopping the wood. I had no wood to chop, so I was stuck.

No kidding, just as Greg Fokker was knocking Gramma’s ashes off the mantelpiece, here’s what I'm reading, from the chapter 'On Writing':
Some writers have a bunch of talent; I don’t know any writers who are without it. But a unique and exact way of looking at things, and finding the right context for expressing that way of looking, that’s something else. The World According to Garp is, of course, the marvelous world according to John Irving [Ed. note: One of my boyfriends.] There is another world according to Flannery O’Connor, and others according to William Falkner and Ernest Hemingway….
I think that’s what separates competent writers from extraordinary ones. People who get published vs. people who get Pulitzers or National Book Awards or even Nobel prizes (not that awards are always, or the only, measure of writing genius, for sure, but you know what I mean). Writing that's like nation building -- or world building. A world a reader can not just visit, but become part of, a virtual reality on paper. A matrix of an author's own design. Welcome to Hogwarts. Or Maine.

Anyway, that’s good stuff to think about and I made up for the cacophony of the evening by reading (in the quiet, in bed) this villanelle from Jared Carter’s Les Barricades Mystérieuses  (you can read it all in this essay by David Le Garrison);

To improvise, first let your fingers stray
across the keys like travelers in snow:
each time you start, expect to lose your way.

You'll find no staff to lean on, none to play
among the drifts the wind has left in rows.
To improvise, first let your fingers stray

beyond the path. Give up the need to say
which way is right, or what the dark stones show;
each time you start, expect to lose your way.

Holy cow. Reading this makes me want to quit living and just write villanelles. There’s something so hypnotizing and mysterious about it -- the repetition, the rhyme, the enjambment. Reading it now full of music and snow, I find myself wanting to just read it again and again and again, at least until I’ve read it as many time as we’ve watched Meet the Parents.

For your listening pleasure

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