sábado, mayo 27, 2006
lunes, mayo 22, 2006
High Places, II
At one point he came around the corner and cried. It was hard standing up. His knees and hands bled. His lip hurt too-- he bit it after the crash. And at last after what felt like hours, when nobody was looking, his tears finally fell and he looked at his red palms.
Why, he wondered, did he decide to climb to the very top of the slide, stand up on the last wrung, and hold his hands over his head for ten Mississippis? Anyway, if it meant that Nicky would stop teasing him, stop calling him "freckles", stop poking him in the side, it was almost worth it. So he did it. And look what happened: after he did it, he tripped and fell.
It was an ugly, clumsy fall. Head first down the slide on his chest, his hands the brakes, his knees and feet bumping and scraping like a caboose. After he hit bottom his world was silent. And then when he was breathing again, there was pain and the blood. But he said nothing. He just limped away, shaking his head.
Later in the kitchen under the bright fluorescent light, his mother overcame her initial alarm and peered closely at his hands and knees. She wanted an explanation of what on earth had happened. When none was forthcoming, she insisted on cleaning and bandaging. The mercurichrome burned, as did the cleaning, but it didn't really matter. She would tell his father about this when he got home.
Special thanks to the NChatham Group.
lunes, mayo 15, 2006
Borges and Buenos Aires
A wonderful article in yesterday's Sunday New York Times searches Buenos Aires for traces of our hero Borges. I know I could find his imprint there, just as I could find Neruda's in Temuco. And how wonderful to visit the windowless room where he produced "The Library of Babel"!
I remember reading this story years ago, when I was a freshman in college. I loved thinking about it. An infinite number of books all identical except for one punctuation mark. An infinite number of books no word of which made a sensible sentence bumping up against a book of absolute astounding brilliance from front to back that no one has yet written. I could go on. And no doubt will. But not here.
I'll settle for a trip to BA, where I can patiently look for the imprints and reread the stories.
miércoles, mayo 10, 2006
The Literary Factory
In her memoir of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Master of Dreams, Dvorah Telushkin writes that Singer once said to her, "I tell you, Deborah, you are in the fehctory of literature. You are learning more from me than you can learn in any university." Leaving aside the shear presumption of the remark, and overlooking Telushkin's distracting insistence on rendering Singer's words in dialect, the idea of the literature factory is really intriguing.
And what's your literature factory look like? Is it unionized? Does the workforce act like Gramsci seizing the factories, does the workforce seethe and grumble? Are the peons restless?Do you have a good and understanding administrator or do you have a relentless and unappeasable strawboss? Do you have labor peace, do you foment labor strife?
Is your factory in a highrise or is it in a hovel? And what's it smell like? That question brings me to a windowless office I visited frequently many years ago in which my mentor smoked cigars and every scrap of paper I took home reeked. It also brings me to the forms of mold that grow in and around unwashed cups and how some people seem to have vibrant, healthy plants and no penicillin.
My current factory has wheels. As I drive from point to point to point, my favorite music playing in the background, my mind runs around the moving factory, desperate like a hunted rodent. When I arrive at a destination or a computer, I rush to download from the day's travels and edit, edit, edit. Usually, the boss is too occupied driving to get involved in any literature work. His sole admonishments are to pay attention. I respond, "I am, I am," and continue scrambling over the dashboard and ceiling.
Sometimes my factory moves to the city sidewalk, as I walk and talk aloud to myself. It's embarrassing that in some cities and particulaly New York other pedestrians ignore my talking and give me a wide birth. As if I were a madman. Have they no respect for the integrity of actual labor?
Sometimes my factory is this beach and this very chair
I am incredibly lucky to work such a cushy factory, and I am filled with gratitude for it.
What, I ask, is your literature factory like? You can even post it in comments.
jueves, mayo 04, 2006
Take Me Out
Today is May 4, 2006. It's warm out. Trees have small leaves. It may be 78 degrees today. Which brings me to baseball. The season has begun. The Mets are playing well (after all these years). And the sound of the game on the radio brings me back to memories of being 9, the perfect age for enjoyment of baseball.
9 is the age of baseball cards. The age of little league. The age of being taken to a game by a parent or grandparent. The age of wearing a baseball cap to school. The age of becoming a fan. The seventh inning stretch. The age of "take me out to the ball game." The astonishment of statistics about batting and pitching, and the justice of the infield fly rule. And it reminds me of the sound of the game at the ball park, the sound of ball on bat, ball on catcher's mit, the venders, the roar of the crowd. It reminds me also of the radio playing in the background on a warm evening. It reminds me of Ebbets Field and that day in 1956 when I found out that my beloved Dodgers were moving to California. In short, puppy love and abrupt betrayal.
It also reminds me of my first heroes, major league ball players. Heroes like Roy Campanella, a catcher and nevertheless the National League MVP in 1951, 1953 and 1955. A Hall of Famer. A man whose last game was the last game at Ebbets Field. The guy who made being a catcher a revered position and not the human personification of a school playground wall.
Remembrance of all of this is brings back innocence and simplicity. Am I listening to the games because I actually like them, or is it because it returns me to the delight of my 9 year old dreamworld?