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Posts Tagged ‘literature’

January has passed, for the most part, like an absurdist play with regards to all of the various disasters related to our apartment including, but not limited to:  a continuously leaky ceiling (our bed is currently covered in plastic and we haven’t slept in it since Thursday night), two laptops experiencing two separate malfunctions (my main laptop’s monitor went, and the one I am using until this afternoon when I pick up the first saw its keyboard go a day after I dropped off the original computer at the shop), losing our bathroom for half a week and my husband losing something of significant sentimental importance last week.  So Wednesday before Top Chef came on I pulled out my copy of The Zoo Story by Edward Albee and started to read it, while finishing it the next day.

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(image from amazon.ca)

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Interlude of poetry;

I Hear America Singing

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his at it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck-hand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the mornng, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day–at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
–Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

 

 

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Until I was flipping through my dad’s Weekend section of the WSJ last weekend, I had no idea of the historical signifcance of today:  it’s the 75th anniversary of Repeal Day, or the day that Prohibition was legally reversed here in the United States.

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Interlude of poetry;

The poem that sold me on E.E. Cummings when I was a young teenager:

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Interlude of poetry.

Frank O’Hara’s collection Meditations in an Emergency was referenced in the season two premiere of Mad Men, and I then referenced my The Collected Works of Frank O’Hara to find the actual poem.  Here it is for your perusal:

(from here:  http://www.palace.net/~llama/poetry/emermed)

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Consider this:

About the time their tea was brought, the choir member caught me staring over at her party. She stared back at me, with those house-counting eyes of hers, then, abruptly, gave me a small, qualified smile. It was oddly radiant, as certain small, qualified smiles sometimes are. I smiled back, much less radiantly, keeping my upper lip down over a coal-black G.I. temporary filling showing between two of my front teeth. The next thing I knew, the young lady was standing, with enviable poise, beside my table. She was wearing a tartan dress–a Campbell tartan, I believe. It seemed to me to be a wonderful dress for a very young girl to be wearing on a rainy, rainy day.

–J.D. Salinger, “For Esme, with Love and Squalor” (from Nine Stories)

And this:

“Brett was damn good-looking. She wore a slipover jersey sweater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boy’s…. She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht, and you missed none of it with that wool jersey.”

–Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

And compare them to this:  (more…)

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when the serpents bargain for the right to squirm

and the sun strikes to gain a living wage—

when thorns regard their roses with alarm

and rainbows are insured against old age

 

when every thrush may sing no new moon in

if all screech-owls have not okayed his voice

—and any wave signs on the dotted line

or else an ocean is compelled to close

 

when the oak begs permission of the birch

to man an acorn—valleys accuse their

mountains of having altitude—and march

denounces april as a saboteur

 

then we’ll believe in that incredible

unanimal mankind(and not until)

 

 

 

–E.E. Cummings

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I used to be a much more voracious reader when I was younger than I am today, mostly because I have a laptop that can provide me with ample entertainment (or, you know, work) to do on my daily commute.  So this year my reading list has been rather pathetic for the moment, but I’m hoping that some traveling in the next few months will afford me the opportunity to read uninterrupted for a few hours at a time here and there.

Part of this resistance to read is the fact that I tend to take on more difficult material.  Case in point:  The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.  I love me some magical realism, but it’s honestly difficult to only give a book like this forty minutes of your attention at a time–it really requires a few good hours of being immersed in it, but it’s difficult to not feel guilty that you’re not doing something more active instead of sitting around on a sunny Saturday afternoon, such as playing tennis or completing wedding planning shit.  So I’ve shelved that book for the moment, with the intention of returning to it post-wedding.

Since then, I’ve been reading Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, which is a semi-autobiographical recounting of the author bumming around Paris, getting drunk and fucking whores while getting some meager writing jobs here and there in the 1930’s.  The infamous c-word appears at least ten times in the first ten pages, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of the novel’s vulgarity.

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In addition to those personal resolutions such as eating healthier (and trying to avoid the sugar that’s all over my office) and consistently exercising (goal is 4-5 times per week), there are others that pertain more here and frankly are more interesting to boot: 

  • Read more.  My devouring of novels has cooled as of late, and I have so many good ones to finish (The Satanic Verses, Tropic of Cancer) that I need to not poke around on the Internet so much during the weekends and, you know, read.  At least to finish the two mentioned.
  • Watch more foreign films.  Though I am by no means a movie buff, there are a few that I’d really like to see this year as I gear up for the upcoming trip to Italy.  I’m starting with Fellini, and to that end I received La Dolce Vita for Christmas and from there, onwards and upwards to 8 ½.  Francois Truffaut is another director I’d like to dive into—and if anyone out there has further recommendations, please leave them in the comments below.
  • Re-embrace fashion.  This one is a little more difficult, to be honest.  The first step is actually the easiest—purging my closet of clothes that either have been a little too loved or those that just don’t work at all anymore—but from there, my mouth is quirking up into a bit of a smirk.  Perhaps it’s been the so-called commoditization of style—the outpouring of “celebutards” becoming paragons of personal style even though they are heavily managed by stylists has made looking through fashion magazines kind of a drag, and seeing that influence extend to stores makes trying to find anything interesting nigh impossible.  So this year I want to avoid the common rags and focus on being inspired by innovative photography, individuals with real personal style, and look to fictional characters of film and literature.  Rachel Zoe will not get me down.

We’ll see how this goes, I guess.

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