Sunday, July 8, 2012

Triumphantly Returning

I've been gone. Yes. I know. I do that. I'll do it again. You can't count on this blog to be updated regularly. But I'll always come back. I'll always have some new musing that needs an outlet, whether you're looking for me to let it out or not.

Anyway, this summer has been a time for reading old favorites, new (to me) old favorites and wonderful contemporary authors alike. I'll single out several. One has been Henry David Thoreau's classic, "Walden" -- a tremendous read. Really, in these times especially it offers up the kind of refreshing alternative point of view that's really needed. It's also reminded me that the more superficial goals we humans aspire to have always been and continue to be, however the form manages to reinvent itself. But I love the notion that the pursuit of luxury can't be enough, as when Thoreau remarks: "When he has obtained these things which are necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain the superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, his vacation from humbler toil having commenced." And if I can distill a little of what Throeau is getting at in what amounts to his thesis (or one big positing, anyway), he's not really prescribing a specific model of life for everyone, all people. He's aware it's possible to take pleasure in your current circumstances, whatever they be. But for those who have become disenchanted and maybe wish to understand why possessions have not filled the void, he offers his own experience, his ruminative and meditative existence, as a possible alternative. He questions the very notion that seems to be a fundament of present day society: things can be no other way. They can be another way. They can be the way that works best for you. Maybe that's living in the wilderness or maybe it's something altogether different. But go out and find it. Listen to another point of view.

Then there's my longtime favorite, the weaver of intricate sentences that flow so musically you feel you're nearly spellbound, or maybe you are, after reading. That'd be Vladimir Nabokov. And this time around I'm catching up with him by way of "King, Queen, Knave" -- which as alluded to is already shaping up to be an amazing read, at least prosaically. There are signs that the plot will be rewarding, too, but I don't feel enough has been revealed to say with any sincere inkling yet. I'm at the pont where one of the main characters, the presumed titular knave, is wandering the streets of Berlin without his necessary prescription glasses, which he'd previously clumsily destroyed. There's comedy and perhaps something more to that.

In the wake of Patrick Somerville's hilarious recent imbroglio with The New York Times that's been covered well by other people, I have finally gotten off of my hump and begun reading his first novel, "The Cradle." I'm excited by its furious pace, especially given that the essential premise is so deceptively innocuous: a man goes on a quest to retrieve the cradle that had once belonged to his wife when she was a baby. As an avid fan of Somerville's fiction (I can't encourage your reading his short fiction collections anymore than Ialready have), I'm curious to see what shapes and forms his long form writing will take. Certainly there's a more serious tone to his writing here, emotionally stimulating and downright enervating in its weight, which I've experienced after reading just thirty some pages. It's evident Somerville has an amazing range of insight and literary acumen, and I look forward to seeing how these powers reveal themselves further in "The Cradle."

Also, while I've been only slightly better at updating my status there, I've begun blogging for Artifice Books in recent months, which you can find by clicking HERE. There's plenty of other worthwhile things being said, arguably more than the few that I've spoken.

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