Monday, August 27, 2018
Well, there have been two more owls in ULYSSES. I don't need to remind YOU that it's not my responsibility to tell you EVERY time an owl appears in a book, but the third owl is unusual enough to warrant comment, plus it is an actual owl, not - like the first two - a figurative one. It sits on the mantelpiece of Mr. Bloom, "an embalmed owl, matrimonial gift of Alderman John Hooper" with a "clear melancholy wise bright motionless compassionate gaze."
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
As you know, I don't "blog" anymore, but something has happened. Do you remember when a waiter at '21' gave me a pen to keep? Of course you do. Otherwise, you would have a heart of stone. I am sad to tell you that the pen - which, as I calculate, was given to me on the evening of June 1, 2015 - has just run out of ink. Still, here was an instrument of admirable, nay, miraculous stamina. Who knows how long the employees of '21' had used it before one of them passed it along to me? How I will miss it. I jotted something with it almost every day. I was jotting something for a secret job I can't tell you about when it inked its last. Faithful to the end!
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Megan Abbott and I are in the habit of reading celebrity bios together. Right now we are reading the most astonishingly inept biography yet, I think - the writing and editing (and even the proofreading) so dismal that I shan't name it, though I have to relate that its subject is Mickey Rooney. Like, we have to send paragraphs back and forth to each other for analysis. What do they mean? How did they end up in the book? Was it a production mistake? Something breaks through occasionally... like the weary, plaintive quotation of an interview subject who invested in Mickey's hot dog restaurant: "They sold square hot dogs in a bun. Square hot dogs. I think that says it all." But! There is one loopy paragraph that, while still not good, rises out of the book, leaps off the page, because its tone becomes so unlike any of the other clunky, jumbled passages which make up the rest. The authors are describing an agent of Mickey's later years whose bedroom was filled with raccoons, both living and stuffed. The entire paragraph is worth quoting, if only to demonstrate that I'm not kidding about the writing, but sadly I have only enough energy to type up the end of it: "But it was the raccoons, the raccoons! Those eyes, red in the soft light, were unwavering; they would stare at you as she fed them. You would never forget them." You will have to take my word for it that nothing else in the text matches the urgency of "the raccoons, the raccoons!" and the desperate slip into the second person. For two seconds the writing verges into the expressively personal. Somebody is really haunted by those raccoons.