Friday, February 22, 2008

Literary Matters

Just finished PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION, in which the feeble fleshly casing of Bob Hope serves as a repository for all that is evil in the world. I'm so sensitive! I just take up for Bob because he's not around anymore to do it for himself. Aside from my tenderness on that subject, I found it a most agreeable book and do recommend it to one and all. Next up, not that you care, the novel RAVEL by Jean Echenoz, who I believe once wrote a novel set in heaven, using Dean Martin as a character. I need to find that one. Not that you care, but I bought RAVEL at McNally-Robinson in NYC, where I was doing a reading with Pia Z. Ehrhardt, who happens by coincidence to love the composer Ravel, after whom the novel is named. I could just "blog" like this all night long. For example, I could tell you that while I was rummaging around for the next thing to read, I almost settled on one of those books I got for next to nothing at a yard sale right before our move: THREE WAYS OF THOUGHT IN ANCIENT CHINA by the delightful old-school translator Arthur Waley, whose work was first introduced to me by my late friend Eugene Walter. If I did intend to "blog" all night, I would go on to say that I used a snippet of a Waley translation in the title novella of YOUR BODY IS CHANGING. And I might even go on to say that I opened tonight's Waley book to a passage, attributed to Chuang Tzu, which seems to fit in with the philosophy of the "blog" as expressed by Jasper Johns: Chuang Tzu and a pal of his are talking about the uselessness of a big old gnarled tree and Chuang Tzu is like, "What does not invite the axe/ No creature will harm/ What cannot be used/ No troubles will befall." And I was like, "Yeah." In our final literary matter, I received mere hours ago a surprise phone call from the great David Simon, co-creator of THE WIRE, to whom I could only babble in wonderment, but who was very nice to me, advising that I should keep doing what I do, "even if it ends in tragedy." He was, he reported, at the same bar, drinking the same thing (sangria) he had been drinking when he called me last year. I'm going to expect a call every year now, like a new holiday. I had the extra special pleasure of speaking with the great and equally kind Laura Lippman as well. I took the opportunity to congratulate her on being included in the "Tournament of Books" over there on The Morning News "web" site. An impressive short list on which to sit, though she was genuinely modest about it. These conclude our literary matters. Forever.