Thursday, September 22, 2016

George Plimpton's T-Shirt

You know two things about me. 1. I love John Aubrey. 2. Every book I read has an owl in it. So it will not alarm you to discover that I am reading JOHN AUBREY: MY OWN LIFE, the wonderful biographical reconstruction - mostly in his own words - by Ruth Scurr, and it has an owl in it. We have had owls from Aubrey before. But in this case he makes friends with Francis Potter, who is "haunted" by Ovid's "barbarous Medea, mixing her witch's brew: roots, juices, flowers, seeds, stones, the screech owl's flesh and its ill-boding wings. He sees her, hair all unbound and blown about as she dances round..." (See also.) All of which gives Potter the idea of inventing the blood transfusion with chickens. Naturally! Aubrey helps out. Hey, as long as I've got you here, I was at Off Square Books a few nights ago, listening to a guy talk about his memoir. Once he and George Plimpton were out looking for what I believe this fellow called "the elusive burrowing owls of New Mexico." George Plimpton whipped off his t-shirt and tossed it into the air, where it attracted a large gathering of curious bats. Plimpton conjectured that the bats believed his t-shirt to be a delicious giant moth. I assume all this is in the book, or why did he bring it up? So I am putting his book on my list of books with owls in them.