Sunday, December 23, 2007
This novel made me think of other authors from the UK (Never again will I make the mistake of saying 'English'): John Banville and Ann Enright (both of them Irish). Naturally this means their main topics in their latest novels: death. Curiously enough both novels got the Booker, this year and last year. This one, Gerard Woodward's magnificent novel, "I'll Go to Bed at Noon" is part of a trilogy but stands totally by itself. This is a terrific novel that tackles the problem of alcoholism in an entire family. There's death and despair in this novel, and a lot of literary references, but it is easy to read because of Woodward's direct, even matter-of-factly prose, full of humour within the tragedy. I love this part, almost at the end of the novel when Colette, the matriarch dies (cirrhosis of the liver). This is Aldous's perspective, Colette's surviving husband:
"Afterwards Aldous sat in a small park of ornamental willows and wept. He realized he now had more time than he knew what to do with. More time than he could ever want. He was healthy. He was sixty-seven. He had no job, no wife, no children, no mortgage, no pets, and perhaps a good ten years of active life left, perhaps fifteen, perhaps twenty. Those years spread before him with a vastness such as the early palaeonthologists must have recognized when they first realized that the Earth was much older than the Bible had told them. Not a few thousand years old, but five billion years. What had the world been doing all that time, what species had risen and fallen, what ages had passed? And in the future, the pathway of time streched further than the human race could ever walk. More time than humanity could ever fill. No matter how long the human race lasted, it would only ever be a flicker in the life of the universe, a twich of an eyelid.
When he got home he found a letter for him on the mat. It was his new bus pass. A free bus pass. The GLC had recently announced free travel on London Transport for all old age pensioners" (430).
Saturday, December 8, 2007
«Desde el mes de enero de 1946, en Ascona, en la Suiza italiana, había abandonado el libro que intentaba escribir sobre mi experiencia en Buchenwald. Me había visto obligado a tomar aquella decisión literalmente para sobrevivir. Ya sé que Primo Levi sólo volvió a la vida por medio y a través de Se questo è un uomo. Mi aventura había sido diferente. La escritura me encerraba en la clausura de la muerte, me asfixiaba en ella, implacablemente. Había que escoger entre la escritura y la vida, y escogí esta última. Escogí una larga cura de afasia, de amnesia deliberada para volver a vivir, o para sobrevivir... Así como la escritura liberaba a Primo Levi del pasado, apaciguaba su memoria, a mí me hundía otra vez en la muerte, me sumergía en ella». Jorge Semprún
This was one of the classic gothic debts. Finally got this impressive penguin deluxe edition of Shirley Jackson, "We have always lived in the castle", according to Jonatham Lethem, in his great introduction to this edition, Jackson's finest work. This edition features a precious drawing by swiss artist Thomas Ott.
The story is completely told by 18th year old Merricat:
"I wish you were all dead, I thought, and longed to say it out loud. Constance said, 'Never let them see that you care', and 'If you pay any attention they'll only get worse', and probably it was true, but I wished they were dead. I would have liked to come into the grocery some morning and see them all, even the Elbers and the children, lying there crying with the pain and dying. I would then help myself to groceries, I thought, stepping over their bodies, taking whatever I fancied from the shelves, and go home, with perhaps a kick for Mrs. Donell while she lay there. I was never sorry when I had thoughts like this; I only wished they would come true. 'It's wrong to hate them', Constance said, 'it only weakens you', but I hated them anyway, and wondered why it had been worth while creating them in the first place".
Like a child, the earth's going to sleep, or so the story goes.
But I'm not tired, it says, You may not be tired but I'm tired...
You can see it in her face, everyone can. So the snow has to fall, sleep has to come. Because the mother's sick to death of her life and needs silence.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
An excerpt from one of the condensed short stories by Jenny Erpenbeck (Berlin, 1967):
"His wife brings me tea. She has blotches, his wife, he once said to me, like a woman who's been beaten, but he doesn't beat her. How could you possibly have gotten so weak? she asks me. She sits on the edge of my bed and holds the saucer while I drink. I don't know, I tell her, maybe I just overdid it. If you rest a lot, you'll get better. Yes, I say, and take another sip. What do you think of my dress? she asks. I don't like the color, you look too somber in it. At least you're honest, she says. When I ask him, he always says, sure, you look fine, but he doesn't even look up, he doesn't even see what I have on, he just says: Sure, you look fine".
From 'Sun-Flecked shadows of my skull', in "The Old Child & Other Stories".
last lines of the novel::::::::"On Chesil Beach he could have called out to Florence, he could have gone after her. He did not know, or would not have cared to know, that as she ran away from him, certain in her distress that she was about to lose him, she had never loved him more, or more hopelessly, and that the sound of his voice would have been a deliverance, and she would have turned back. Instead, he stood in cold and righteous silence in the summer's dusk, watching her hurry along the shore, the sound of her difficult progress lost to the breaking of small waves, until she was a blurred, receding point against the immense straight road of shingle gleaming in the pallid light".
Atget launched his work on the streets of Paris when he was 40 and Cameron began her famous photographs of friends when she was 53.
I started taking pictures when I was 38. My first portrait project was at First Mondays, a market in Scottsboro, Alabama, and it began with battered dolls.
When I could move close to the dolls I began doing the same thing with people."
Rosalind Solomon 2004.
"We walked all day in our Wellingtons/To see the northern whaling stations.
Our feet were bleeding in their rubber/When we saw the slipways full of blubber.
Men slicing into pouches/Dissecting hearts as big as couches,
Entrails drying on the beaches,/Pink blood foaming in the reaches.
In the town we sensed hostility,/Couldn't even get a cup of tea."
Salt & Sand
Sweetheart, draw your shallow breath While the cloud shadows pass overhead This warm rock makes a pillow for us now
A mattress of sand, the tide is low All that you ever waited, you can let it go Wishing suspends our lives we dwell on what we're owed Paid in kind for ourselves, with ashes for our souls All of the time we spend dwelling on what we're owed
Sweetheart, let the salt sea fill your dreams The sun with the shadows dances it seems Breathe deep the salt taste of the day A curtain of rain falls far away"
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
"In her loneliness on the Poor Farm Road she would come to think that there must be a logic to it, her behavior. In the way, as a girl, she'd stayed away from the old stone house in the cemetery and so had saved herself from what might have been done to her on that last day. Couldn't have known what she was doing and yet--a part of her, with the cunning of a trapped creature gnawing at its own leg to save itself, had known" (293).
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"I want to try to predict the future of us as a people. Five hundred years from now, anything can happen, with technology moving as fast as it has been. Today, we can clone animals, we can freeze heads, we can use animal organs to save lives. What's going to happen if all these experiments become reality? I want to come up with something I have not experienced yet."
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
Jelinek, Nobel Laureate 2004, says, “Anyone who wants to can download it or print it out.” She describes the process of “publishing a text on the Internet” as being “wonderfully democratic.” About the Internet itself, Jelinek says, “I find the Internet to be the most wonderful thing there is. It connects people. Everyone can have input.”
Jelinek’s experiment shows how the Web can be used to generate interest and create an audience. But what is Jelinek’s gesture saying about publishers?
Monday, October 1, 2007
In 1944, Hungarian jew Miklós Radnóti was deported to a labor camp in Yugoslavia. Too weak to walk he was shot to death with other prisoners. The mass grave in which they were buried was exhumed after the war and Radnóti's last poems, describing incidents of the march, were found in his trench coat pocket by his wife.
From "Foamy sky "
The moon sways on a foamy sky,
I am amazed that I live.
An overzealous death searches this age
and those it discovers are all so very pale.
The forest bled and in the spinning time
blood flowed from every hour...
...I lived to see that and this,
the air feels heavy to me.
A war sound-filled silence hugs me as before my nativity.
...I stop here at the foot of a tree,
its crown swaying angrily.
A branch reaches down -- to grab my neck?
I'm not a coward, nor am I weak,
just tired. I listen.
And the frightened branch explores my hair.
To forget would be best,
but I have never forgotten anything yet.
Foam pours over the moon
and the poison draws a dark green line on the horizon.
I roll myself a cigarette
slowly, carefully. I live.
--Tajtékos ég, translated by Gina Gönczi
“But immediately she saw that this baby wasn’t Samuel. She and her husband together have had other children, but never again will a boy exactly like Samuel be known”.
"We have organized a logical existence over a well of mysteries".
"It may be that true happiness lies in the conviction that one has irremediably lost happiness. Then we can begin to move through life without hope or fear, capable of finally enjoying all the small pleasures, which are the most lasting."
Maria Luisa Bombal
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Paul De Angelis - What worries you today?
LeonoraCarrington - Above all, the idea of death, the fact that I'm old and our attitude to death is totally erroneous. In reality we know very little about death, but if we know that a series of worlds exist that appear to be transforming.
Paul- Worlds more there than life?
Leonora- Yes, we distinguish life from death, but in my opinion things are not how they are explained to us. I believe that they are different for each person, like dreams. I think that to reach an understanding about death first we must understand the distinct places that exist within us, and dreams are one of these places; this is to say that The Paul and the Leonora of a dream are in a way a different Paul and Leonora. It almost appears to be like worlds in reverse. It seems that we have a body which unfolds activities, meanwhile our physical body remains inactive when we are asleep; with our bodies we do things, we go to places, drive cars, ride bikes. . .
Paul- Do you believe in reincarnation? You have an interest in Tibetan Buddhism which believes in reincarnation.
Leonora- Yes, I find it interesting, but I couldn't say at what point the conscious personality outlives death. We only need to sleep to convert ourselves into different personalities. That is why I think that talking about reflexive consciousness, perception, or the conscious- that in saying it, we better express the idea. In our dreams we conserve a certain degree of consciousness, but we are not conscious of what we call out, or what things can be called, the physical three dimensional world. Right now you could visualize for example, a rabbit, but obviously it would not be a three dimensional rabbit. Like I said, perhaps reincarnation exists, but I think we could reincarnate in different entities. We could for example reincarnate into an ant farm, full of ants. Do you understand? The Tibetans say that the best thing is to be human. In my opinion, as humans, our attitude makes the rest animals. We being human animals is very mistaken. We have adopted a totally false attitude in believing we are superior to the other animals, that we have rights over them. In my opinion, the animal world is universal and will continue unexplored. We have no idea about the capacity, consciousness or the intelligence which animals possess. Take for example the snout of a dog, in it we will find ample language, and the capacity to identify thousands of things solely by its sense of smell.
Paul- Do animals have a spirit?
Leonora- Of course, everything, the trees, the rocks, everything has life. The earth is alive and everything has consciousness/awareness. I am sure that moreover, many Gods exist. There probably exist Gods of the informatica. For example, now instead of insulting someone you insult the one that ordained them. The other day I went to the bank, and there was a man who was furious with one of the employees for not doing as he asked for. But he didn't call him an idiot, he said that his boss was an idiot. He was probably imposing the new style of insulting someone.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Some have talked about the synchronicity between C Pavese and the narrator of The Moon and the Bonfires: this sense of exclusion, of internal exile that finds its counterpoint in physical exile.
The novel takes place after the Second World War, when the narrator returns from America, where he has made a fortune, to the village where he grew up. He has left the village out of a “rage at being nobody . . . to come home after everyone had given me up for dead”. He is well aware of his background: an orphan accepted by a family because of the money the government offered.
“But how often I’d seen the noisy carts go by, crammed full of women and boys on their way to the fair, to the merry-go-rounds of Castiglione, Cossano, Campetto, everywhere, and I was staying behind with Giulia and Angiolina under the hazel trees or the fig tree or by the side of the bridge, those long summer evenings, looking always at the same vineyards and sky. And then at night you could hear them coming home along the road, singing, laughing, shouting to each other across the Belbo. On evenings like that, a light, a bonfire seen on a distant hill, would make me cry out and roll on the ground because I was poor, because I was a boy, because I was nothing. I was almost happy when a thunderstorm, a real summer disaster, blew up and drenched their party. But now, just thinking about them, I was missing those times and wanting them back”.
“For better or worse, you know me. For better or worse, let me live.”