Archive for 2007
These days I spend a lot of time crossing bridges. Partly because we moved across the river from practically everything we are interested in; partly because, well because my feet are getting itchy again. It’s amazing how deadlines work – one puts things off, doesn’t think about them, and then the time creeps up when […]
To Mervyn Noseigh, M.A. Dear Mr. Noseigh: When you put the question to me so baldly – ‘What led you to become a writer?’ – I am momentarily nonplussed. On what level do you expect me to answer? The objective? If so, I became a writer because it looked like easy money. But that won’t […]
My bookshelves look like a fighter’s mouth, full of painful and surprising gaps. Even books I thought I could not do without, books that shaped my taste and who I am, are gone. Let me explain. When we decided to move abroad I knew, of course, that most1 of the books would have to be […]
Daily experience shows that it is energetic individualism which produces the most powerful effects upon the life and action of others, and really constitutes the best practical education. Schools, academies, and colleges, give but the merest beginnings of culture in comparison with it. Far more influential is the life-education daily given in our homes, in […]
At that moment it seemed to him that the queen of spades smiled ironically and winked her eye at him… —Pushkin (The Queen of Spades)
They took away sixteen boxes of books, a future, a past & a half-baked dream, and left a bill of sale, a cheque, and an increasing sense of freedom.
ginger mint lemonade
The way they look and see and go. Unable to slip a word in edgewise. Everything all at once but different times; missed tones in the afternoon. Expecting all receiving naught. Or aught. But chancing not to see. Finding out after the fact. A decade or so. Time not wasted, trim-waisted, but lost. Everywhere a […]
not at home
At home in the evening, planning escapades. The books read and unread gathering coffee stains and toast crumbs. The at one time unimaginable, commonplace. Things moving slowly. The sense of progress, though: gears turning, ticking well-oiled shiny. Intangible, unavoidable, inescapable. Backed into imagined corners that flatten and fade and open onto unexpected vantages. Yet continuance […]
… of undarkness
The adequacy of the cultural categories of, in this case, university England, to provide a frame of intelligible reasonings, creditable values, and familiar motivations for such oddities as poison oracles, ghost marriages, blood feuds, and cucumber sacrifices recommends those categories as of somehow more than parochial importance. Whatever personal reasons E-P may have had for […]
Boris Fishman, ed. Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier 2003 Now a reader is in a sense complicit in the making of a good book; without the reader’s empathy, wit, and understanding, be the book ever so finely written and ever so well put together, any book can be called rubbish. I myself remember […]
The process of not writing has been a kind of sleep – fitful dormancy. I cannot tell if I am awake again – awake to the habit of writing, of typing, of setting my thoughts someplace other than the impermanent stream of the passing breath – cannot tell if this is not just another middle-of-the-night […]
of the times
fallen pears fermenting on the pavement indecisive days too warm and too cold leaden-eyed maidens drooping into evening slouching easily on an afternoon bicycle slumped down reading in a pillowed chair
modern moral life
A new way of making and accumulating money, a dizzying new form of social mobility tied to this new economy, a new culture obsessively dedicated to work and financial success, consumerism, a cult of celebrity and fame, a mass culture based on journalism and advertising, a new conception of individuals as untrustworthy centers of self-interest, […]
I was working one day for a poetry competition and had written one line – ‘Beauty makes crime noble’ – when I was interrupted by a criticism flung at me from behind by T.S. Eliot. ‘What does that mean? How can crime be noble?’ He had, I noticed, grown a mustache. – Graham Greene A […]
Under the window-seat in the back parlor, where wasps die and desiccate, the memories are kept, unlocked, unbidden, and inaccessible – mint-green florilegium, pallor bred under the western sun. The thought makes me sleepy.
fiction of ideas
Between the limits of affection and antipathy for the author’s personality, the relationship of author and reader may take a score of different forms: admiration and respect without affection, as in the case, perhaps, of Thomas Hardy; exasperated affection as in the case of Kipling; devotion for Jane Austen; sheer worship or utter dislike for […]
Life is too short for this book which smells of potpourri and afternoons misspent in faded floretry. I cannot tell whether it is the cloying stink or the dullness of the matter (promising to tend where I do not care to follow: to gossip and muddle and the human failing of overestimated importance) that caused […]
The houses between which the action uncertainly scuttles have the ungenial impersonality of the re-used backdrop, and at the corner of the garden one feels the outlines of a gazebo, lattice white, meant to suggest gentility to less subtle minds. Finally, it is shocking – so to fall off as precisely to say that this […]
We find under the weather a layer of sun, wrapped tidily around that parcel of time we call today. The year therefore rounded itself as a receptacle of retarded knowledge – a cup brimming over with the sense that now at least she was learning. – Henry James, What Maisie Knew, ch. IX
Since selling off most of the books earlier this year, I’ve been trying to avoid purchasing more, which has led to increased, or perhaps simply more self-conscious library usage. The following are the books I have most recently checked out of the public and local university libraries (including three interlibrary loans): Aksakov: Years of Childhood […]
Our little ship with paper sail Sets out upon the sea – A narrow nutshell for the boards Holds us both in state; And with brave splinter for a mast ’T will weather any gale.
A view (19)
olfactory, rather than visual.
sense of direction
Begin to move in one particular way rather than another; whither that tends unknown. Looking for the clew; no minotaurs. Reminds me of that Turkish Night, all angles and crossed wires. I misremember. Miss remembering, not but that madness that way lies – or tells the truth. Should stop playing with words like that; hurts […]
through the glass
It’s windy and cold and it gets dark out early – and I am too lazy to read.
A view (20)
all is roses.
I ordered the book from the library after reading a quotation from it somewhere on the internet. I don’t remember my source, which is probably just as well; I had also heard the author mentioned favorably, and thought I might as well take a look. The book arrived and, as usual, I judged it by […]
He had told me himself more than once that he never got up before twelve, and seldom earlier than one. Constitutionally the laziest young devil in America, he had hit on a walk in life which enabled him to go the limit in that direction. He was a poet. At least, he wrote poems when […]
dialogue in solitude
Once again, why Spinoza? When I was talking to Dime T. from Ohrid, Macedonia, one afternoon about parapsychology, he asked me: ‘Why do you think you are writing about Spinoza?’ Had it been a conversation with a philosopher, I would have said something like: ‘Because of his unique philosophy, because of his divergence from Descartes’ […]
Up, coffee, tofu, e-mail, cook lunch, read book about world with no people, bicycle to work in the rain, make rude gesture at driver who runs stop sign at cross street, data entry, knit, drink hot chocolate, data entry, eat lunch, read book about emotionally confused people, shuffle papers, knit, shuffle papers, data entry, bicycle […]
gothic victorian sea monsters
The first time I heard Marianne [Moore] read poetry in public was at a joint reading with William Carlos Williams in Brooklyn. I am afraid I was a little late. There was a very small audience, mostly in the front rows, and I made my way as self-effacingly as I could down the steep red-carpeted […]
The memory of cranes flying in rain-heavy sky, lit in low-slanting sunlight; tall grasses and the bounce and hum of a bus; gold-leaved crowns, and painted walls, dank scent of earth, and the brightness of the cranes, flying. Don’t know what direction they flew, nor what direction I went, but away from the past and […]