The last days of March and I am in between, and waiting. If there’s a sentient universe it’s uninterested in me these days, it’s not taking my calls. Maybe it’s shut down. The corny signs of spring, the greening and robins and daffodils pushing through, showed on schedule but then everything seemed to slow down, and now it’s as if the entire world is drifting in some amorphous limbo. Nothing matters because caring is too exhausting. My new novel-to-be has an outline but I’m not ready to write yet, I just don’t happen to feel like it. I write to play, and playing requires a lot of freedom and transgression, it has to be embarrassing.
There’s a bike path along the river near my home, and I’ve been walking it this weekend, watching the rest of the world, snapping some photos, and letting my mind roam around anywhere.
I read a piece on Slate this week about Toni Morrison, by Namwali Serpell. Morrison’s a difficult writer; I too feel the reader should take part in the book, should never be pandered to. I too know there should be space for questions, for options. One difference is that she’s good. I loved Sula and Beloved and even Jazz, although that last seemed to me devoid of the major idea I take from Morrison: the strength of community. A strong community can laugh away the devil. Or sing it away as in the musical Carousel, even if it only has a trite school song to work with. Morrison has spoken of her own family laughing in the face of despair. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, too, laughs at the devil. An expression of invincible integrity.
I should reread Beloved but I’ve fallen into a Bukowski phase, starting with Pulp, which is awful. I mean, I can pull something out of it about old Hollywood dying along with its literary tropes but I won’t because the book is too boring. So now Hollywood and checking it against the Wikipedia entry on Barfly, playing who’s who, with Mickey Rourke and even Faye Dunaway not coming off especially well, never mind the insane business side. But the ghetto scenes are terrific! It’s fun enough and sharp as hell, with that polite, gently humorous distance you get in some books about serious drinkers, The Thin Man for instance, with Sarah playing the usual female foil. A very mid-century vibe, or even earlier. There’s a brief meeting with Mailer, both of them happy to be fighting the good fight against feminism, but even so I could fall into the Bukowski poems. Anyway I needed a fiction break after consuming Merchants of Truth, and I have to write something serious about that book and the news business someday soon. Ditto AI and the legal trade.
Bukowski talks about unknown civilizations, barflies for instance, and it occurred to me that I know a few of those. Something to think about, maybe develop.
One thing: why is there a martini on the cover? I’m halfway through and so far it’s been nothing but wine and beer. Lots of wine, gallons of wine, continuing infusions of red, red wine.
Here’s a weird thing: I just this year ran through the Eve Babitz canon. You never hear of a place your entire life and suddenly you spend a season between Musso and Frank’s and the Chateau Marmont, reading this real life as fiction stuff.
Meanwhile the brain’s at rest. I haven’t seen a movie, I mean to really see it, since the Oscars. I maxed out, but maybe now I’m up to it again. It’s a lot to undertake, though. A lot of directed passion.
Soon, I hope.
(UPDATE: I ended up taking the train into the city to see Ash Is Purest White. There is only so much I’m able to forgive a woman, even if she is an analogy, when she’s involved with an obvious narcissist. She needed to strangle the dude. Otherwise a superb vision of rapidly mutating China. So my movie mojo is returning, after all.
Going and coming home I took some photos from through the train window. I think this is the start of a series.)
SALES PITCH: The Reader Alert for Worthy remains up on the Home page, so check it out, along with the Prologue on the Excerpts page. The Kindle sale, alas, has ended.