Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On Chesil Beach..

This is how the entire course of life can be changed – by doing nothing. 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 blurred, receding against the immense straight road of shingle gleaming in the pallid light

- On Chesil Beach

This was my second McEwan. The first, Amsterdam (wonderfully enough not set in Amsterdam at all, much like Prague), I finished on the Eurostar on my way back to Paris from London on a late mid-summer Sunday night. I'd bought the book at an Oxfam on Saturday morning and devoured it between double-decker bus rides and the train rides back-and-forth to Cambridge.

After getting off the train at Gare du Nord, I fell into an American bar near Montmartre (on that back north-eastern side) where I chatted, over Brooklyn Lagers, with an American composer (from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) who was in Paris to rehearse a dance troupe from Lyon for the performance of her orchestral pieces. And given that Amsterdam is one of the few books I've ever read featuring a composer, I gave it to her. We then discussed Kanye and she told me to listen to Beethoven's late string quartets (where he's deliberately breaking form with noise) and I jotted down the opus numbers. And then we both disappeared into our respective nights..

On Chesil Beach is beautifully distilled - superficially simpler than Amsterdam. And can be summarized, completely, in a few short paragraphs. But what's missing in that synopsis is his sentences. The care he takes in crafting the narrative. The physicality of it all. The subtle turning points. And yes - so much depends on so many little things.

Off to NYC this weekend. Dylan in Baltimore on the 11th. Rhiannon at the Lincoln on the 12th. A concert buddy for the latter would be greatly appreciated.

That, for now, is all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The English Patient

“I believe this. When we meet those we fall in love with, there is an aspect of our spirit that is historian, a bit of a pedant who reminisces or remembers a meeting when the other has passed by innocently…but all parts of the body must be ready for the other, all atoms must jump in one direction for desire to occur.”   English Patient

On the road again.  This space again silent for far too long.  A whirlwind trip to San Diego two weeks ago - where I finished Where I Was From in one final gulp at the Dallas airport on a layover.  Then most of last week in (now warmer) St. Louis.  Where I read the English Patient in between meetings and on airplanes.  Oh Ondaatje.  Those sentences.  The way he feels his way around - and discovers so much in-between the cracks. 

I've been playing with fiction again on my flights.  It's incredible how much work it is.  Each draft accreting layers upon layers.  A palimpsest. 

Quick thoughts on various and sundry things:

  • Where I Was From was just what I needed as I work my way into California.  That strange tension between independence and self-reliance and massive government investment.  The Spur Posse.  Water.  McDonnell-Douglass.  And those Didion sentences..  California continues to amaze.  I'll be in SF for a longer trip in late-April / early-May.  Including a weekend. 
  • Now on to another McEwan - On Chesil Beach.  I'm almost half-way done and it's still the first scene (punctuated by flashbacks).  But the slow tension and the distinct disconnect between the characters is palpable..  and incredibly well done.
  • I've seen far too few shows lately.  And, aside from weekend rambles at Great Falls, haven't been outside nearly enough.  I'm craving Spring.  And speed.  And altitude.  And baseball.   Rhiannon Giddens is coming to the Lincoln.  There's a lot I like about her. 
  • Another semester almost over.  The year rolling around again.  A lot can change.. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Night We Called It a Day

It's the little things.  Ryan's "Stay With Me" playing over the Parc55 lobby as I was checking out of the hotel in San Francisco...

Talking about this song / album over drinks with BR at the Queen Vic the other night, only to come home and find this video...

Now on to Part 3 of Where I Was From.  Oh those Didion sentences..