Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Night We Called it a Day (redux)

That, for now, is all.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Coming Through Slaughter

“This last night we tear into each other, as if to wound, as if to find the key to everything before morning.”

More Ondaatje on the flight out to San Diego. I now only have one (novel) left - In the Skin of a Lion. Talking to a co-worker about Ondaatje the other day, I found myself thinking back to Divisadero and just how incredible that book was. How much I still think about Cooper. And Anna.

Coming Through Slaughter was simply splendid. Not that I'd expect less. It's the kind of music novel I've always wanted to read - and write. The blues of Bolden's lines coming through in the prose. The ellipses. The glancing, shimmering approaches to a story - shifting narrators and time and space. Angles. The clues to Ondaatje's later brilliance are easy to see here. And if anything it was too short.

We can swim out past the breakers...

A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

Oh sweet San Diego. What to say. A trip up I-5 to Newport Beach. Somewhat surreal town of yachts and tiny expensive houses and that sunshine.. Learning my way around downtown SD on instinct. A quick jaunt to Coronado on Wednesday evening to walk the beach. On impulse I changed into my suit on the beach and ran into the waves. There's nothing quite like that first time under the water - the cold, invigorating, delicious salty water. The splash of the waves against your chest.

Read Salinger on the flight back - a beat up paperback copy of Raise High the Roofbeams / Seymour, an Introduction that I got at Crown Books for $0.50. I think I idolized him all out of proportion back in High School. Reading it now, it felt forced and juvenile and pedantic and cold. Finished Roofbeams. It will be a miracle if I make it through Seymour before moving on..

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See

A line comes back to Marie-Laure from Jules Verne: Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.

Finished All the Light.. the other day, reading it in sustained bursts - on the metro, on the escalator, on the bus, late at night. When I should have been grading papers. But it was captivating. Short, tight chapters. A wonderful puzzle-box plot. Interesting characters. And, of course, lovely Saint-Malo. I remember staying in Saint-Malo, in that hotel along the sea wall to the east of the old city. Watching the sun set as the tide came in and J danced while the waves smashed against the wall. It's a magical place.

Off to San Diego this afternoon. Reading Coming Through Slaughter - to see the origins of Ondaatje's style. This may be my favorite book of his of all... though I was thinking about Divisadero again the other day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Walker could do that to you, set the truth so close to the lie that they leaned into each other – forming an arch that only he could squeeze through. And when his voice slipped into a pleading moan, the arch became a doorway, slung open to the world and the truth was only as real as those who heard it wanted it to be. They could make their own truths – slip out of the mills or mines or fields on Walker’s shoulders, grinning and tapping their toes the whole time.

Don't Let Your Deal Go Down

So, back now from two weeks in St. Louis, on the banks of the muddy Mississippi. Running beside the arch and along the river, past the tourist paddleboats. An earthy, loamy, Midwestern smell.

Back to the office now, only to find Grooveshark gone... Like Ohio. The playlists only memories now.

Random thoughts, in lieu of a full post:

  • I finished Gilead on the plane out to STL. It was beautiful in its way, and complex and quiet. With lots of digression on theology, which was interesting enough. I didn't feel like I truly got to understand the narrator - and large swaths felt unnecessarily trite. A bit like Kundera's Unbearable Lightness... But there were elements that I liked. The narrator's relationship with his father - the trip they took to find the narrator's grandfather's grave.. and the voice.

  • Now reading All the Light We Cannot See. Back in Paris (and St. Malo! Lovely St. Malo) in the midst of WWII. The pages turn easily and there's a subtle building that is well-handled.

  • I like to read the Russians in the winter. Tolstoy's Death of Ivan Illych & Other Stories (P&V translation, of course) was perfect. And someday I'll tell the story of how Crime & Punishment made me a literature major..

  • A month of baseball has passed and I'm finally going to my first game tomorrow.. the Reds are treading water - but are a much better team than they've let on.

  • Off to sunny San Diego next week. Then San Fran in early June. Time, time, time - see what's become of me.