Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Zuckerman returns to Manhattan after a decade-long self-imposed exile in the country, and finds people behaving strangely:
"For one who frequently went without talking to anyone for days at a time, I had to wonder what that had previously held them up had collapsed in people to make incessant talking into a telephone preferable to walking about under no one's surveillance, momentarily solitary, assimilating the street through one's animal senses and thinking the myriad thoughts that the activities of a city inspire."There's a podcast interview with Roth, as well as an excerpt read by the author.
For fans of The Ghost Writer, Amy Bellette makes a reappearance. She's changed greatly, too, in a way that hits a tad too close to home for me, but makes the idea of reading this book as irresistible as the young Amy was to Zuckerman.
Okay, I've figured out why I'm not a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. This is the part where Zuckerman's neighbor's brought him a couple of kittens to keep him company:
He'd brought the cats on a Thursday. I kept them through Sunday. During that time I did virtually no work on my book. Instead I spent my time throwing the cats their toys or stroking them, together or in turn in my lap, or just sitting and looking at them eating, or playing, or grooming themselves, or sleeping. I kept their litter box in a corner of the kitchen and at night put them in the living room and shut my bedroom door behind me. When I awoke in the morning the first thing I did was rush to the door to see them. There they would be, just beside the door, waiting for me to open it.
On Monday morning I phoned Larry and said, "Please come and take the cats."
"You hate them."
"To the contrary. If they stay, I'll never write another word. I can't have these cats in the house with me."
"Why not? What the hell is wrong with you?"
"They're too delightful."
Saturday, October 27, 2007
"Burnt Hill Road" and the "L" Train
Once firmly ensconced with a glass of New York-only wine, I enjoyed:
- A chapter from Nora's novel-in-progress, Burnt Hill Road, about a family curse affecting three generations of women;
- Anne Landsman's The Rowing Lesson, a work of fiction informed by her childhood in South Africa;
- Dexter Jeffries, a professor who used to drive a cab, read from his novel, Hack Professor about...a professor who used to drive a cab. And also read from his memior, Triple Exposure: Black, Jewish and Red in the 1950s, dedicating the excerpt to Barack Obama;
- And last but not least, Brett Berk, who teaches short fiction at The New School and wrote The Gay Uncle’s Guide to Parenting, read a charming short story where the protagonist's body unintentionally "outs" him in a middle school wrestling match.
It was a warm, balmy night with everyone in shirt sleeves and Summer clothes, although it got a bit nippy for Summer by nightfall. I sat outside for a while in The Stain's backyard and enjoyed the view of a uniquely Brooklynesque working class form of architecture: Three-story apartment buildings covered with aluminum siding.
The "L" subway line that runs across 14th Street in Manhattan and out to Canarsie in Brooklyn has been the Chisolm Trail by which you can mark gentrification in Brooklyn for the past ten years. At first, young artists priced out of Manhattan colonized the first stop, Bedford. Then gradually, it moved one stop at a time until now you can find luxury condos being built in Bushwick, a neighborhood that was neglected for years after its own residents got so disgusted with it that they set it on fire during the 1977 Blackout.
So, I'm looking forward to hearing what becomes of Mae, Nora is running in her 5th NYC Marathon Sunday Nov. 4, and to everyone who was sitting near me when I had a sneezing fit in the middle of Brett Berk: Don't worry, I wasn't contagious anymore.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Chirping From On High
It felt as if I had just gone to sleep when I heard it. I turned around to slap the "snooze" button on my alarm clock and realized that a) it was only 1:45 AM and b) the sound wasn't sustained enough to be my alarm clock.
The smoke alarm. A fire? My mind raced with visions of Southern California. No, that's right, chirping means the battery needs to be changed. At two in the morning. On a stepladder. And I can't ignore it because it's too loud, and I'm the only one who can change it.
So that's what I did, at two in the morning on a stepladder, and miraculously there were two extra 9V batteries in the junk drawer so I didn't have to just rip the thing's guts out to shut it up.
And this saves me having to do it when "they say" you're supposed to do it, which is when you set the clock back an hour, which this year is on November 4th--the day that "AT Walks the Island." This year I'm planning on walking with them.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"I Am America (And So Can You!)"
And then I had a picture of the big big line that my neighbors Gary and Cyndi and I had been standing in for two-and-a-half hours to see Stephen Colbert at the Apple Store, which is how I think I got the cold; it was being passed down the line. A line that stretched from Prince Street up Greene to Houston. And that cell phone picture came out looking crappy, too.
So you'll just have to take my word for it that we were there and enjoying the popular comedian as he read chapters on Religion and Sex from his new book. Then he stepped out of character--the character he refers to as "willfuly ignorant" and a "holy innocent"--and was interviewed and did a Q&A with the audience. I'm looking for the name of the guy who interviewed him and it's not on the site and I didn't write it down.
Some interesting facts:
- Colbert toured with Second City's touring company in the late '80s. They would go to small towns where Second City's touring company would be it for that night. At the end of the show they'd announce, "We're Second City and we'll be in the bar across the street" and thus, they would never have to pay for their own drinks.
- Some of the character's opinions are ones that Colbert shares, but he's not telling us which ones, and
- A fan in the Pacific Northwest fed his book to a bear.
There's a podcast available, or at least there should be, because the Apple Store was taping one. And somebody should have pictures posted somewhere too, because they didn't use my camera phone.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Minimalista Mel and the Clean Credenza-Top
Friday, October 19, 2007
Okay, Maybe I'm Hallucinating on Cold Syrup, But...
"You want meat, go to the market
You want honey, go to the beeeeeeeee
You want love
Don't go no further
Just come on home to me
I've got to love somebody
And somebody's got to love me.
I've got to love some-baaaahaaahaaadeeee...)"
Does anyone else* remember this and can they tell me the name of the girl group/artist that did this particular cover that the Dumpty heads are lip-synching to?
*You know, somebody else in their late 40s-early 50s who's a native-born New Yorker and watched local kids' TV in the mid-60's. And is hallucinating on cold syrup.
Mysterious "Disappearing" Laptops
It seems that I'm not the only one to have this wonderful experience.
Amex gave me full credit, and I only wanted it to watch DVD's with Jim on his hospital tray. But maybe Dell should start using somebody else.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Those Indian Summer Colds are the Worst
This evening, there’s a new member orientation at the Appalachian Mountain Club. I brought my stuff to work in a backpack today instead of a purse and a tote bag. It’s a pink and black backpack I picked up at Filene’s Basement on Saturday. I have a feeling I’m going to look like the “Legally Blonde” of hikers.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I'm Up To The "M"'s
Can you guess what they are?
Update: Answers are in the Comments.
Monday, October 08, 2007
It Must Be The Heat
There was no one.
It was a deaf guy talking to himself.
I Am The Decider
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
"I found it hard to take their 'oppression' seriously," Thomas writes, "since I'd spent the first part of my life living among black women who cooked and kept house for the middle- and upper-class whites of Savannah. They never talked about being oppressed."
Hey...maybe those secretaries were a bunch of "Uncle Moms."
This is in a part of the book where he describes feeling much more comfortable around the people who worked in the Missouri attorney general's office in Jefferson City.
He especially liked the way none of the 'white secretaries' were radical feminists. Because they didn't complain about oppression, he got the feeling these women would, like him, have scoffed at the privileged white feminists at Yale, and he liked that feeling: 'I began to relax, and to see and live life more fully.'
Secretaries who don't complain are so much easier to take than those feminists who are always needling you.
It feels as if it began about a week after Jim went into the hospital, and whenever I jump off a bus into the warm humidity I get a sense of deja vu of dozens, hundreds of buses jumped off on the way to and from a hospital or a nursing home or stopping off shopping at Trader Joe's on the way back from a hospital or a nursing home.
Those buses provided me with a lot of "me" time, and I'm thankful for that, but I'm ready for a new "me."