Friday, May 28, 2010

My Mad Girl

[A Question I am Not the First to Ask: What is it about women and madness? Are they more susceptible to delusion than men are? The subject of many books and hypotheses, we wonder if madness dogs the steps of creative women (eg. Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Perkins Gilman…) Is it a biological coincidence or a recurring phenomenon? Is it socially reinforced? Do men fear the hysterical women? Is it the uterus (Greek “hysteria”) which turns the brain?]

The reclusive writer, the late Janet Frame, winner of all of New Zealand’s literary prizes, spent much time in institutions and in therapy and, as far as I can tell, her novels commonly include themes of estrangement, mental health and madness. Frame considered her 1963 novel Towards Another Summer too personal be published in her lifetime. As she’d already written an autobiography (Angel at My Table, made into a film by Jane Campion) and been this subject of several biographies, this is telling.

Towards Another Summer is about a reclusive New Zealand writer, Grace Cleave, whose invitation to spend a weekend away from her London apartment in the north of England with a New Zealand couple causes her no small amount of anxiety. The novel is the story of that weekend, an immersion in Grace’s thoughts and her experiences, her painful social discomfort.

Early in the novel, Grace discovers her true identity as a migratory bird, the reason behind her feelings of dissimilarity and disconnection with humanity and human warmth. Throughout her visit she worries that if she were to tell Philip or Anne, her hosts, about her identity, they would look at her with polite fear. Grace, Frame says, is one of those unfortunate people who live with “ought,” who is petrified of what she thinks or others think she should be.

What kind of writer is she? she wonders after meeting an American and his girlfriend. She doesn’t wear her hair long and dark, or wear black, or smoke marijuana. She is unable to participate wittily in an interview, and all of the dazzling things she carefully constructs in her head rarely make it past her paralyzed lips. Towards Another Summer offers the reader a deeply empathetic experience, where he can experience Grace’s anxiety from the inside, the torturous social dance she isn’t equipped to play, her awareness that she is separated from humanity as a species.

Frame’s language is exquisite; it is the novel’s success. Perhaps it resonates with me because she uses a pile of things tagged together by commas. I have a natural propensity towards piles (and commas) and this includes verbal piles. The word I want to use to describe her melodic technique is lyrical, but as I’ve eschewed that word for now (it being overused), I will let her language speak for itself:

“The vegetation and geomorphology of the city: natural growths, outcrops of human flesh and spirit, corns, cancers, stone prayers, domes like institutional chamberpots or solitary breasts or cupped hands retaining the vision; these buildings are sighs, statements, denials…I have a passion for the sunlight of memory…”

The book is infused with New Zealand. The title is taken from a poem by the New Zealand poet Charles Brasch – “the godwits vanish towards another summer…” From the first sentence we are aware of Grace Cleave’s attachment to her home: “When she came to this country her body had stopped growing, her bones had accepted enough Antipodean deposit to last until her death, her hair that once flamed ginger in the southern sun was fading and dust-colored in the new hemisphere…”

Though Grace Cleave (and Frame, we assume) dislikes the sentimental remembrances of New Zealand, the chummy compatriotisms of people who ask each other “Do you remember; have you seen?”, she is haunted by her memories and rootlessness. She is homesick for dramatic landscapes and Maori words and flora and fauna. The novel reverts to her memories of her girlhood in Oamaru. In a paragraph that put words to my own relation to home, having grown up in the southern hemisphere myself, she writes:

“And then there was the matter of the Southern Cross, trying to fit shadowy stars into an already crowded northern sky, pushing out Aldebaran, the Bear, dizzy with trying to replace even the swimming city lights with lonely southern stars, but not being able to reach far enough across the earth to capture them; then giving up; forgetting We, there, as back home, where I come from, in my country; reminded now by only one or two things…”

My great-grandmother Edith was born in New Zealand and emigrated to America when she was two. Family legend has her swinging on the bars that rimmed the ship’s deck, dangerously toying with the possibility of going overboard and thereby dooming three successive generations of which I am the third. Deep, deep inside the little two-year old Edith’s body is an egg and that egg contains Phyllis the Wisconsin farmer’s daughter, who contains Dean who will move to South Africa with his guitar, who contains me who will sit in Seattle listening to light rain and birdsong today thinking about my great-grandmother’s birthplace.

Keep a lookout for Frame; she is a writer of considerable talent and vision. There is a reason she was rumored to be in line for a Nobel; this pained and beautiful novel supports that nomination.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Bird in the Cage

It seems one can hardly talk about Charles Dickens without addressing his reputation, his biography, his lifelong career, his oeuvre. No book stands purely on its own, but joins up with the others, like children with a strong family resemblance. In Little Dorrit, the writer’s habit of addressing social injustices and governmental and societal hypocrisies is here, as is his raggle-taggle bunch of characters, high and low, caricatures and miniatures. It seems impossible to say something about the book individually when one could just as easily say – that is well known. Dickens always did so-and-so. Was he habitual? I can hardly pass judgments on the man and the mind behind the novel as I know nothing other than what I read in the brief biographical sketch and the introduction to Little Dorrit. I will soon consult Michael Slater’s biography of Dickens which looks lovely (though Christopher Hitchens feels he left out a few necessaries). So let us assume that I know nothing much about Dickens (which is true). To make me feel like I am in company I will assume you don’t know much about Dickens and let us proceed with the book itself.

The novel opens on several close-quartered fronts: a sinister Frenchman and an Italian in a Marseilles prison, a group of passengers quarantined in Marseilles on their return to England from the East, and the Marshalsea, London’s debtor’s prison.

Little Amy Dorrit is the small and gentle youngest daughter of William Dorrit, heralded as “Father of the Marshalsea” because he is the oldest and the longest-staying resident. Little Dorrit was born in the prison and stays there to care for her father while her miscellaneous nasty brothers and sister are outside trying to make a living. Mr. Dorrit is very proud and in his captivity has assumed a grand persona: he welcomes new inmates, is much respected by all, and is given small “testimonials,” a euphemism for coins slipped into his palm. Mr. Dorrit would be horrified to find out that his daughters worked; he has ideas about the family’s station. So his family keeps up the ruse.

Little Dorrit works as a seamstress in the dark, crumbling house of Clennam. This is where Arthur Clennam, son to the widowed, chair-bound Mrs. Clennam and one of the passengers quarantined in Marseilles, arrived home from decades in China, meets Little Dorrit and is immediately intrigued by her character and her situation. He feels instinctively that his father, who expired abroad in much distress, passing a watch back to Mrs. Clennam with the inscription “Do Not Forget,” may have been an instrument in the Dorrits’ ruin. Mrs. Clennam is a stony Calvinist of the fires-of-hell-and-torments-of-earth breed; she raised her son with an iron fist and lives in the firm conviction of the righteous. She refuses to answer his questions and so Arthur Clennam follows Little Dorrit to the Marshalsea and is introduced to the world that comprises not only the prison and its management, but the impoverished neighborhood and its residents, the rent-collecting idiosyncratic “grubber” Mr. Pancks, and the serenely beneficent Patriarch Mr. Casby who, as it turns out, is the father of Arthur’s childhood sweetheart, Flora, who in the interim of twenty-odd years is no longer the girl he remembers.

Mr. Clennam is intrigued by the sweetness and gentleness of Little Dorrit, a girl bred in such poverty and ruin, who cares for her family with so little thanks (they being not “insensible for what she did for them; but…lazily habituated to her”, that he resolves to help her in some way.

Like Bleak House, Little Dorrit has its foundations on a secret that will out; a secret we may suspect has to do with Little Dorrit and (given Mrs. Clennam’s resistance) the house of Clennam. As in Bleak House, this secret is vulnerable to exploitation and the machinations of the sinister Frenchman we met in the Marseilles prison, a murderer who goes by the name of Blandois whose moustache – when he is especially sinister – “went up under his nose, and his nose came down over his moustache.” Throughout the novel is the stage-villainesque indication of evil and malicious intent.

But this is a fat novel and runs to 860 pages. There is far more to be captured here, both in character and in occasion: we meet Mr. Clennam’s passenger friends, the Meagles, their daughter Pet (of whom Mr. Clennam is determined not to think romantically), and their foundling child/maid Tattycoram (once Harriet), the coldly disturbing Jane-Eyre-gone-bad Miss Wade, who preys on Tattycoram, Pet’s sarcastically amiable and amateur suitor Henry Gowan and his high connections (the Barnacles). There is Daniel Doyce, an inventor, friend to Mr. Meagles and Arthur Clennam’s new business partner.

And Little Dorrit’s sister Fanny, a spirited and a petulant dancer, pursued by a young man with the fantastic name of Edmund Sparkler whose highest compliment to a person is to say that she has no “begod nonsense about her.” Fanny frequently has no nonsense about her, Amy has no nonsense about her, and Sparkler’s mother, the Bosom as Dickens calls her, has no nonsense about her. Although the characters tire of hearing Edmund’s epithet, I must say I never did. (Perhaps I have no nonsense about me?)

The Bosom, Mrs. Merdle, is married to Mr. Merdle, the Man of the Age. Everyone in town buzzes about Mr. Merdle’s wealth, his millions, and his banks but he is a withdrawn and shrinking character. A man who is much demanded at parties and gatherings, Mr. Merdle has nothing to say, and shrinks his hands into the cuffs of his sleeves. Yet, we must keep our eye on Merdle; we feel that he might be significant.

The Dorrits undergo good fortune and bad; there is a great change and separation of characters, and (as we might hope for and expect) a joining together of them at the end. This is a broad novel with much melodrama and pathos, but no shortage of indignation and comedy.

Dickens’ sharp satire of the ineptitude of English bureaucracy in his fictional Circumlocution Office, managed by the country’s reigning class of the Barncle family, is something out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. (This chapter, infamous chapter X, Containing the Whole Science of Government, caused quite a stir at the time of publication.) In this office the dictum is HOW NOT TO DO IT. “Upon my SOUL, you mustn’t come into the place saying you want to know, you know,” a man advises Arthur Clennam, investigating Mr. Dorrit’s creditors.

Little Dorrit was published in its entirety in 1857, not yet eclipsing the first half of the Victoria’s reign, and yet Mrs. General sums up the personal philosophy of the Victorians succinctly: “When free from the trammels of passion…when occurring with the approbation of near relatives; and when cementing the proud structure of a family edifice; these are usually auspicious events.”

In other words: dispassion and duty. Duty to one’s family and to society. Prunes & Prisms. With a surprising change of circumstance, cementing the proud structure of the family edifice becomes the Dorrits’ new credo, painful to Little Dorrit who cannot sweep under the rug her attachment to the Marshalsea and its people. The novel examines the influence of imprisonment upon the psyche (Dickens' father was once in the Marshalsea for debt) and this is explored in the character of Mr. Dorrit, so long imprisoned and unable to escape its taint, in Mrs. Clennam, imprisoned in her paralysis and secrets, and in Little Dorrit, who subverts the meaning of the prison and who calls it home.

The novel is not without melodrama, without easy thrills, or without heavy-handed fortune changes, well-timed deaths or neat resolution, but it is a deeply felt imaginative work of idealism, indignation, honesty and vitality. Little Dorrit may be an ministering angel, but she is infinitely more preferable to Austen’s Fanny Price. I enjoyed the whole thing without distraction, and find it far superior to Bleak House and Great Expectations.

(And DO watch the 2008 miniseries. It may be hours and hours long, but it is worth every hour.)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Mr. Boz

As I finish up Little Dorrit (ravenously – it is very good), I think of two other books:

The first is Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford when the august and proper Miss Jenkyns discusses literature with the gregarious but gauche newcomer Captain Brown. Miss Jenkyns, a devotee of Dr. (Samuel) Johnson, is horrified when she discovers Captain Brown has a mania for Dickens (“Mr. Boz”). When Capt. Brown asks her if she thinks the Pickwick Papers are “famously good,” she replies acerbically that the writer is a young writer and if he “persevere…who knows what he may become if he will take the great Doctor for his model.” Capt. Brown feels the sting and reads her a few lines from Dickens, whereupon Miss Jenkyns sends someone to fetch a few lines of Johnson which she reads and pronounces “I imagine I am now justified in my preference for Dr. Johnson, as a writer of fiction,” sending Capt. Brown harrumphing.

Dickens is shown, as a contemporary of Gaskell, to appeal to the popular but not high and conservative taste. Capt. Brown’s taste for Dickens leads to his doom, but Miss Jenkyns’s quiet justification is undermined by a young relation who hides her own copy of Dickens to devour voraciously by late night candle.

The second is Evelyn Waugh’s Handful of Dust in a sudden and eerie plot twist, when poor Tony Last is trapped in the Amazon by an illiterate devotee of Dickens who saves Tony’s life, only to keep him a prisoner by making him read all of Dickens aloud. Though this is pleasant at first, Tony soon grows tired of it and then suspects that he might never be allowed to escape. Tony begs for the means and information to return to civilization, but is answered with polite evasion and “Let us read Little Dorrit again. There are passages in that book I can never hear without the temptation to weep.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Natural Love

We sadly miss the beauty and silliness of medieval cosmology:

“The sun, moon, and stars go still round…for love of perfection. This love is manifest, I say, in inanimate creatures. How comes a loadstone to drawn iron to it? jet chaff? The ground to covet showers, but for love? No creature, St. Hierome concludes, is to be found…[that does not love something], no stock, no stone, that hath not some feeling of love. ‘Tis more eminent in plants, herbs, and is especially observed in vegetals…the olive and the myrtle embrace each other in roots and branches if they grow near…” Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Good Haul This Year

While my mother was here last week, I bagged a cache of fabulous finds. (She was kindly, defeatedly, long-sufferingly, patient.) While strolling through the subterranean hallways of Pike Place Market looking for the moomin postcard shop and a headband for my brother, we found a used book store which coughed up a postcard of Graham Greene and this:

Iris M's first novel in the hottest incarnation of a paperback.

The proprietor, who may or may not have been 1) Russian and 2) possessed by the devil, commended Iris Murdoch and said she was one of his favorite writers, but as he had been literally coughing up a hairball not a moment before and was rhapsodizing about Dover publications, I took it to mean he was an enthusiastic salesperson, nothing more, and had no special affection for Iris.

In Victoria we stopped by Renaissance Books, a treat for the soul. I could have spent $350 in a moment. Sadly, I couldn't. I had to leave Dostoyevsky's writing notebooks and the biography of Sylvia Townsend Warner, and the memoirs of Malcolm Muggeridge, and the thousands of penguin trade paperbacks I could have put in a sandwich and consumed on the spot.

However, I did pick up three: the second volume of Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage novels (read more here), another of Ivy Compton-Burnett's razor-sharp novels (more here), and Summer Will Show (already finished).

I also saw at the counter a few of Enid Blyton's Noddy Books. Noddy, like Nellie the Elephant, the Wombles, and the Famous Five, was a big part of my childhood. Noddy is a relic of different days (like Postmand Pat, who I hear was finally kicked off the Royal Mail...)

"No one knows who Noddy is," I said to my mom, fingering the books.
"Excuse me," said the proprietor of Renaissance Books, "Everyone knows who Noddy is."
"Oh pardon me, on the Other Side."
"Aha!" (With scorn.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jeff in Venice, Sophia in Paris

I have been traveling: to Venice, to India, to provincial England, to revolutionary France, an excellent antidote to my own grounded schedule and the envy for a friend’s recent trip to Europe. He promised a postcard.

Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (2009) was recommended by several coworkers. The book is a composite of two sections: the first being the experiences of Jeff Atman, a journalist in Venice for the Biennale; the second being the experiences of an unnamed narrator (who may or may not be Jeff; his surname after all, Atman, is the Hindu word for the soul) in Varanasi, India.

The novel is clever; the narration honest and real. Its tangible veracity may be a mark of Dyer’s skills as a novelist, but I couldn’t stop the feeling that all of it had been lived. I was transported to a sun-baked Venice, to the swell and hype of the art crowd, to the installations and hotels and coke parties on yachts, to India and all its disorganization, rubbish, dirt, and squalor, where next to temples and holy men, dogs eat the limbs of the deceased in the shallows of the Ganges.

The contrast between the two parts is significant. The shallow disenchantment of Jeff the journalist and his life of bellinis, vanity, and pleasure-chasing, is answered by the narrator in Venice who does not leave after finishing his piece, but stays on to gradually renounce desire and experience some enlightenment. I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of the goal to renounce desire and connection. Both desire and connection seem to me both deeply human, an affirmation of one’s place in the world. To escape that and to shrug it off seems like a coping mechanism, just as walking out on an argument or disagreement is not a true resolution.

That said I enjoyed Venice, Varanasi immensely. I split up its reading over several days at the bookstore which was a disservice. Beyond its cleverness and its accurate post-modern world-weariness, Dyer succeeds at avoiding the romanticizing of the foreign, no mean feat in the age of memoirs of Tuscan villa restoration and Eat, Pray, Love.

Second, I read Sophia Townsend Warner’s Summer Will Show (1936), the story of a young, rich, self-possessed English woman who travels to Paris following the death of her children to confront her husband, in Paris with his mistress. Sophia Willoughby arrives in Paris at the start of the 1848 revolution, and she becomes involved by forming a passionate attachment to her husband’s mistress, Minna Lemuel, a Bohemian storytelling Jewess whose friends are revolutionaries.

The novel turns several expectations on its head. The bereaved parent does not fall apart in grief, but is freed by the death of her children from her position as wife, mother, and mistress of an estate. Sophia does not go to Paris to confront Frederick’s infidelity, but falls under Minna’s spell and the two set up house entirely without Frederick.

Summer Will Show has superb characterization; Sophia Willoughby is one of the most fully formed characters I have encountered in a while. She is truly consistent, deeply realized, and capable of believable growth throughout the novel.

I enjoyed Warner’s beautifully written and organic novel Lolly Willowes, but Summer Will Show has much more at stake. It is less solitary, more communal, more political, more historical, more dramatic. Another incarnation of her capable, independent heroine. Sensitively realized, it has the capability to become a knock-out film or play.

Still in the nineteenth century, I am currently under the spell of Charles Dickens and Little Dorrit, both the book and the miniseries…

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Art of Good Living

Sunday was an embarrassment of sun-rays; a blatantly blue sky. We did not go stand in the sun. K and I watched Julie & Julia. Meryl Streep’s Child mannerisms seemed clownish and then – suddenly – became charming, joyfully indulgent with laughter and bonhomie. Ah, la vie fran├žaise.

I drowned in a sudden enthusiasm to eat melted dark chocolate slowly off a spoon, and drink fine wine – or cheap wine with fine friends – to soak in the sun and warmth, to light candles and court dinner-party shadows. Joie de vivre! The art of good living.

I remembered Philip Lopate’s essay "Against Joie de Vivre", anthologized in The Art of the Personal Essay, which Lopate edited. Lopate writes, “A flushed sense of happiness can overtake a person anywhere, and one is no more to blame for it than the Asiatic flu or a sudden benevolent change in the weather… what rankles me is the stylization of this private condition into a bullying social ritual.”

Lopate blames the French and their picnics, Renoir, Miller, Cartier-Bresson’s photographs (example above), Greeks “who would clutch you to their joyfully stout bellies and crush you there”, parties on boats, spontaneous dancing, dinner parties, and brunch. He is playing the devil’s advocate, a curmudgeonly “ingrate.”

Lopate sees joie de vivrism as an enforced gaiety, a regime people cling to ward off depression or disappointment. That disappointment – something we are warned to avoid – is not a bad thing. He writes “The truth is, most wisdom is embittering. The task of the wise person cannot be to pretend with false naivete that every moment is new and unprecedented, but to bear the burden of dignity as strength will allow. Beyond that, all we ask of ourselves is that bitterness not cancel out our capacity to be surprised.”

This essay a) offended and then b) piqued my interest. I may not toss out my desire to live a good life or apologize for eating brie and baguettes, or go on sailing picnics, or enjoying fine espressos, or looking enviously at the Mediterranean (Elizabeth von Arnim’s book Enchanted April was a beautiful picture of four blooming English women in a Mediterranean garden; pure joie de vivre), but I affirm his ideas about the importance of disappointment and I think him an excellent guest at the table.

With the philosopher and theologian Simone Weil in his thoughts, Lopate finishes with “So much for joie de vivre. It’s too compensatory…I give thanks to the nip in the air that clarifies the scene. But I think it hypocritical to pretend satisfaction while I am still hungry.”

Sunday, May 9, 2010

M for May or Mothers

In a lucky coinciding with Mother's Day, my own mother visited me on my weekend, Wednesday & Thursday. Since she lives over 6000 miles away, this is a rare gift. All went (relatively) according to plan. I picked her up in a surprising late-night downpour, nearly tipping the car in a combination of the slick roads and a reading of one of Eudora Welty's stories on NPR. ("Do not listen while operating vehicle in unfavorable weather if at all sleepy" should preface...)

So we did what people do in Seattle. We consumed about twenty-five cups of coffee; we jogged to the park; we shopped at Trader Joe's; we took the bus; we wore hoods to stave off the water; ate Thai food in contortedly cross-legged positions in Fremont; Pike Place; after watching the Young Victoria, we appropriately took a clipper to Victoria, B.C.; and, of course, the sun arriving in the city just as my mother was to depart.

People used to say we looked alike. It is easy to see how: dark-haired and dark-eyed, cowlicks in our widow's peaks and pearish bodies. Everywhere we went - on planes, to movies - strangers would look and us and ask if we were sisters or (my mother's friends) "I bet you hear this all the time, but you look just like your mother." A compliment, because my mother is beautiful.

I hear our comparison less now because we are rarely in the same place and because my mom has become very svelte and is perpetually tanned, and because we wear our hair differently. But I think I carry her genes strongly in my cells.

Her hair is thick and undiluted brown, a full serving of pasta in the palm, a sturdy forest.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Sinning Saint

Samuel Barber's Sea-Snatch, the sixth of his monkish Celtic Hermit Songs, is a song I think about when I'm around water, even in the bath. It's a tempestuous arpeggiated song for the soprano, a whirling cry from a floundering ship.

The lyrics:

It has broken us, it has crushed us, it had drowned us,
O King of the star-bright Kingdom of Heaven,
the wind has consumed us, swallowed us, as timber is
devoured by crimson fire from Heaven.
It has broken us, it has crushed us, it has drowned us,
O King of the star-bright Kingdom of Heaven.

I thought of this short song constantly while reading Frederick Buechner's novel, Godric, a re-imagining of the life of St. Godric, a medieval British ascetic.

I've liked Buechner's autobiographical writing, Now & Then, and Telling Stories, but it was high time to read his fiction. Buechner writes with the kind of austere beauty belonging to post-war letters that we (or at least in my generation, in our immediacy and decadence) largely lack.

In the novel, Godric is an old man, the unwilling narrator for a pious monk-scribe's parchment with the intent of hagiography. But from the first page ("puddling my way home like a drowned man from dark Wear with my ballocks shriveled to beansize in their sack"), Godric is an earthy and cantankerous man who contradicts the idea of his sainthood and challenges our understanding of what a saint is. Rather than a holy man who heals lepers and is visited by Mary as he is popularly imagined, Godric is a man of bodily inclinations, of blustering sins and temptations. He chastises his flesh daily in the frigid eddies of the Wear, an icy river which dominates the novel as a capricious menace and friend.

Godric describes himself to Reginald, the scribe: "Know Godric's no true hermit but a gadabout within his mind, a lecher in his dreams. Self-seeking he is and peacock proud. A hypocrite. A ravener of alms and dainty too. A slothful, greedy bear."

This is a saint who has a Friar Tuckish hearty holiness and says of his friend: "Mouse's sin smacked less of evil than of larkishness the likes of which Our Lord himself could hardly help but wink at when he spied it out in whore and prodigal."

Buechner's writing is sparse and his language carefully chosen. The books is permeated by the cold damp of the twelfth century and the harshness of medieval life. His images are elemental: this is a dark world dominated by the weather and by the crops. Buechner favors Anglo-Saxon words like "beak," "glint," "chill," and "scrap." His sentences have a Celtic lilt. Take this paragraph on Godric's father:

"Endless was the work there was, the seeding, the spreading of dung, reaping and threshing, cutting and storing. In winter there were scythes and plows to mend, the beasts to keep, roofs to patch until your fingers froze. It seems that he was ever striding off in every way but ours so I scarcely had the time to mark the smile or scowl of him..."

This is no high knightly fantasy; this is peasant fare. Reading this novel was a soul-scouring treat, a beautiful irreverent and desperate hymn to a life of yearning. It felt like reading Shakespeare, like a comb for the imagination.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It's May Day. A grey, subdued May. Maybe one day there will be riots of color and a wasteful extravagance of color and light, but for now nothing.