A guidebook certainly to find its lofty place within my other treasures. My good friend in Florida remarked yesterday, "Birds offer free entertainmentA guidebook certainly to find its lofty place within my other treasures. My good friend in Florida remarked yesterday, "Birds offer free entertainment", and I could not agree more. A little late in life for me to find a new interest in identifying birds, but owning a cabin in northern Michigan and a small house near the Indian River estuary here in Melbourne provides ample opportunities for a budding familiarity. Filled with detailed information and illustrations, this book should offer years of delight and even wonder, I suppose. ...more
In her short story Morning, 1908 Claire-Louise Bennett writes masterly of what it feels like to find oneself in a potentially compromising situation and then realize it may have been what she wanted in the first place. (view spoiler)[Wandering outside in a summer evening in only her nightgown with a coat thrown over, and meandering downgrade from her cottage door to the edge of a fence and gate containing several grazing cows, the narrator is startled to see a young man with a back pack making his way on her remote road towards her. She is immediately taken by the fear that it is she he has eyed and comes for. After considering the consequences of being possibly raped she decides it might not be the worst outcome for her, almost recreational, and something dogs do. And that it is possible that this young man is what she wants anyway, and she well-suited for the adventure just as she dreamily entered into her present situation dressed as well, in her eyes, naked. She knew her stupid overcoat would offer little protection for her. But every forward movement the young man proves to make, as a result, keeps himself a certain distance from her, and finally her imagination of a sexual fantasy is all that remains. (hide spoiler)]
Just for a moment everything gathered in dreadful suspension, my eyes gaped, cold and enormous — and then it all glided backwards into an atmosphere of broadening redundancy, intersected by a vertical and rather searing sense of abnegation. And then she adds, Remote sensations really, hardly mine at all — nothing to take personally.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This was by far the best biography so far written on Emily Dickinson, the most interesting, informative, well-written, and entertaining. A joy to readThis was by far the best biography so far written on Emily Dickinson, the most interesting, informative, well-written, and entertaining. A joy to read. A total surprise....more
You want dynamite? Here, I offer a lit stick. Collected titles such as I Await the Devil’s Coming blaze off the page, and her selected letters are amazing. But after Mary MacLane left New York for Boston there was a bit of a drag. She managed however to compose there her next novel, My Friend Annabel Lee, which also was remarkable because it offered such a fresh literary difference. In addition, the articles included in this collection for which Mary wrote for the magazines of her time were quite fun to read. But I began to notice her vivacious light was fading by the time she returned home to Butte, Montana and approached the age of thirty. In Butte she composed the sequel to her amazing first book, but it clearly lacked the same energy and passion. Mary, in her writing, was intensely more direct at nineteen, and seemed to pull back as she aged after acquiring instant fame and notoriety as a youngster. She may have fell victim to her own celebrity, and thus weakened herself as a writer. But her life certainly was interesting and I remain passionate about reading her forthcoming biography published by Petrarca Press.
The editor of this collection, Michael Brown, has devoted years to resurrecting MacLane from the dead. And I am appreciative, and glad, for his efforts. She was obviously amazing....more
Even before I was finished, actually having more than just a few pages remaining of the second to last piece, and still waiting for me a two page story to read before I could completely say I was finished with this book, I already decided I was going to start right back in and read it all again. It is the rare book that challenges me so. I can only recall Robert Walser’s The Robber having a similar affect on me, but that was because I failed to understand his work enough, even though I loved it and thought it certainly a masterpiece, but felt in order to do it justice I needed to get right back on it while it remained still fresh in my mind. In the case of Pond there resulted in me a different sense of failure because of my own personal failing to lift a single word, or sentence, or paragraph from this writer’s book in which to share with important others in my life, those being, for the most part, the good citizens who actually read what I might say after I may have read a particular book of common interest. I still cannot believe I did not pilfer a word of hers for my own use until almost the very end. It was then that a phrase struck me, that being …no one can know what trip is going on and on in anyone else’s mind… and I abruptly stopped reading and immediately set to recording my own thoughts about my endless uphill struggle in regards to developing any intimacy with my father. Go figure, but that is what happened to me while I was reading. Not exactly a mind-bending phrase or a slice of sentence worthy of remembering, but from the moment it struck me I was impelled to put pen to paper, which is a good thing where I come from.
For whatever reason, that snippet from Pond led me to remember several snowstorms we had while growing up in northern Michigan. And it wasn’t my memory of the snow fights and forts we built among all the frozen white piles dumped in the vast acreage near our home where the city deposited loads of snow removed from the roads in and around our small town. What I did choose to remember instead was the weekly city garbage truck that a man named Tippy drove around with his son Benny riding on the back along with an ex-felon by the name of Eddie Birdy. Eddie was said to have raped a young girl several years prior and we were all instructed to keep a safe distance from him and not stare too closely as he was bound to expose himself at some future date. But then, my remembrance wasn’t even about Tippy Shanebeck, or Benny, or even Eddie Birdy either, but rather my older brother’s and my responsibility to keep the family’s driveway cleared of snow all winter, including the apron running out into the always-drifting road.
Keeping the driveway clear was, for the most part, doable because back then people just had driveways sized enough for one large car like my mother’s ’57 Pontiac which she kept in the garage, or my father’s company car which back then seemed to always be the latest model Chevrolet Impala. I looked back on the endless hard work and amount of time it took my brother and I to clear that apron, which according to our dad had to be shoveled out at an almost forty-five degree angle so our mother and he could both navigate their exits comfortably. The problem became for my brother and I the amount of snow that had fallen, or was yet to fall, or the storm that seemingly would never have any tapering off whatsoever. Our father taught us both to begin our work early and finish late so as to keep up with these great amounts in a more manageable exercise of endurance. There were days we shoveled for an entire day and the next one as well. And as much as we attempted to do a suitable job there was always the typical criticism that we could have applied ourselves better, and we were again ordered outside in our boots and gloves and hats to clean up our mess and widen more the angled apron to his satisfaction. The worst part always came, inevitably, when the city trucks would come through and plow another abundant load across the entire swath we had already made clean and presentable. Sometimes there was more dumped snow than ever before as neighbors often just shoveled their own snow out into the road and the plows deposited theirs into our clean path as well. And that became a metaphor for me about what I chose to remember about my dad and how our intimacy never developed into anything more than keeping our shovels handy in which to clear and pile more heaps of mounting snow.
So, basically, Pond is an amazing book seemingly about nothing but brimming with meaning. Every story feels as if you had been sitting there in the kitchen with Claire-Louise and she was relating perhaps insignificant details about her life to you but making them full and always clever, charming, and extremely interesting. The more I learned of her travails and proclivities the greater involved I became and thus grew more than enamored with her as a person of interest to me. The rhythm and lengths of her chapters (or stories, if you insist) flow well and ease into each other, offering up a gait easy and comfortable enough to keep pace with. I also particularly enjoyed her use of a sophisticated vocabulary. Never did I deem her choice of words as pretentious or out of place with what she was accounting. But it is obvious the woman is gifted and smart and knows what she is talking about. Claire-Louise Bennett has a voice that will be heard. She is much too talented not to be heard. Pond is so far my greatest find for 2016, and it feels quite wonderful to have met her so intimately. ...more
2015 has been a rather difficult year for reading. I have been fully engaged with the renovation of a small house in Florida, traveling back and forth between Kentucky, Florida, and my cabin in Michigan moving and trading furniture and tools in which to pattern a new adventure soaked in sweat. Even our customary three month annual summer vacation at our cabin in northern Michigan proved unnerving as we disagreeably closed on the fortuitous, but too quick, sale of our home in Louisville and were forced to spontaneously move our belongings to Florida in the midst of one of the hottest seasons on record. Add to this my wife’s disagreeable and frightening bout with a serious neurological issue that almost did us both in as we searched frantically for an answer to her worsening daily condition. Too exhausted and worn out to even hit the wall, our energy was zapped and leisure remained for us a fading memory. But as the Christmas holidays now approach it is gratefully reported that Florida has proven to be a healing quotient for both of us, the doctors here more than adequate, my wife’s recovery in full swing due to her diligent and hard work both at physical therapy and meditation, and the endless summer I have always dreamed of now has basically become a reality. My reading and writing has picked up and a rhythm is now firmly established. I am eighteen months into a still developing writing project that is past the frustration stage and steadily leading me to pleasure.
In spite of all my yearlong troubles, I still managed to read my share of books, but this year I woefully lack the number of five-star reads I have historically grown accustomed to procuring as my good fortune generally provides me. I, as always, restrict my year-end report to those books that garnered a five-star ranking from me. This does not mean the lesser books I read were not worth my time or trouble. I often remember segments from minor works more vividly than those I deem a wonder or amazing.
I have been reading Miss MacIntosh, My Darling by Marguerite Young for what seems now to be over a year. The pages number well over a thousand and the print is very small. The text is a rambling treatise on life as in a perpetual dream state. How this gifted woman has pulled this long work off is beyond me. Every morning I read at least two pages and marvel at how her dream continues and never seems out of place or unnatural in any way. Her tone never changes, the rhythm remains constant, and the language she employs seems perfect. I cannot recall one instance when a word struck me as being wrong, or that she might have used a different one for better affect. The book is, for me however, difficult to read. There really is no plot, no pat story or structured entertainment. So far she has focused on about six characters who are all connected in one way or another. They have all been given several pages and by the time she is finished with each they seem for me memorable. It feels as if it is all an observation though, a standing outside of oneself looking into a world of wild extravagance and perhaps too-rich an imagination. I have likened it to being engaged within a long and drawn-out acid trip, and that is what is astounding to me. How MargueriteYoung could maintain this lofty flight throughout its entirety and keep us moving freely among every drifting cloud within her ranging subjects. Still, at least two hundred pages remain to be read by me, and at this pace I will be tied to this book for another three months or so taking me into 2016. I have about five or six books going at any given time, and the more interesting and shorter works among them generally get read quickly.
I Remain in Darkness by Annie Ernaux was the best of her entire body of work that I managed to pour through while in Florida working on my house. Her honesty is something I admire. Surely her memory is not all true, but who cares?
My favorite Norwegian writer,Tomas Espedal, provided me with another great experience with his latest endeavor titled Against Nature: The Notebooks. He writes for people more my age, I think. In other words, he is no spring chicken himself even though he likes younger women it seems.
Gordon Lish provided me with a pleasant surprise in his latest novel Cess: A Spokening. Based on his rather disappointing previous title Goings: In Thirteen Sittings I believed any further literary output of his would certainly fail to produce another work as good as any of the best in his past, but I was wrong and admit publicly the error in my thinking.
I thoroughly enjoyed two titles written by another Norwegian named Erlend Loe, those being Naïve. Super and Lazy Days. It is my wish that more of his titles will be translated into English for us mono-lingual readers such as myself.
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers provided me with a pleasant week of reading as there are few others who can string a sentence together as McCullers can.
I visited New York City over Thanksgiving and came across a copy of Camera Solo by Patti Smith in the Strand bookstore. I was surprised by the beauty of this book and her photographs and words spoke to me more than her latest offering M Train managed to.
Feeling displaced and shaken from birth I am not surprised this author has never exactly seemed to fit in. Being the weirdo in the room is what she says she is used to. But she defiantly prefers to reject them before they rejected you. But this sophisticated and crazy spinster outsider manages to make me want to be led on a walk with her like a cat on a leash.
Jessa Crispin, in just one published book, has surpassed Geoff Dyer on my favorite memoir/travelogue/litcrit list. Her fabulous courage to attack and gallantly face her fears head-on far exceeds anything my previous hero Dyer ever managed so far, himself, to do. Crispin may even be funnier than Dyer; she is at least as clever. The prose in this book is steady and clear, a comfortable stream, relaxed with no pretentious outbursts meant to impress us into believing how brilliant a writer she truly is. She adroitly presents appropriate examples of literary icons she chose to follow to their deaths and why. Except Crispin isn’t really following anybody. She is leading her pack of one, which by my guess has to now number at least hundreds. But I wouldn’t follow her just anywhere, as I have already suffered enough throughout my own many journeys. However, I would be more than interested in reading about hers. Anytime. And if Crispin is a feminist, as some have already classified her, then I am one too. She takes no prisoners in her every criticism, and that includes the women as much as any man she used to find these interesting dead ladies.
Crispin claims she is herself not beautiful, but I take umbrage in her assessment. And perhaps that is too strong a word for what I mean. But I know that to be afforded the opportunity to casually sit across from her, even in a lousy cafe, would be a pleasure few of us can say we ever had. I found her writing, her conversation, remarkable for several reasons, but most of all because she is so damn interesting. And honest. Sometimes brutally, which is refreshing to me. And she is not mean-spirited in her assessments of others, but she is not reserved at all in her commentary. Her studies and experiments in travel support a life now-deemed worth living, and even in its precarious difficulties is better than her killing herself in Chicago. And that is not to say she won’t at some future time. As imperfect as she and her life might be at times, she is undoubtedly brave and willing to take the necessary risks in order to live. She follows her heart, or is at least determined to learn how to. But picture this: She resorts to carrying her own unwieldy bags simply because she can, and thus appears in my mind, and is perceived, far sexier than she affirms as homely. She is a beautiful person, and made obvious in this important book. ...more
The title of this superb little tale should have remained and contained both the words Mixing Part. The title Lazy Days is unjust, inappropriate, and mediocre for a book this good and honest to the core. From the opening pages one can easily discern what I mean by this as the English translation for the German name of the town this family chooses to spend their holiday in is nothing less than tantalizing as it contains a humorously bad translation. Mixing Part Churches. It definitely set the tone for where the author meant to take me.
Having already raised a family of my own certainly helped me to understand and appreciate the humor and seriousness of this brilliant work. All relationships are absurd, and the reasons we remain in them are often questionable. Some call it love, others an arrangement. I have always termed all marriage alliances as deals no matter how much love is involved. And often, throughout a long life, the deal changes. New negotiations must incur and new agreements for any hope for the continued “love affair” to thrive. Often in these processes, relationships become devoid of any passion, and often love exits to far-off reaches, and is nowhere in the vicinity of where it was supposed to endure the coming tribulations. In other words, sometimes our lives do become theater, and this is what this novel details.
I cannot imagine this book being enjoyed, or being of much use to anyone not already subjected to a long and accomplished relationship. If deceit and cowardly behavior signifies what a marriage can be, then this bit of work by Erlend Loe would be too much for those of us to bear. Plus it is not conventional in its style. It is basically all dialogue and the reader must discern at all times who is actually doing the talking. There is little help given the reader except for the supreme craft of Loe always present on the page. The questions and conversation he employs keep the action steadily moving. Everything on the page is connected, and skillfully executed. I had absolutely no trouble in following the dialogue. It was as if my wife and I were the ones who actually wrote this book. It was if my own kids were present on the page. I like to think our family might too have been, at times, interesting, and this book was actually one I should have written myself. But alas, I did not. It was Erlend Loe who performed this miracle. It appears Loe has additionally much more to offer his reading public, as he has never repeated anything in the three books translated into English that I have read thus far. He obviously borrows from his life and his varied interests in it. It seems every question regarding his life he attempts to face honestly on the page. And we are rewarded consistently by his efforts. The sharp and biting dialogue prepares us for the route his wandering plot portrays. The results are magnificent in their clever and exquisite development.
Having been confused from time to time over which direction my own life should take, and wondering if I ever could be the person I often imagined myself to be, it is refreshing to read of the same consternation the narrator Telemann has for his own life. By reviewing his own sexual fantasies happening outside his marriage bed it helps the reader to understand why Telemann’s wife Nina might actually stray herself from the so-called sanctity of marriage. After his wife’s Nina’s gift of a popular cookbook to him, Telemann obsesses daily over the author Nigella Lawson and her buxom body. Telemann extends his obsession to hating the art collector Charles Saatchi who she was presently married to. The concept that Life is always theater is not difficult to accept when confronted with it so aggressively as Loe is wont to do. By also involving the couple’s later attempt at viewing together the great seven and a half hour Hungarian film Sátántangó by Béla Tarr the absurdness grows amidst the reality of their creative adulteries. Having been myself subjected to this film twice already, the haunting soundtrack composed by Mihály Víg, by default, as well saturates the Loe narrative for me. Sátántangó was based on one of the great novels written by László Krasznahorkai, who is a regular collaborator in most Béla Tarr directed films.
Contrary to the mostly lukewarm reviews of Lazy Days, I found this title to be fresh and invigorating, and one of the best reads of the year so far for me....more
A refreshing look at a young man from Norway trying to make sense of his life and attempting to find meaning in it. Perhaps the narrator is a bit too serious or obsessive in his assessments over the purpose of his life. He thinks constantly about the question of time and space. His over-adjustment to this uncomfortable predicament is to simply throw a ball against a wall all night or repeatedly hammer wooden pegs into a board. And this might seem too juvenile based on the literary and scientific interests of the narrator. Of course he isn’t dumb, only childish in his new behavior. But finding a girlfriend helps, as does a trip overseas to NYC to visit his brother. Having fun and playing games instead of worrying all the time becomes his new reason for living, and in this process he learns to love and be loved. But the question remains throughout the entire book if it will be okay for him in the end. ...more
This is a book I will never be finished with. Anyone who has suffered from myo-fascial disease (and has somehow received help) knows what an importantThis is a book I will never be finished with. Anyone who has suffered from myo-fascial disease (and has somehow received help) knows what an important book this is. The medical profession is still slow to recognize the genius in this work, but those MD's who have distinguished its importance prove how brilliant they are as well. There is hardly any money to be made when the healer teaches the patient how to heal oneself. And that is why the medical profession disregards the study of muscle and the causes of pain. if they cannot perform surgery or prescribe drugs, treatments such as this are useless to them. Shame on the surgeons and physical therapists who refuse to practice this therapy. ...more
OK I cheated and skipped a few. Skipped several really. Hell, I read maybe three or four pages tops and had to call it quits. The test, the words. I’m talking about his, IN THE CESSPOOL segment. A vicious volley that never seemed to let up! The teacher, Gordon of course, would have reprimanded me and said go back and read them all again, every god-damned one of them! But I couldn’t and I can’t. It isn’t in me, though I do admit to loving the look of certain of her words. And a few of them do do me in. Like gnomon,which is one I have used twice already. There is an old poem of mine it is found in, and then as well front and center in a title of a short film I made. Or how about agog, plenum, or even saxifrage? Already have been used. But there is no way I am reading every god-damned word in his Aunt Adele’s list. Or test. But Gordon’s text that accompanies the test, as in the two notes fore and aft, are stupendous and as entertaining as anything Gordon Lish has ever written. I love this Gordo who speaks about his family, his friends and lovers, his enemies who, in my mind, count among his greatest assets. O the mileage gained in having a certain nemesis! Or countless numbers of them even. A figure that might be staggering to somebody like my own dad who just loves having his friends, counting them, who thinks everybody loves him and believes himself so clever, and charming, and good-looking to boot. My dad will be turning eighty-nine years old this August, and he still thinks, of all things, quite highly of his pretty legs. Thinks he has two of the most beautiful appendages and reports to everyone, it seems, that all the ladies comment on them favorably whenever afforded a fortunate chance to have a look-see. Not that my mom appreciates the attention the old boy insists on drawing to himself. She hates the attention actually, but it is the price she has had to pay for keeping him at her side for over sixty-five years. He is such a little boy. There is no doubt that he will never change.
Though much is made on the jacket blurb regarding the importance of Lish’s beloved Aunt Adele, no little significance can be accorded to his own remembrances and what is left of a memory perhaps befuddled within his own advancing old age. This is a novel made for the love of family and its too-late respect for proper social etiquette. Though polite in every respect, Lish patterns a way into the decadence so prevalent in all his works, that sex act that hovers above all else, and the language that somehow makes it all seem possible.
Then, after I finished reading the book and faithfully reported to my wife that Gordo has gone and done it again, written another great work, I decided to revisit the list test of Aunt Adele’s. Seems there were a few words important enough to me to take another look. But not all than the more than thirty-five hundred of them that he persistently listed. I began to place into order what words I believed Gordon absolutely wanted me to know that I might prove to him my strict and undying adherence to his tyrannical orders, and to muster the required energy to prevail against my own ineptitude. My short list held the following: impudent, sepulchral, millenary, jocundity, saxifrage, spiracle, promiscuous, vignette, seditious, spall, nocturne, civility, rosette, shibboleth, axiomatic, egodicy, foolocracy, emiserate, palimpsest, inglorious, unction, possibles, nondurables, possibles (again), pizzlelicker, possibles (again), fettled, saxifrage (again), spiracle, factitious, possibles (again), swale, slaverous, soffit, jissam, cambered, riprap, doggery, bibulous, ponderables, recumbent, adamant, repulse, supersaturate, fugacious, facticity, locutive, penchant, adamic, plenum, and tell me please you finally get my drift. ...more
Few things have happened to me, and I have read a great many.___Jorge Luis Borges
It was uncanny upon my first reading of only a few pages that the mood and tone of this Borges work seemed surprisingly familiar to me. It was as if I was the one writing what I was reading, even though I understood so little of the text. But it felt so comfortable. I was blissfully content being involved so intimately with this music, and the words of Borges (or his translator) I found to be simply perfect everywhere on the page. There was not one word I ever wanted to change. My eyes were extremely pleased with the form, the shape, and the color of every phrase. Often as I read any book I look too hard for mistakes within each sentence or paragraph, but in this slim volume I never could find one. The entire book was such a joy for me to read. It was so beautiful, and it always felt important. I had also expected, due to unjust mediators, to find the poetry of Borges lacking, but instead I discovered in his brilliance another soul in which to develop a connection, a camaraderie, a fraternity of something far greater than myself. And, like me, alcoholics and drug addicts rarely feel they are a part of anything. And I imagine, for most everybody, this type of warm and delightful experience worthy of five stars. And for those of us who say dear Borges is no poet, they seriously have no clue for what poetry can do. ...more
There are far too many examples of Borges' genius presented in this book for somebody like me to comment on them. That is, other than to say that I loThere are far too many examples of Borges' genius presented in this book for somebody like me to comment on them. That is, other than to say that I loved this book and my introduction to Borges on a more personal note. He is definitely somebody worth reading and listening to....more
Another amazing book by Tomas Espedal. I love reading his truth, an honesty that holds no prisoners, that frees like few others have the power to releAnother amazing book by Tomas Espedal. I love reading his truth, an honesty that holds no prisoners, that frees like few others have the power to release. This is a wrenching love story that has no end, and figures to remain a spiritual part of me for the rest of my life. A beautiful man who has composed another wondrous title to behold. ...more
A truly wonderful book and quite helpful to a novice such as myself being so recently introduced to the work of Marguerite Young. Every essay interestA truly wonderful book and quite helpful to a novice such as myself being so recently introduced to the work of Marguerite Young. Every essay interesting and well-written. There are two brief interviews of Young in the back of the book, and at the front are several brief remembrances of her by friends, students, and acquaintances. It was actually quite an amazing read and worth every bit the five stars....more
I had believed for the last several months that perhaps my 2014 reading year was not nearly as spectacular as it was in 2013, but still, all in all, aI had believed for the last several months that perhaps my 2014 reading year was not nearly as spectacular as it was in 2013, but still, all in all, a very rewarding experience. But when I began to assemble this list and I returned to take another look at what I had actually read I discovered how wrong I really was. There were plenty of star-studded gems for me. And again, for this year, I will list only the books I rated as 5-star wonders and termed “amazing”. There are so many books to read out there it is too daunting a task to also list books I simply “really liked”, but I do note that there were plenty of them and well worth my time.
I decided to re-read a novel I had loved years ago and discovered again how precious Thomas Bernhard is to those of us who demand a serious read. The novel was Yes and it certainly did hold up to my second reading.
I tend to read in fits and stages and get stuck within a geographical area or style of writing sometimes. It seems I both read and loved in a clump Jorge Luis Borges and his Ficciones, Cees Nooteboom and his Rituals, and Antonio Tabucchi whose Requiem: A Hallucination and Pereira Declares: A Testimony both delivered beyond my expectations. Other titles by these same authors have not held up as well for me.
At my cabin in Michigan this past summer I had a few welcome surprises. I bent my reading more toward Scandinavians and was blessed with a feeling of gratitude as I was introduced to the work of Per Petterson. His novel Out Stealing Horses was pure joy. I liked his other novels as well but they did not reach the 5-star mark again until his latest which just recently came out titled I Refuse: A Novel. I read a few titles by Tomas Espedal and he provided me with another 5-star wonder titled Against Art:. I had read some glowing reviews regarding the trilogy of Jan Kjærstad. I have gotten through the first two books and so far only the first one titled The Seducer qualified as amazing. It is possible when I have finished reading the last book of the three that I will change my mind about the second one, but without a doubt The Seducer was one of the very best books I read in 2014.
To cap off my summer I was moved to read Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens. I think this book should be required reading for any adult child. Another “thinking book” a reader I respect suggested I would like was written by William Barrett and the title was Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy. I did read it, and I thought it was amazing, interesting, and written in an accessible language.
At the end of summer I took a chance on a dead Englishman by the name of J.L. Carr who I find quite fascinating. I have since purchased all of his books based on my successful reading of A Month in the Country. Carr is a clever man who has a charming personality that comes through on the page.
This fall I began a study of Elfriede Jelinek and the tour has taken me to documentary films as well as her books. Two of the printed works I read were 5-star wonders and I am thinking there will be more to come. Lust and Her Not All Her: On/With Robert Walser were both amazing.
Late in the year I discovered a documentary film titled Shepard and Dark which led me to read the selected letters between these two one-time relatives and very old friends. Their book of correspondence was titled Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark and was nothing short of amazing and even life-changing for me even though I gave it only 4 stars because it was all correspondence. But that book made me want to read everything written by Sam Shepard (which I did) and I even forked over a hundred bucks for a limited print edition of Johnny Dark’s book of photographs, stories, jottings, and memoir titled Johnny Dark: People I May Know. That gem was a five-star wonder if there ever was one. Sam Shepard gave me endless satisfaction in all four of his collected short fictions and more letters between he and another actor/playwright Joseph Chaikin. Sam Shepard is a wonder in spurts, but he cannot sustain the level of “amazing” throughout. He would be better served by having a more tyrannical editor at his publishing house Knopf.
Rolling Thunder Logbook written by Sam Shepard was also a great find. I had no idea it was this good. The photographs and text so rich in description. It was almost like being back in time. This is a must-read book for fans of Bob Dylan, artists, creativity, great music, and a time lost now forever except by the traces left by books like these that somehow show the way it was and could have been.
Due to my Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark extravaganza the last writer I discovered in 2014 was Paul Williams. He has published three volumes concerning the body of work and performances of Bob Dylan. Because of the Shepard and Dark boys above I was revisiting all my dvd’s I had collected through the years regarding Bob Dylan, and also re-watched some of the films he has starred in including his own. So I began my reading of Paul Williams in the middle and purchased Bob Dylan Performing Artist 1974-1986 The Middle Years. This book has been so informative and thought-provoking that I went on and purchased the other two (he died before completing his fourth) and I will read those in 2015. But to say this master-work is anything but amazing would be a travesty because of all the hard work, thought, and feeling that obviously went into the labor it took to produce these books on the greatest performer of all-time. (Not to mention his skill at singing and songwriting too.) It is mind boggling to me how much raw material is available if a person wanted to do a complete study of Bob Dylan. It is impossible to imagine any other performer/writer/composer equalling this man’s output and quality when taken as a whole. Paul Williams attempted the insurmountable task, and what he did accomplish in his own write is certainly notable....more
"He is but as the stubble of the field, and yet he has no beard."
My completed study of this epic novel spanned fifteen months beginning in January of 2015. Almost immediately upon beginning to read I recognized Marguerite Young’s genius and realized I would not be able to retain in my body her beautiful words while conducting what has become for me a typically recreational enjoyment. I decided I would have to instead devour this 1198 page work in increments of two to four page sittings. What struck me throughout these many months was her fierce attachment to her artistic vision. There seemed to be no consideration for her reader at all other than her implied promise to keep true to her subjects as well as her unrelenting gaze held steadfast on the object of her dream. And though I did enjoy the entire text in the greater sense of art, the immensity of my love centered on her unwavering dedication to her never-ending dreamscape. It was simply amazing how she never once veered from the tone she established on the very first page, and how she kept it all together for the seventeen years it took to complete the novel to her satisfaction.
I consider this novel as being one very long, distinguished and sophisticated, lyrically beautiful, poem. And it matters not the speed in which one reads it either, or where a stray but personal thought might take us within Young's text. For me it is all an elaborate digressive dream. Such a beautifully written book. Not one word wasted, though many. Often I felt I was going nowhere reading her, but nonetheless I remained endlessly, and happily, trapped inside her marvelous hallucination. But it was never easy, only palatable because of my discipline for humanely consuming only two to four pages each day. It also occurs to me how remarkable the many years of diligent and exhausting research she must have conducted to achieve this great, and believable, work. There is no way any one person, especially a writer, could possibly be this knowledgeable about our lives which include the mundane and countless nuances coming from every walk of life. In the extreme seclusion of pen and paper, a writer often fails to share in many of the common experiences she might indeed write about. But in fact I did believe and trust in her, though I knew in time we might both be hallucinating. And there was never a sign or hint of any hidden agenda so often discovered in our latest contemporary works. Just Young’s extremely joyful delight in language and her learning about history and the past and present worlds drifting at times all around us.
This novel certainly is not for everybody. And the proof can be seen in all the abandoned attempts of others attempting to read her. But for those of us who can give her a mere two to four pages a day of our time the task is well worth it. She labored hard for seventeen years on this grand eloquence, and then gave us the easy part, though she probably never cared. ...more
This book has been so informative and thought-provoking that I went on and purchased the other two (Paul Williams died before completing his fourth) aThis book has been so informative and thought-provoking that I went on and purchased the other two (Paul Williams died before completing his fourth) and I will read those in 2015. But to say this master-work is anything but amazing would be a travesty because of all the hard work, thought, and feeling that obviously went into the labor it took to produce these books on the greatest performer of all-time. Not to mention Bob Dylan being a pretty good singer/songwriter as well....more
This is the sort of writing that demands more of me than I am. It is obvious to me that Elfriede Jelinek is one of the most gifted and intelligent wriThis is the sort of writing that demands more of me than I am. It is obvious to me that Elfriede Jelinek is one of the most gifted and intelligent writers working today. She is a treasure and should be read if not listened to. Stop all the feminist connections as she is much more than that. There is not a suitable box to fit her in. So there. And Robert Walser fans, pseudo or otherwise, might want to prepare themselves some time for a reading of this fine little book....more
Not sure if I will ever get back to this fine work for a second reading, but it sure was enjoyable. There may be a review forthcoming, but perhaps notNot sure if I will ever get back to this fine work for a second reading, but it sure was enjoyable. There may be a review forthcoming, but perhaps not. Time is at a premium these days....more
Through the years reading Christopher Hitchens has been hit or miss for me. Mortality was amazing, but many other works basically unaccessible to me pThrough the years reading Christopher Hitchens has been hit or miss for me. Mortality was amazing, but many other works basically unaccessible to me perhaps because they are all too cerebral and the subjects fail to interest me. I remember Hitchens on a Bill Maher show on HBO where he was a guest and argued with the audience for almost the entire program. I did not appreciate that behavior then, but do so now after reading this book. I cannot more highly recommend this book to any person who wants to think for themselves and stand apart from the crowd. Hitchens was courageous in both life and death. He is sorely missed. ...more
The most private of men writes a diary, keeping it current on each day he actually sits down to work on a novel which would become The Grapes of Wrath. Keeping a journal was something John Steinbeck had attempted in the past to no avail. But it is our great fortune that he succeeded at the most important time of his life to practice the discipline that not only earned him great literary rewards but also secured his memory in our American consciousness.
This journal is one of the best literary works I have ever read as Steinbeck’s truth rings loud and clear, his desperation both real and imminent, and the personal frustrations of being a writer not only presented in fact but written upon us with his blood. What initiated two summers ago for me in my first reading of Travels with Charley was a new interest in the person John Steinbeck, more so than even his fictions. Though extremely controversial and outspoken, Steinbeck valued his privacy and solitude. He kept few friends, but those he did have were close and of like mind. The emotional pain he suffered in his amorous relationships is made all too clear in this journal written at a time of both great literary achievement and the impending failure of a marriage between two people seemingly highly suited to one another’s goals in life. It is unfortunate that the physical and passionate side of this relationship could not be redeemed and saved. But Steinbeck left this wife for another ill-fated lover who became his second wife and ultimately the mother of his children.
The journal takes place at a time in the world of beating war drums, fascism, and Hitler’s rise for world dominance and destruction. Meanwhile Steinbeck was struggling with fame and the pressure coming from the needy of every stripe. And as he was attempting to write what would become his greatest novel, his new neighbors were irritating the life out of him with their hammering and radios being played so loudly he could not think. But as disagreeable as this was to him it all helped to shape his diary into a fascinating window for peering into the life of a most interesting man of letters. I truly hated for this book to end. But it did, and what was finally and forcefully gleaned from this exercise was his firm belief in the importance discipline plays to any writer of note. ...more
As I was reading these stories, these ficciones, I was wondering where I might have heard this Borges voice before. And as I read it seemed to me that each story was important in its own rank as if derived from a serious study of an ancient text or the pouring over of history books detailing in no small measure the accounts that made up the results of whatever was being set forth. Of course, because the original Ficciones were written in Spanish and then translated to English, the stories additionally allowed me to consider that some of the numerous facts and details presented were possibly “made-up” and mingled together with others which obviously were not. The entire practice of a Borges composition was basically lost to a reader like me who is not “up” on his ancient history and could no more in these given instances discern a truth from a bald-faced lie. Nonetheless, the stories were written and translated with such abundant grace and were so well-crafted their meaning mattered little to me as I was obviously in the presence of genius, which is such a joy to behold when it actually occurs to me. Still, it bothered me incessantly as each story ended with the same result of my not understanding what I had just read but enjoying it nonetheless. I am apt to want to quit on something I do not understand, but the words were too powerful and crafted for me to end our affair.
Throughout my reading there wasn’t one story that made more of an impact on me than another, but taken as whole it reminded me by the end that another writer, a contemporary, whose voice I realized sounds just like Borges, or at least sounds like the translation of Ficciones that I am reviewing here. It felt a bit uncanny for me to think of my writer-friend Jason in light of reading a book written so long ago. I know Borges died blind in 1986 and was born in 1899. I know he originally published the first edition of this book in 1944 or thereabouts. Besides this unique voice I heard on every page, what made me think of my contemporary as I read Borges was that confident, loving tone of a very good teacher, a scholar relating something he found so interesting that he wants to excite us with his discovery too. The tone comes from a very nice man, a gentle soul who is humble and totally unpretentious even though his gifted presentation flies way over my head and is so far out of my league of understanding. Perhaps, for some readers of this text, understanding is not so hard to come by. But for me it was nearly impossible. In order to not frustrate myself I began to read these stories much as I read Gilles Deleuze say, and of course Jason Schwartz, and attempt to glean what I might from their words and simply enjoy the rest. I doubt there will ever come a time when I know enough history to connect more to these short stories, but I do know I expect I will not derive more pleasure in my newfound understanding than was my first exposure and initiation into this world.
But lo and behold miracles do occur and the last story filled my void. The understanding that had been missing over the last days spent with all these Borges pages came headlong to me, and not delivered as I was present in my trance as I had been in while reading the stories prior to this last one titled The South. No, for this one, the last one, I was fully alive and awake for his scrumptious ending of the way life goes sometimes. But instead of topping my already generous day I was directed by a Borges order to press on, that silly, my time had not come, as neither the hero’s had nor his aggressor’s, and that a knife fight must and will ensue, and the results are not a given though perhaps it could be perceived as somewhat predictable. ...more
This is a very long book and it is quite amazing to me that any one writer can have this much life experience and still be capable of telling about it. And keep it interesting. Even if research offered the many historical facts adjusted as fiction and presented as anecdotes I would still find it remarkable that Jan Kjærstad could actually pull it off as well as he did. It is a long life story of Norwegian TV celebrity Jonas Wergeland told in circles and repeats, ending at a certain point when the weary traveler and star of his show discovers the love of his life flat-out on a polar bear rug dead-red in their home after being murdered with a Luger. For an enormous number of pages the narrator relates the many stories connected to the life of Jonas Wergeland and how these events all contributed to the dreadful result we are faced with in the very early pages of the novel. The mystery the book blurbs promise it to to be never quite measures up, though the revealing and tantalizing anecdotes all add to a quite suspenseful and fulfilling climax.
There is no possible way in which I might explain this novel. I can say however that as I perhaps too eagerly updated my wife these last few days about each extremely wonderful experience I had while reading this novel she finally replied, “It sounds like a Wes Anderson movie.” So the very best I can do now would be to inform anyone already enamored with the work of screenwriter/filmmaker Wes Anderson that this book is completely up their alley. Throughout the revolving myriad of countless stories related page after page regarding this fascinating life of Jonas Wergeland one is immediately struck by the eccentricities, curiosities, dangers, and clever results in all his affairs. Jonas is quite an amazing individual as are the unlikely heroes in every Wes Anderson film. Over-the-top is an understatement but it makes the reading experience absurdly fun.
A continuing theme for me throughout this first book of a trilogy is how everything is always connected. Each chapter in one way or another returns to visit a previously told story or adds something or other to an unfinished business. I failed to count the many chapters but there are numerous anecdotes involved in getting to know this man Jonas and the principle influences that made up his life. There are several memorable and important characters we meet along the way. By the end of the book almost every question of fate is answered except for the initial mystery of his good wife’s death. I suppose that being the paramount reason for the author making this work a trilogy.
It is quite unfair to focus on the almost undo importance given to Jonas’s “magic penis” or the phallic symbol his aunt employed as a life-long artistic obsession. The truth is that most young men are a bit too interested in that thing between their legs, as are some women perhaps, but there is really nothing to be done about it. Denying, ridiculing, or shaming only makes it worse. But the interesting development in this book for me regarding this phallic obsession is that Jonas himself never seems overly impressed or even brazenly brags about his manly gift. Jonas always is the wanted one in a sexual relationship, which to some of us just might be a mutual fantasy not often shared. He was never the initiator of any of the sexual behaviors in the first place, and for the most part always during the act itself remained on his back on the bottom. And what seemed both beautiful and amazing to the narrator of this tale was the unlikely fact that this magic organ could fairly accommodate and satisfy any wanting vessel, be it large or small. But the book was far beyond such a seemingly shallow thing as this magic penis. It was achingly more about a real tingling up his spine that would climb up and into his shoulders. It was about owning and using his imagination, exploring and revealing human nature, and understanding the world we live in a bit outside of the box rather than remaining stubbornly stuck in our given notions of things as they are.
Given that Jan Kjærstad, like me, was also born in 1953 added more of a connection to his writing. Having the novel placed in the same time period I grew up in offered opportunities galore for me to remember and reflect upon too. I smiled often and always felt satisfied. This is rare in a book for me. In absence of any good explanation of what actually occurred between the covers for me, the bottom line for what I took away from reading this novel was a poignant reminder that life can be comprehended only as a collection of stories. In good time I look forward to my continued reading of the remaining two books in this trilogy....more
Almost immediately I entered a world not of my making and willingly allowed myself to engage the characters within the covers and become somewhat a friend to them. My personal allowances were not wasted, as good fortune greeted me at every turn the novel made. Cees Nooteboom begins this work with a bit of a disparaging look upon his main character, Inni Wintrop. Though Inni failed at his own suicide, his only marriage, and avoided a working career sufficiently respectable and typical of the times, he was instead vastly superior at dabbling. Because of a small but suitable allowance provided by his aunt in which to live quite modestly, Inni was free to enjoy his daily chance encounters with all sorts of eccentric and passionate individuals, and allow life to challenge and confuse others in order that Inni himself might be entertained and educated in countless ways.
Surprises happen almost on every other page and Nooteboom writes in a manner relaxed and conversational in tone. The novel was a joy to read and nothing in our realm of human nature was deemed off-limits to discussion and further inquiry. To list these delightful turns would take away some of the excitement in discovering them for yourselves as the novel progresses to its fateful end. Every character is easily imagined by the reader, and the enrichment in meeting new and enlightening people enriched my periods with them so much so that it was certainly painful to lose them in time to a sort of death that one cannot escape portending for oneself in the frame of a life hoped to be unanimously agreeable and worth living. I cannot encourage enough the reading of this fine little book for all who take life seriously, and for certain others of us who always seem to wish for more no matter the size of our serving....more
After completing this quick read I was reminded of my very first sighting of the Chrysler Building in New York City just after coming out of the hole in exiting the subway. I immediately remarked to my companion that day that this building is the one that should really be the Empire State Building. My guide that day long ago got quite a kick out of my country bumpkin statement. But it was true at that time. The magnificence of first lighting eyes on this wildly extravagant building gave me pause to wonder what other structure in this humongous city could possibly be any more remarkable than this one I was faced with? And was not the Empire State Building the one attraction all the tourists flock to? I have since given up that feeling for the Chrysler Building and have grown rather fond of regularly seeing the Empire State Building breaking into view while heading uptown on Broadway. But Requiem: A Hallucination had the same affect on me as that first morning did in New York.
Suffice to say that this book is exactly what I have been looking for between the covers of the two Italo Calvino books I have thus far engaged in. And as dead as Calvino's writing is to me the opposite is true of Antonio Tabucchi. Now, smarter people than I could most likely explain why this is true. But I, for the life of me, cannot begin to try, other than to say I have felt my way through every page of this small gem of a book and nary felt a thing while reading Calvino. So perhaps this a quasi review of both short books, this Requiem: A Hallucination and Calvino's Mr. Palomar.
But how is it that one respected writer can make a reader feel something and another does not, when both use language in which to proceed from? Of course, in a way this is not fair, as Calvino is writing in Italian and Tabucchi in Portuguese, and both works have been translated into English by completely different translators. But even if a foul has been made how is it that the words of one may ring so hollow and the other come to break so deeply in my soul? I am wont to always return to my theory of a writer's personality (or translator's) having been present in the work and that personality being of a person I am attracted to or find extremely interesting. Antonio Tabucchi is one very cool dude. I love the way his mind works, and the people he visits with, whether true or made-up characters in a fictional world made so very real to me. And if this world is not at all of material substance it matters little to me as the dream is one I am attracted to anyway.
This was a short and lovely piece that I wish had not ended so soon for me. But as other readers and admirers of this little book have said, it is one that must be revisited and enjoyed again. In addition I also learned some interesting recipes and was also introduced to the writer Fernando Pessoa, and for that I am grateful again. And again. ...more
Gabriel Josipovici wrote an exquisite introduction to this slim volume. In his introduction Josipovici states that upon first reading Kristof’s most famous work titled The Notebook he understood immediately he was in the presence of greatness. I could not agree more with that statement as I can attest to it happening to me as well. It isn’t often enough that this phenomenon happens. Though I am amazed at how many talented writers there are, and have been, among us. Seems each week I am introduced to a writer I had not been aware of previously. But the label of greatness is kept for only the very few. Ágota Kristof is most definitely one of these specific icons we certainly must treasure and be so grateful for their willingness to write in the first place and work so diligently to perfect their craft.
I think it is also remarkable to discover later in this memoir that Kristof considers Thomas Bernhard the greatest of all examples for what it means to be a writer, especially for those persons claiming to be one. She also affirms that Bernhard never seized to criticize and denounce his country with both hate and love, but his humor in doing so remains to this day unequaled by any other, though I have to believe most of us who read Kristof are aware she can be quite funny at times herself. But it isn’t the humor that draws me so much to the writing of Ágota Kristof. Rather it is this adorableness, if you will excuse the pert term, that she maintains in the face of her story’s extremes. Though I cannot actually see her, she just feels so damn cute to me. And her personality is so to-the-point, piercingly direct in a manner that is very hard to explain. The violence in some of her scenes is so exact as to cause a shocking affect, and as I have mentioned in previous remarks I made due to Kristof, she writes a damn titillating sex scene, no less extreme in its provocation on the page.
Reading this slim, but still voluminous work was a treat just to get an inside look at the life of Ágota Kristof, in her own words, and to learn firsthand how she became a writer. Obviously, it is not enough to wish to be something or other. One must persevere, at times, and often, against great odds. But the important object to note here is that Kristof would have written no matter her success at finding, or not finding, a commercial publisher for her work. Writing was something she just had to do, of course, after she became literate enough to be coherent composing within a foreign language in a country so unlike her one of origin.
Ágota Kristof is a treasure just as Thomas Bernhard is a treasure, and it is with great gratitude and satisfaction that we have both their work to share among us and to have exampled a good bit of writing from. There are still a few books written by Ágota Kristof left to be translated from French into English. It is my hope that this occurs sooner rather than later as I am unfortunately running out of time. And I am confident in my solemn sadness that I am not alone, but rather inclusively stirring, in my sinking ship....more
First it is a fantasy, brutal but fun, about a couple of lies and a boy named Tobias Horvath who changes his name to Sandor Lestor because of something terrible he thinks he has done back in his country of origin. A couple noteworthy events for me early on were that Sandor does not much like babies period, and he is tired of sex for fun. He wants only the woman he loves named Line, who just so happens to also be his half sister. But unsurprisingly she is not available and hasn't anyway any idea of their familial relationship. Line simply remembers their time together as young students in the same class. Sandor also almost desperately wants to be a famous writer and upon his certain success return to his original name of Tobias Horvath. But, no doubt, this is a sad story about resorting to an un-resortful life. It is a fantasy about love and failure, of whether being rich or poor is remarkable enough, or even if acquiring an education really matters. So almost anything I might have to say about this book would spoil the already too-short read which I have to say I really loved. But allow me a different tack.
It is hard to know how near to death, or what scrapes the common lad has had with the grim reaper, but what I do know is the awful dread and sick feeling that comes with being in the face of it. Of course, my brush with darkness can easily be discounted by those having had a real consequence. But let me tell you, it was the very first time in sixty plus years of living that in a fitful dream I died, and I didn't like it. Not one bit. All the countless times I have come near to dying in my dreams I have awakened with a start, relieved that I escaped that finality, an ending for me that felt so real and certain one day to come. For years I have held to my theory that when that moment came in the dream, when I saw or experienced my own dying, the actual end would come for me as well. But here I am, still kicking, and none the worse perhaps for the wear. But all day this frightful dream has stuck with me, gnawing at me, needling me in dreadful ways. Not one moment has passed today that I am feeling both grateful to still be alive and somehow aghast at how quickly my end might actually arrive. But because my dream-death was due to an accident, a mistake on my part, of me not following my gut when I knew damn-well better, something that has become a sort of trend for me it seems these days, it is that I also feel guilty and ashamed. It has been the strangest experience for me living every minute today with the feeling of my own death as if it really happened. And it weighs heavily on me as well for all the many times throughout my life as a carpenter, traveler, drug and alcohol abuser, promiscuous adventurer, outdoorsman, and general sinner that I have escaped serious injury because of my carelessness or ignorance in my denying a dangerous situation. I imagine it must be that immature feeling for thinking one is immortal.
The dream began as a simple hike through the woods accompanied by my youngest adult son. If others were with us I do not recall. I remember hiking on what might resemble a wooded ski trail, sort of like the trails cut out of the woods for cross-country skiing, but it wasn't winter, and there was no snow this time of year, but I could see the approaching hill being such that we would be attempting a climb of stunning proportions. I also knew we were hiking backwards on the trail, as nobody would ever climb this particular hill on snow skis. It was definitely meant to ski down on and not climb. I even found it a bit unbelievable that anyone could actually successfully ski down it and not be killed. But here I was climbing this enormously steep hill with my almost thirty year-old son. The entire trail was loose, grainy sand and it was very difficult to get a proper footing and make any headway considered plausible. In this dream I was physically crippled a bit just as I am in real life due to a fall from my cabin roof three years ago. My knee was not surgically repaired for such athletic activity as this particular hike and climb, and it has not the strength other knees have, and in addition, no lateral movement at all. It is insane to think I would even have attempted a climb like this outside of a dream. And I remember thinking these thoughts in the course of events throughout my dream. Ultimately it became impossible for me to continue trudging uphill and I remember thinking, and perhaps saying aloud, that there would absolutely be no way to climb this hill in winter when ice or snow was covering it. We returned home, wherever that was, and consulted an acquaintance or friend there who suggested we take what amounted to a sled ride down the same steep hill for the reason I suppose to familiarize ourselves over what we may have missed from not conquering it from climbing up from the bottom.
Now it was winter, or the surface at least had been prepared to slide belly first along the track of ice. At first the downhill ride was enjoyable, slowly gaining speed and feeling the snow scraping against my clothes just as I did in the old days as a small child. But then the speed increased to such degrees that I began to get nervous and feel I was losing control of my sled. My son was also belly-first sliding ahead of me and seemed to be holding his own. I panicked a bit and for a moment froze in my thinking over what I might do to get myself back on track. Rounding another curve hell-bent for speed and preparing to head down what I thought to be the worst part, my body, almost spontaneously, left the track and flew off the side of a steep cliff. Next thing I knew I was preparing for another ride, realizing my previous mistake, more than confounded by how I did not die from the previous great fall, knowing this time that to successfully maneuver my way down I would have to wrap my arms around what now appeared in my dream as a track raised slightly above the surface of the snow. I held on for dear life as it reminded me of a roller coaster ride, which I hate, and successfully, almost naturally, I made my way to the bottom of the hill without incident. It was then, at the bottom of the hill, that I knew something was not right. All of our gathered crowd was looking at each other in a very strange way and my stomach knew something critical was missing and it felt like it might be me. Intuitively I was impelled to ask them if it were I who was really dead? They all nodded solemnly in agreement. My wife was present, standing there and looking at me lovingly. It was obvious my son could still see me clearly, but soon I noticed that for him my form was beginning to fade. My wife could still see me clearly but we both knew I would never be physically in our lives again. I had become a mere spectator of life. I remember having this dire sense of extreme responsibility to watch over and protect both my wife and son but I did not know how I would be able to do so without a body, with no hands, and a now-fading voice.
It seemed we all were gathered together in a room for some time. The group was conversing pretty much as nothing had happened, at least it was obvious to me that life had gone on without me. What struck me the most in my feeling of shock at being a dead man surrounded by the living was how much my wife actually did seem to love me. She wasn't sobbing or sad I was gone, but still she was treating me as if I was much a part of her life as I always had been, but with the knowledge that though she could still see me she would never know me again physically. Of course I began to wonder about the other men in the world who would find her attractive and begin flirting or courting her and offering her attentions that I no longer could provide. Almost immediately in my dream a certain man I cannot recall the name or what he looked like did indeed hit on her and she promptly refused his advances. But I knew in my heart while considering my dilemma as a harmless spirit that one day she would be vulnerable to an advance. At some point in her life she would need someone, and the right man might speak to her in the proper setting and win her heart that I knew would be lonely and aching for something besides her constant aloneness. I reasoned that at that point my spirit life would most likely end.
Within minutes of my realization that I was dead, and the acknowledgment of all present that indeed I was, I felt my son, unlike his mother, quickly losing his connection to me. He could not see me as clearly as I knew my wife still did. At the instant the stranger was hitting on my wife my son was beginning to leave with another group of men that I remember as having a very strong personality for a leader. The new gang leader reminded me of the actor Gary Oldman still playing the scary and dangerous character he has portrayed often in films such as True Romance. I wanted to warn my son that he was beginning to go down a very dangerous and slippery path by following this sick man and whatever scheme he had talked my son into participating in. This group was heading away on this mission when I left my wife and her persistent suitor to follow behind my son and somehow devise a way in which to protect him. Every step for me seemed to portend a bad ending for the adult child I had loved so much and cared so deeply for.
The attitude prevailed within this group of criminals that they were on a job that was supposedly a sure thing. A piece of cake. I watched them as they approached a very nice home and were preparing to enter it illegally. A break-in to steal valuables was all I could think of. I just knew this was a murderous setup, that something terrible was about to happen concerning guns and other violent weapons. Here my son, in his own way, was going to make a mistake similar to what his father had done and his life could very well end or certainly be altered in ways unimaginable to me. The dread of this portending danger was killing me again. It was then I awoke from the nightmare of my life.
There was much for me to consider in my dream. I cannot say I enjoyed myself. I am certain I would rather read about it happening to someone other than myself. ...more