First off, please listen as author Claire Messud, a guest on NPR's "All Things Considered," tells us why "You Must Read This." She speaks so eloquent,First off, please listen as author Claire Messud, a guest on NPR's "All Things Considered," tells us why "You Must Read This." She speaks so eloquent, having found the way to convey just what her heart knows to be true, finding the means to describe such a complex mix of words, character, structure, book, creativity, obsession, genius. [Well, okay, she IS a writer : ) ]
This book and the reviewing of it has been in the forefront of my mind, the back of my mind, the middle, top, never forgotten, over the course of this entire year—I read it in January, again in March. I simply haven't felt up to the task. The reasons are varied. One: this book turned out to be the most important book I've ever read. Easily my 8, 9, 10,000th read. A lot of books preceded this one. This book, "The Loser" was fundamentally different, in a very profound way. A surprising one. But first, listen to Claire Messud.
Okay, I hope you listened to [or read] her passionate review. One small excerpt:
"It is a book about anger. A book without paragraphs, which in its very form enacts anger. A book prone to wildly long sentences, preposterously violent judgments and enraging constructions. A deeply musical novel, about music — about Glenn Gould, or a fictional Glenn Gould, with all the structural complexity of The Goldberg Variations, to which allusions are repeatedly made. The Loser is willfully oppressive and agonizing to read, hilarious and awful by turns. And, above all, it couldn't care less about the reader."
A Deeply Musical Novel
That's what it was for me. It sang. Behind the WORDS, there was a maniacal symmetry, a construct of pure poetry throughout the novel that awed me. Almost overwhelming. Almost. He is such a genius with structure he can up the pace that carries you along until you think you cannot read another sentence, you MUST put this down, and at just that moment, ALWAYS, the pitch changes. Or, he'll slow you down completely. "...he said, just like Glen would, as he stood at door, slowing down was so like The Loser, or so Glen said, but then Glen liked everything fast, and The Loser was just that, slow, he thought, while he waited at..."
His pacing is impeccable, his characterization truer than life, the story flows, nihilistically bitter to the end, an ode, a homage to greatness, and the almost greats, and to music—in more ways than one.
Until I read Thomas Bernhard, I didn't realize Novels could sing. Not like poetry. Not throughout the length of the book. Not like the beating heart of a metronome. Now I know different. All natural, gifted writers have this inner, musical beat. Now I'm ready for it.
I'm sad for all those 8, 9, 10,000 books that didn't get read like a song. A lifetime of missed beats.
One last excerpt from Claire Messud:
"The greatness of a great book is untranslatable. I cannot tell you what is extraordinary about The Loser. You must read it for yourself. You will not find it pleasant. You may not find that it speaks to you with the immediacy and the insistence that it speaks to me. But you will certainly find that it speaks searingly, fearlessly and comically. It puts us inside the head of a coldly embittered man, who aspired to be a great pianist — until he heard Glenn Gould play, and realized he could never be as good. It is, you see, about being talented, and still being a loser."...more
There will be a real review done shortly. I have several lined up in the queue. One thing I do know: While 1Q84 may have been my first, it will certaiThere will be a real review done shortly. I have several lined up in the queue. One thing I do know: While 1Q84 may have been my first, it will certainly not be my last Murakami. ...more
The Glassblowers Daughter By Frances Clarke 276 Pages 5 I'm going to begin my review by quoting a fellow reviewer of this book. "Raven" conveys what I feThe Glassblowers Daughter By Frances Clarke 276 Pages 5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ I'm going to begin my review by quoting a fellow reviewer of this book. "Raven" conveys what I feel, with such eloquence, it bears repeating. "This book reads like a single sentence, in that it is so seamlessly, exquisitely woven, it flows like a completely natural and unstoppable expression of a life from the moment the reader begins it. It is like picking up a life- between its covers, the events of this life are occurring, and when one picks up the book one simply hops on the train and is completely involved. It left me breathless."
On the other side of the coin, there were extremely negative reviews, by readers opposing the content, (which was not explicit, merely implied) or even put off by the old man's "A'wite gel, git ain hame wit ye knae." (I'm sure I just embarrassed myself to death, the closest I've been to Scotland is Jamie's "dinna ya kin" in The Outlander Series.) But, as the reviews were so diametrically opposed, I had to see for myself.
Not a word out of place, not one word to many. Just sheer perfection. Ms. Clarke handles this most taboo, yet let's be clear, all to real for far to many, subject, with the most compelling grace and dignity, I hesitate to even make it my lead. Make no mistake, this book is about life. And sometimes "life" swallows you whole, chews you up, spits you back out and says live with THAT. It is, however, so much more than that. After reading the book for myself then comparing what I had read with some of the more critical reviews, I felt obliged to write my own, maybe my third, out of the several hundred books I have read off Amazon Kindle. Frances Clarkes writing is high-brow intelligent, seamless and pitch perfect. We follow young Greta, daughter of the glassblower, who is employed by the University to blow the chemistry beakers, and a tortured soul with an accent thicker than highland heather and her unhappy Mother, who has secrets of her own. Young Greta's greatest joy in life is her older sister Deborah, who reads her the fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson that take her away into a land of make believe. We follow the twists and turns (and stagnation) of Greta's life beginning in the mid-fifties, with stops in the early and late sixties, up and into the mid seventies, as she struggles to come to terms with what "can't be spoken of." My deal had been sealed, way back in the very beginning, but just to give you an idea....in Part 4, the scene of Greta standing at window, with Gerry Rafferty's hit song Baker Street being played on the radio. That was as evocative an image had I been there myself saying, "Do you mind turning that up a bit?" This is a haunting story, beautifully written, by a major talent. ...more
On the Way to Willowdale: Being Other Songs from a Georgia Garden, with Sonnet Interludes by Robert Loveman 5.00 · rating details · 1 rating · 0 reviewOn the Way to Willowdale: Being Other Songs from a Georgia Garden, with Sonnet Interludes by Robert Loveman 5.00 · rating details · 1 rating · 0 reviews This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.
Robert Loveman was a well known, respected poet in the early 1900's. One of his best known poems, "Rain Song" was immortalized in song by the great Al Jolson and later Mel Torme. Georgia also took "Rain Song" as their states Song, until 1979 when it was changed to "Georgia On My Mind." Robert Loveman, although a son of the South, born in Dalton, Georgia, spending much time in the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama with relatives, where he actually penned "Rain Song," also became a part of the New York literary scene, hobnobbing with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and becoming friends with H. L. Meneken, corresponding with him years after leaving New York. He was a master of language and his beautiful artistry with words lives on, for the next generation to read and be inspired by....more
The Dawn is a wild, fair woman, With sunrise in her hair; Look where she stands, with pleading ha
Robert Loveman As A Young Man
Song by Robert Loveman
The Dawn is a wild, fair woman, With sunrise in her hair; Look where she stands, with pleading hands, To lure me there.
The Dusk is dark and glorious, A star upon her brow; With sunset blushes in her cheeks, She beckons now.
I, ever fickle, stand between, Upon my lips a rune, And in my summer-singing soul--- The hoiden happy Noon.
Robert Loveman was a poet in the early 1900's. One of his best known poems, "Rain Song" was immortalized in song by the great Al Jolson and later Mel Torme. Georgia used Loveman's poem "Georgia" as their state song, until 1979 when it was changed to "Georgia On My Mind."
Robert Loveman was a son of the South although he was born in Cleveland, Ohio amongst a large family clan including Lovemans, Friedmans, Blacks, Schwartzes, Liebmans, Goodfriends, Guttefruends, Sobels, and so on. Three or four brothers and a few cousins were not long off the boat from Hungary and they went off in three directions initially—Ohio, Tennessee, and Alabama. Robert's family moved before he cut his first tooth, landing him in the small town of Dalton, Georgia. As he got older he began spending more of his time in the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama where many of his relatives had taken up residence. Not only was Tuscaloosa home to The University of Alabama with their exciting football team, his Friedman relatives had homes where beauty was of great import, not only in the living quarters but outside in the cultivated gardens as well, where the budding poet could meander undisturbed along the winding garden paths.
Many people are unaware of this but Robert Loveman penned one of the early fight songs for The Crimson Tide. It wasn't until the mid to late twenties when Ethelred Lundy (Epp) Sykes wrote the iconic "Yay Alabama...Remember The Rose Bowl" which as any football fan can tell you, the rest is history.
It was in Tuscaloosa during an extended visit with his cousins at what is now known as The Battle-Friedman Home, after walking in the gardens one morning following a brief shower, he penned "Rain Song," which was to become his most beloved poem.
Rain Song by Robert Loveman
It isn't raining rain to me, It's raining daffodils; In every dimpled drop I see Wildflowers on the hills;
The clouds of gray engulf the day And overwhelm the town; It isn't raining rain to me, It's raining roses down.
It isn't raining rain to me, But fields of clover bloom; Where every buccaneering bee May find a bed and room;
A health unto the happy! A fig for him who frets!--- It isn't raining rain to me, It's raining violets.
He was also part of the New York literary scene, hobnobbing with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and becoming friends with H. L. Mencken and the like, corresponding with him years after leaving New York. He not only wrote poetry but contributed to the leading Magazines and Anthologies of the day and wrote many a Book Review. My aunt, who was Poet Laureate for Alabama in the late 1990's wrote her Masters Thesis on Robert, calling it, "Robert Loveman: Belated Romanticist."
(I'm trying to source this image, as it sure looks like Alabama to me. Note also the obvious youth of the beautiful couple)
Another cousin, Amy Loveman, along with Henry S. Canby was Co-Editor of Saturday Review of Literature no mean feat for a woman in the post-WWI era. Between the two of them, along with a few others, they are known as "The Literary Lovemans." She was a force in the literary world during her rule. After graduating from Barnard College, her first literary work was assisting her Uncle Victor who was working on a revision of The New International Encyclopedia. From there, she moved on to the New York Evening Post, where she became a book reviewer and then associate editor of the newspaper's literary review. Later, she, Canby and Rosen left to form The Saturday Review of Literature whose first issue appeared on August 2, 1924. Loveman was listed as an associate editor. She remained at the Saturday Review for three decades, becoming the magazine's poetry editor in 1950. In the first two decades alone, she wrote close to 800 items for the Review.
The first edition of the Saturday Review was published in 1924. Among the founders of Saturday Review was Amy Loveman, who “shaped the literary choices of generations of readers,” notes the Jewish Women’s Archive, through her work as associate editor, poetry editor, and frequent writer, and through the Book-of-the-Month Club, where Loveman became head of the editorial department. Loveman (1881-1955) came from a long line of Jewish writers and scholars. Her mother wrote unsigned political columns for weekly magazines, her maternal grandfather was an abolitionist who contributed regularly to the Nation, and her father, a cotton broker, was a linguist fluent in six languages. Amy Loveman
Robert Loveman was a romantic poet but if one takes the time to peruse his many volumes of published works only then can his amazing versatility be seen for what it is. From his charming, upbeat, children's frolics to his sonnets serenading love, truth and beauty to his WWI inspired homages to America along with her returning veterans to his cries for O' Israel, it's no wonder Mencken said he was the only worthwhile poet to have come out of the Southern States in as many decades as he was living. I was delighted to find on Google Books his artistry with words lives on for the next generation to read and be inspired by as this generation of family finds it next to impossible to acquire "the real thing."
H. L. Mencken
"Almost 80 years ago, Annie Laurie Friedman and her husband Sam built an institution in the Tuscaloosa area. The Dogwood Lodge on Bee Branch Road, a hangout to the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tallulah Bankhead, Hudson Strode and Johnny Mack Brown, has been a monument to the area that has stood the test of time, at least for the most part...Helen Blackshear, Lynn’s mother, former poet laureate of Alabama, said, “Dogwood Lodge became an ideal place for the informal entertaining Mother had always wanted.”...In the late 1970s, actor Alan Alda even wanted to produce a film using the Dogwood Lodge. Not to mention, the lodge is probably one of the finest examples of a log cabin in the country, Blackshear said in her book Mother was a Rebel*...Over the years, the Dogwood Lodge saw its share of parties complete with bathtub booze and Dutch oven spaghetti, living an illustrious life even to this day. Lynn Stevenson is the granddaughter of Friedman and the current owner of the lodge. “She [her grandmother] used to make everyone bring their own liquor because the times were so tough,” Stevenson said....Today, Lynn and her husband Tommy Stevenson, associate editor for The Tuscaloosa News, live in the small cabin next door to the lodge....Originally, Friedman wanted to name her home “Toehold” because she said it would have a toehold because she wanted her cabin there, but she agreed with her family and named it the Dogwood Lodge..."—Tommy Stevenson
From Hoole@UA.COM While living in Tuscaloosa, he resided with the Friedman family in their beautiful home on Greensboro Avenue, now known as the historic Battle-Friedman House. Bernard Friedman, one of the earliest Jewish settlers in Tuscaloosa, was in business with the Loveman family of New York and Dalton, Georgia.
Battle-Friedman home (Then known as the Alfred Battle House, built 1835) (silver gelatin print by Sydnia Keene-Smith, ca. 1929) and accessible at http://www.lib.ua.edu/digital
It was during his years at The University of Alabama he wrote his famous "Rain Song" poem, inspired by the gardens surrounding the house. That poem later served as the inspiration for the famed Al Jolson song "April Showers." Mel Torme also recorded his own version the poem.
Loveman's song "Georgia", with music by Lollie Belle Wylie, was the official state song of Georgia before 1979 (when it was replaced by "Georgia on My Mind"). A biographical study by our namesake, William Stanley Hoole, It's Raining Violets: The Life and Poetry of Robert Loveman, was published in 1981. The image of the sheet music above is from the Wade Hall Sheet Music Collections.
Very few books illicit the emotion "anger" in me as I read them. Virtually none, that I can recall. Until now. The kind of a future, presented here byVery few books illicit the emotion "anger" in me as I read them. Virtually none, that I can recall. Until now. The kind of a future, presented here by Kazuo Ishigro in "Never Let Me Go" is beyond what I can fathom.
This bleak story is set in a future time when our world has evolved into one caught up in the decay of moral ethics, a possible 'what if?' future dystopian story, that when juxtaposed with passages so masterfully crafted in their smoothness, ones that carry you along with words so calming, a lingering fluidity, told in the serene voice of narrator Kathy H., is a major factor in what makes this novel so compelling and eerie to read.
Her matter of fact manner of accounting of what, to her, is simply her "normal," her lone frame of reference, only serves to illuminate the unthinkable fate of her and her fellow clones, making the thought of it even that much harder to swallow.
They are clones created to be donors for organ transplants. This is their destiny, their life purpose.
Kathy H. Ruth A. and Tommy D. along with many others are raised at Hallishim Hall in relative tranquility, not told much about what lies ahead, but kept healthy enough, through nutrition and sports, along with a strong emphasis on creativity and art. This aspect plays heavily in the plot.
Do these "creatures" even have a soul? Are they even fully human? **makes you cuss out loud**
A beautifully written, compelling masterpiece. Frightening too, and sure to get your blood pressure up....more
Sweet yet profound, as are all Coelho's works. Short and sweet—Packs a punch. This a journey story. In more ways than one. A journey of the heart, a jSweet yet profound, as are all Coelho's works. Short and sweet—Packs a punch. This a journey story. In more ways than one. A journey of the heart, a journey for lost faith, as well as the physical journey through villages, across mountains seeking that eternal something.
This is not my favorite book of the tree that keeps leafing out, as Paulo Coelho expands his visionary ministry into the mysteries of faith, the spirit-world, and the longing of the heart. But it fits in nicely and I'm not sorry I read it. ...more
Awesome journey story. Mystical, spiritual, profound—all these trite words and more describe this work of Paulo Coelho. This book was his break out ofAwesome journey story. Mystical, spiritual, profound—all these trite words and more describe this work of Paulo Coelho. This book was his break out of obscurity sending his message, and what a message, to the world.
Highly recommended to all readers—everywhere. This is one you need to experience for yourself. ...more
"The Fifth Mountain" is one of Coelho's earlier works, one in which he takes us to biblical times and events. He brings us the story of the prophet El"The Fifth Mountain" is one of Coelho's earlier works, one in which he takes us to biblical times and events. He brings us the story of the prophet Elijah, whom we follow along, he and his tormented soul, through this landscape so tormented unto itself; this land of Levites, Curses, Tribunals, Angels, Israelites—Gods Will Be Done.
Coelho was raised up in the Catholic Church, not, as many assume, in some far—out, new—agey, spirit to light seeking kind of religion. His traditional religious upbringing shows up in this beautifully written, powerful tale of a young Elijah, beginning with his quest for a better understanding of his visions.
"Since childhood, he had heard voices and spoken with angels. This was when he had been impelled by his father and mother to seek out a priest of Israel who, after asking many questions, identified Elijah as a nabi, a prophet, a "man of the spirit," one who "exalts himself with the word of God."
So begins his search for meaning amidst the backdrop of the never—ending violence and chaos of the times, and always, the search for God, God's Word, God's Love, God's Strength, His Wisdom and Grace. Do you hear me God?
There is also an element of physical love here, which is hard enough for any man, in easier times, to really grasp and hold onto. All the harder for young Elijah.
This is one my favorite "Little Coelho's" plucked from his "Tree" on which he has mapped out his literary pilgrimage.
This little known book should be one of "those" books. You know the ones. Those rarefied gems that somehow break through, and we all feel as if (well,This little known book should be one of "those" books. You know the ones. Those rarefied gems that somehow break through, and we all feel as if (well, ok, some of them) surely must have a touch of the divine. Kind of like that feeling we get when listening to that young soprano, when suddenly, with unsurpassed talent, so refined and exquisite, out of her mouth comes that strung out, pure, highest note, perfectly met. Or when hearing a performance by that violin virtuoso, who transcends what we mortals even think of as 'merely' a 'little bit' human. Thus, Will Entrekin begins Meets Girl; A Novel:
"Once upon a time I fell in love with a girl who didn't love me in return. And while that may not be, as openings go, altogether novel ( for who among us has not felt the sharp-barbed long-constant prick-pull of of unrequited love?), still I've always known it's how I need to begin this story. I've always known I'm going to eventually need the big guns if I intend to make my way through, and I've known that since before I even started, back when when I sitting next to Veronica--the girl with whom I fell in love but who did not love me in return--and across from Angus Silver, about whom I will tell you more as we go along, because Angus Silver is an idea you need to be eased into."
THIS book by Will Entrekin is a virtuosic wonder of word weaving, dazzling in it's originality (despite at the most basic level, what we have is, boy loves a girl, she in return, loves him not. Do not be fooled by this, it's so much more than this) not only in it's presentation, add to this what we as readers recognize is a true homage, or you could say an ode, a joyous jubilation of words, of wordplay, literary allusions AND illusions done in the cleverest, softest, AND most charming voice I've come across in, well...could it be never?
It's a story of love, of not being loved, being loved, and yes of loving too much, but also of desire....for so many things. But mostly for the things....that are just, ohhh, so close...they are right THERE, you can ALMOST touch them. A hairsbreadth away from (just almost that close to) being attainable. "Boy" is faced with the dilimena of choosing his hearts true desire. A "shot" to get all he wants or ever could, out of life. Who of us has ever been given "this" choice, literally, just handed, gifted, told its yours, but you must make the choice. Not that Boy was seeking this gifting of choices involving the fate of his future. Naturally, it WAS cause for a little musing and reflecting. It began, seemingly by happenstance. But, when things are fated, happenstance flys out the window. When Boy and Veronica walk past the building with the sign signaling the prescence of a Psychic, Veronica seriously wants to check this woman out. She, who supposedly has mystical powers and born with the light of clairvoyance, respected reader of the Ancient Tarot Cards. Boy cannot deny Veronica her hearts desire, so, in they go, to Boys future fate. It's in the cards. Or is it really? Let's tune in for a minute, to the voice of the Boy himself, while he tells his story, as no one else can.
“Since when are you into psychics?” As long as I’d known Veronica, her family had always been so Catholic she attended midnight masses on both Christmas and New Year’s Eves with her parents and siblings, and I’d always thought Catholicism had dismissed as heretic any of the arts that hadn’t to do with the Christ Jesus and his holy parents. This I mentioned.
“One of my roommates hired a fortune teller for a party we threw. She read my tarots earlier this semester. It’s not like I’m sacrificing goats to the dark lord.”
“Well, no, but aren’t you divining the future by way of questionable means?”
“It's not about divining the future. It's about seeking guidance considering present circumstances, and honestly, given present circumstances, I think you could use all the guidance you can possibly get. So come on,” she said. She grabbed my elbow to guide me down the gravel driveway of a non-descript house. Around the corner, up a concrete stoop to a screen door marked solely by an “open” calligraphed sign. Through the screen wafted a sweet scent that stung my sinuses and made me want to blink. “It’ll be fun,” Veronica said. A small, silver bell wrapped with a fresh shoot of some indiscriminate herb tinkled when she opened the door for me, then followed behind. Inside, that scent was even stronger. The room beyond the door looked like a cross between someone’s living room, someone else’s curio closet, and a third person’s sitting room, and none of them appeared to get along. Dark-patterned threadbare rug over a hardwood floor, two metal folding chairs next to a cabinet that looked like it should have been filled with fancy plates but instead contained makeshift, wooden figurines; a few crystal balls; and a few good-sized shards of quartz. A doorway, hungdown with wooden beads, close enough to obscure whatever was in the next room. “Lovely,” I whispered. “Give it a chance,” Veronica said.
“Yes, please do,” came a voice as a woman parted the beaded curtain. It’s silly to say, and it feels sillier to write, but something about that woman struck me hard enough in the gut I couldn’t speak for a moment. It wasn’t that she was beautiful, though yes, there was that: she was short and petite, slender with long limbs and the kind of body that moves like it would rather be dancing, and she wore her spectacular red hair down, layered in waves highlit by a streak of white like a jagged edge to a sunset. She wore her green, crushed velvet dress tight enough I could probably guess her measurements (34c, 23, 33), and it scooped down from her pale, slender neck above her ample cleavage. And her eyes: green like jungles and foliage, green like growing things.
But it was more than that. It was a sudden feeling of comfort, which inspired vulnerability; I think, in the weeks previous, I had worked hard on restraining my emotions, preventing them from showing, putting up a brave face and a convincing façade. I didn’t realize it until that moment, when the appearance of that woman in that room, so close to me, caused it to slough off like so much dead skin. It was like she had a cool, clear aura, and the scent of her, like citrus and freesia, like a slight breeze across a lake on a warm summer day, cut through the smell of incense like, well, a breath of fresh air. I breathed it deep, and I couldn’t help smiling."
Therein lies the dilemma. The crux of all who Boy is. He has two desires, above all others. Veronica Sawyer and writing. Ahhh, how he loves Veronica. His odes to her, could launch a thousand ships more than that other dude. His love for her is longer than a river, churning faster, sinking deeper, lasting forever. Hear him tell it, in his own words, how much he loves Veronica Sawyer:
"Being a boy myself, I am no different, which is why I need to tell this story hoping for redemption, and that girl with whom I fell in love—who did not love me in return—was Veronica Sawyer. Veronica Sawyer has wavy, black hair highlit blonde and eyes the color of natural emeralds in mahogany. Veronica has a quick laugh and an easy smile and dresses like she belongs in a Banana Republic catalogue. Veronica speaks no fewer than three languages and knows how to request wine in several others besides. Veronica believes there is some point to graduate study in philosophy, and if you think, now, that I have somehow idealized Veronica Sawyer, I will say, simply, well, yes, that’s very much the point, isn’t it? "Because it truly was that sort of Love. Veronica is that sort of girl whom boys meet and fall in love with and do spectacularly blunderous things for. Veronica Sawyer is the sort of girl who makes writers capitalize words, who in times of yore would have inspired gallant knights to find dragons solely that they might fight and slay them. Veronica is the sort of girl the memory of whom could have inspired Cervantes, in his squalid prison cell, to write of Quixote’s Dulcinea, to dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe. All of which, of course, is why I felt I needed to begin with those four famous words." "Once upon a time I fell in love with a girl who didn't love me in return."
But, this doesn't mean a Boy cannot dream, does it?
"Thanksgiving Eve, I saw Veronica at a Foolish gig, and we made plans to get coffee that Saturday at the local Barnes & Noble in the only strip-mall complex for miles, a classic-casual outing that on occasion flirts with being more than it is, date-wise, but never actually manages it. I don’t know what you’d call the fringe collar of the black suede coat she wore when she showed up, but it looked like short strands of fine, grey yarn all around her neck, which only brought out her green-blue eyes, lending to them the gravity of an imminent thunderstorm and all the ferocity of lightning. But still she smiled, and it made her float. I don’t remember much about that conversation, but I’m sure it was like any conversation Veronica and I have ever had—long, digressing discussions of classes and life and movies and music, lyrics and dialogue. I’m sure it wasn’t long before conversation came back around to me and what I was doing, and when it did . . . well, it all just came out in one long, stream-of-consciousness soliloquy Kerouac would have needed Benzedrine and toilet-roll typing paper to keep speed with. I told her about how writing had ground down, how I just didn’t know if I had the juice left to say much of anything worthwhile, and that, at the worst possible time, when I thought about devoting my energy to something else, that was when there didn’t seem anything else to devote that energy to."
But, then there IS his writing. For Boy, it is like breathing. It is who he IS. He wants to write, he NEEDS to write, but not just ANY writing, glorious writing that will linger for centuries. And he's got the talent to back up his lofty goal. "It runs silent and deep to find, within me, the memories of my mother reading me Little Bear and “The Leap-frog” A Flea, a Grasshopper, and a Leap-frog once wanted to see which could jump highest; and they invited the whole world, and everybody else besides who chose to come to see the festival.— and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”— and stories about mist-shrouded castles overlooking emerald green realms. Wolves with big teeth, and evil stepsisters. Bears and chairs and porridge-eating intruders, evil witches and alchemical hobgoblins, grandmother’s house and gingerbread cottages. It calls to my mind Disney princes with thick, black hair and big, blue eyes, who gallop trusty steeds through sun-dappled forests in enchanted lands to save from untold danger the women they love, because the one thing all princes charming have in common is the girls in whose names they pursue their noble quests. Princes charming are silly like that. But then, all boys are. I once heard a story about William Faulkner, known to many as a Nobel laureate— "It is the writer’s privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."— but known to probably more as an Oprah pick, and known to some few besides as a Hollywood writer. My own favorite work ever by William Faulkner is his adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, one of Hollywood’s first, not to mention smartest, action movies, much of which one can attribute to Chandler himself— When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.— and the thing about The Big Sleep, the reason it’s among Faulkner’s finest work, is simple: Faulkner knew what the story was about. It’s ostensibly a crime-noir, with stolen pictures and missing persons and triple crosses, and it’s easy to get lost in the complicated plot, but Faulkner understood the story was simple and reminded himself of it in a very simple way. His supervisors and managers did not know of his reminder until after he had left Hollywood and they cleaned out his desk to find two items. The first was a bottle of Jack Daniels. Which I would say makes sense because Faulkner was a writer, but that would only propagate the myth of writers as drunks and bypass the truth: Faulkner was an alcoholic, who sometimes thought he wrote best when he was intoxicated but, given the state of his novels, perhaps should have waited till he had sobered up to revise them. The second is more important: a single sheet of paper on which was typed, over and over and over again, in classic 12-point Courier font, a single phrase: Boy meets girl. Because that is what so many stories hinge upon. Not all of them, I know: some are about whales or a young girl’s adventures in a strange world or even—well, I'm not entirely certain what A Tale of Two Cities was about, but then, who is?—but many of the real ones, the true ones, begin with a boy meeting a girl. Because that’s what we do. We meet girls, and we fall in love with them, and then the real silliness begins. In ode to their beauty we compose poetry— Who will believe my verse in time to come?— and in honor of their faces we launch a thousand ships. In pursuits of their oft-capricious affections, we undertake quests of monumental foolishness. We tilt at windmills. We storm castles using only a wheelbarrow and holocaust cloak despite that we were mostly dead mere moments before and have been revived solely via ingestion of miraculous chocolate dispensed by Billy Crystal in bad prosthetics. Hell, I’m not sure what sort of motivation Melville said Ahab had, but he gave his character a peg-leg and an obsessive quest for a marine creature whose most distinguishing feature, besides a ‘hump like a snow-hill,’ was a blowhole, both of which sound more than a little Freudian to me." ______________________________________________________________ Ahh, the wordplay. Abounding throughout Meet Girl. Still I must ask this? What's more important? What would YOU CHOOSE? Themes of Faust and the Devil himself ooze through enigmatic Angus Silver, popping into Boy's life with an offer he claims he's doled out to other genius's along times long line. And really, just WHO is this Mr. Silver? Appearing from nowhere ever made clear to Boy or to us for that matter, oh yes this man is a complete mystery. He's all attired in Hermes, a purveyor of the finest and rarest aromatic Spirits to be found on this planet. And oh yes, they must be sipped in the spirit with which they were intended. Male bonding and all that. Really. Who is this man? And now, more than ever, what's a boy to do? Here is what Boy has to say about Angus:
Beyond those doors: nothing, at first, but light, though of that there was enough I thought I might have tanned just standing there. I felt my eyebrows rise and my arm followed suit, even, as I started to shade my eyes, but then the intensity faded abruptly to allow into visibility the sharp-cut suited silhouette who could only be Angus himself. “My boy,” he said, stepping forward, through the doors, sweeping into the lobby a great rush of charcoal and animation, a quick-sketch of business and the way it’s meant to be conducted. He looked nearly the same as he had the night I’d met him, the dark suit that might have been a Hermés and the sharp eyes, but he seemed more vibrant, more alive, as if the room around him leant to him a power he in turn could conduct at will. “So glad you took the time to swing by my humble offices,” he told me, and if he had a smile like doing business, he shook my hand like he’d already closed it. “I’m not sure ‘humble’ is the first word I would have thought of.” LATER-IN THAT SAME MEETING: And yes, there was a side of me that considered simply getting up and walking away without another word spoken, but the moment I acknowledged that part of me, I also acknowledged it as a rather unexciting part of me. Maybe it’s silly or idealistic, but a bigger part of me had grown up reading stories of boy wizards and tales of high intrigue, that had graduated on to reading about American gods and Anansi’s boys. That bigger part might have been the same part of Jack that had traded the cow for those beans, the same part of Alice that had taken off after the White Rabbit. I had long ago given up on flying, but that part of me that would have traded his cow for beans or followed after Alice and her rabbit wondered if the simple act of belief was even more powerful a magic than flight. I wasn’t sure, but finding out . . . I didn't necessarily have to believe him to just sit there and listen a while longer, and why not? Besides, I hadn’t yet finished my beer. Angus smiled when I picked it up. “I realize it will be difficult at first to believe, but really it is no different from the idea of Gods and gardens and men walking up mountains to return with constitutions. What I’m telling you, in fact, is a lot less myth and a lot more truth.” His words reminded of Pilate confronting Jesus behind the closed doors of the Roman consulate, the voice of the crowd so loud it surpassed the stones: “What is truth?” Angus snapped his fingers, and suddenly: what starts the fourth movement, the famous Ode to Joy, of Beethoven’s final symphony? I’m reasonably sure it's the strings section, but those opening notes seem too deep and full to come from violin; I’m thinking a cello, something big and proud enough you have to spread your legs to play it, and my God can those notes catch you there, in the groin, less in lust than in purely physical love. I mean, if falling in love at first sight came with a soundtrack, it would have to be that, wouldn’t it, with that great highness like euphoria, the strings trilling and wriggling up and down scales like water over rocks? I don’t know what Angus did for those acoustics, but it sounded like I was sitting beside the cellist. I could hear each individual string. Is there anything in the world like Beethoven to open you? I mentioned that feeling of possibility, of decision, but Jesus, the Ninth Symphony is like a key to what makes us human, not just unlocking those parts of us we have secreted away but convincing us to open ourselves to the possibility of life. It’s like you listen and you feel like someone else gets it, all the pain and all the joy, all the sorrow and all the kindness, all the sadness and all the happiness inherent in every moment you’ve ever been alive. Listening to it is as much like falling in love with music as it is like trusting the world, because for those fifteen or twenty minutes of that final movement, what possible harm could befall you? When Angus spoke, his voice was quiet in reverence. “He came to me when they still called him Luigi. He wanted to write songs that would touch the heart of anyone who heard them. I asked if he’d mind never hearing them himself.” I swallowed but didn’t say anything. I don’t think I trusted myself to. Even just the thought hurt, but I gave it voice: “Veronica.” And so this is a story about a Boy who Loves a Girl. This is an awesome story about a Boy who Loves a Girl. This is so much MORE than story about a Boy who Loves a Girl. This is one Great Story, PERIOD! Highly Recommended