Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sorries (and a book recommendation for Lloyd Jones' "Mr. Pip")

Sorry that I haven't posted in some time. That I don't always know how I should/can feed this beast. To find its place. What is this thing? This blog? I'm not always sure. It's not a journal, I know, because I keep a journal, and much of my journaling is pretty embarrassingly boring. Of late a whole lot of self-talk, organizing, theorizing, deciding, self-motivating, analyzing, moaning bitching whining and then self-motivating to organize and get started all over again. Very little dirty dark secret stuff in the Japanese notebooks my darling mother-in-law sends from Japan (cause they're sooo much better, and soo much cheaper than the crap we get in Canada). Maybe that's because it's not that kind of journal, hasn't been for years (if ever, really). Perhaps the dirty dark secrets stay in my head or go in little pffts out there into the ether in conversation with this friend and that, or into my work - where I try to channel most of everything these days.

Sometimes I use this place to offer recommendations. Speaking of, have you read "Mr. Pip?" Go away to an island, a place of myth based on real. A fable story that has a "Little Prince" ability, a Murakami ability to get your imagination flowing but is also political without being big P political. I.e. Interesting, but still fiction story stunning. That magic that was the transporting reason you went to books as a kid. That kind of book. But for grownups.

Sorry because I'm tired, and who isn't. Some big deadlines keeping me busy, out of trouble, but also offline.

Sorry that I have yet to decide what exactly I want to do here. I want to post more stories, when the time allows. I want to add books for the desert island list (perhaps a movie or two). I want so many things. For now, though, I take it slow.

At the risk of being overly diary-like, I haven't finished the novel first draft (because other deadlines loomed, because I've never done anything of this size, magnitude before (I did write a first draft attempt at a novel my first time out in Japan; but that wasn't something that anyone was ever going to see) and how the hell am I supposed to know how long it'll take). Either way, after three weeks of other work that sidetracked me completely, am now ready to get back in. I was going to choose the verb dive, but I'm not diving. Instead this morning, I didn't even dip my foot from above to test the water temp, choosing, rather, to pay bills and eat cashews and file papers that hadn't been filed in months. Paper filing - so romantic. Cashews - so delicious, when salted.

So now a little freed up, and journal like in this entry, I take stock. It is June 25th. I'm 33 years old. The lunchtime thunderstorm outside has just abated so I guess I'll go eat lunch. After that, lug the old oji-san (the grandpa) of a laptop off to the local cafe (you know the franchise) and maybe finish the fucking thing.

Till next time, adieu.


  1. Alas, "this beast" is not the only organism you need to feed.

  2. Mister Pip is much better if one has read Great Expectations, don't you think? Otherwise, all the references will be lost? The book pretty much ASSUME its readers' knowledge of the Victorian text.

  3. Actually, I think the book is so strong you don't have to have read Dickens' classic at all. I never actually finished GE (dare I admit). I've tried a few Dickens books and haven't loved them. The style is hard for me. It doesn't grab me, excite me, connect with me. What "Mr Pip" did, though, was make me all the more want to go back, as so many other authors I admire have done (John Irving and Murakami to name two), and give Dickens another shot. I'm thinking the old bloke might just deserve it.

  4. Dickens --- highly recommended. What was it about GE that you didn't like? Estella? The famous graveyard?

  5. No, no. All the ideas and characters as ideas are brilliant. Sit me down and tell me what GE is about and I nod and say, wow! what an awesome story. It's the telling. The style. I was schooled (self-schooled) on Salinger and Hemingway and Chandler and Carver and Alice Munro and so many other North American 20th century writers who write sparse sentences and whose short dense sentences wow me the whole way through. I just don't LOVE Dickens' style, his sentences, and if I don't love the style I find it hard to muscle through hundreds of pages. It then feels much more like labour than love, and with books, like life, I'm always looking for love.

  6. In the 19th C, many readers 'read' Dickens's texts through listening - reading aloud was a common social and cultural practice. There was not much space for 'sparseness'.

    If you cannot stand GE, you won't like any of the latter (and in some ways more brilliant) works. Anyway, GE is my first novel love. And it continues to influence and affect. I confess I like the 'lesser' characters most: the sister-in-law Joe, the convict Magwitch. Was so glad the latter has so much room for himself in Peter Carey's re-imagination of the Victorian text, Jack Maggs.


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