Monthly Archives: January 2012

Things that go through my mind on a sadly regular basis

1.)    Why when an author has huge success with their first book is there second novel so routinely badly reviewed?

Two of my favorite novels are The Autograph Man by: Zadie Smith (and, why fault Smith for so wonderfully going away from the intergenerational saganess of White Teeth—which don’t get me wrong is a lovely book, funny and beautiful, and was adapted delightfully by the BBC—to try something really quite different.) and the amazing The Little Friend by: Donna Tartt. The Little Friend is a gorgeous book. Did I identify with it because the main character was so perfectly constructed out of things I too love (any little girl obsessed with Shackleton and Houdini has to be close to my heart)? Yes, absolutely, but I also found it to be so perfectly constructed that it made me want to cry.

2.)    When will there be a really good (i.e, actually enjoyable to read and not completely full of scholarly dryness) academic book done on subterranean fantasy?

In particular I want something that covers the Subway fantastic of recent years: King Rat by: China Mieville, Neverwhere by: Neil Gaiman, the Hungarian film Kontroll (trust me I can make a very excellent argument as to why this great film fits into subterranean fantasy), etc. If there is such a book, let me know about it…Or, if there are any subterranean fantasy novels that I should check out, I am all ears (and wouldn’t that be something frightening? A person/ creature who was all ears? It could hear EVERYTHING!!)

3.)    And speaking of China Mieville (which apparently I am never not doing): why is the man so amazing?

His books are each so distinct and so well created. How can someone go from a children’s fantasy novel (UnLunDun) to a truly glorious mash-up of noir and fabulism (The City and the City) to an excellent sci-fi dissection of truth and language (Embassytown) and on and on and I haven’t even mentioned quite a few books here?

4.)    In the vein of UnLunDun, why am I so fascinated by stories of contemporary people who end up falling into fantastic worlds and why am I equally fascinated by the ways in which these types of books diverge?

There’s the person who is taking/ falls into a completely separate world in the vein of Alice in Wonderland, the Oz books, Peter Pan, UnLunDun, etc  and then there are the ones where the protagonist learns of worlds that exist within our own such as the Harry Potter series and I could argue that Stardust fits into this category versus the other. I think my fascination probably stems back to an early fascination with fairy tales that were centered on children stolen away to the land of fairy, etc.  Or, perhaps, on my over watching of Return to Oz (one of the greatest literary adaptations to film. Ever. I will fight people on this one, if I must).

5.)    And perhaps the most important question: Why am I rambling on about these things and letting them fill up my head?

This is actually the simplest to answer and in just two words: MFA applications.

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I’ll lie and say everything is random

I think about you now and then. That piece of dust you left on the windowsill for me. You know I thought it looked almost like ashes but felt like snow. Those embers you kept and lit paths across the stone. I think I am falling but I think it’s not far. The fall and the leaves and they looked like flames. A place-holder with wisps of smoke to spell out names. I think I lost yours somewhere and now I call you everything else but who you are.

*

He said that you could hear it. The silence.              That it was filled up with the shape left behind by bare feet on snow and the color of cinnamon fried in a pan until right before it burns and

Now he decided to give up speaking as a way of making alms. The words were gifts for other people. Stones and glittering gems and the edge of an arc of light and now and now, and now

When it falls it falls with a startling grace like some perfect glass bauble that shatters but cannot break.

*

I read once that there are over a million types of prayers. I don’t know if this is true or was just the author overstating things. There were examples, not many, but enough to give some sense of what the author was talking about, and only one really stuck out to me. It was the prayer to say upon witnessing lightning. There was no explanation for it and so I wondered why someone might pray then. Was it to keep the lightning from yourself? To keep the storm at bay? To save the one you love from the sound of you crashing?  To stop that flash of white from blinding you? I never used that prayer but sometimes I still think about it. Never during storms, but afterward when I’m lying in bed and thinking about the way the thunder broke around me. I’ll remember that prayer and wonder why I never thought to use it, even once just to see what it might do.

*

Lemonade stands in retrospect always seem perfect. Those quarter-priced cups of sweet edged sour tasted like the sun made cool on the hottest days of the year. Sure, we drank most ourselves and we earned, maybe, a dollar each. Those quarters were great to throw down wishing wells or to place on train tracks. Flattened to silver shimmers as we watched the cars speed away to the places we thought we’d end up.

*

Believe the things I tell you late at night. I speak in tongues only when I forget to speak any other way. I’ve told you 15 things I didn’t mean to and there are seven things that I meant to. I once sorted out the writing I did in my dreams and all of the pieces of paper bled ink into me until it leaked from my hands like stigmata. There is a city in my dreams that I always go to and in it the street forgets where it’s going sometimes and if you tell me once that you dreamed of maps that changed I’d believe you enough to say three more things I mean.

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