Monday, February 26, 2007

By Lamplight

Since moving from my idyllic Springhouse I have gained central heat & air and lost, among the many many many charms of my prior abode, the ability to watch that most beloved of inventions - Television. As my friends are aware I am a bit of a masochist, so it isn't as bad as it could be... I have found however that such primitive conditions are very conducive to my addictive almost obsessive love of reading. I also realized that there is no real rhyme or reason to when or what I read. And that though this lends me a charming eccentric air it also leaves me bewildered at times as to where I read that line, you know the one, the one that gets lodged in your head, the seed of an idea, the simple ten word explanation of something which you've wrestled internally with most of your adult life, the perfect pick up, the exact right thing to say when you can't say anything to help someone, that line. Well, it used to be that I would highlight things, fold a page in an almost origamic way so that the tip of one page would point to the exact sequence of words that salved my soul. Alas, this only ensured I would never remember what I gained from my books until at some future point I reread that exact book (and I ALWAYS reread, at least once, books that I like enough to keep on my bookshelves, except of course Les Miserables, and no one can fault me on that!) Anyway, all this rambling is to bring me to this point:

I must start keeping track of what I read, and what strikes me when I read it!

So here it is, my starting point. I am going to list which books I am currently reading and when something strikes me about one of them I will record it. At some point I will take a little precious time away from work, and friends, and family, and pull my nose out of a book long enough to set this up as some kind of permanent list of some sort with a link and all that spiffy shit, but for now here is window into my current reading life:

Saving Fish from Drowning, by Amy Tan
She wrote The Joy Luck Club. I am ashamed to admit this, but I saw the movie and did not read the book. It is a very good read. I am fascinated by how the author took an interest in automatic writings (where the departed communicate through the writings of the living) and turned it into a brilliant plot for a novel. It solves all those nasty complicated point of narrative problems I encounter if I write more than three pages of anything. So far there have been no life enhancing quotes or thoughts, but I'm only 2/3 of the way through it, so I'll keep you posted. I did find an origami page marking what I think is the most beautifully funny names I've ever seen in print. (For my own reasons, I have a weakness for characters, real or fictional, with unusual names.) The following is the excerpt that I marked:
"The rusty-headed twins were two who remained, from the lineage of the Lord of Nats and his Most-Most Favorite Concubine. She was much higher in status than the Most Favorite Concubine, and somewhat lower than the Most-Most Favored Wife. This was according to the twins grandmother, who was not from the paternal side, and so not of the divine lineage. But she was the one who named the boy "Loot" and the girl "Bootie," English words meaning "goods of great value taken in war." She kept them from being that, as she now testified to the tribe and the Younger White Brother."
Also there is a part where describes the tribe making a plan to evade the military regime of Burma by this elaborate hoax of leaving their village intact and living in the rain forest mountains. Then abruptly it says "We made another plan." As though the plans we all just merely collective decisions that the tribe set forth for everything, all the time. Kind of a "If A, then B. If X, then Y." some sort of group Chose Your Own Adventure Book. I just found it amusing. Probably because I'd had a glass of wine in a very hot bath...

This Book Will Change Your Life "365 Daily Instructions for Hysterical Living", by Benrik
I originally picked this one up as a gift for My Best Friend. She's been a little twitchy lately... But as I flipped through it I realized just exactly how fabulous it was! Kind of along the lines of "Steal This Book," with a zenish twist. Not quite as anarchist as "Steal this Book" or "The Anarchist Cookbook," but also it is not outdated yet. You will not find the recipe for Heroine in this book, but you will find a list of backdoors for hacking and premade vegetable stickers. It is irrelavent on the surface, but if you look too deeply, you will find that the "Daily Instructions" are actually practices in self realization. I am quite looking forward to randomly opening to a page anytime I'm feeling in a rut. Examples of "Daily Instruction":
Day 65 - Today learn a poem by heart. (Sounds great & enlightening doesn't it...)
Day 27 - Today you are not allowed to use the words "yes" or "no."
Day 239 - Bullshit Today. Log on to an internet chatroom and participate in a discussion you know nothing about for as long as you can without being exposed as a fraud.
Day 224 - Cut in line.
Day 148 - Leave a note on someone's car windshield. (They give several examples. My favorite is "I've left someone in your trunk. I'll pick him up next week if that's OK.")

There are two other books that I've started, but I'm having a hard time thinking coherently right now...I know this has been long and rambling, but I'm on cold medication so cut me some fucking slack.

*These are NOT book reviews, just simply my thoughts. Which makes this entire process useless to anyone but me, which is exactly how I like it.

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