fredag, november 17, 2006


I'm not going to write anything very interesting here. I'm too sleepy for that. I woke much too early after a dream in which I was driving through a snowstorm. I was nearing a turn on a city street when some young people exiting a bar gleefully ran in front of my car.


This weekend I return to Chicago and the build-up to Thanksgiving. This is, by far, the best day of the year. Must remember to pick up some Minnesota creamery butter for the stuffing....


This weekend we have a celebration at my corner, Selby and Western, for the opening of Garrison Keillor's bookshop, Common Good Books. Coffee from Nina's, soup from Zander's, and a string quartet. Yay for Cathedral Hill!


Speaking of books, I've been watching Wonder Boys again. This is the second viewing I've given it, the first having been back when it first appeared on DVD. (Five years ago? Yet another case of me not fact-checking.) I love two things about it: one, I think it is a wonderful film about writing (as is the Swimming Pool, despite it's immensely frustrating ending); two, it unfolds quite a bit more like a book.

My brain is still firing up the engines this morning, so I can't quite find the words to explain this, or maybe I can't because it's about writing and I rely so much on a feeling for that rather than on a clear explanation. But moments that feel very writerly to me are moments like when Michael Douglas drops Tobey Maguire with his family, only to go "rescue" Tobey from his home later that evening. Films tend to avoid such clever sloppiness. Why drop the character off if all you're going to do is go slump on your couch and shrug and immediately leave to pick up the bastard when another character says, "Why'd you do that?" That's life, mna.

A dead dog might still wind up in the bed, but in a film that might happen through malice or a hammy catharsis or a series of events so ridiculous as to border on slapsick. Here, though, it's all very patient. Quite plain, really. It threatens to bore.

The scenes wander as in a book, not as in a film.

I wonder whether the book is any good, though. I've never read Chabon and I tend to dislike novels about writing and, in particular, academia. (Jesus. Have any of you ever finished Russo's Straight Man? I've tried, three times no less, to get through that book. No deal, man. I just don't want to read about department meetings. I don't care how funny you're making them. I spent enough time in university politics to not find them at all funny.) But my distaste for most of those stories is rooted in, I think, a feeling that a writer is probably out of ideas if he's writing about his immediate writing and teaching life. Unless you're trying to teach something, you probably shouldn't write about that.


Finally, I love this passage from Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep? This is the book that the film Blade Runner was based on. In the scene, Rick Deckard and his wife, Iran, are downloading their moods for the day via their mood organ, a machine that seems to have a neurochemical-altering effect to prepare them for certain types of days. Keep in mind this was written in 1968:

"My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression," Iran said.

"What? Why did you schedule that?" It defeated the whole purpose of the mood organ. "I didn't even know you could set it for that," he said gloomily.

"I was sitting here one afternoon," Iran said, "and nautrally I had turned on 'Buster Friendly and His Friendly Friends,'...And I heard the building, this building; I heard the--" She gestured.

"Empty apartments," Rick said.

"...and I sat down at my mood organ and I experimented. And I finally found a setting for despair. ...So I put it on my schedule for twice a month."

..."But a mood like that," Rick said, "...Despair like that, about total reality, is self-perpetuating."

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by