Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pandering to masses and excluding them

The library is a fantastic place and it makes me very angry that I haven't really utilized until this, my last, year at this shithole. Today I took out a bunch of books.

The Dead Father by Donald Barthelme
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Speaking with the Angel, a collection edited by Nick Hornby
The O. Henry Award Stories of 1997
The Hermit's Story
and The Book of Yaak by Rick Bass

Hurray for me! Three cheers for not doing schoolwork ever again!

At the request of b, here's a short passage from the essay that I'm writing about nature, modernity, and a Japanese Tea Ceremony house, oh my! It isn't edited much at all and some (a lot) of this will most likely end up on the cutting room floor. But I like how it reads right now. Plus I'm really self-indulgent.

It looks like the other farmhouses left over from the Peale family, but there is an intangible quality that makes the house seem like it exists in a wholly different world from the one around it. The two other houses nearby are a light yellow, inoffensive and close enough to an earth tone to remind passersby about the antiquity that the buildings represent. The teahouse is a darker hue with dark blue trim and the paint is just started to show signs of its age, of the winters and summers spent getting bigger and smaller. It has a small overhang in the front and a stone patio in the back that abuts a small stand of trees. There is a tiny creek that runs in front of the house and is usually empty, but there is a surprisingly sturdy bridge over it. It is not an overbearing structure, but standing next to it, underneath the trees that muffle the sounds, the majesty and serenity of the house envelope me. I could sit here for hours.

I suppose I have always had a deep connection to the natural world. I was born and raised in a fairly rural area, my family built a house on a large plot of land that used to be an apple orchard (the present property lines still run along the stone walls constructed all those years ago), our backyard was an enormous forest that stretched for nearly a mile behind the house, and hardly a week went by during my childhood where my friends and I didn’t undertake some kind of expedition in the vast marshes and woods that encompassed our neighborhood.

Living in a city now is weird and unnatural. How is it that we have developed into creatures that can live in such stifling conditions? Our apartment buildings are filing cabinets, our parks are merely strange facsimiles of what the natural world might have looked like, our lifestyles include habits and machines and tendencies that automatically and willfully disconnect our species from the millions of others on the planet.

Ok, that's all I've got for now. I was gonna post a pic or two from the Daggers show, but I'll do that later. This post is already too long.


At 12:32 PM, Blogger Benny said...

That was really nice, now wasn't it? Thanks for sharing. Touchy-feely-warm-fuzzy-vibes, baby.

I love reading Donald Barthelme. He's the exact opposite of anything I'd look for in a novelist, but his short stories crack me up. You need to just go out and buy _60 Stories_ because the collection is priceless. One story about Balzac's Eugenie Grandet- complete with illustrations- makes me pee my pants every time I read it. I have bought this particular collection FOUR TIMES just so I could away this story. I would buy it for you, too, just to ensure you have a copy, but I am broke and therefore cannot. You can read the story at this link, but it's missing the illustration and so suxass:

PS- I don't really pee my pants when I read.

PPS- Ebay keeps threatening to suspend my account, but I never signed up for one? Whatever!


At 5:20 PM, Blogger Drew said...

Yo man, you think I haven't read that? My mysterious mistress bought it for me for my last birthday (along with an Iron Maiden DVD!) and I have been working my way through it. I liked Forty Stories a little better, though, but I'm not really sure why. I think it was because the first story in it makes me pee my pants. And, unlike you, I follow through. This is the first novel of his I've picked up, so I'm pretty intrigued.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger GonzoMC said...

I just finished reading "Me Talk Pretty One Day." It definitely mad me laugh out loud, but no body fluids, sorry. I enjoyed the essays as they relate to contemporary autobiography, in that short, humorous, and, in this case, grossly egocentric, are what pass for the current trend in the genre. Also, apparently I'm the only person who didn't know he is a raging homo (I never listen to NPR, so haven't heard his lisp) and that his sister is the amazingly funny Amy Sedaris from Strangers With Candy. I've spent too much time with classic lit I guess. Thankfully I'm better informed now.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Benny said...

Well, excuse ME, Mr. Sombrero. So glad your lady friends are keeping you in the bookage!

I've never read a Donald Barthelme novel. I tried to read one by his brother, Frederick, but. But.

I bought _Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Demin_ when it was released in England. I think I wanted something to remind me of the comforts of old-fashioned American family dysfunction. The things he says about his mother kill me! I didn't want to laugh, but I did. Out loud. On buses and trains, like the blurbs promised I would. Apparently, it's not even his best collection, but it's still pretty rich.


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