Simone and Pearl and the Power Cosmic! part 5: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

24 Feb

1.

No posts for a while. The stomach flu whipped through our house, snagging Beth first, then Simone, and then me. Pearl remained half-sick throughout; her MO is to carry a cold eight days a week. She’s a happy, toothy, snuffly baby who doesn’t cry[1].

Fever, chills, the shakes and aches, ignominy, retching, and delirium times three; there’s little room for dignity in a household under the banner of sickness. Too sick to read, too miserable to watch movies, too uncomfortable to enjoy other people. Simone bore her burden well. She kept shaking her head when we would tell her it’s okay to get sick. Her response: “No! It’s too stinky!”

Despite the nausea, Simone was pretty happy; she went on a movie binge, watching My Fair Lady; Meet Me in St. Louis; Singin’ in the Rain; and Hello, Dolly. She’ll be an expert on movie musicals by the time she reaches kindergarten. Which has been my plan all along.

The only good thing to come out of it is the return of my appetite and my first cup of coffee in three days. And a major itch to get back to writing. Of course, I also have to return to work.

Back to life. Back to reality[2].

2.

I have plenty of half-written essays soon to be posted, including a lengthy essay on The Master, and an essay on Downton Abbey[3]. I (mostly) ceased caring about the Oscars a long time ago, but I’ll be disappointed when Hoffman, Adams and Phoenix are passed over for the acting awards, despite the fact that they should all win the top honors. (Here’s another prediction: my gut tells me Silver Linings Playbook—which to me was mediocre, although it looked great—will run away with most of the awards. That and Argo.) I also have a multi-part history of black cinema, “Little Ben and the Gnostic Christ,” and “Soccer-skate-surf-punk Pensacola.” That’s a preview, however, not a promise. Don’t know what will make it here or when.

The imagination can be a mercurial thing. My thoughts slip and slide. I don’t procrastinate, I lose interest. I sometimes have difficulty focusing my attention. I write in manic bursts—always have—and then slide into a lonely stupor.

Since Christmas, I’ve been on a reading tear. The Twenty-Year Death (a neo-noir three-part novel written in the styles of Georges Simenon, then Raymond Chandler, then Jim Thompson and it’s excellent); The Natural (Bernard Malamud is superb, my nominee for the most underrated writer of the last fifty years); Tenth of December (worthy of all the attention it’s getting, and more so); The Big Screen (David Thomson’s history of the movies and it’s just great); Somebody (a marvelous biography of Marlon Brando, and I’m only a quarter of the way in); Little Big Man (a very fine romp of a western, I liked it, but ten years ago I would have loved it) and The Ginger Man (one of the best novels I’ve read in years, funny, complex, beautiful, moving, squalid, yet easy to read). I’m also re-reading Sandman for the umpteenth time and finding it to be as rich, satisfying and rewarding as the first time I read it. It’s a milestone, and alongside The Invisibles and Promethea, a reminder of how tame and un-ambitious most comics series are.

I also re-read Heart of Darkness, a few pages a week here and there, and it still holds a disturbing, dark magnetism, and plenty of surprises. There’s a scene near the end when the narrator first sees Kurtz’s house, and it’s ringed by decapitated heads stuck on poles, and the heads are all facing Kurtz’s house. A throwaway detail that explains so much. It’s such an appalling, dense and rich work. Why they teach it in high school is a mystery to me. I despised it when I was eighteen, loved it just two years later.

3.

Finally, the real reason I’ve been posting less: I’m back in the submitting game, with a novel manuscript (which I’ve worked through three drafts), an excerpt that (mostly) works as a stand-alone story, and a short story. I’ve sent the novel to three places. I’ve sent the short story to six or seven. I’ve sent the excerpt just to one place: the New Yorker. Fail big, my friends. That’s my motto. Any neo-friends in the digital ether who want to help a stranger, I’m here.

More to come.


[1] Except in the middle of the night.

[2] I doth quote En Vogue freely.

[3] Prepare to have your mindgrapes blown.

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One Response to “Simone and Pearl and the Power Cosmic! part 5: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

  1. Mike Marino March 1, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    We watched The Master last night and we are big Downton Abbey fans. Thus, we await your essays with bated breath!

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