Sunday, January 20, 2008


1. One of the reasons you've made the protagonist of a project in the works, a short-ish novel called Exit, Pursued by a Bear, a specialist in Nineteenth-Century literature is because the dialectic between duty and individual passion is so striking.

2. Neither of these two things (the business about the tidal opposites in the Nineteenth Century, or your considered awareness of this fact) occurred to you before the fact, only after you'd reviewed written pages to see where things were going, then was hit by the implications

3. What the Lit major forgets is often as important as what the Lit major remembers.

4. In a letter he wrote to Anne Sexton on August 9, 1967, Ted Hughes said, "[Y]ou've no need to worry. When you've got it you've got it--you don't have to worry about poetry, you just have to be truthful (which is where the brain and all its hideous lies leap in, I know.")

5. A lovely argument for not thinking, complete with possible idiosyncratic side effects, as in How does one keep on course of being truthful?

6. Answer: Write quickly, revising only locution, not emotion nor event, and especially not outcome.

7. Reviewing Bernhard Schlink's newly published Homecoming, by all accounts an emotional and intellectual joy, produced echoes of 1, 2, 3 supra in the sense that one of the major themes of the novel was The Odyssey as quintessential homecoming archetype, leading you to remind the reader that Odysseus' name may without any great leap be translated to mean "a man of many turns" which indeed he was, employing sophistication and sophistry. After sending in the review, you wondered why you mentioned this, then remembered a series of stories you wrote about an actor name of Matthew Bender, who is returning home after having performed on stage in New York in a successful play with a backstory of contentiousness. And you were thinking Bender=man of many turns=bingo; you were thinking homecoming without even thinking homecoming.

8. This week the subject for review is by design and now of a two-year tradition a previously published book. Machado de Asisi, the author of this week's book died in 1908, two years after Leopold Bloom made his famous tour through Dublin. Epitaph of a Small Winner, a novel I first read over forty years ago, is a series of short chapters, sometimes as short as a paragraph, rarely over three or four pages. The chapter numbers appear flush on the left margin of the page, just as the numbers of this list and how many dozes of lists on these blog pages appear. Did this wild, Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy romp of a novel have any effect, affect, and influence on me? Dare to question your inner Lit major.

9. Will tomorrow's installment of Bear explicate a homecoming? Rely on it.

10. Does knowing outcomes in advance undercut their meaning?

11. Only if it forecloses further discovery.

12. So it's all about discovery? Could James Carvavelle have tagged this on the writer's wall?

1 comment:

lettuce said...

shelly i haven't read this post or the previous couple but had to pop in and say that your comment really touched me and brought tears to my eyes, thank you so much.