Monday, May 30, 2011

Zombie Post #3

Urrrr. Paaaaages. More Paaaaaages.

Just finished Martinez's Chasing the Moon, which read like the best kind of literary mix tape to date. It left me thinking of tempera paint & jello, as monsters popped from puppetry, bookcover graffiti, and darker places and the entire edifice sank through layers of reference and memory like the apartment tower in which the main character lives. So...thick lines and primary hopes & fears coupled with squirmy humor? Just loved it. :)

Meanwhile, I'm fighting a battle between my urge to be rude, my desire to give in to despair, and my addiction to drowning both in cascades of Frappucinos. So far, the caffeine is winning, by a sip. More group nonsense. Hopefully, that will be all be resolved after Thursday, especially if rudeness wins (I'm kinda pulling for it).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Kurban Said's Ali and Nino sat on the shelf for a while. Other books came in, were devoured, and stacked for adding to our miniscule library. It was, I confess, added to the shelf because of its smoochy/swoony reviews and the fact that I was reading a biography of the author, never having heard of the book itself until I had begun the biography.

Since I am past the "smoochy/swoony" stage of my own life, I was cautious but hopeful. The story began in Baku prior to WWI and followed Ali, a young Muslim of high estate as he fell in love in with Nino, a Georgian princess who attended the nearby girl's school. The love story is both about the relationship between the two and about Ali's love for Baku and the careful balance that both made it possible and that bit into his own identity.

Was it a beautiful love story? I don't know. That part of the story and the alien culture to which both Ali and Nino belonged made it difficult for me to find my way into the story. Ali tells the story, sometimes obliquely, in terms of generalizations of temperment and culture with which it was challenging for me to empathize. Nino feels like a culture unto herself at times rather than a person.

Despite these places were I slipped over the surface without sinking into the heart of the story, Ali's elegy for a place that used to be reasonable, safe, and welcoming proved to be the love story that I found most compelling. Without Baku, there could be no successful relationship with Nino and therefore, no place for Ali.

By the end, it was a heartbreaking indictment of the constant struggle for these places in which we can exist, coexist, and flourish.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


This blog is dead, really, officially dead--therefore, you are reading a zombie blog. It's not yet six in the morning, but the sky is shifting and the windows are blank spaces anymore and the dogs are squeaking about their first morning trip to the backyard.

I've come back to the zombie blog because I've been mindlessly consuming pages. First, yesterday afternoon, then yesterday evening, then at 2 pm when I woke up from a bad dream and realized I had to finished the book and from then until now. It's almost six am and the windows are sapphire and the book is lying beside me on the desk, the front flap quivering in the a/c.

At first, I thought I might contrast the way this book didn't have the same lingering chill of another one only I didn't know what it had instead. Now I do. Urgency. It was four, then five, and now almost six and my eyes hurt and they are watering but the book is done; it is just as exhausted as I am and we are both tense with the tear through the words.

I am frequently guilty of reading as if I were at McDonald's, shoving word after word behind my eyes and into my brain. I like stories that weave images like delicate and intricate line drawings, but I am not always patient enough to appreciate them. There are books everywhere. So I have come back to my undead blog to accuse myself of literary gluttony (and physical as well--there were the chips and pie that fueled several hours of reading) and to say that despite that, I am struck still by the unexpected book that is vibrating from my chest like an arrow.

I'm glad that I picked up The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, glad that I will have it embedded in my brain as I waver between sleep and waking today, glad that it was there when I woke from a nightmare and laid a hand on the nightstand. As it is now after six, I'm going to the dogs and then we are all going to the backyard.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nothing and Nobody

Today is the end of Moon Pools and Mermaids. A writer should be honest and I am a liar--easily frosting the sharp words with baroque description and swallowing them whole. I smother stories.

If I had been courageous, there was a time when I could have either corrected this habit or weaned myself from the idea of writing. Throwing myself into the ring with other writers in college or fighting submission battles on my own would have been the wise choice and the strong one.

Instead, the idea floated on a stream of dithering until the first writer's group. Since then, it's been easy to work for the group, to make their submission deadline, to take their criticism and praise. I've read the suggested books, listened to the lectures, and attended meetings. Writing "for real"--for publication--slid to the side like scenery through a train window; the idea of moving into a published state was a great daydream while I moved through another draft or another short story.

Two years ago, I lost my job and then my dogs, and then--because it wasn't yet a great country song deep in the heart of Texas--I left the first writer's group. Ever since, I've felt something scraping my insides thinner and thinner. You could almost see it pressing against the flesh, preparing the hide for a different purpose.

What will I do now that I'm not a writer?

Swallow the dizzy meringue descriptions until the lies burn them light and I float over the afternoon, the thin skin finally finding a purpose.