Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 134

1. AOTW--Well, I think I had more candidates this week than in any previous week. I was simply overwhelmed with AOTWness. But I think I'll go with the dark-clothed dude who was on the road, on a bicycle (sans lights), after sunset. I didn't see him until I was alongside him. (I wonder if he's alive now? If not, this could be the first posthumous AOTW I've awarded!)

2. Last night (Saturday) we went to see Logan, about which we'd read some good things--in the papers, on Facebook. Also--and this is our principal excuse--one of our grandsons is named Logan. so ... what choice did we have? (Link to trailer for the film.) We'd read that it would be sanguinary (it was), and we'd read that it was "human" and all that. (It tried to be--but failed, in my view.) There was also an ultimately sad scene with an All-American farm family, African American, that seemed totally unnecessary to me. (In fact, I could easily have trimmed 45 min-an hour from this endless bloodbath.)

I was very impressed with the little girl, who was in virtually every scene. She--mostly silent--showed a variety of emotions and attitudes--rage, insouciance, tenderness, grief, etc. This has really been The Year of the Kid in films (this one, Moonlight, Lion, etc.) ... back when I was directing middle-school plays ... well, it would have been great to work with youngsters like these film stars--though, believe, me, I was always fortunate to have Talent Galore up on that Harmon School/Aurora High School stage!

It's always fun to watch Patrick Stewart, as well ... and the make-up people did a great job on Wolverine--the aging Wolverine.

Still ... a cliched plot, predictable, etc. Maybe it's time to give the series a breather?

3. I finished two very good books this week.

     - Sam Shepard's new book, The One Inside (with a foreword by Patti Smith!), is a stylistic delight--as Smith says, "Reality is overrated" (xii). It's a work of interlocking fictional snippets and snapshots (many only a page in length), and many deal with loss and family. There is an image throughout of the narrator's "tiny man" of a father--literally so: the size of a pinky finger, maybe smaller. He's wrapped like a mummy, comes unwrapped at times, and, I guess, represents Memory itself: Our deceased parents occupy our memories, yes, but they do not occupy much space ... but it is significant space. Unforgettable space.

The relationships between men and women are prominent here, as well--as they have been in Shepard's life and work. Things don't always work out (surprised?). And one character who appears continually we know only as "the Blackmail Girl"--who's there to ask about his ex-wife, about her relationship with the narrator, about the possibility of a future. And--no surprise in a Shepard work--the West, the sky, the horses, the dogs. Living alone on the Lone Prairie.

There's so much going on here--it's almost ludicrous to try to compress it all into a few paragraphs. So I won't. But I will recommend the book if you like Shepard's work, if you like reading fiction that abandons traditional narrative, that forces you to see the relevance between and among sections. I had fun doing so.

     - Some time ago I decided to read the Faulkner novels I'd somehow never read. In a recent "Sundries" I wrote about his first novel, Soldiers' Pay (1926); this time it's Mosquitoes (1927), a surprising novel that, for the most part, takes place aboard a yacht (the Nausikaa--hmmm, could there be Odyssey relevance?) that's taking a cruise of several days around Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans. Or, at least, that was the plan. Stuff happens.

Aboard is an assortment of folks: the wealthy woman (widow) who owns the craft, some of her wealthy friends, some "artist" types (which she likes), one of whom is mostly identified as "the semitic man"), her niece and brother, and a couple of last-minute invitees, a young man, a young woman (courtesy of the niece--the aunt does not approve: they are ... common).

Faulkner organizes the book by days: First Day, Second Day, etc.--and even by hours: Nine O'Clock, Ten O'Clock, etc. And he shifts our attention from one group to the other as the novel progresses.

He has some things to say about art, about social class, about religion, about sex (this is one sexy book for 1927! People are naked (in the water and ou)t; people make moves on one another; and one sad guy--Mr. Talliaferro--is obsessed with women--and why they won't respond to him. He's always got a new (ineffective) strategy to employ.

Everyone is kind of dumb on board, I fear--even the artists, who talk about art (including writing) most of the time--though they do say some interesting things from time to time. I do love this paragraph about words uttered by Fairchild (a writer) on the third day:

You begin to substitute words for things and deeds, like the withered cuckold husband that took the Decameron to bed with him every night, and pretty soon the thing or deed becomes just a kind of shadow of a certain sound you make by shaping your mouth a certain way. But you have a confusion, too. I don't claim that words have life in themselves. But words brought into a happy conjunction produce something that lives, just as soil and climate and an acorn in proper conjunction will produce a tree. Words are like acorns, you know. Every one of 'em won't make a tree, but if you just have enough of 'em, you're bound to get a tree sooner or later (428--Lib of Amer ed.).

I also enjoyed some sly references to Frankenstein, to the drowning of Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1822. But it seems to be a novel about people trying to figure things out--love, literature and art, friendship, sex, social class, happiness.

Glad I read it--and it's not much like the other Faulkner I've read, so it was surprising, as well--something I always like in a novel! (Well ... usually.)

Oh, and also present? Mosquitoes. Lots of them. Buzzing in and out now and then. Biting. Annoying. And serving, perhaps, as a metaphor for these people, as well. Our buzzing, biting lives ...

4. I'm about to finish yet another journey through the 100+ episodes of The Rockford Files. How many times? Too many? Nah, not enough. I'll probably crank 'em up again in a month or so. Netflix no longer streams them (Hulu has some seasons), but no problem: I've got a complete DVD set!

I watch them when I've finished reading in the evening and am about about ready to crash. I rarely watch an episode in its entirety--usually 15 min of so before watching something both Joyce and I will enjoy.

5. And we're still very much enjoying Suspects, via Acorn TV.

6. A favorite word this week from my various word-of-the-day online suppliers:

     - from dictionary.com

My first quick look at the word, and I thought: Cool, a word about Lucifer! But, then, of course, Reason kicked in--lux--light. And words like lucent. I still would like to call some evil dude luciferous, though. If you check the dictionary sources, you will discover (as I just did), that "Lucifer" does have a connection to light ... check it out!

luciferous adjective [loo-SIF-er-uh s]
1. bringing or providing light.
2. providing insight or enlightenment.
An illumination on so vast a scale could be kept up only by the inexhaustible magazine of ether disseminated through space, and ever ready to manifest its luciferous properties on large spheres, whose attraction renders it sufficiently dense for the play of chemical affinity.

-- D. Vaughan, "On the Light of Suns, Meteors, and Temporary Stars," Report on the Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1858

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