On Being Home

One of the benefits of being in any of my mother's houses is she always has a large stack -- more precisely, stacks and stacks and stacks -- of hardcover novels around, usually a) new; b) recently dissected by the NYRoB (my mother actually reads the NYRoB, unlike me, who before cancelling my subscription years back would just let it pile and pile until the pile was yellow and easy to clear out of my tiny West Village apt); or c) totally over my head, usually Russian or South American in origins. (This is a woman, who, in the last four days, while suffering the flu, has been watching Chabrol films on DVD, and describes "Before Sunrise" as "fourth rate Rohmer"). She does her shopping at Three Lives, which is about three feet from her apartment in NY, and she ships boxes of her finds out here to Meeker, which is why late last night I was curled up with The Master--final impression: gorgeous book, a perfect Jamesian ghost-story that is totally illuminating, and fittingly, haunting--and why today I finally got a gander at ...Max Tivoli. Wasn't as thrilled with that one as the Toibin; I felt that reading through the first two-thirds of Tivoli was harder work than a work that I wanted, but the ending was so lovely and heartbreaking I think overall it's a success. I cried, despite feeling slightly annoyed at how exhausting / ennervating I found the actual reading of the book to be, so clearly I cared more than I supposed. He snuck up on me, Mr. Tivoli did.

Which is pretty impressive, considering that when I was a child my best friend and I were convinced we were spawn of the planet Xabadiaxalo, where people grown down, and that we'd been in a scientific accident when we were what would pass for 11 here, and our aging process reversed, so that we were now cursed to grow up. Our fellow Xabadiaxalans sent us to Earth so we wouldn't feel like freaks. We wrote several novellas about our lost lives, and illustrated them too.

Anyway, snow came in last night and went all day and we have inchees and inches out here. Something about the snow made it tough to work most of the day, though I did get lots done on the 2N treatment late this afternoon. Tomorrow afternoon I spend some more time with Darlene.

Friday I think a bit more about characters for 2N, work up better histories for them that I can refer to later on in the process, when I get confused (which I know will happen, so better to get that packed away now). What is Daniel's actual family background? I sort of like the idea of Daniel's parents and sister being in a cult somewhere in the Northwest, whereas I think Nic has to be wealthily orphaned, sort of like my sister's old friend Thomas Shaw, who lives directly opposite my parents in the Village and who was left a Picasso that you can see hanging inside his living room, if you're gazing carefully from across the street in my parents' living room, which my sister and I, sometimes, are.

Then, Saturday, start the actual writing of 2N Ch. 1.

Then, when parents leave LA on the 14th, I need to turn my attentions to finishing Ch. 1 and having a finished finished finished Darlene to workshop, plus a new draft of a new story, if I'm not to get behind my New Year's resolutions just out of the gate.


* Produce a new chapter draft each month, plus a new story draft for collection each month
* Workshop a new story for collection each month
* Submit stories to lit mags in batches, quarterly (March 1, June 1, Sept 1, Dec 1)
* As soon as draft of 2N is complete, find readers -- (no endlessly tinkering with early drafts, as I did on Hart! Tinkering can be done AFTER first round of notes received ... must avoid losing steam in anyway I can this time ...)

To bed, perhaps with a copy of a novel called Hedwig and Berti that my mother handed me a few days ago -- comes highly recommended by Three Lives, but since I don't really know the "new" guy there, I'm not sure what that means, yet. Haven't been in there myself in ages, since I'm trying to watch the profligate spending habits and find that anytime I'm in a really good bookshop I walk out with too many hardcovers. (How else to explain my walking into Skylight just before Xmas to get a copy of Black Beauty for my cleaning lady's daughter, and ending up lugging home Dave King's The Ha-ha? Actually, there is an explanation: I knew him obliquely at Columbia, back in the day. Also, while we're on the subject, it was a pretty good book--he set himself a difficult task, narrating it through the eyes of a hero who can't talk nor read nor write but is otherwise completely able-minded, and I found that, despite this, he succeeded in finding a way for that hero to drive the narrative, not just have it happen around him. And he plumbed him deeply, too, and didn't beatify him in anyway either--he had warts on him, and he was totally realized, and though parts were a little cute--did his room-mate have to be an Asian-Texan soup-maker with an industry going on in the kitchen? did the kid in his charge have to be half-black? ((that said, it does make the movie-version seem inevitable, and I suppose that's what we want, right, we novelists who writing in a sea of other hopefuls are hoping somehow to hit it bigger than them? I can't blame him ... I mean, my agent said to me, when I first pitched her the plot of Hart, "who do you see starring in the movie?"))--it was overall a good novel about which, I kept saying as I read it, "Wow, he did a really lovely job," and if you don't believe me, ask Husband, who had to suffer through my saying it over and over again.)

1 comment:


Shoulda checked in with me - have an ARC of Ha-Ha.

Before Sunrise should be so lucky to be merely fourth-rate ... Go, Mom!