Saturday, January 13, 2007

Twelve weeks and counting...

The date of closure has been announced for the 15 county library branches. Friday April 6 is the last day the doors will be open to the public. All items out will be due on that day. The previous day, Thursday the 5th will be the last day items can be checked out. By Saturday morning even remote (internet) access to the card catalog or patron accounts will be denied.

How many books can you read in 12 weeks? How many movies can you watch?

Since this is going to be a major focus for me over the next twelve weeks, I figured I might as well establish it as the main theme of my posting here for the duration. I’m going to have a hard time keeping my mind on other topics long enough to write about them or do the necessary research.

So this is my tentative plan: I’m going to try to post each day with some comment however brief and off the cuff about whichever books or movies I spent time with that day. No more waiting until I can find the time to do a formal review. No more waiting until I’ve actually finished a book before I write something about my encounter with it.

Over the next several weeks I will be doing a kind of catch and release of a number of books I have no hope of actually finishing. I have to start letting them go and in the process keep some kind of record of what they mean to me, how they fit into my various research projects. And that is just the non-fiction books. Novels will be another thing. I can only read one novel at a time. It is unlikely I can read more than twelve more. I’m going to have to make some ruthless choices about which ones to commit to.

I began the process of releasing books I haven’t finished with and don’t plan to send for again in the next three months yesterday. Here are some brief comments regarding two of them:

Savage Reprisals: Bleak House, Madame Bovary, Buddenbrooks
by Peter Gay
(c) 2002
W. W. Norton & Co.

The thesis challenges the assumption of many casual readers and serious scholars that the novels of the Realism movement of the late nineteenth century provide documentary evidence of the actual realities in the societies they depicted. Examining three novels written at the height of the movement, Peter Gay, contends that they are highly filtered through the biases of the unique psyches of their authors and therefore they hold up to society a mirror with a distorted reflection. This, Gay maintains, in no way implies there is no truth in them, just that they can not be treated by historians as objective representations of the era they depict.

Releasing this book after just a thorough pre-read in which I establish the author’s thesis and highlights of his argument, is the beginning of letting go of all literary criticism. It takes too much concentration plus to read it right, I also need to send for and read or re-read the novels in question. In this case, I’ve read Bleak House and Madame Bovary years ago but have never read Buddenbrooks.

The only exception to this guideline re lit crit will be material about Shakespeare as that relates to my research for my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld which is a project I intend to sink myself into beginning with the research now and the writing in April. I hope to make the weeks following the library closure an intense fiction writing time. A JoNoWriMo (Joy’s Novel Writing Months). I think it is the only project that has any hope of alleviating the pain of loosing my library access.  My Contribution to WriteStuff''s Creative Carnival this week, Kicking the Bucket,  was a vignette featuring one of the charachters from that storyworld.  You can meet a few more of the characters in my Thursday Thurteen #13

How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001
by Joy Harjo
(c) 2002
W. W. Norton & Co

Joy Harjo's poems weave word and image into scintillating stories drawn from the raw wounds of life and told with integrity of heart and fierceness of spirit.  They resonate in your soul and haunt your dreams.

Releasing this book before I’d read more than a dozen of the poems begins my release of one of the intended BIG projects for this year--reading more poetry and reading about the variety of forms and their history.  Along with learning and practicing technique.

I’ve been in the habit for a number of years--I can’t quite pin down how far back, but I think over a decade--to select one to three topics for intense focus over the coming year. This year trying to acquire some formal training in poetics was one of them. You can’t speed read poetry and I don’t want to devote the time right now to practicing the techniques revealed in books like these two which I will be releasing in the next couple of weeks:

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms edited by Mark Strand and Evan Boland.

The Ode Less Traveled: Unlocking the Poet Within by Stephen Fry.


Meanwhile, this (long) weekend it is my intention to watch 20 DVDs and finish the light romance novel, At First Sight, by Nicholas Sparks--a sequel to his True Believer, which I read last October.  If you’ve either read the novels or seen the movies: The Notebook, A Walk to Remember or Message in a Bottle, you will have an idea of the kind of story this is. Sparks trademark seems to be inflicting a life-altering trauma on his protagonist which causes him or her to re-assess their life and rediscover hope and meaning in living. You know, the stories that rival colds and flu in keeping tissue manufacturers in business.

I’m a bit behind in my weekend movie marathon. I’d hoped to watch at least three last night. But I was too tired after the effort involved in getting to the library and back yesterday so I watched only one: The Petrified Forest, staring Bette Davis, Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart. I fell in love with Bogart in The Man Without a Face and Sabrina and started ordering everything Bogart on DVD at the library. I watched Casablanca last month. Lined up for this weekend are The Big Sleep and Key Largo. Possibly The Treasure of the Sierra Madre as well. But that one just came home with me yesterday and I need to put priority on the movies coming due in the next week.

0 tell me a story:

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