Friday, January 29, 2010

Hey Tim from St. Louis, This One's for You

This week, a lot of information was passed down from the Universe. Sometimes your job is to sift, stir well, and respond. Sometimes your job is just to listen. This post is sort of a combination of both. (Which, by the way, is what I have decided a blog is. Mostly.) So, here are all the things I am trying to make sense of this week:

--J.D. Salinger died. This is a tragedy.

--People at the market wondered whether Salinger wrote anything else. If, say, there were stacks of manuscripts tucked away in safe deposit boxes. People wondered if there was nothing.

--I saw in the bookstore that Knopf has published a collection of Nabokov's note cards, called The Original of Laura, which would have turned into a novel, maybe, at some point, had he lived long enough to finish it. He wanted the notes to be burned, but his wife, as the story goes, "could not bear to destroy her husband’s last work." Could not bear to see her future royalties disappear, if you ask me. Or maybe that is harsh. But art is personal. And me, at least now, I wouldn't want any half-done art in the world after I have died.

--An unfinished Ralph Ellison novel has also been published, Three Days Before the Shooting. Juneteenth, which was published earlier, was culled from this same material.

--My friend Jane wonders, in this post, if writers "become better and better at considering [their] audience not purely out of generosity or thoughtfulness, but as a strategy for getting what [they] want?"

--But there is my dear Meg, in videos of old Circus Amok shows, which are hosted on the Hempispheric Institute's website, streaming, for all to see, enjoy, study, relive. Even though she died some years ago--there she is, real again, her movements and gestures, her stature, her economy.

--Is seeing Meg on video anything like the Nabokov note cards? Or the Ellison novel? Or Jane wondering if writer's get better at getting what they want as they become better writers? Because what does it mean that these novels are published after the writer, ostensibly, isn't in control of what he wants?

Help. I'm not sure what to make of it.

No comments: