Tuesday, July 24, 2007

100th Post

Wow. That snuck up on me. I didn't realize I was anywhere near 100 posts. So here I logged in to toss out a brief update, and there it is. The century. I've presented a whole lot of nothing in 100 posts. Hooray for me.

Now that we're here and I have a job (in the near future, anyway) life has calmed and slowed. We got our damage deposit check from our last apartment yesterday, so that eases my mind a bit about not being employed now, so I can concentrate on reading, writing, creating my syllabi, and planning to teach in just under a month.

The writing's going better than it has in years. I'm working on a pre-draft draft of a novel that's been banging around in my head for three years. Right now I'm just assembling a summary version of the story, arranged into chapters. I've reached 17,000 words, and I imagine it will almost double in length before I'm ready to set it aside for a bit. I have a box full of notes and fragments to sort through before I can finish this stage. Then I can concentrate on the short stories, essays, and screenplays I have in various stages of completion--at least for a little while.

I've been reading, too. The novel I just finished is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

It's an interesting book--beautifully written and inventive in a fresh way*. I've been anxious to read Murakami because I wanted to get his contemporary take on Kafkaesque absurdity. For the most part I think he pulls it off, but there's something about the weirdness of this story that feels unearned. In Kafka there's the sense that the unpredictability of the stories, the lack of control the characters experience, is a commentary on the human condition. In this novel I felt like I'd been shot into space for a fun ride with no real destination.

Not that I have a problem with that. One of my guiding principles about literature is borrowed from Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel, where he decries intellectual misomusy as "tak[ing] revenge on art by forcing it to a purpose beyond the aesthetic." Murakami has built a beautiful artifact, and I can accept it for what it is.

Now I'm going to start reading Thom Jones: The Pugilist at Rest. I feel a little guilty for not having gotten to this book sooner. I've never heard a bad comment about it, and plenty of people have recommended it. Now I can correct my neglect. And it's something to read while I wait for Tom Maltman's book to come in the mail.

*Edit: "Inventive in a fresh way?" Is there some sort of stale inventiveness of which my subconscious is aware? Such as, "That Shakespeare sure did some original work, but five hundred years have really diminished its relevance?" Geh.


Kristin Dodge said...

Congrats on the job and move... if not for these silly, cynical blogs, no one from the MFA program would stay in contact with each other.

As for your other post about structure, I can completely relate. I love leisurely reading and web surfing, but then hate how I wasted prime writing time.

Jason said...

Heh. After you read 150 books last year, I can imagine the writing time lost measures in the hundreds of hours.

Of course, the degree to which time spent reading can be considered "wasteful" depends on a lot of factors.

I just call it "research" and it's magically not wasteful.