You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. --FRANZ KAFKA
Monday, January 01, 2007
2007, HERE WE COME!
I recently wrote a scene that took place on Four Mile Beach in Wellfleet. In my novel, it was a November day, grey and desolate, but my character found a kind of solace there anyway.
I thought of her when the family walked that beach the day after Christmas. I thought of the way I had described the layers of grey that sky and water and sand make on a day like that.
It was a great walk, but no one enjoyed it more than Gabe and Nicola's dog, Bubba. He raced up and down the beach. He chased sticks into the frigid waters, and dove beneath the waves. He unearthed a weathered cinder block, and apparently mistaking it for the bone of some giant beast, tried to take it home.
But when I downloaded the photo, I saw more than a happy day that ended with a great oyster roll and a bowl of scallop stew at the Land Ho in Orleans. I saw a new year. An unwritten page. An untrammeled beach. And Wellfleet's notoriously fierce and exhilarating, absolutely unpredictable waves.
May we all be as adventurous, and playful and alive as Bubba in 2007!
One new thing I started today was "The Daily Writing Quote" on my page at Publisher's Marketplace. I hope the writers among you--which is, of course, all of you in one way or another--will check it out.
One thing I read today was this piece by Paul Theroux about living in an overcrowded world. Actually, I read it yesterday. Then I read it aloud to Ted later. And I thought about it some more today--especially the final paragraph. If you were here, I'd undoubtedly corner you and read it aloud one more time, then ask you what you thought of it. Somehow it reminded me of the journey I took through the Northeast the other day and all the sights you shared with me.
One thing I thought about today was The Third Day Book Club. We're due to blog Suite Francaise in just two days, and I still have 200 pages left to read. It's not the book that's caused me to delay, because actually I'm enjoying it very much. It's--well, you know what it is. It's December! The whole merry, stressful, celebrating month.
At this point, I'm planning to read as much as I can in the next two days, and blog on my initial reflections, then add my reflections as I finish it. How about everyone else? Has anyone had time to read this month?
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I still have around a hundred pages to go. I'm going to be busy reading tomorrow. Happy new year to you too and it has been fun "meeting" you on-line as well.
I really like your photo for this post. It has a very hopeful feel to it.
Interesting article by Paul Theroux. As a city girl who grew up in Europe in the 60s and 70s, I remember feeling frightened at the unpopulated endlessness of the Canadian roads when I first travelled across them in the early 1980s. I remember a five hour journey across the Rockies where we literally did not meet a single car or soul, only an elk. I just found it eerie and missed the proximity of something "human", even just knowing that someone wasn't too far away in case of a breakdown. By the way, shops in Germany are still closed on Sundays, for now, so they have retained some of that old-fashioned Sunday feeling.
My grandparents used to get so upset over the loss of values and good manners amongst my generation, yet we were pretty well behaved compared to what I witness these days. Or is that just my perception changing because I am getting older, and fussier?
Comparing the America that I visited 20 years ago to the one I live in now, the most distinctive difference to me is the decrease in trust and openness, and the increase in self-absorption and, most of all, fear.
I always gorge on books during the holidays. I've enjoyed two by Sue Miller: The Distinguished Guest and The World Below. Not many writers create more vivid characters or portray relationships with such realistic detail than she does. I also enjoy her "northern-ness".
I'm also reading the fully footnoted Everyman's edition of Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop and a collection of essays by Vonnegut, A Man without a Country. It's amazing to me that Dickens' stuff still holds up, and I can see why he was a celebrity back then. I can imagine fans waiting on the docks for the next installment of the book and being shocked and saddened when they learned of little Nell's death. And Vonnegut, sheesh, he's a legend. I never knew he owned and managed a Saab dealership years ago.
I've not finished Suite Francaise either, and won't by tomorrow.
Happy New Year, Patry!!
I read the essay and it leaves me uneasy (tho I can't say I don't agree with idea behind it of yearning for something simpler). I don't know that I can put a finger on anything but the elitism of driving a car down a mostly empty highway (because I am political I think of the $$$ that went into the highway, those who didn't have cars, those who if they had cars didn't have a place to sleep because of their color, etc). I think of tenements in New York City. I think of the very small space my father's family lived in when they first came over (I was priveleged to see it) - basically a long large room for 2 parents and 6 kids. I think of women's rights/lack of rights in the 1950s - and wonder how many were wandering around on the highway at night enjoying the stars.
Definitely thought provoking!
I read "The Last of the Honkytonk angels" and then tracked down the prequel on Amazon and am reading that now, along with several art books I acquired over the month.
What a delightful photo!
Yes, I have had time to read - a book about Australia (but much more too) called "Luca Antara' by Martin Edmond. And I must say I am enjoying having the time to read. We bought a swing-seat today - it was a Xmas present from my husband's family and even tho the weather wasn't really conducive - I sat out on it and READ. I LOVE reading on a swing-seat - but my toes were cold ;(
I am still reading too--didn't actually declare myself a Suite Francaise third-day participant, because I knew by page twenty or so that it wasn't going to be a month-long read for me. It isn't the only thing in rotation--but it is stunning...slow-going...I don't want to blog about an unfinished book (as I did the first time too!) but, it is something else... I LOVE the photo and the metaphor it brought on for you...now, I'm off to follow the link trail you've left behind. Hope your New Year's was beautiful.
Love those blank slates, be they beach or sky or page!
I think we may all be in the same boat with Suite Francaise. I'm probably close to halfway, but not only is it a book that must be taken in "sips" for me, it has been causing me to think so much I often stop reading to write (a good thing), but I'll have something to say on Wednesday nonetheless.
sarala: I'm glad that at least one other person will be blogging Suite Francaise tomorrow (and I suspect there will be more.) I probably won't have a lot to say since I haven't finished, but I didn't want to postpone.
kerstin: I like the idea of the stores being closed on Sunday, the tacit acknowledgment that people need a quiet space in the week, and that life is about more than commerce.
The rudeness and lack of civility seems to be something that afflicts not only the young, but people of all ages. For me, the most incisive point the article made was that life on an increasingly crowded planet will only be tolerable if we treat each other with respect and courtesy.
james: Sue Miller is one of my favorite authors. Have you read Lost in the Forest yet?
jean: I hope you'll share your thoughts and let me know whenever you finish. It really is a marvelous novel. Thanks again for recommending it.
tammy: Good points, all of them. It's easy to complain about an overcrowded country or planet, but who do you think should jump off? On the other hand, I think the piece spoke eloquently about the human need for remote places and quiet days, and also of our need to treat each other and our troubled planet with civility.
As far as the teeming highways go, if gas prices continue to rise, they may well become quite empty again.
chiefbiscuit: I can't think of anything more lovely than a day spent sitting on a swingseat reading!
delia: I agree. Suite Francaise is so dense and rich, it deserves a thoughtful reading. That may have been part of the reason that I, too, bogged down.
jordan: (x-posted) "Sips" is the right word and very delectable ones. Can't wait to hear what you have to say...
Hi. I just finished "The Liar's Diary" (a galley proof). WOW! I'm not the fastest reader in the world, but I finished it within 24 hours (that's with a holiday, unpacking a new house, and a 3 year old)! WOW!
karen: You just made my day! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
P.S. to Karen: If there's anything I could do to persuade you to leave the same review comment on Amazon or B &N, just let me know...
I have been rereading fragments of books I like. This morning I reread the last 3 pages of " Return to the Same City" by Paco Ignacio Taibo II.
fred: Haven't heard of that book, but I love the title. Sounds like what I've been doing all my life...
awhh, how cute; can't wait to meet Bubba and Nicola too of course.
Happy New Year dear friend.
Re the Paul Theroux piece. America overcrowded? You ain't seen nothing until you have visited south east England - it can be hell.
At the risk of spoiling it for them, I would suggest New Zealand for room and spaces between - particularly the South island.
Patry, thank you for your always beautiful and thoughtful writing and for your friendship this past year! Wishing you abundant creativity and joys this New Year!
Adventurous, playful and alive, yes! All of that I wish for you, and all of us, in 2007. Patry, I'm sure it will be a wonderful year.
I'm only a bit more than halfway through - besides guests, illness and London with my daughter, Dec. was a little hectic - but will blog about initial impressions or possibly will finish it by tomorrow. I am a big Paul Theroux fan and will read his piece with interest.
this photo of bubba - as though he is running into the future. fantastic.
thanks for the link to the theroux article. it was nice to take a break from work and read your words and then read his words and pause for a moment. think about it all. thank you for always extending the invitation to think outside of myself.
I liked Theroux's piece and am glad that you linked to it. It veers off, I think, into the politics of the present day with less insight than his visceral longings for a time on earth when there were fewer people. I long for that emptier earth too, but not for the politics of that time. Today there are too many people and too much bad politics everywhere. How long before we export our attitudes along with our tee-shirts and sneakers?
r: And don't forget the BABY!
avus: You know, in recent years I've heard more about New Zealand than ever...
marja-leena: Thank you for such a beautiful comment! I will be dropping over to your place to leave my regards later.
augustine: And whenever my optimism flags, I head to the blaug and it is immediately restored.
tara: Look forward to hearing what you say tomorrow. It sounds as if you are ahead of me...
liz: Yes, running into the future-- what we are all doing, whether we like it or not--Happy 2007 to you!
robin: I feel the same way--sharing some of his nostalgia, but also knowing that we must embrace the world and all its inhabitants as it exists now. And somehow we must find a way to treat each other with goodwill and tolerance.
Ah, now I am going to have to put up a photo from a November walk on Crane beach a few years ago. Such a happy dog moment you have there.
zhoen: Yes! I want to see Crane's Beach!
Oh, Bubba is adorable! There's nothing so joyful as a dog having a great play. May we all experience a little of that unmitigated joy this year! Happy New Year, Patsy.
And interesting story. I'd missed it. It may be why I continue to live out in the exurbs, which are becoming more populous but I can still go for long walks without hardly encountering a soul, and if I do there's always a polite greeting and perhaps a mention of the weather. I commute now into a more crowded area and it's fun but it would be hard for me to live there, I think. It's still possible to find emptier spaces, isn't it? The Cape in winter, for instance - well, maybe during weekdays! But it's impossible to drive anywhere where there aren't many other cars day and night.
I love that photo! And I love the expression on the dog's face -- believing that anything is possible and it will all be good!
What an inspiration!
PS I love Wellfleet. Sandwich is one of the towns I'm looking at for my relocation, along with Plymouth.
The whole south shore/Cape area has lots of happy memories for me.
Haven't read much this month, but thanks to Christmas gifts I have a fresh stack to start on. Yay!
leslee: The Cape in winter isn't really all that quiet anymore. In fact, most days the roads seem so crowded with us year-rounders, I wonder how we expand to hold all the summer visitors. The exurbs are sounding more and more appealing to me...
devon: "believing that anything is possible and it will be good" Yes, that's it exactly! Thanks for your visit and comment.
jenny: A new stack of books to explore! What could be better?
The photo of your dog running so joyfully on the beach makes me smile every time I see it.
I once met with a "pet psychic," and she said that the pets in our lives choose us as much as we choose them. Isn't that interesting?
Aack! The Third Day is tomorrow?!? Hmm, I've got 24 hours - and a whole book to buy, then read! I'll see what I can do...
Wishing you and your family a happy, peaceful, and healthy New Year, Patry!
Interesting essay by Theroux. It brought to mind how I feel when I visit (what used to be) my (tiny) hometown. I grew up just blocks from the Pacific, and in those days, there were very few homes on the beach side of the drive that snakes along the coast of California's northernmost town. But that was before retirees from So. Calif. bought up the beach side, since it was the last 'affordable' land along our state's coastline. Now there are not only houses lining the beach side of the road--they're right on top of each other on small parcels. They tore down the hospital my brother and I were born in (overlooking the lighthouse)...and built a motel. These days, like Bubba, all I look for is an untrammeled beach... Happy New Year, Patry! I've so enjoyed your blog and friendship this last year. xoxo
A happy and peaceful new year to you pf. Your dog has the right idea.....run at the waves that life sends you!
Really like the Theroux bit. Your stuff I always like.
Cape Cod, I still hope to winter over one year.
I don't know if using comments is the right way to do this, but I have my review up of Suite Francaise. Am I the first one?
(I want to read the Theroux article. I like his travel books and essays, particularly "Riding the Iron Rooster," but some of his fiction was somewhat offputting to me. He lives on Cape Cod, doesn't he? Have you run into him, Patry? I know, I know, lots of famous people live on Cape Cod.
I read the Theroux-article and reflected a bit. I wouldn´t say that Sweden is overcrowded. Our population is 9 million and the density is 29/km2, compared to 32 in the US, but that is overall numbers. The density is offcourse much higher in cities and suburbs, and 90% of the swedes lives in such environments. One tragic observation that use to symbolize the urbanized swede is the way we take place on busses. Swedes place themselves alone as long as they can. A swede prefere to have an empty bus-seat beside him than a person. This can make a bizzare metaphore of the modern humans, going by the same bus in the morgning for years, together, physically near each other, but all alone, never charing a word. This weekend a was, just as you, taking a promenade on a whide winter beach in southern Sweden. 300 meters north of me another man walked down to the shore to take a walk, he saw me and walked back up the hill. Probably becouse i stod too near him. It´s a mystery how swedish babies comes to be.
So now you have two blogs? Let us know how that goes. I imagine it to take up more time, but also it will serve for some good cross pollinaion and give some of your wonderful writing here more applications.
I was very moved by the piece you linked to. I yearn for simplier times, which is why I think I live in the country. I would never have left Mass. if not for my first marriage. I don't go back because it's too crowded and too expensive. But the, they have an ocean!
I am terribly late, but not so late that we're out of January, or even the first week! I'd like to be running along that beach too!
Wishing you the very best for the upcoming year ~ one of such excitement with your book and that will herald a new phase of your life...
hugs, Brenda xo
^^ nice blog!! ^@^
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