Monday, September 15, 2008

Summer Review

I stare at the blank text box and realize that what I've be running through my head reads like one of those annual Christmas letters.

I wish I could include the sky tonight, the sky as it appeared as I walked home from my evening canvasing. Not what I saw, but the sky itself so you could write your own descriptions. You have eyes... why do you need me to tell you what you see?

I didn't finish the novel. Does that make my summer a failure? It keeps reappearing in different guises. Each chapter, a different conceptualization... but of what?

How will I know till I finish this chapter? The next chapter. The one I'm working on at the moment. There's the problem. Each chapter, each section, grows out of its own idea of what it belongs to, of the nature of its service to the whole. In fact, that is the idea of the whole, or what it's become. By default? Or was this true from the beginning? The coiled nautaloid. The melting patterns on the frosted windowpane.

Volunteer canvasing. Thousands of doors. Oh, and rediscovered an Atlantic White Cedar bog in the Jersey Pine Barons (photos to come!)

Speaking of canvasing--I'm sure you've noticed that the best campaign ads (and the worst) are being produced independently: for a couple of the better ones...


What did I read?

Makine's Music of Life

Flaubert, Sentimental Education

Musil, Man Without Qualities

James, The Europeans

Gombrowicz, Ferdyurke... which won a place right up there mext to Zeno's Conscience. Pure pleasure.

Several books of poetry... Donald Finkel's What Manner of Beast... which ultimately disappointed
Lewis Warsh, The Origin of the World--which didn't! ( oh, and went to a reading Saturday: Warsh, Michael Hennesy, Brien Carpener... Warsh the Main Act)
Finkel's Detachable Man... (maybe I'd missed something?... eh... )
Paul Auster, Disppearances
Al Ferber, L'Strange Cafe (my son-the-chef will love this: must remember to give it to him... and

... I should mention that he (my son, not Al Ferber) will be leaving The Plough and the Star on 2nd where he's now head chef. Set to open a new restaurant on Passyunk only three blocks from me. The whole inner family now in South Philly! (see what I mean by the Xmas letter thing?... I can't get away from it. Like trying to finish my novel...

...summer readings: The Magic Mountain, de Quincy, Confessions of an Opium Eater, Beckett, Fin de Partie, George Open, New Collected Poems.

Fall reading: first item pulled from the stack: Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American cities.

First paycheck of the fall term. An interview with DFW: how much teaching demands of you... how it saps your energy, how time consuming if you want to do it well.

If I didn't teach... I only have two classes, don't know that I could do more--but those two classes... if I didn't have them, at the end of the summer and left to my own devices... and vices... they keep alive.

My students, each of of them... they are my saviors. They rappel down the cable from the hovering copter and pull me from the flooded wreckage where I've foolishly believed I could survive the storm alone... they pull me aboard, give me their need, their incomprehension, their defiance, and each year I find again, in them, what I thought I'd lost... life beyond myself... beyond my Self...and they save me.

The sky tonight... I thought of David Foster Wallace. I have no idea how it is I am alive and 67 years old and he did not live to see his 48th year.

That was the year I began to write, to make of my writing a life project. A last life project... a project for life.


You tell me...


  1. Enjoyed this very much. :)

  2. I'm with you on that sky, both yesterday and Sunday night. Just stunning.