Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It's as good a theme as any at this holiday season. Everything seems to have come up short -- shopping, decorating, cooking...and books. I was reading Cloud Atlas, which I never did grow to love. I read half way and decided life was too short, and in my humble opinion (no, I'm not using the texty shorthand), it did not deserve the Booker Prize. Overly clever, if not pretentious, no heart, which isn't the same as having no talent. I skipped-read through the latter half and decided I did myself a favor. The profound thesis at the end -- something about the human race being rotten at bottom, or maybe it was inherently good, whichever way he ended up, was -- you guessed it -- lame. It seemed so unimportant, I've forgotten. I'm being harsh. Much better-read people than me thought it was marvelous, I guess. As noted, Chabon said he loved it (or cleverly disguised that he did not) on the book jacket blurb.

So, I haven't started anything else. I have Reservation Road, which someone described as "the bleakest" American novel ever written. Probably not, but I'll save it for the beach anyway. Meanwhile, I read some of Davis McComb's second book of poems, Dismal Rock, and still love him. Ultima Thule was beautiful and I still go back and read those poems. For such a wonderful poet, he seemed strangely well-adjusted and nice when I met him at a book signing. He signed my favorite poem in Ultima, "The River Under the River."

...Tonight the river is at work dissolving, solving
over and over the riddle of its loosening.
I want to know how to hear it, and what it might teach me:
how to inhabit this thing of bone, gut, and blood,
this part of me that would not vanish if I vanished.

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