I’ve been living in San Francisco for almost two weeks now and I like the climate changes that occur when you go downtown. It’s always foggy and cold in the outlying districts and sunny and warm in the financial district, which can sometimes be surprising when you look out your window and it’s misting but when you get downtown you see people wearing shorts.
M and I have been spending a lot of time doing pretty much nothing but eating. I feel a little bit like a kid around her. She listens to disco music in the car and I don’t mind.
I picked up Nam Le’s “The Boat” a couple of days ago. Despite the glowing reviews it received when it was published two years ago, I’m left slightly disappointed after the first three stories. There’s no doubt that Le has talent – his lyricism is impressive. I have problems with the subject matter, especially the teenage assassin in Medellin. That story feels like a way to showcase Le’s ventriloquism, a cheap trick.
Besides his awkward attempts at proving that he’s a capable writer, Le seems to have no idea of how to finish a story. No matter how moving some of these stories are, the endings are too open. What happened to having a strong conclusion? Maybe the rest of the stories will redeem this collection.
Has anyone been watching the World Cup?
Not enough writing, not enough communication with you, some of whom are faithful readers. I’m sorry, but mostly this is an apology to myself for not pursuing this creative outlet as much as I should have.
I’m moving to San Francisco next week, almost exactly a year to the day after I left the Bay Area. If you know me then you know how important it has been for me to get back to the city. Everything and everyone I care about is there. I believe that SF will be the key to my personal and professional success, especially now that I’ve graduated and have a chance to discover what it is I can really do on my own.
I won’t write too much about the film I just finished working on. The industry is such that outsiders aren’t welcome, and discussing set happenings on a blog just seems to invade the privacy of everyone I’ve worked with. I will say that I spent a great two months in Detroit.
I need to get back into reading good books. Like I said when I was in Michigan, I’ve felt really disconnected from the literary scene for several months. I think that now is the time to start gearing up for a summer’s worth of reading and writing.
Today, UCLA alumnae and immigration activists Tam Tran and Cinthya Perez died in a car accident in Maine. Though I knew neither personally other than having had a conversation with Cinthya in regards to why I had added her as a friend on Facebook, I feel that this post is necessary in a way that few others on this blog are.
Tam and Cinthya were enormously important to the Dream Act movement. They proved that undocumented immigrants can be successful and did what many of us should have been doing long ago – giving voice to those who could not speak for themselves. More importantly, they were a prime example of what can be accomplished with hard work and dedication, and served as a counter-argument to nativist cries that immigrants are detrimental to US interests.
Tam was a PhD student in American Civilization at Brown University and Cinthya was the first undocumented student to attend Columbia’s School of Public Health. Tam testified before Congress and her family was detained because she spoke up for her rights. I can’t imagine any individuals more important to US interests.
I’m echoing another blog post when I say let’s not forget Tam and Cinthya. Let’s remember that they were great women, not numbers in a system that refused to recognize them as such.
It’s a great, sad irony that this news comes to us only a couple of days before students all across the country receive their diplomas.
So long Tam. So long Cinthya. I celebrate your lives.
We’re halfway done and our most difficult week starts today. In less than four weeks I should be back on the west coast unless some work comes my way here. I finally purchased a new phone, and yes, it is an iPhone. It’s pretty good. At least I hope to take some quality pictures this week without having to lug my regular camera around.
I just rediscovered Pandora. Forgot how much I missed it. Last weekend I got shot in the face with an airsoft gun. It was not a pleasant experience, and became less pleasant when I realized I had blood running down my cheek. I’ve yet to enact my revenge.
I haven’t left Monroe since I got here, but it isn’t so bad because I do nothing besides sleeping and working. I hope I can see more of Detroit before I leave. I’d love to write a piece about it. There’s so much going on here culturally.
See you next week.
Still haunted by your absence, I enter the city prepared. On campus I forget you. I do not look for you or go to your apartment. I do not even remember you: the unbound knot of your spine, our awkward first trip to the city, photographs of your mouth on my body.
I do not walk the five blocks to see you. I forget about the distance.
In the city, we do not speak of you, your present absence. We forget. We drink wine and compliment each other. I do not dream of you. You do not approach me.
I see no one. All are names and blank faces striding past into the darkness.
I am one of a group which boards the train at the station and miraculously moves as one through the tunnels. We surprise each other upon arrival, for we are unintended.
I board the plane with Proust. Outside, the runway lights imitate a flower or the curvature of your profile, two intersecting lines of brightness reflected into my eyes.
I remember you. I let you go. I let myself go into the darkness of the world, the unending horizon.
I didn’t realize it had been nearly a week since I last posted. It’s not that I don’t have time to write, it’s that I’m spending too much time doing other things, so the blog was put on the backburner for a short time. I’m going to San Francisco tomorrow, then leaving for Detroit on Thursday. I will try to write more, but I will be in Detroit for six or seven weeks, so it’s hard to judge how much free time I will have. I guess it depends on whether or not I’ll be working six day weeks and if I will have access to a computer.
Finished 2666 about four days ago. Amazing novel. I’m still processing it. In the meantime, a couple of book recommendations: Wells Tower’s “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” is a pretty good collection of short stories. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, but it does keep on making me laugh, so I recommend that you pick it up. Alice Munro’s “Too Much Happiness,” her new short story collection, is exquisite. Or at least the first story, “Dimensions,” is horrifying and heartbreaking and amazing. That’s all I’ve had time to read out of that collection, but if it’s any indication of the quality of the rest of the collection, it will be amazing. Pick up both of those for a marvelous contrast between voices and styles. Literally.
1. A focused review of the vertiginous 2666.
2. I’m going to Detroit next week. You might expect interesting descriptions of the city I will be in for six to seven weeks.
3. Maybe some excerpts.
Below is a comment I just read:
“I’m actually a fan of the question ‘What are we doing today.’ Whenever one of my students asks me that I just lie to them. Sometimes it’s as simple as me responding, ‘Partying hard.’
Other times I’ll make up some elaborate bullshit lie. One was that in chapter 26 of Huck Finn Jim finds his wife because they meet on facebook, so today we will be discussing the use of online networking systems in late 19th century literature. The kid was like “Really?” and I was like ‘No.'”
I remember how I used to count the days since I’d spoken to J. I think I finished at two hundred before I realized I didn’t need to count anymore. I started doing that with S, but it doesn’t seem to matter at all. For the record, it’s been nine, but there’s no feeling of loss, just freedom.
I started Bolaño’s 2666. Everything that he did well in The Savage Detectives he does better in 2666. I’m amazed at how his writing improved, became subtler and at once more sure of itself, so that there’s less glibness and more certainty. I’m on part three of five, and am continuously impressed by the implicit connections he makes throughout. It’s also interesting to note that now that I know how to read him, reading him has become more enjoyable. It’s as if The Savage Detectives was a test run for the masterpiece of 2666.
I hope you enjoy your new year’s parties. I’m off to Berkeley this morning. I won’t be posting any updates until I return on the 9th.
I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m looking forward to on my short trip this morning. Here are a few:
I bought Jonathan Franzen’s novel “The Corrections,” along with David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas,” and I hope to read either one or both of these novels on the trip. There’s going to be lots of dead travel time on buses and trains and an hour on the plane. I decided that I should finally buy some books, and so I did, starting with “Never Let Me Go.” I’ll be doing a lot of reading this week.
I get to see my friends and engage in lots of random activities.
I’m going back to Berkeley to not only see friends, but to hopefully see a professor of mine who greatly supported and inspired me in my writing during my time at Cal. I owe him lunch and I think I owe it to him to tell him what has happened to my writing during the last six months. That should be an interesting story.
I get to leave Los Angeles for more than three days, which is an enormous pleasure for me. I hope to leave here permanently by the end of 2010.
I get to meet a new person. Thanks N, I look forward to meeting another writer.
I’m also going back to a cafe I used to frequent, where I spent time reading and writing. It’s one of my favorite places.
I suppose that’s a good list for now. When I get back, more interesting stories will be told. I should mention that I’m slightly nervous about flying and the associated dread it brings with regard to identification and security. Hopefully nothing will happen. I do have the advantage of being a white male whom no one considers dangerous or suspicious.