You’ve got to climb Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls. It’s a brutal climb to reach that peak. You stand there. Waiting for the rush of exhilaration; but, it doesn’t come. You’re alone and the feeling of loneliness is overpowering. ~Jacqueline Susann
I desperately need to write and think about something other open education, but I’m just too spent from the week to be brainy. Wait. It’s only Tuesday. Whatever. You have these weeks too. Let me tell you a bit about how I read for over six hours on Saturday and how I only got off the couch to shop for books for an hour. Then I drank coffee and read some more. If you haven’t done that for yourself in awhile, stahp reading my shite and get thee to the bookstore!
Allow me to review or write or ponder a bit about The Page. It’s been so rainy rain raining raining in the PNW that it’s hard to train for the fitness. Tough to get outside and chase the fitness. The Fitness. Oh my god I was lazy this weekend. One week after my first bike race, I know I should be working out and getting after The Fitness. But fuck it, I thought. It’s my birthday and I need to celebrate this cycle of the sun.
I went to my favorite bookstore in Bellingham, WA, Village Books, and purchased three books.
Joan Didion has a new book which thrills me to no end. She’s one of my favorite writers, and I love the way she crafts one sentence to create a stunner moment. Just a jaw dropper. Just a pause on the page. Just the way I’d love to write. I’m trying to read this latest book of hers ten pages at a time to really think about what she does as a writer. To think. As a writer.
In Essays & Conversations, she describes herself as a writer: “Grammar is a piano I play by ear.”
I never have learned to play piano. I struggle with the conventions of grammar. I never learned to read music. But I love to listen. I love to write. Didion has taught me to see the absurd and the ordinary as peers in my observations. Unlike her, I struggle to figure out how to turn my best sentences into stories. My best observations into narrative.
Didion’s new book, South and West, could be my memoir title. Only it’s not. Only twenty pages in I get the sense she is confused by The South. By her past in California. But then again, I might have it all wrong as a reader. As a memoirist. As a person.
And who really gives flying fuck about me as a reader? (Now that’s a Memoir title, right?)
This weekend I purchased books with intent, and I’m so excited to read them all. Lately I don’t plan for travel reading so I rely on what’s in the airport bookstores, and it’s leading me to read a lot of books that I don’t think I’d normally pick up. But first. First. First! I just finished the modern Valley of the Dolls.
Let me be clear.
I picked up the book because I’m charmed by The HBO Series by the same name. The character played by Laura Dern is so perfect. The giant red wine glasses. The beautiful glass houses. The ridiculousness of modern lives. The ridiculousness of being a woman. The ridiculousness of being a man. The ridiculousness of Being. The Ridiculousness.
Big Little Lies, the book, made me laugh out loud several times in airports. On airplanes. Embarrassingly so. I sometimes laugh loudly. Life is fucking funny. Especially when you travel for work as much as I do. And although Moriarity has created a mass market “chick-lit” book, it’s surprisingly dark. Surprisingly somewhat brilliant. About domestic violence.
My literature teachers and film classes taught me to separate The Mediums. The film is not the book that is not the screenplay that became the television series. I know better.
Yet. I wanted to read the book to see how it may have influenced the screenplay. Would you not read the book if you were going to create a movie? A show? A play. The TV series.
Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. I purchased Three Wishes this weekend, another of Moriarity’s books because I want to see if she has a writerly recipe.
To see if she just perfected The Recipe with Big Little Lies. Fifty pages in I think I’m right.
She seems to take a scene to build a gigantic mystery around The Moment.
A who-done-it-involving-really-awful-people-we-all-know. For an airport mass market novel, it’s pretty good and well worth the pulpy price. Better than those leadership books. And really, who the fuck buys all those leadership books at the airport? I’ve tried reading them and they are so awful I can barely stay awake to write this blog post just thinking about them.
Here’s my theory: Those books play into the fears of people who are flying to interview for jobs. I was one. I see the anxiety in their postures. I see them often. People who are truly leading don’t have time for that reading because they are still working or they are sleeping on planes. I see them.
They see me.
And I dream. Of birds. Of water. Of places that aren’t planes. Of places where I write. Of trees. Of making up places that don’t exist. Of lines that become a story.
Where was I? Right. My third book. I purchased Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick.
I spent most of last Sunday reading the entire book. I laid down on the couch and my posture, my eyes, and my soul radiated leave me alone.
I took this course when I was an idealistic English graduate student titled The Word & The Image. We read a lot of theory. We thought big thoughts. We talked about the words. The images. The story without words. The words without pictures. The pictures as the story.
It changed the way I thought about film. Paintings. Art. Story. Over time, I forgot those thoughts. That class. Life rolled on. Frame by frame. Life. Rolled on.
When The Invention of Hugo Cabret was published in 2007, I dug up those notes from that class. I meditated on what I learned from that class and I decided it’s the best marriage of text and image for me. The framing of the image and the detail of the word is Selznick’s strength. I love his work.
Wonderstruck was on the Used shelf and I’m so glad I spent a few hours with that book. I had never thought about how sound in the cinema changed the experience for people who could not hear. I don’t want to spoil the story. For you. Just read it. Silently. To yourself. Or somebody else. [End Scene]
Reading is the best form of self-care. Or maybe you just read. Just read. Just write.