Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A few thoughts on December 31.

My dear readers, welcome to my last post of 2008 and the 100th post of this blog. I have a faux-deep entry about family brewing on the back burner, but that's not how I want to end the year. My subconscious relies on heavy-handed symbolism, and so, to quote myself quoting Dar Williams two years ago, let's get into loving the false promise of the New Year.

I have to say, 2008 was a banner year for all of us ( which I mean me) here at A Room Full of Books. It was full of dramatic revelations, grinding periods of limbo, and exorbitant blessings. It heaped possibilities and opportunities on me, and is daring me not to fuck it up in 2009.

A very happy new year to all who read this little navel-gazing endeavor. I hope it's a good one.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Completely inconsequential but maybe amusing

Yesterday I was in Goodwill and I found a VHS of the Disney animated version of Robin Hood, which I had been thinking about all day. I'm not even joking. I really love this movie, for many reasons, some of which I won't get into for fear of judgment. ANYWAY. I was watching it and the cadence of Sir Hiss started sounding really familiar to me. If I were more technically savvy, I would put these images side by side and have accompanying audio, but...I guess you'll just have to trust me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

If I wasn't officially a nerd before....

...I am now. I was doing legitimate collection development work and happened to come across two books I thought I'd take home for a little light reading. They are:

Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: a View from Europe by Jean-Noel Jeanneney


Why Buffy Matters: the Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
by Rhonda Wilcox

That's all. It's been a very eventful couple of weeks, in both bad and good ways. The best thing is that my niece was born on Wednesday, and I get to see her in a week. Yay.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Different people

My, my , my. it's been so long and I have lots of things I want to talk about. But let's just take things one at a time.

After reading David Sedaris's When You Are Engulfed in Flames in a couple of days, I have moved on to one of my old friends-of-the-library-bookstore purchases, James Merrill's memoir A Different Person. I like David Sedaris. I have, and I will. But he is, in fact, a wildly successful, and apparently wealthy, writer - and some of his anecdotes now revolve around someone sitting next to him in first class, or going to live in Japan for a couple of months to quit smoking. I don't really feel particuarly resentful about it or anything, or that I can't "relate" to him. It's just an observation.

While I enjoy David Sedaris, I really love James Merrill. I'm grateful that the English language fell into his hands and he handled it with such mastery, grace, and music. And part of the reason he was able to do so was because he never had to work for money. A Different Person, which covers JM's early years (so far in Europe), contains sentences that most of us will never utter, e.g., "Donkeys bore Miss Beltrami and me to Tiberius's villa," or "Where I was content to find myself in a Faure song or a Degas interior, he identified manfully with a Zen scroll or the St. John Passion."

But I can skim over these things, because his writing is true and beautiful and funny. The way he uses the phrase "a different person" in each chapter in a different sense, for example. And of course, since I often read parallel to my own life, I can certainly understand a lot of the things he says about being young and trying to write and love and live in a way that feels right. For instance...."A precocious adolescent makes do with whatever odd conglomerate of wave-worn diction the world washes up at his fee. Language at this stage uses him; years must pass before the tables turn, if they ever do."

Lastly, I just want to talk about Lucy Wainwright Roche. A couple of months ago, I was making a mix for Michelle on which I wanted to include songs about Chicago, so I typed that city into iTunes to see what I got, and one was Roche's "Chicago." Then I saw she was opening for Catie Curtis in Arlington a couple of weeks ago, so I went. She was by far the best part of the show, and I bought her two EPs (8 Songs and 8 More) immediately. Her song "Snare Drum" is a nearly perfect folk song. That one isn't on her MySpace page, unfortunately, but "Chicago" and a few others are, as well as her tour dates.

Quotations from James Merrill's A Different Person. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.