Friday, October 13, 2006

The Thin Place

As I mentioned in my last entry, I just finished a book that I want to shout about from rooftops, but since that would probably get me arrested for disorderly conduct or un-American activity, I thought I'd post about it. The book is The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis, and I savored it for 3 months (rather than greedily devour it, as I do with most books I read). It was delicate, profound, and completely beautiful. I read a review of it in the McSweeney's magazine The Believer, and ordered it sight unseen. It takes place in recent years in the New England town of Varennes, which is a thin place - a place where the walls between superatural and natural, past and present, man and God are transparent. We see this world through the eyes of people, dogs, and sometimes inanimate objects. A young girl named Mees Kipp has the power to raise the dead, and does so fairly often. An elderly woman watches the world from her assisted living facility, only now seeing things she missed for her entire life. She is still of sharp mind and body, and we see first-hand what it must be like to be condescended to on an hourly basis.
The closest works I could compare this novel to are Mrs. Dalloway or The Hours. Rather than take the fantasy element of the story and run with it, Davis keeps everything internal - she is more interested in the underlying psychology of people. To keep the story grounded in some sense of reality, we are shown police records, 19th century diary entries, and things like grocery lists. She reminds me of my favorite author, A.S. Byatt in that she is not always kind in her assessments of her own characters. She is unsentimental and detached, even in regards to her characters who are children, and you rarely see that in novels.
When I went to pick it up from Mr. Shaver (who ordered it for me), he handed it to me, shaking his head, and said, "You really keep me on my toes when it comes to new fiction - where do you even hear about this stuff?" He proceeded to read me part of the inside jacket that talked about Mees' gift not responding to merit or morality - only to need (I'm paraphrasing). I would highly recommend it to anyone who liked the novels I mentioned above. While in New York last month, I found myself at The Strand bookstore (imagine that), so I picked up a copy of an earlier Davis novel called The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf. I read because I have an insatiable craving for fictional narratives that are meaningful to me (and, in a way, we all do - everyone writes a fictional narrative every night; it's called a dream), and this book reminded me of that.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

he could make that string hum like it was 1989

I know. It's been a long, long, long time. But life (specifically, living it), the universe, and everything has kept me out of the blogosphere for a month or so. However, that time wasn't wasted, my friends. I have now seen the face of God, I can wrap both legs around my neck, and all my chakras are aligned.
I've been enjoying having time off, doing work for which I can set my own hours, and slowly morphing into a desperate housewife - it's a slippery, slippery slope, my friends. However, since I'm not a wife, I don't live in a house (not the entire house, at least - just an upstairs apartment), and I'm not particularly desperate, I think I'll come out unscathed. The website work I'm doing right now is fun, creatively challenging (!!!!), and it's a project I believe in.
M. Ward was a fantastic show. We were all a little put off by the "don't even THINK about taking any kind of picture" (not really, but you get what I mean) signs they brought out before Matt came out to play, but he totally won me over. Halfway through the first song he sang, it registered that the amazing, gravelly, sexy, purring voice I'd been listening to for a year was coming out of this tiny little guy with a baseball hat and jew-fro. I had a half-grin on my face for most of the show - it was that good.
Ladytron just plain rocked my face off. They didn't look or sound anything like I thought they would in a live setting. People are often down on electronic music because it isn't very emotional, but Ladytron proved that wrong from the first song. The lead singer (still don't know any of their names) sang her heart out - she was a complete rock star, from her powerful-but-girly voice to her demure black disco librarian dress (I think it was by Chloe). They were also incredibly friendly and personable to the crowd, which I always appreciate. Call me overly-mannered, but when you, as a fan, bend over, pull down your pants, and let Ticketmaster have its way with your ass, it's really nice to hear a musician say, "Thanks for coming out tonight."
Other than that, I've been enjoying the near-perfect weather, reading books (more on my new favorite American author, Kathryn Davis, in the next entry), and looking for full time employment. Oh, and I blew a bunch of money on clothes yesterday, after dragging out my "winter clothes" box and finding it only about 1/3 full. Looking back, I think I wore t-shirts and cardigans all last winter. And, if memory serves, I froze my ass off.
Back to work now...
Deep thought, courtesy of an article title on the other day: "A lawyer who represents himself has a douchebag for a client."
I think I'd like to make a book of classic sayings and idioms revamped for modern times, and incorporate the word "douchebag" into all of them. I'd buy it...