Look Homeward Angel, which I read as a teenager, I want to read again. I contented myself, however, with reading the first page on Project Gutenberg (I don't like reading it on Amazon b/c 'if you're interested in this book, you may be interested in these other books')
First page, please:
. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door.I just think that's gorgeous writing. In his day, Wolfe was as famous as Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald. We need a literary Mendelssohn to rescue him from obscurity as Mendelssohn rescued Bach.
And of all the forgotten faces.
Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not
know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come
into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.
Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his
father's heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent?
Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?
O waste of loss, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this
most weary unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek
the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a
stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?
O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.
Jesu, joy of man's desiring (translated from the German)
While doing Wiki research for you, my love, I accidentally goggled Thomas Wolff, (July 14, 1954, – July 31, 2000. Read about this fascinating award-winning mathematician here. Died in a car accident.
The prolific Thomas Wolfe died shortly before his 38th b'day. He had contracted inoperable tuberculosis of the brain.
Pat Conroy raves about War and Peace, saying it's the best novel ever written. Many people agree. So tonite, after dropping off Scotty at the train station, I drove down to the library to see if I could buy a used edition of the 1300-page novel.
Slim chance, of course, but I did pick up two other books - hardbacks are a buck each - a John Updike I'd never heard of called Trust Me. He went thru a period of writing about adultery in America and the breakdown of morals. Updike, accdg to Wiki, went thru a spiritual crisis where he lost his faith and spirituality, but, by reading Kierkegaard and Karl Barth, he regained his faith in Christianity and was a believer until the end.
I got hooked on the very first page. My other choice was an illustrated Jack London book.
Adam the librarian was at the ref desk so I went up to talk to him. He raised my self-esteem a thousand percent when he said he's currently reading about eleven books! I'm only reading three.
Time for some more delicious peanuts, mixed w/some new multigrain pretzels I found. Be right back.
This is probly why I can't lose weight. Am always 138, a speck overweight. Scott says he likes flesh on a woman.
So, I leave my car at the library, and walk in the warm, breezy nite across the street to the Barnes & Noble.
A kid is panhandling for his Inner City basketball team, so I give him a measly three bucks. I apologize for not giving him more. He offers me a candy bar, a gift for donating, and I tell him I can't eat candy cuz I have diabetes.
He says he's sorry and advises me to get one for my grandchildren.
Do I look that old? I wonder later on.
I decline and wish him good luck, as I walk off to Barnes and Noble.
A young man named Brian helps me out. Very cute guy who studied Museum Curating in college. Worked a while at Laurel Hill Cemetery where I'm dying to go. Must mention it to Ada for an outing.
Laurel Hill Cemetery
Brian did his internship here and learned that museum curating is a cut-throat business.
We had a difficult time locating Tolstoy. His computer told him it was in the military history aisle, which it wasn't. He told me to stay right there and he'd find where Tolstoy was.
Meantime I opened a book, the first authentic autobiography of Heinrich Himmler.
While waiting for Brian, I began to read the fascinating prologue of one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany, who cleverly found ways to increase his areas of responsibility. He spied on his own colleagues to make sure they were perfect henchmen.
When captured, he had a vial of cyanide hidden in his mouth. He cracked it open and died fifteen minutes later.
It was so peaceful in the Barnes and Nobel I enjoyed reading in a very comfortable armchair. I told Brian I might be back to read more of the Himmler book.
Oh, I nearly forgot! Brian brot out two versions of War and Peace, the first one translated by the famous Constance Garnett. The second was a new translation by an Ann Dunnigan, and guess who wrote the forward?
Our own Pat Conroy.
Well, I began reading the two versions. I liked the Garnett one better, but then - eureka! - I realized I could never read this book. Too dense. Too filled with difficult three-word Russian names I wouldn't be able to keep track of.
Of course, now I'm thinking I made a mistake and maybe I could've kept track of them.
But you know what? I can always read them on Project Gutenberg.
If I live long enough to finish it.
The other day there was a NY Times article where you rate your college professors. I asked Russell Eisenman, PhD, one of my 775 past boyfriends, if he was listed on there.
Read the reviews his students gave Russell.
I did write a poem many yrs ago on Barnes and Noble. While you're reading this endlessly fascinating post I'll see if I can find it.
If you don't hear from me, have a wonderful time wher'ere you are. Remember, we only live once, so take advantage of all the wonderful earthly offerings.
BARNES AND NOBLE: A GUIDED TOUR
When things go wrong
when the sun don't shine
and the bread don't rise
and the call don't come
and the windows reflect back on who you are
you can always go down to Barnes and Noble
like a magic shoebox.
But if you're lonely and go there
no one will soothe your soul
no one except maybe the coffee girl
whose dancing earrings, if you're lucky, may just rock you
into something vaguely resembling peace
But don't count on it, my friend.
I've come for Rimbaud.
I read him every ten years.
You may wish to do the same.
Perhaps I can be of help.
Simply pull the slim volume titled "Season in Hell"
from its place on the shelf
Take it, if you will, to a quiet station, off the main drag
Or better yet
Find your own place amid high and fragrant grasses
A nearby lake with water so clear you can bathe your face
You might lie there in the noonday sun while you turn to any
page your heart desires
But I must warn you, my friend
You must come to the encounter clean.
Not pretending to be anything more
or anything less than
who you really are.
Your bladder emptied, your thirst abated
Feeling no urgency whatsoever that needs reconciliation
Your heart must be still as a sleeping bird
not pounding with remembrance of yesterday's ecstasies
So with quiet acceptance and lowered eyes
You will arrive like a pitcher
emptied of its contents
willing to receive
flowing with space
and then you may turn
to the title page.