fumbling through this book

I finished reading the rather short Bay of Souls by Robert Stone, last week Friday.

I don’t really know what to say about this book. There were moments that I really liked it; there were moments that I really disliked it.

Never having been scuba diving, I do think it has one of the most well-written scuba diving passages that I have ever read. Amazing. Made it out to be a very intense experience and then carried the scuba diving metaphor over into a later part of the book in a very compelling way… Scuba diving versus the oppressive weight of a voodoo ceremony: drumming, drugs, Papa Legba, Baron Samedhi and the whole lot.

I thought that the extramarital affair around which the whole book circled was a bit tired. Which was unfortunate. College prof with wife and kid, etc., in Minnesota(?), meets new colleague who intrigues, etc. Yadda yadda, blah blah. Unfortunate, I say, because the affair is the vehicle which drives the action of the story which is, for the most, rather interesting.

An interview with Robert Stone here, discusses some of this religion stuff that i, over at squub, and I have been sort of chatting about off and on for a little bit now.

Especially this bit:

RS: I am not a believer in God. I have been a believer in God. I am obsessed with the absence of God. I believe in that phrase from Pascal, that says?I can’t remember where I used it?I think it’s in Damascus Gate, where he reads somewhere in Pascal, “Everything on Earth gives a sign of the divine presence. Everywhere we look there seems to be evidence of it. And it never yields itself to our discovery. And yet it seems to be everywhere.”…. I do admit that faith is not what you believe, it’s not about believing in a body of doctrine. Faith is something else. Well, I don’t have the body of doctrine. But I don’t have the faith either. Which is an insistence that somehow that things are all right and as they should be. I don’t have that.

(One reason I always link to the amazon thingy as well is that I’ve been using this thing called allconsuming to keep track of the books I’ve read. That’s also how they display all pretty like over there on the left.)

mercurial excursions

A few days ago, I went to go seeNeal Stephenson read from his newest book, Quicksilver. (Hey Mark, neener neener!)

The main website for the book, is some kind of fascinating “wiki” doodad. As Stephenson said, the web isn’t a very good place for explaining stuff, so the wiki thing is an attempt to try and use the web to explain stuff better. Valiant!

I’ve also been perusing “In the Beginning was the Command Line…”, an interesting essay Stephenson wrote–what do you call a non-fiction novella? nonfictionette? nonfictionella?–about operating systems and design and etc.

The reading of the book was so-so. I don’t really think his work reads out loud very well. I think he knows this, too, because he spent most of his time speaking and answering questions from the audience. Hotdamn! All my doubts are gone. I’m reading this book. And soon.

if all the books were in the sea

I just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s last novel American Gods.

It was good, though I thought that it lacked a certain something. It had a sort of distant feel to it, that I wasn’t sure that I liked. Gaiman sort of sort of addresses what I’m getting at in this essay, and it’s entirely possible that others might not find this to be much of a problem at all.

I like Neil Gaiman. I’ve read almost everything that he’s written–those Sandman books; Smoke and Mirrors, his brilliant collection of short stories, and other random things.

It’s probably heresy among the Gaiman fans, but I just don’t think that he does as well in the novel format. I think he has a unique vibrancy to his writing that is uniquely suited to the graphical marriage of text and image in comic books. He’s also quite good at pinning an idea down (like a bug on a tackerboard) and fleshing it out over 20-30 pages. I found that his language lost a lot of its gumption when scrawled out over 300-400 pages. It grated a little.

So, if you’re going to read something by Neil Gaiman, I wouldn’t recommend American Gods. You’d do better off reading a short story or two from Smoke and Mirrors or cracking open one of his graphic novels.

Still, I think that Neil Gaiman is one of the most charming writers that I’ve ever seen speak in person. He came to town two or three years ago and attracted a huge crowd. I flashed on Charles Dickens, for a bit, the performative aspect of the reading was so strong.

These interviews give you a taste of what I’m talking about.

zounds! these bloody… won’t stop.

irriatiate these crunchy moth balls. i’m serious. the clavicles are dancing the carinado

filthy factorials. i mean, not filthy, just covered with sawdust, or maybe some ta-tt-t-t-troll dust. i mean, ashes. ashed out.

but forget the troll dust, me hearties, when you’re trapped inside an icecube, there’s not a lot of salve for that bleeding. don’t let all the good luck pour out of that there shoe…. enough.

faced with such bisected (trisected) chaos. is there anything to do but wonder? i’m all about those freedom monkeys and their freewheeling freestealing ways. when will the fuddyduddys go away?

turn your booko, sketch some. is there any sweet relief?

even though on the surface, it’s all burning… what really squalors underneath?

(big bites, big bites. chew)

a tale from last weeker

after walloping down the stairs, and walloping up them again, i fell back into december… “my mother birthed me far too soon…” feel those lps scratching out your eyesockets, boy. but, damn, that fellow has a sweetly disposing sideways smile and his 12-stringer really strums allways.

still, there are some catacombs that even cagliostro would go out of his way to avoid. were it up to me, but it’s not. that’s so. cheese on tomato. yes. take that, goatmonkey! (eat your filthy italy smirking in the daylight and keep the shadows from out your hands: we don’t trust ’em)

is that some sort of chill on the hands as the sun goes down? still, that invisibility seems to be holding up strong: note taken: there was that old crankster (with the wooden amber-topped cane/what symbol was that emblazoned there? avert avert!) scrabbling after everyone for attention or money or cigarillos. ignored me once, twice, thrice. i was staring at traffic lights and that weird pollen sculpture to put it generously…

bookend as i was on both sides by that madman and that madwoman, scabbered she was. and that handkerchief man only started lerping in my ear once that quaintcher set herself down in my only empty seat. )12?( but only seemingly. and that man’s boy fresh-returned from the desert.

perhaps he needs a winker at this one, soundtrackin’ those wastes

still, that yang makes my skin tense. and i’m wondering what she’s doin’ thar. not up to chatting with a forble. plenty of empty ones, yet she’s sitting in mine.

but that quashing noise only happened later, she followed me even there, burrowing underground, i escaped that plane and swarsaparillad beneath, grouched into a corner.

later, the wreckers that i couldn’t remember. now.

someday soon, i’ve been feeling: “strange how the ears ring…after a night of wrongdoing?” and who is that blue lady, after all? all that’s left is a sense of something coming….

can’t remember how it all shaked down, after.