I read the first few pages walking home from the library. An uncommon, welcome, summer rain followed me as I read. It’s a beautiful book. If you’re not ready to dive in Tilda Swinton will read you the first chapter. If that doesn’t excite you then we probably won’t see eye-to-eye on most things.
Melville’s prose has the power to overwhelm you. He stretches it to its complete limit and then a little farther. It’s biblical and thumping — rhythmic and prophetic. I’d read that McCarthy was influenced by Melville and it’s clear in Blood Meridian. The color and breath of the words, the impossible characterizations. Yes, I think overwhelming is the right word.
I fell in love with Queequeg as I was falling in love with my fiancée. She suggested it, took me to see an opera based on it. Her and the Pequod are inseparable — knotted together in my memories. Often, when I feel that “drizzly November in my soul” I think back to the beauty of that book and the magic circumstances that brought me to it. Moby Dick will always be a wonderful place for me to visit.
Thanks to a fiction workshop at the University of Utah I was recently introduced to the work of Yoko Ogawa. Revenge, to be specific. It’s a collection of interlaced short-stories that I can’t stop thinking about. I haven’t felt a connection to a work of art like this since Saramago’s All the Names (which i’m sure I’ll write about eventually). The way she decorates and unfolds the space of her novels, to me, is almost supernatural. Certainly light-years beyond my own capacity.
One thing that struck me, and strikes me as lacking elsewhere, is how she furnishes her narratives. There’s the eerie undercurrent that makes Revenge a joy to read — you’ll feel happily unbalanced from beginning to end. But the beauty is more foundational. As I walk the pages of her books I feel totally immersed in her reality. No corner or floorboard, seen or unseen, is unaccounted for. I get the sense, if books allowed it, I could step through any doorway and be confronted by some strange, beautiful happenings.
I was so nervous for that workshop, surrounded by bright-eyed kids, most, at least, ten years younger than me. My anxieties were quickly smoothed over by their care and excitement for the written word — something that seems to transcend many of our human differences. And that’s where I met Yoko, so, bygod, it’s a beautiful place.
Lastly, the Professor for that class was extremely patient and caring with the young (and old) creatives in her care. Read her work. Fascinating, complete, complex.