Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"B" Was for Blogger Who Went For a Walk

Walking thought No. 1:
I--like the majority of bloggers I imagine--have never submitted written work other than university papers for the eyes of Professors--or their assistants. I have always written though: journals, unfinished short stories, reviews and exercises in non-fiction, light verse and of course, ponderously derivative poetry written during my teen years, which, thankfully, still basks in the shadows of the unread--or is it the shadows of the unreadable? But though I have never submitted written work, I find I am still able to express myself, and weblogs are wonderful tools for self-expression. I envy the youth of today who are at the starting gate for they will be able to create an archive, an extended memory if you will, so upon reaching my graying age, they can, one hopes, with whatever technology exists in thirty years or so, bring up a review from their early university days and either nod or groan over what they had written.

Walking thought No. 2: The persistent discussions over the book review table of late have centered on whether reviews written by bloggers have any real merit. All I know is that I enjoy reviews written by bloggers as well as by professional reviewers and published authors. With blogs one doesn't know what diction to expect because there are no set parameters. With the New York Review of Books, or the Times Literary Supplement, one has certain expectations. But blogs vociferously run the gamut. The diversity of views, and their likewise diverse use of language and style, can stimulate thought and promote the exchange of ideas. Perhaps it comes down to, like most things, tribalism, territorial defence and change.

Walking thought No. 3: Like most people too, I feel more comfortable with a few books on the go; I am not, however, one for building stacks beside the bed which threaten vulnerable toes in the night. No, a manageable pile is required. One that doesn't overwhelm. One that can sit upon the bedside table without undue stress. (Perhaps the older one gets, the greater the need to moderate and balance the weight of so many words, so many pages, so many books. Then again, it might just be me--I get vertigo, and perhaps a hint of envy, looking at all those book stack pictures on people's blogs!) Having a few books on the go, however, brings up, as many readers know, companion readings, or tandem narratives which are unplanned, at least consciously. How these narratives weave their way through the brain and affect my dreams I don't know, but it is sometimes quixotic how the narratives of different books mingle and exchange thoughts seemingly of their own accord, forcing themselves into my consciousness; at times it is dispassionately subtle and at other times emphatically obvious. This is generally the point where I reach for the pen and notebook, nodding as if to placate the intrusive nature of that other narrative as I jot down a few words and hopefully delineate my thoughts from the mingled narrative strategies.

Addendum: Perhaps in my dreams Paul Auster, Matthew Pearl and Cees Nooteboom are exchanging narrative secrets while I pour the wine and keep the fictional characters away from the expensive cheeses. Or maybe it is the fictional characters in control, and I find myself looking over the shoulders of the authors as we all try to catch a peek through the window--that point of view of the house of fiction--and try to catch glimpses of the cavorting characters.

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