"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Monday, June 25, 2012

Girls like Murakami

From The Paris Review: “There’s a difference,” remarked one colleague, “between getting a girl to think you’re smart, and getting a girl to WANT to talk to you. The following are books that will make girls want to talk to you.

—Greatest pick-up book of all time is Just Kids by Patti Smith, because every girl has read it and they ALL want to talk about it.
—Any book ever written by Haruki Murakami
—The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
—White Album by Joan Didion
—What We Talk About, When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
—The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. (Don’t question it. Just trust.)”

I was surprised to see Murakami on the list, tho he is one of my favorites. Just Kids, sure -- it *is* fun to talk about. The question was what books would make girls think a guy is hot. Probably, most books, but judging from the last entry, we're talking about college-aged readers or just after. I have no idea what books make women in their 30s and 40s think men are hot. Murakami would still be interesting, but hotness is so variable by then that even Patti Smith might not do it. Denis Johnson? Gustave Flaubert? Neil Gaiman? Margaret Atwood? They all work for me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

RIP: Ray Bradbury

Space ships are not miracles of technology, but psychic conveyances, serving the same purpose as Dorothy's whirlwind-borne house in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or the trance of the traditional shaman: they get you to the Otherworld. Margaret Atwood, in The Guardian.

Atwood's article on Bradbury also includes this amazing story:
At the age of 12 – as he tells us on his website – he had a definitive encounter with a stage magician called Mr Electrico. This was in the age of travelling circuses and the like, and Mr Electrico had a unique act: he sat in an electrified chair, thus in turn electrifying a sword he held, with which he in turn electrified the spectators, making their hair stand on end and sparks come out of their ears. He electrified young Bradbury in this manner, while shouting, "Live Forever!" The child had to go to a funeral the next day, a close encounter with death that led him to seek out Mr Electrico once more to find out how this living forever thing was to be done. The old carney showed him around what used to be called the freak show – complete with a tattooed man who was later to morph into the Illustrated Man – and then told him that he, Ray, contained thehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif soul of Mr Electrico's best friend, who had died in the first world war.

The NY Times gives us Bradbury at dinner, drawing a martian in his spilled wine and presenting the tablecloth to the waiter, who gave it to the owner. Who framed it.

I love these anecdotes. I read Bradbury a lot when I was younger, and chiefly remember Fahrenheit 451 from those days. I remember being outraged that a fireman would burn books! I might have been ten the first time I read it.