Friday, November 19, 2004

"You call yourself an artist. I call you a drifter." (318)

I think maybe Proust was the last book that I underlined passages in. That was a long time ago. Months and months. I finished reading Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theather tonight, putting the book down with lots of underlined, starred passages, marks that were not in the book when I picked it up. It is really fucking good. I am a little in awe of Roth right now, and trying to think of anyone I could claim to be a better American writer right now. Surely part of the reason, I liked the book so much is because I am a lit nerd and laughed at all the references to Joyce, Shakespeare, Woolf, and Dostoevsky. But, this book makes watersports seem so hot. It redeems the perverse.

Enough reading and rereading of A Room of One's Own Own - get yourself The Collected Works of Ava Gardner. A tweaking and fingering lesbian virgin, V. Woolf, erotic life one part prurience, nine parts fear - an overbred English parody of a borzoi, effortlessly superior, as only the English can be, to all her inferiors, who never took her clothes off in her life. (157)

And yes, my feminist side should perhaps not be so amused by Roth's (his?, or his narrator's) misogyny, but even that can not detract from this magnificent book. Wow. The other day, I tried writing a story and failed in so many ways, and so then to pick up this book where things are done so effortlessly with lovely phrases, put me both to shame and inspired me to try harder.

What a bother we are to one another - while actually nonexistant to one another, unreal specters compared to whoever originally sabotaged the sacred trust. (262-263)

Yes, such diaries have a privileged place among one's skeletons; one cannot easily free oneself of words themselves finally freed from their daily duty to justify and to conceal. It takes more courage than one might imagine to destroy the secret diaries, the letters, and the Polaroids, the videotapes and audiotapes, the locks of pubic hair, the unlaundered items of intimate apparel, to obliterate forever the reliclike force of these things that, almost alone of our possessions, decisively answer the question "Can it really be that I am like this?" A record of the self at Mardi Gras, or of the self in its true and untrammeled existence? Either way, these dangerous treasures - hidden from those near and dear beneath the lingerie, in the darkest reaches of the file cabinet, under lock and key at the local bank - constitute a record of that with which one cannot part. (447)

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