Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union

Listening to Bach played on Harpsicord by the expert fingers of Maggie Cole. It is meant to soothe, at least that is why I put it on. You see, tensions rise and tempers flare when you step into gigtown. Apparently someone once started the precedent of elevating the voice level in an effort towards effective office communication. I do not concur with such a practice. Sadly, it is all too easy to get mine to rise as well, especially in combat of a screaming loon clutching title of paralegal.

Anyway, the nerves are frayed but are slowly being repaired thanks to green tea, deep breathing and J. S. Bach.

Other news:

School continues to baffle, not due to strenuous tasks and challenges but a lingering sense of not doing what’s expected. In short: thus far it has not required the long hours of outside study I expected. This is not to say that hard work is not coming, but really my first grad school class consists of reading poems for their mechanics and writing less than I expected. By the time the class is over I will have to come up with four short works of my own and no more than 20 pages of academic writing. In other words, this is a light load in comparison to the undergrad hell I am used to.

That being the case, I am able to sneak in some reading for pleasure. I finished Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, which is a wonderful read if you like staggering sentences, drunken recollections, tragedy, insult and pain. Yeah, my kind of book. Once that was done I read the title story in Ana Castillo’s Loverboys collection, which was good but confirmed my feelings that Castillo is a wonderful poet and a brilliant essayist but I am still waiting for a piece of her fiction to blow me away. I think some of them could, the early works people seem to enjoy, but Peel My Love Like an Onion (maybe the greatest book title I can think of) and this short story, while both very good, seemed to fall short of the experiences I have had reading her poetry and her incredibly powerful nonfiction work, Massacre of the Dreamers.

After I read the Castillo and my homework (Frost, not my favorite, and Plath, good when she’s good, Thomas McGrath, wonderful, and Wordsworth, meh) I reviewed Paul Muldoon’s complex yet alluring long poem, “The More a Man Has the More a Man Wants” scanning it for nice sounding puns. I’ll be reviewing lots of poetry in the coming days, some I’ve had lying around for a while and not gotten to, like Marina Tsvetaeva and Yevgeny Yevtushenko and more of the Russians.

In that vein, I began reading Bulgakov’s A Country Doctor’s Notebook last night. As you may or may not know, Bulgakov wrote my favorite book and I consider him a hero. This book, found in Taipei, a nice British edition that I have never seen ‘round these parts, is wonderful. Somewhere, back in 1916-17 in a remote part of the Soviet Union, a young doctor gets a crash course in the absurdity of the human condition.

That’s all to report. I am hungry and I have nothing else to say.