Friday, November 17, 2006

Ensconced in another tale...

I was just in my bedroom in the middle of the afternoon, and so clearly felt a presence that I turned to look out the window. My edginess surprises me at this hour, when all that greeted me was blue sky and a calm breeze.

Whatever book I happen to be reading at the time, it never ceases to haunt my dreams--both day dreams and during sleep. I have been reading with a hunger this month--insatiable.

I love finding magic in a good mystery, when the story grabs me and spins me around. When I sit in my chair by the window and can't help but smile, impressed with the unexpected wrinkles, suspenseful surprises, and writers' creative maneuvers.

Currently what seeks my gaze is "The Historian", by Elizabeth Kostova. Normally a novel about Dracula wouldn't excite my attention, but a review in the newspaper sparked my curiosity, and I was fortunate to come across a copy during my last trip to the library's second-hand store. There, on the 'new acquisitions' shelf, a copy of this book I have been longing to devour, and with only a one dollar price tag.

I read over a hundred pages today, yet it barely makes a dent in this large volume. The length holds no dread for me, only enthusiastic anticipation. Already I fantasize of packing my bags for Slovenia, to visit lush vistas and Romanesque structures. The descriptions have scratched the travel bug dormant for too long.

"As an adult, I have known that particular legacy time brings to the traveler: the longing to seek out a place the second time, to find deliberately what we stumbled on once before, to recapture the feeling of discovery. Sometimes we search out again even a place that was not remarkable in itself--we look for it simply because we remember it. If we so find it, of course, everything is different. The rough-hewn door is still there, but it's much smaller; the day is cloudy instead of brilliant; it's spring instead of autumn; we're alone instead of with three friends. Or, worse, with three friends instead of alone."


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Words to live by

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."

Mark Twain


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fear Nothing

Dean Koontz must love dogs. Several of his stories involve dogs (my favorite being "Watchers"). The 'Orson' of the following excerpts is the character's dog in Koontz' "Fear Nothing".

"Orson put his head in my lap, as if he thought I would take some consolation from petting him and scratching behind his ears. In fact, I did. It always works. A good dog is a medicine for melancholy and a better stress reliever than Valium."

"Perhaps the purpose for which I was born is not to write about my life in search of some universal meaning that may help others to better understand their own lives--which, in my more egomaniacal moments, is a mission I have embraced. Instead of striving to make even the tiniest mark on the world, perhaps I should consider that, possibly, the sole purpose for which I was born is to amuse Orson, to be not his master but his loving brother, to make his strange and difficult life as easy, as full of delight, and as rewarding as it can be. This would constitute a purpose as meaningful as most and more noble than some."

"Is this really a wise strategy for living? Insisting that most of life isn't to be taken seriously. Relentlessly viewing it as a cosmic joke. Having only four guiding principles: one, do as little harm to others as possible; two, be there always for your friends; three, be responsible for yourself and ask nothing of others; four, grab all the fun you can. Put no stock in the opinions of anyone but those closest to you. Forget about leaving a mark on the world. Ignore the great issues of your time and thereby improve your digestion. Don't dwell in the past. Don't worry about the future. Live in the moment. Trust in the purpose of your existence and let meaning come to you instead of straining to discover it. When life throws a hard punch, roll with it--but roll with laughter. Catch the wave, dude."

"Besides, the best way to deal with a rising sea of trouble is to catch the wave at the zero break and ride it out, slide along the face straight into the cathedral, get totally Ziplocked in the green room, walk the board all the way through the barrel, hooting, showing no fear. That's not only cool: it's classic."


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Far more than a good mystery...

Mystic River was recommended to me long before it went to film, and I've been hooked on Dennis LeHane ever since. His books are full of twists and turns and surprises. I just finished reading "Shutter Island", and I barely paused--I couldn't put it down. I don't want to spoil the plot with my choice of quotes, I just want to give you a pinch of the brilliance. Three paragraphs, from different parts of the novel...

"Everyone wants a quick fix. We're tired of being afraid, tired of being sad, tired of feeling overwhelmed, tired of feeling tired. We want the old days back, and we don't even remember them, and we want to push into the future, paradoxically, at top speed. Patience and forbearance become the first casualties of progress. This is not news. Not news at all. It's always been so."

"You surfaced without a history, then spent the blinks and the yawns reassembling your past, shuffling the shards into chronological order before fortifying yourself for the present.
What was far crueler were the ways in which a seemingly illogical list of objects could trigger memories of his wife that lodged in his brain like a lit match."

"You was in all sorts of places, huh?"
Yeah, I was. Saw the world.
What'd you think of it?
Different languages, same shit.
Yeah, that's the truth, huh?"