…Our computers at work – desktops – have always had the sound turned off. Distracts from productivity. I work for a social services agency that is always in the red; somehow, though, enough complaining was heard so that we were all purchased notebook computers. One of the teams was tested with notebooks, and their productivity with getting notes done in a timely fashion increased, so now we all have notebooks, and they have sound enabled, and I’ve finally gotten around to discovering Pandora. I knew about it before, but am usually too busy at home to play around too much. This afternoon, I’m working in the office, trying to catch up on paperwork, and have been fine tuning this station. (I tried making one based around Spoon, but it kept churning out decidedly bad suggestions.) Anyone have any Pandora stations you think I’d like, send me a link.
… Still reading Old Friends. I love Dixon’s work. No surprise there, right? I mean, I only post about him once every three days or so. This is more of his – wait for it – trademark zest, with a friendship between two writers charted over many years, one of them developing confusion and memory loss. The narrative moves through the early part of their friendship quickly and into what seems like a second part, in that it’s largely phone calls from the healthy writer (Irv) to the wife of the unhealthy writer (Leonard), and then letters from the Irv to Leonard and his wife. A third part – where I’m at now – seems set up as focusing entirely on the small details of Irv’s life, moving backward through the events of a morning as he gets ready to go visit Leonard in a rest home. It’s amazing, the skill Dixon has in charting relationships with dialogue and everyday happenings. I don’t know how to describe it, exactly – not a lot happening, beyond what happens for normal people in everyday life, which is a whole hell of a lot. I’d write something about Dixon’s intent to focus on what people are saying instead of the way they are saying it, by removing individualistic characteristics from different characters’ sentences, but that might be stretching a bit too far for my tired noggin. (Powell’s has a copy of his Stories – only one left!)
… More on Dixon:
…Some years ago, when Rebecca was a baby, I read Dixon’s novel Interstate, and it was all I could do to get through it. The book starts with a father driving down a highway with his two daughters in the back seat. A minivan pulls up next to them, and one of the guys in the van pulls out a gun and shoots at them, killing one of the girls. It’s a horrible, devastating scene, and Dixon goes on to examine the experience minutely. What happened next? What was it like for the father trying to breathe life into his dead daughter’s mouth? Trying to get a car to stop and help them? How awful was it seeing her body in the hospital? There are eight chapters, and in each one Dixon retells the story, each time with a different focus, so that we are made to relive the horrible event and its aftermath repeatedly. It’s an intense, awful, raw wound of a read, and not recommended for someone who’s just had a baby, as I had. But it’s sure as hell powerful.
I have this book; I haven’t read it. With one four year old daughter, and another daughter on the way, I’m not sure this is the best book for me to unwind with at the end of a long day at work. Someday, maybe.
… My wife just read The Line Painter in one day. She gives it a thumbs up. I was recommending she read either that (though I have yet to do so myself), The Interloper, which I have read and enjoyed – more epistolary goodness – or Norwegian Wood, the one Murakami novel that I started and did not finish. (I think I stopped reading it because something terribly exciting came in the mail. I don’t remember what it was.) I think she’s going with her first Murakami next. I suspect that, for her, it will also go unfinished; we’re six days from her due date. I’m looking to finish Old Friends and then tread water, so to speak, with some short stories. You never know when the magic will happen.
… As such, things may go quiet here soon for a short while. I pre-posted a couple of minor things to appear next week, but my heart isn’t in doing a whole lot of pre-post scrambling. Finances being what they are, I’ll be back at work sooner than I’d like, which will mean more mostly-book-related-goodness here at Condalmo.