Sunday, January 27, 2013

Descending into Description

I picked up a novel by Spanish writer, Almudena Grandes, a writer perhaps best known for Las Edades de Lulu. I was thrilled to discover page after page of descriptive writing! The first section starts with the details of the protagonist waking up, repeating in his mind- “I will not quit smoking”, and looking at himself in the mirror with all the details arriving to the conclusion, “I just turned 41.” It makes me think an American writer would be admonished to find just one verb to describe the pain and realism that Grandes does so effectively with her long sentences and adjectives, and God, forbid, adverbs.

I loved the description of the hidden ice skating rink in Bolano’s “ La pista de hielo”. I savored the book page after page. I haven’t found this beauty in writing in any recent (or not so recent) American novel I’ve read. Let me know if there is any out there, please.

So in this deep winter with cold and ice, and an injury (caused by some unknown force) I am, aided with tramadol, at home, reading and writing. I’m starting on my second crime novel, with the worry that I will keep accumulating works that never get published. I told myself that doesn’t matter. It’s the only way to keep on.

And thanks to a book I’ve been reading, Spanish again, I played around with the juxtaposition so wonderfully present in Spanish poetry.

City crows

the size of kittens

dance on my breakfast spoon.

I hide under a leaf,

wait for heavy rains

of spring to shake.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

TV hype- Girls and Downton Abbey

TV hype- Girls and Downton Abbey

Well, yes, I succumbed. I now own a TV though no cable. Tv has certainly changed in the years I was away in Europe. WIth no cable there are endless channels devoted to religion, even one that throws in an occasional Spanish lesson. One channel has resuscitated gems like Maude and entire weekends dedicated to Sally Field’s series like the “Flying Nun”. PBS has been taken over for the geriatric set(lots of British series with older characters and concerts from 50’s and 60’s folk stars) so that doesn’t leave a whole lot out there.

That leads me to pay TV. I recently got season 1 of “Girls” on Netflix and was very disappointed. I missed the sense of fun; here there’s a desperation to it. I remember going through the end of my relationship and discovering “Sex and the City.” I spent hours in a comforting escape. Not much fun on Girls.

One positive thing is that the main character, Hannah, is not a victim despite the difficult scenarios she creates or falls into. I liked her in the way I liked Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.” Hannah is, however, narcissistic. That’s part of the humor; she keeps right on going no matter what. There’s the damaged about her; you can’t imagine why she’d actually continue with the creepy boyfriend or even think of having sex with the sleezy boss. The line that summed it up best for me was the doctor who sees her for HPV and says she would not want to be 24 again. Nor would I! Though through the pink haze of memory, the time I spent in New York in my 20’s was fun.

Downton Abbey- I first watched the seasons online last winter when I had a flu. Entertaining enough but a blatant copy of “Upstairs, Downstairs”. Nothing new here. I am watching the new season because I like to immerse myself in that world on a Sunday night in preparation for the workweek. The series is pretty and just ok. It makes me wonder if imagination is lacking everywhere.

And back to Europe- more than 30 free digital stations in Barcelona. National channels have no commercials. There are excellent movies and good documentaries on. I think not even on pay TV in America.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Epiphany and some reflections

     I recently went to see the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall.  and was stunned by the violence of the previews for Django Unchained, Jack Reacher, Dabangg 2, and Texas Chainsaw 3D.  Obviously this was not my usual demographic.  My first thought was no wonder this country is so violent. 
    This morning I was listening to an interview with Tarentino.  My question to him would have been, "Do your movies contribute to the violence of this society or do you see them as a catharsis for violence?"  I would say they do both and there is a responsibility to one creating violence for public viewing. 

    On a different note, Los Reyes Magos, January 6th was a fun holiday in Spain and the end to a long string of feasts and parties.  I fondly remember Reyes in the small town in the Priorat where the Kings arrival was signalled by fireworks at the train station.  They made their way up the hill to town by tractor, pulling a wagon full of gifts for all the kids in town.
    This is a poem for the day I pull out at this time of year.  If you follow my blog, you've seen it before.


The Three Kings are lost

in whirling snows.

Camels sink unsure

in lands

past sands and tropics.

My door has no shoes

awaiting gifts or coal.

My favorite Balthazar,

for the name

and stately beard

shakes his head no.

Too cold, too far.

Here in white

crusted snow,

Each step ices,

my heart shivers.