Monday, March 30, 2009

The Year of Magical Thinking

In honor of Joan Didion’s visit to Kelly Writers House this week, an excerpt from THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING:

I realize as I write this that I do not want to finish this account.

Nor did I want to finish the year.

The craziness is receding but no clarity is taking its place.

I look for resolution and find none.

I did not want to finish the year because I know that as the days pass, as January becomes February and as February becomes summer, certain things will happen. My image of John at the instant of his death will become less immediate, less raw. It will become something that happened in another year. My sense of John himself, John alive, will become more remote, even “mudgy,” softened, transmuted into whatever best serves my life without him. In fact this is already beginning to happen. All year I have been keeping time by last year’s calendar: what were we doing on this day last year, where did we have dinner, is it the day a year ago we flew to Honolulu after Quintana’s wedding, it is the day a year ago we flew back from Paris, IS IT THE DAY. I realized today for the first time that my memory of this day a year ago is a memory that does not involve John. This day a year ago was December 31, 2003. John did not see this day a year ago. John was dead.

I was crossing Lexington Avenue when this occurred to me.

I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.

I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.

Let them become the photograph on the table.

Let them become the name on the trust accounts.

Let go of them in the water.

Knowing this does not make it any easier to let go of him in the water.

In fact the apprehension that our life together will decreasingly be the center of my every day seemed today on Lexington Avenue so distinct a betrayal that I lost all sense of oncoming traffic.

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Monday, March 23, 2009


I had no idea J.M. Coetzee’s masterpiece had been made into a film. Not sure how to feel about this. Will I be seeing it? Of course.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Philadelphia Film Festival

The Philadelphia Film Festival and Cinefest 09 kick off next Thursday, March 26th!

The Festival’s centerpiece screenings include HUNGER, a political drama that chronicles the hunger strike led by IRA leader Bobby Sands in 1981; and THE ANSWER MAN, a Sundance 09 feature that was shot in Philadelphia, staring Jeff Daniels as a self-help author who’s still struggling with the fallout of a hit book he wrote 20 years ago. For ticket information, click here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Finite Jester

A pair of readings from the late, great David Foster Wallace:

Monday, March 2, 2009

To the Harbormaster

My latest novel, The Moorings, has been a work in progress for more than two years now. But I just recently found what may wind up serving as its epigraph. Found it by happy accident, really, skimming through Frank O’Hara’s Meditations in an Emergency. There was the key word itself, right on line three. And after reading this beautiful verse a few times over, then giving it time to take root in my mind, I’ve begun to see this poem as the ideal way -- perhaps the only way -- to set the tone for my story. (A story which, at its core, is an examination of the tattered cordage of Matt Connelly’s will.)

So whilst not made for me, I thank the brilliant Mr. O’Hara graciously and posthumously for his gift nonetheless.

“To the Harbormaster”

I wanted to be sure to reach you;
though my ship was on the way it got caught
in some moorings. I am always tying up
and then deciding to depart. In storms and
at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide
around my fathomless arms, I am unable
to understand the forms of my vanity
or I am hard alee with my Polish rudder
in my hand and the sun sinking. To
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage
of my will. The terrible channels where
the wind drives me against the brown lips
of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and
if it sinks it may well be in answer
to the reasoning of the eternal voices,
the waves which have kept me from reaching you.

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