Friday, October 30, 2009

The Wrong Neurons are crossing the synapses

Everytime I set my fingers to the keyboard this week I do something stupid. I continue to spell Orhan Pamuk's name every which way but right. I tweeted about the wrong guest of honor (Evanovich, not Grafton) at the New England Crimebake, and I answer emails to the wrong people. Is there a screw-up pollen floating about?
Maybe I should just lay off for a few weeks until all the big stuff has come and gone? What fun would that be? But I wouldn't have to make these continual corrections and apologies, mea culpa-ing right and left. So uncool.
I doubt if Proust had these problems, but then he died younger than I am, and I seem to having Senior Days of late. Acting in haste, repenting in haste. No fun in that.
Sorry Sue. Sorry Orhan. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Yes, and I've burnt the pot again that it took 3 days to scour. A bit of inattention to the pears in port wine. The sauce carmelized and burnt before my very eyes, while I stirred the saurkraut. Kind of a yin and yang dinner with Kielbasa and kraut followed by pears poached in port wine. We're that kind of household.

The Museum of Innocence

Complimenting Orhan Pamuk's appearance at the Boston Festival of Books is this upcoming review (mentioning Panuk's close reading of Proust and Proust's influence on Pamuk) from The New York Review of Books.

It would be interesting to write a paper about Proust and Pamuk, but I will leave that to a more scholarly person. Perhaps someone has already.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Why is Everybody Reading Proust?

Well, Proust gets a lot of free PR. Proust and the Squid, How Proust Can Change Your Life--Proust's name in the title of a book is not uncommon.

How many undergraduates read Proust these days? That's when/where I learned about the Narrator. My god, I read parts of Jean Santeuil and all sorts of references. Poulet's Studies in Human Time and ??? I wish I still had the list. Wish I still had my paper. Hmmm. Maybe one more trek through the folders of olde college stuffe.

I doubt that anyone in my writing group has read Proust. Suspect a couple of them may not have even heard of him. But of course, unless you are writing long, long sentences, Proust isn't required for writers. These days, those sentences would be out of favor.

Saturday evening at the Boston Festival of Books, I listened to Orhan Pamuk's address, and tried to think when, except for Proust, I read anything the least bit "literary." Couldn't think of anything going back to The Corrections. That novel, while excellent, did not read as "literary"--think big words and long sentences.

Pamuk, whom I have not read, seemed literary. Maybe literariness is a European thing. Literary Americans? Faulkner was literary. Thomas Wolfe. My mind has gone blank. Who else? Ah, Henry James. Definitely James. The Golden Bowl. Very literary. Is literary a function of writing structure or of subject matter. What makes literary?

Proust is definitely "literary." Here is a link again to a new Proust reading group.

And here's a link to an opinion about the cork-lined room. I notice the author does not have this blog in his sights. Oh well, no matter.

When I climb out from under 2009, I'll read Proust again. Practically salivating. Can't wait to get to the last book, The Past Recaptured, the reward for all that hard reading.


Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cork-Lined Room

A cork-lined room would be a good thing. For the past week, we've had very somnolent yellow jackets(wasps) buzzing around the ceiling and other lights in our home office. They expired before they could sting anyone. Since the pests seemed to be increasing, we became concerned. An inspection of the exterior of the house revealed wasps coming and going thru the hole where the air conditioning enters the basement.

A call to the condo association brought the extermination 24 hours later. Ye Gods! The yellow jackets had a nest in the furnace room, an inaccessible nest, their own cork-lined room, and were coming into the office because that door is frequently ajar as the cats like to hang out in the furnace room when they need a bit of private time.

So now the room is sealed up until the fumes abate and the wasps are dead. Cats were banned from the office last night which they didn't like. Thisbe was horrified when the "workmen" appeared. She was just relaxing because the houseguests had finally departed. A cat likes her solitude, her own cork-lined room.

I congratulate myself for figuring out the riddle of the wasps, and that we got such fast action. We'll have to block the hole, of course. Always something.

Speaking of cork-lined rooms, a new Proust reading group has started.

Check it out.

The Other Odette

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blogging Proust

Houseguests and projects have prevented my reading and posting, alas! In the meantime, for you Proust addicts, and aren't we all, here are a couple of sites to check out.

Lydia Davis is a renowned and respected translator of Proust and a writer in her own right.

And Creme de Violette has a few words?

And Tom Raymond, on reading Proust:

See! Everyone isn't too caught up in day-to-day stuff to read Proust.

The Other Odette

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Slow Reading of Proust

An almost-not-quite-deserted, peaceful place to read Proust, without distractions, without irritations. Maybe an out-of-the-way island. Good food, sun with a few rainy days, a beach, an umbrella, some interesting walks (to ponder what one has read), outdoor cafes for the sunny days, and indoor cafes for the rain. Mybe a haunting street musician. A few people to make up stories about. No shopping, no television, only an immersion in Proust and his milieu. How quickly could one finish the book?

Odette, the other one

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Alas, Proust

Somehow, I ended up with multiple projects and endeavors due in the September - November timeframe, and reading has taken a back seat. Poor old Proust. I just loved the beginning of Cities of the Plain, but haven't gotten very far. Such a relief from the Guermantes and their endless dinner parties and all the receptions.

Gourmet, alas, has folded. Very sad. My first and best Gazpacho recipe is from Gourmet 1964. Think about that. The founder, Earl McAusland, has a summer place in Nantucket before the big money moved in. The big noisy money. Nantucket was always a great place to dine, but had little in common with Balbec, except of course, there were always yachts and bicycles, and dunes, and artists. Gee, maybe Nantucket does have something in common with Balbec.

We subscribed to Gourmet until last year. When the economy tanked, it was time for us to scale down our travel, dining out and dining in food budgets, and I noticed that I seldom actually cooked any of the Gourmet recipes. We became Bon Appetit, and Cook's Illustrated folks. In Germany last winter, we ate at obscure country inns and bratwurst on the street in Thuringia. None better.

Tonight, for example, I'm making a ratatouille and Italian sausage pie with a cornmeal crust. Homey, frugal, healthy and ,we hope, tasty. With parsley, basil and thyme and even a tomato from the garden. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, and we were going to celebrate at Coriander in Sharon and discovered it had been sold and turned into an Indian restaurant. We got to Needham for Indian Food. Masala Art. So we're trekking to Providence to Al Forno where the food is always sublime and your waistline and wallet both take a hit.

The last time we were in Paris our big dining splurge was at the Pompidou Centre restaurant, and a fine meal it was. Would Proust approve? What would he think of all those pipes and escalators and the modern art? Proust was a man of his time and I think he would like it. Can you see his quiet, pleasant little smile? Sort of like a psychiatrist's.

Now Gourmet is gone. Before we downsized and moved, I had a twenty-year collection which I parsed for "keep" recipes. I also saved all the Thanksgiving and Christmas and barbecue issues, which actually had stuff you would cook. Or might. Holiday foods that Francois could produce. Does Proust ever mention holidays? Can't recall. Just the summer vacances. Interesting no? Inquiring minds . . .

I'm sorry I haven't read much of anything lately. Can't even keep up with the newspapers (also folding) and the magazines. Life is not what it once was. But then it never is.