Friday, November 28, 2014

Week in Seven Words #234

A chair floating legs-up in a lake, like a creature from Seuss.

A building grinning through broken teeth.

A well-to-do woman from San Francisco sits beside me on the bench. She asks several questions about New York - recommendations for museums, etc. - and after each suggestion, she points out that in San Francisco there's something better. "You have fine museums," she says, as if she fears I'm deeply offended. "But…" And here she tells me another thing that's wrong with New York, in tones of gentle regret. I hope she doesn't guess how amused I am by our conversation.

The lake has a marble quality to it, light and glass as you look to the floor of the shallows and find pink rocks and twisted scrap metal.

I'm becoming better aware of what resources I can spare for others and what I should better protect. Another line of defense against those who alight on other people's emotions in a vampiric way.

To make train fare, he tries selling artwork, some of it not his own. Out of a book he's torn a detailed sketch of a pansy drawn in three colors. One dollar for it.

A morning of quiet sidewalks and still trees. The air doesn't move, and the sun pounds on my head.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mr. Sammler's Planet: Mr. Sammler Is the Moon

(I read this novel for the Classics Club challenge.)

For much of Mr. Sammler's Planet, Artur Sammler reminds me of a gasping fish on a garbage heap. In some ways, he is also like the moon.

Why is he gasping for air?

Sammler is living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the 1960s. He has a keen eye for all the ways society is crumbling. He makes note of the crudeness and immaturity, the lack of dignity and stuntedness in people's behavior. As an intellectual, he is asked at one point to give a talk at a university and is soundly rejected by the audience for being old and impotent. Society, he thinks, has been given over to children and barbarians.

Had the book stayed on this level, of an elderly intellectual analyzing the defects of the society around him, it would not have been as interesting as what it becomes. Because, even as Mr. Sammler assesses the surrounding degradations, he doesn't think that he has any solutions to offer.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Week in Seven Words #232 & 233


Inside, it's quiet. There are dead plants and a warm, wet smell. A machine is whistling from another room. Rot and the promise of monsters in the middle of the afternoon.

Among flowers, a firefighter, frozen, clutches a small child.

From the border of her yard, she watched the ships pass in and out of the harbor. Even after they slid from view, she remained where she stood and observed how the water resettled in their wake.

Dashing across a road with no crosswalks, drivers unwilling to slow down or stop.

Smoke spreads from the grills, and music blares, and motors hum. Festivity means as much noise and odor as possible.

Wind sliding over bright sunny water.

They're crowing, they're pushing each other around, they've inked their baby-fine skin with flames and hearts. They're so young and so hellbent on piling experience on themselves, no matter what the cost, because they think that's the way to grow up faster.