music in the snow
|Joanne McNeil||Feb 15, 2019|
I'm teaching a writing class at the School for Poetic Computation next month. Tickets are about to sell out! I can't believe it. I can't get that many people to go to my birthday parties. Meanwhile, I started reading Sigrid Nunez's The Friend, which begins describing how much writing instruction might be condensed to the words "get out." The consequence of this is, how hard it is to find genuine support and guidance if one is to keep going. That’s what I hope to provide with this class, and it helps that SFPC is an institution that I believe in. I've only had good experiences with the people I've met and events I've attended there.
For inspiration, I am also reading On Film-making by Alexander Mackendrick. Not for its particular relevance to the material in my class, but for the structure and thoroughness of these lessons. It's a complete introduction to the craft and technique of film, but organized as a series of sharp essays. I wish there were more books like this for any kind of subject: calligraphy, horseback riding, needlepoint, whatever.
I'm currently tucked away in a remote location surrounded by snow. Deer pass by my window and it's so quiet here that music sounds strange—like I'm missing some kind of reverberation. Sort of like how tomato juice tastes best in flight, my favorite bands sound odd when they are not fighting through the sound of traffic or trains outside or the refrigerator buzzing. Blossom Dearie was born a few towns over, according to Wikipedia. And wouldn't you know, that's exactly what I wanted to hear last night.
I finished reading A Separation by Katie Kitamura. It was a good hanging-around-the-house-novel. That might sounds like a slight, but I don't mean it that way. What I mean is, here is a book that I just happened to have, and without any meaning attached to it. These books end up in my possession because friends who are book critics hand me totebags of galleys when I visit, or a friend comes to visit and leaves the book they are reading so it ends up mixed in my shelves—in this case, I picked up the paperback of A Separation at a library which was selling donated books for a dollar each, so I did buy it, but only because I basically bought up everything. Sometimes picking up a book is freighted with so much besides the book itself — a friend insists you read it, it's the book *everyone* is reading, it's on a subject you are researching at the moment, whatever — that it's nice to just grab something and go without any preconceptions about what it will be, or how you should feel about it. For what it's worth, Kitamura's novel has some surface similarities to Rachel Cusk's Outline and elements of mystery, but it is carefully written in a way that gently introduces its dark observations. Plus, it's just over two hundred pages — the perfect hanging-around-the-house-novel length. I liked it.
I also watched Attack the Block this week. I'd seen parts of it before, but never in full. It's fun and funny. I was struck by the lack of pandering. The diversity — notably in 2011, before there were prominent viral campaigns for diverse casts— is presented very casually: this is the city of London. I was reminded of (one of my favorites since I was a kid) Batteries Not Included—another sci-fi movie about gentrification!
Thanks for reading.