Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Writing is hard. At least in my current state of mind, which is unstable, to say the least. I don't mean I'm falling off a cliff or anything, but if I were to sit down and write every single day, what came out would be literally all over the map, possibly generating suggestions that I go on some sort of bi-polar medication.

That said, I have been probing myself--an uncomfortable task--and trying to find out the best manner in which to proceed. With life. With self. I think I'm being a bit too results-oriented. What can I do to reach "there" instead of what can I do today to make me feel better today. Not in the sense of escapism, but in the sense of dealing, of checking the soil underneath the rock instead of stepping over it like the day before.

I didn't set out to find the quintessential volumes of Middle-Aged Male Angst, but I found them anyway in the "Rabbit" novels of John Updike. I was tasked to do some work on the author and thought, "hey, I haven't read much Updike (essays mostly) and I really should seeing as he's only one of two people to twice win the Pulitzer for fiction. So I picked up all four installments of the Harry Angstrom novels. What strikes me most is how bewildered he is and has little idea where he stands, in culture, the world around him, even his own family. And it has illustrated to me that very few people, if any, are ever sure in their every step. Though his experiences and mine are chronologically mismatched (he hits middle age about the time I was touching my first boobie), his doubt, his altered world-view as he ages, these are universal themes, out of time.

When I was about mid-way through the books, one of my favorite authors released a new novel. Richard Ford is also a Pulitzer winner and his latest release is the final salvo in the Frank Bascombe trilogy. The first was "The Sportswriter," from which I stole the use of 'X.' The second--the Prize-winner--was "Independence Day" and it is this I am currently reading again, to reaquaint myself with Bascombe before tackling the final novel, entitled, "Lay of the Land." And what a time to read it again.

Unlike Rabbit, who is simply a serial adulterer, Bascombe is divorced and his grief is multiplied by the death of a young child, events which cast him into "something stressful followed by the beginning of something indistinct." I can currently relate to feeling entirely indistinct. More from Ford:

"Though what I in time began to sense...was actually a kind of disguised urgency...a feeling completely different from the old clicking, whirly, suspenseful perturbations I'd felt in my last days as a sportswriter: of being divorced, full of regret, and needing to pursue women just to keep myself pacified, amused and slightly dreamy. This new variety was more a deep-beating urgency having to do with me and me only, not me and somebody. It was, I now believe, the profound low thrum of my middle life seeking to be seized rather than painlessly avoided."

Sick prose. And far more than I could ever manage to perfectly encapsulate me. Today.

How to go about seizing? Still workin' on it.


At 12:15 PM, Blogger Karol said...

I loved the Sportswriter and I read it as a teenage girl. I remember it made me sort of crazy and not wanting to grow up. It was much darker than I had expected when I picked it up.

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Blinders said...

If poker blogging is ghey, blogging about reading books is gheyer

At 8:15 PM, Blogger Ignatious said...

i'm a big fan of the rabbit series, but then again, i read it when it first came out.

ain't revisited it so i wonder what i'd think now.

thanks to mr. irving, i fell in love with the word redux.

At 12:41 AM, Blogger Veneno said...

If you figure it out...please share.

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you need to change your drinking habits. Head to the bar and drink 2 Sapphirre and tonics. That will help.

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you, Oprah?

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Uwannabet? said...

Updike sums up a life with the best of details.


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