Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A literary Generation Coming To An End

For some reason or another, over the past few years, I inadvertently became attached to a particular group of authors that happen to have one important thing in common. Without knowing anything about the writers aside from their works, I found it to be a strange phenomenon as they started slipping underground one by one. I soon realized that, unfortunately, I had decided that it would be a good idea to take a liking to the stylings of a handful of people that are all at least in their sixties; many of them, older still. I, by no conscious decision, naturally tend not to be interested in authors of generations closer to my own. I'm not certain if it's simply the style of prose, the characters, the settings or the subject matter, but something in my elders just seems more intriguing to me, I guess. Perhaps because they are more reliable portholes into the past.

Here are a few that I have lost within the past three and a half years:

Saul Bellow, April 5, 2005, 89 years old. I have a strange attraction to Jewish literature. I just absolutely love the feel of it; the humor, the honesty.

Kurt Vonnegut, April 11, 2007, 84. I own and have read over a dozen of Kurt's novels. I like his social awareness and his sense of irony.

Robert Jordan, September 16, 2007, 58. Robert is here on account of his place in fantasy just as Crichton has his in science fiction.

Norman Mailer, November 10, 2007, 84.
Once we discount the fact that Mailer is completely insane, his stuff has the potential to be mind-blowing in it's historical relevance and it's absurdity.

Michael Crichton, November 4, 2008, 66. I'm not so much a fan of Crichton's work, as just an admirer of what he was: a huge inspiration in the field and art of science fiction.

David Foster Wallace, September 12, 2008, 46. I admit that--considering his age and the circumstances regarding his death--David doesn't belong here. However, I thought very highly of his work and couldn't bring myself to just leave him out.

John Updike, January 27, 2009, 76. I have little doubt that most people--just as they would in regards to Philip Roth--would write most of John's stuff off as despondent near-smut, but I believe that he has written some of the best works pertaining to the trappings that come along with advanced age.

With how quickly the days begin and end, it seems to me that these friends of mine--these minds that I have spent so many riveted hours in the company of--are dropping like flies. And I've recently been wondering who will be the next to go. Many of my other favorites are definitely about to start pushing the limits of mortality. It's a sad thing, indeed, for an avid reader such as myself. Here's a few, by age:

Stephen King, 61; Kent Haruf, 65; Garrison Keillor, 66; John Darnton, 67; Joyce Carol Oates, 70; Thomas Pychon, 71; Don Delillo, 72; Annie Proulx, 73; Cormac McCarthy, 75; Philip Roth, 75; Toni Morrison, 77; Frank McCourt, 78; Elie Wiesel, 80; Noam Chompsky (stretch to label him an author, I know), 80; Gore Vidal, 83; Ray Bradbury, 88.

Soon, I will have no other living authors to look up to. It's a pretty sad thing for me to think about.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Few Things I Love

My good friend, A Paperback Writer, has been so kind as to offer me a small gesture of appreciation. As I understand it, with this token comes great responsibility: the obligation to divulge some information about what you are partial to and why you have said sentiments, which I will happily do. I have almost no attachment to actual tangible items, so I may be overstepping the rules a bit here and traveling instead into memory, but I ask you to forgive my presumptuousness, for I am a nostalgic soul. The thing that means the most to me is time being spent as it should be, and remembering it as just that. So here are a few things about me that are of no real consequence:

1. I love playing music. I've been in a handful of bands over the last eight years--none of which has ever had much of a following--and I will say there's nothing quite like it. I've strummed some guitar, plucked some bass, and screeched vocally over any number of chords and have recorded a good twenty-five or so songs in various studios. I've played for crowds as small as a few dozen people to a venue that couldn't fit another soul--a small venue, mind you. And the bond that is built between friends that create any type of art together is a strange but enviable one, incomparable to those erected on other foundations. And so, I love the songs that we have written together, and I love all of those friends that have sat down with me and done so.

You know, as I'm sitting here trying to think of what to write about, I'm realizing how much a child of the 21st century I am. I couldn't care less if some crazed person for some unthinkable reason made off with my television, my car, my bed and so many other things--it would be considered reparable damage. The only real things I'd be upset over are things like: my computer, my mp3 player and my phone. As I said, I am a creature of nostalgia, and this being the year that it is, the bulk of all things written to me that I am fond of or the hordes of pictures of my friends or of places that I loved and that I love still are all stored in these electronic devices. They really are--I can say without a second of hesitation--essentially the only things I'd miss, save for their analog counterparts in the middle drawer in my room. Perhaps I should take measures to back up some of such things. I'd also be a little put out if someone stole my bookcase, I guess. But, besides that, pilfer away.

So I'm just going to waste some time speaking well of a memory or of a phenomenon or two that I particularly enjoy(ed).

2. Differing temperatures. This will probably make absolutely no real sense to most of you, but it is something that I consider a treat. I am specifically referring to this: having a blanket that is warm--perhaps having just come out of the dryer--and a pillow that is freezing. I don't know why, but ever since I was a child, I spend most nights flipping pillows over again and again to find a cold spot, and in failing to do this, reaching then for another pillow altogether. The blanket is entirely the opposite. I have no problem scrunching down chrysalis-like into a sleeping bag--can't sleep without at least something covering me, in fact--but the pillow always has to be cold. I love it. Don't know why, don't care.

3. Watching someone, anyone, doing something that they love. Sorry if I'm coming off as forcibly poetic or overly maudlin, I'm just trying to be honest. There's something about the look on someone's face, or just the energy you can feel bursting out of them--and sometimes into you--when they are extremely happy or in a perfect moment. Watching someone who loves nothing more than to dance doing just that, flowing or jolting about on a stage, is not something to be missed. On the other hand, witnessing someone do something they do well but have no passion for couldn't be any more boring.

Well, then. I would more than likely keep smothering you with this sentimental garbage that I feel so strongly about if I didn't have to run. Thinking fruitlessly about what to write has exhausted my allotted time. Thanks for reading.