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Author Updates

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Attended reading last night by former grad-school classmate, Sheila Kohler at local bookstore. Presented her new novel, Bluebird or The Invention of Happiness. After eight books of short, elliptical, and perfectly phrased autobiographical fiction, she has written a long historical novel about Henriette-Lucy Dillon, Jacobite who became a lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette. Although Iím incapable of doing the research required for such a project, couldnít help but envy what sounded like a release from the wearying labor of trying to haul up water from the increasingly empty well of self.

Feelings complicated by discussion with R before start of reading. ďYour FIRST novel was so good,Ē he said with unmistakable emphasis. Reminded me of frequent comment by my mother: ďI still like your FIRST book best.Ē A meaningless statement since I know she hasnít ready ANY of them, but even so. Does it make me feel better or worse that R has read them all?

Sheila remarkably beautiful and discreetly sexy in what I suspect is her 6th decade. No hint of facial renovation or makeup. Always slightly undone by her intelligence, appearance, and elegant manners. Inevitably feel like low-brow goof in cheap second-hand clothes when in her presence. Which is ridiculous. She is incredibly gracious. Besides, the Gap shirt I had on was purchased on sale but brand new.

At cocktail party afterwards, conversation moved in downward trajectory as alcohol consumption increased. From Freud to French elections to dogs to American Idol to M and Cís detailed and riveting description of someone or otherís ass. (Didnít dare ask how they knew.)

Attending yoga/martial arts workshop this evening at LA Sports Club, courtesy of remarkably beautiful and not-quite-discreetly sexy Sandrine. Prepared for being oldest person in the room. Have made the transition from being worried about not keeping up to accepting defeat and feeling proud of abilities FOR MY AGE. Low expectations. At very least, will perhaps have something to describe in detail to M and C when I next see them.

Posted by Stephen @ 04:49 PM EST

Friday, April 20, 2007

Have become increasingly invested in giving advice to friends on matters of jobs, relationships, lighting, and paint colors. Emails to M on the subject his marriage and his extra-marital escapades seem to be increasing in numbers and length. More hours every week spent counseling X on his troubling obsession with Y. Daily phone calls with Z about her job situation in a field about which I know absolutely nothing. Bucket-shop- quality counseling sessions with mother on matters of aging. Would like to believe itís all a manifestation of generosity and empathy, but probably more closely related to reluctance to look at my own life with anything resembling objectivity and realism. So much easier to examine the problems of others. Besides, offers of advice often make up for the feeling of pointlessness engendered by an unproductive writing day. Every day, in other words.

Disappointed by my own lack of sympathy for that most common form of romantic shipwreck: the unreciprocated crush/obsession. Find it unspeakably boring to listen to the careful dissection of every sentence uttered by the unmoved beloved, as reported by the obsessed. ďHe said Ďand I canít make the dinner.í What do you think it means that he said Ďandí instead of Ďbutí? I think it was more apologetic. If heíd said Ďbut I canít make the dinnerí it would have been harsher. Donít you think?Ē Change the subject to college massacres and Supreme Court decisions and thereís a sad, distracted, ďI know. Itís horrible, isnít it? But can I say one more thing? The fact that he said ďI canít make the dinnerí instead of ĎI canít come to the dinner,í sounds to me more like he wishes he could. Donít you think?Ē

Listening begins to feel like getting dragged into bizarre loop tape in which same short scene plays over and over. Shouldnít complain. Itís not as if I have all that much else to do. But beginning to fear that my current lack of obsessive, loop-tape rumination about an unobtainable love object is really an indication that I havenít accepted my actual age. Will have to meditate on this. Whatever that means.

Posted by Stephen @ 08:55 AM EST

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Have been sucked into swirling vortex of YouTube with increasing frequency. Usually begins with semi-legitimate excuse of watching some "educational" news conference political clip. Typically this means several minutes of public humiliation for Bush or one of his minions--beginning to look more and more like a band of certifiable merry pranksters. This dissolves into obsessive multiple viewings of Joni Mitchell at musical venues around the world. Then repeat viewings of Jane Birkin in various stages of gorgeous. Then Serge Gainsbourg in various stages of louche-with-cigarette. And why not interviews with their daughter in French and English with excuse of language studies? Down, down, down the dark ladder until hours have passed and I find myself watching the otters holding hands in the Vancouver zoo for the 9 millionth time. It could be worse, and I fully expect it will be before long. Something involving kittens, I suppose.

Reading L'Amour Dure Trois Ans (Love Lasts Three Years) by F. Beigbeder for French class. Halfway through and no signs of any characters or chronology or dramatic tension on the horizon. On the other hand, full of sharp pithy observations about love and the impossibility of relationships that I wish I had written. "L'amour est un combat perdu d'avance." "L'amour est une catastrophe magnifique..." "Et si l'adutere m'avait rendu adulte?" (And what if adultery had made me into an adult?) And so on in that vein. Not that I agree or believe in all the perfectly phrased pessimism, but it has the ring of truth and the shrewd irony lulls you into a state of happy despair. Comes close to my desire to write a book that's nothing but observations, without the need for a gd STORY and a f-ing PLOT. Although I do miss characters.

After long discussions with M, with T, and with VB, have become more convinced than ever that whether love lasts 3 years or not, fidelity lasts about half as long. "Male infidelity" a sort of redundancy. One of the reasons, I'm convinced, that most men in heterosexual marriages/relationships are so detached and unwilling to discuss their feelings. What if they let the truth slip? Thursday night performance of annual benefit show S and I write. Went out afterwards with cast and producers. Sat with Lisa and C and watched X (aged 65 and richer than Donald Trump) grope blonde on other side of the bar and then leave with her. "But it's not his wife!" was C's comment. No, and it wasn't his mistress, either. "How would I know if my husband...?" C asked. Based on my observations and discussions, it's all pretty obvious. Is he happy? Content? Considerate? Affectionate? All dead giveaways.

Posted by Stephen @ 04:10 PM EST

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