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Happy Bloomsboxing Day!

June 17, 2020

“Nurse the hangover, eat the potato, read simple prose.”

So goes the traditional advice for Bloomsboxing Day. I have not followed any of it. The Green Spot whiskey I drank had worn off by the time I turned in, sad to say, and I woke up this afternoon as fresh as an Irish Spring commercial  The potato has evaded the pot. Instead I ate a couple of tuna fish sandwiches, brownies with ice cream, and a usual assortment of snacks and palate amusers: a slice of Camembert, a few dark scrapings from the rutabaga barrel, a skink too slow in its escape from being caught and skewered,  five grapes, a carton of Meat-On-The-Bottom brand yogurt (lamb), a few unconsecrated communion wafers spread with a tapenade just on the edge of spoilage, a few unconsecrated communion wafers spread with Nutella (which in some quarters is actually thought to count as a form of consecration superior to that provided by the Church), and a couple of handfuls of peanuts washed down with black cherry soda. The Camembert was stolen from an attorney, as per custom, but not by me.

For prose I have been reading Kathryn Davis’s The Thin Place, and although the writing is not what I would call difficult or complicated, it is not simple. Most of the sentences are quite straightforward, such as “Once Andrea managed to grow a blue Hubbard squash the size of a manatee, but did that constitute happiness?” You will not break your brain on anything in this book (so far in my reading) except maybe trying keep the characters and their relations straight. But it asks for a slow, relaxed, and very attentive reading, or else Kathryn Davis’s brilliance will be spilled to waste. And if you don’t believe me about her brilliance, believe the greatly brilliant Penelope Fitzgerald, who wrote “Kathryn Davis is brilliant” right on the back of the book, though she died a full six years before its  publication, an uncanny fact not unreminiscent of some of the elements of the story itself. And Anne Patchett blurbs “Davis, God bless her, assumes her readers are intelligent people who are interested in what they are reading.” (But I saw Anne Patchett not long ago in Charlottesville, right before the world shut down all happiness, and she was as super-nice as you would expect and even more, which does make her suspect as a blurber, so you might be better off just trusting the not super-nice me, although that is not quite relevant here, as, apart from the asking for a blessing from God (who has clearly already blessed Davis with genius and the patience to use it), the blurb is not so much nice as simply accurately descriptive, and in fact warns off the unintelligent readers Davis, like all writers, needs to buy her work if she has any hope of making a living at it.) Davis does not put you through an exhausting, maddening, invigorating course of mental athletics in the manner of Joyce, but her novel shouldn’t to be read by a less than a fully engaged reader, which I believe takes it out of the category of simple prose. It may be some of the best writing of our time.

Now I am looking forward to doing something that has a chance of becoming a Bloomsboxing Day tradition: watching a silent film. It just feels right for the day, doesn’t it? I will be starting Fritz Lang’s Spies. It is 150 minutes long so I am not so sure I will be finishing it.

After what may have been a disappointing Bloomsday, given current conditions, I hope that you at least enjoyed a pleasant Bloomsboxing Day. Next up we have Juneteenth and then Father’s Day. The mid-June holiday season is a crazy time for us all. Just remember: 1) you are an adult and you don’t have to take any shots you don’t want to; 2) facing up to Ulysses, slavery, and paternity all in one week is rough, you might want to take a few shots; 3) don’t drink anything you wouldn’t like to sip; 4) if you don’t drink you might want to try exercise or meditation, just remember that you are an adult and you don’t have to do any exercise or meditation that you don’t want to; 5) if you are not an adult I am so, so sorry that your youth has been ruined.

 

From → Bloomsday

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