Monday, November 23, 2009

The Other Other

There are about nine books waiting for me in the living room. And two or three more shoved back behind the couch in the TV room, either because I think I'm hurting their feelings by ignoring them or looking at them reminds me what an idiot I am for doing that ignoring. It's hard to say. Our friend Jody owns one of the best bookstores (CLoud & Leaf, Manzanita, Oregon) in the country; seriously, the most perfect little enclave filled with the most beautiful books you never knew existed or had forgotten about when your brain stopped storing the good stuff and got filled with the banal, the sticky, the flagrantly ordinary, the blah. For the last few months I've barely been able to read more than ten or twelve pages at a time in a book I'm dying to read. So there's been poetry. Short (short) stories. The New Yorker, thank god. Ruth Reichl's last will and testament—kidding, sort of. But my books...they wait and wait. What's wrong with me? What's with the concentration lag? One of my favorite writers in the world is Colum McCann. And he just won the National Book Award for Fiction 2009 for his new novel (residing behind my couch) Let the Great World Spin. Readers, get it. He's a beautiful, gifted, extraordinary writer and the first Irish-born winner of the NBA. Here's his quote about the stories we read:

'Vladimir Nabokov once said that the purpose of storytelling is "to portray ordinary objects as they will be reflected in the kindly mirrors of future times; to find in the objects around us the fragrant tenderness that only posterity will discern and appreciate in far-off times when every trifle of our plain everyday life will become exquisite and festive in its own right." This is the function of books—we learn how to live even if we weren't there. Fiction gives us access to a very real history. Stories are the best democracy we have. We are allowed to become the other we never dreamed we could be.'

We become the other, as Charlotte said once about traveling. The one we never dreamed we could be. Beautiful. - Janet


  1. John Adams6:22 PM

    One of the nicest things about books is that they, like your friends, will wait for you.

  2. John Adams? Is that you, the W+K John Adams producer of a zillion years ago???? How cool to hear from you. Charlotte

  3. Oh oh. oh oh oh oh.
    John Adams, I owe you a call, and a dinner night, and everything. Charlotte we saw John in Los Angeles, and he's now this incredibly successful director and looks exactly the same (he's frozen time in a bottle apparently) and married and happy and sweet...and we were supposed to get together and see him the next time we came down.
    John, will it help if i tell you we had a business dinner with Priscilla and Sheila? And that hopefully we'll be back really soon? Charlotte...he really hasn't aged a bit. It's unfair.

  4. John Adams6:24 PM

    I was so happy to see Janet and Rick...the only thing that could have made it better would have been Charlotte's presence (Ciao Cara!).
    I'm in lovely North Carolina at our little farm for a few more days, then back to balmy LA. I hope to see you there, Janet. We'll have a "business dinner" at our house.
    Charlotte, when are you coming back to the States for a visit?
    I miss you guys. It's been great reading the blog.