Daily Office

The same skyline, but with a bit more of Queens, and a lot closer to Penn Station.

Matins: Last night, I went to a reading at The Drawing Center. I’d been invited, by one of the writers. Who could turn that down?

Sext: No sooner do I finish slogging my way through Michael Banks’s semi-moronic Blogging Heroes (in the Morning Read) than the Times comes along with a half-page summary, “So You Want to Be a Blogging Star?

Vespers:  It’s hard to tell just where this Web site, VVork, is domiciled, but this bit of conceptual art suggests Further Fun. (Thanks, kottke.org.)Oremus…

§ Matins. Vestal McIntyre, author of the short-story collection, You Are Not The One,  and of the forthcoming Lake Overturn (HarperCollins, 2009), sent an email to the names on his list last week, and, since I’m on the list, I got the invitation to hear him read, along with two other Open City writers, Rebecca Wolff and Jonathan Ames, at The Drawing Center, in Wooster Street, Soho. Here’s the interesting thing:

You’ll have noticed that I haven’t been to any readings this season. What with one thing and another, I simply haven’t been tuned in, and my efforts to do something about that have been unavailing. Until last week, that is — a week ago Friday, to be exact. At a bookstore that I visit regularly, I had a look at the coming events and saw that a reasonably celebrated novelist (but not one whose work I’ve read) would be giving a reading on the 19th. I resolved to go. And I should have done, had I not received Mr McIntyre’s more compelling offer.

Ms Wolff’s poems were wry and occasionally quite amusing, and I’d like to see more of them; but the two novelists, Mr McIntyre and Mr Ames, were nothing short of hilarious. One really had far more fun than one might expect to have at “a reading in Soho.” When I think what a crashing bore it would have been when I was their age…

§ Sext. Do I want to be a Blogging Star? As an answer, I’ll borrow a paragraph from today’s Morning Read. Clive James, in Cultural Amnesia, writes about interviewing Carlos Fuentes at home — in his library, where James discovers an open volume of Unamuno, the (nominal) subject of James’s essay.

I think his mention of the hero’s name might have been a gentle corrective to my pronunciation of it, which had been a bit hesitant. (The third syllable should be stressed, but for an English speaker the attraction of the word “unanimous” tends to drag the stress back to the second.) My pronunciation must have been good enough, though, for Fuentes to deduce that I had at least made a beginning on reading his native language. Thus began the kind of conversation that you could have before or after a TV interview but not during it. Nowadays, when I have transferred most of my television interviewing activities to the Internet, those are the conversations that I seek rather than avoid, but in the circumstances it would have been inconceivable to tape a conversation about Rubén Dario, Ortega, Octavio Paz and Unamuno. It would have been inconceivable because it would have been self-defeating. Carlos Fuentes had only one reason for going on television with me in a Postcard programme, and the reason was good: he did it to talk simple sense on an elementary subject, the status of his country. There would be a mass of English-speaking audience listening: millions of people who would never hear of Unamuno.

So I guess the answer would be “No, I do not want to be a Blogging Star.”

§ Vespers. Guess who walked up to me to say “Hi!” after last night’s reading at The Drawing Center? None other than Ms NOLA! It has been ages, but when calendars haven’t been in a twist, illness has intervened (not to worry, though). It was good to see my old friend looking so well.

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