rlbourges

Oblique

In Current reading, Drafts, Hautvoir, Scene Prep, Sundays on March 22, 2015 at 8:09 am

Last night was the kind of evening when, after a fair amount of work on the draft, I rested my arms on the top shelf of the bookshelf in the living room, and waited for one or another of the books to send out signals. The first to do so was Katherine Mansfield’s The Collected Stories. Which I opened at random – since it was that kind of evening when too many thoughts lead in too many directions. The pages opened on A Suburban Fairy Tale in which a small boy wonders why there aren’t two kinds of eggs, “little eggs for children and big eggs like what this one is for grown-ups”. From where I read on, then discovered a website from New Zealand with several of Mansfield’s stories available for online reading.

How Mansfield drew me next to Denis Diderot and his Jacques le fataliste I can only understand as a matter of something in the manner. The jauntiness – one of the “colors” or “flavors” I experience when reading something by Mansfield, no matter what the short story may be. Diderot is much wordier, of course. For one, he’s French, for another he wrote in the eighteenth century. The wordiness soon gets annoying. I stop reading when the annoyance threatens to overtake the feeling of skipping along on the road, next to Jacques and his Master, eavesdropping on their collection of tales, reflections and anecdotes. The French often hail the originality of Diderot’s manner, but rarely mention the community of spirit between Jacques and The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. I have no idea if said community was accidental or intentional.

In any event the useful question for me is: Whereto now? In real time, a few must-dos out on the streets and up a few stairwells. In story, a collection of characters like so many life-sized puppets strung up backstage in no particular order. Each one has a role to play – whether as an essential walk-on or as one of the main characters: still to be discovered, in many instances.

Plus politics, of course, in the limelight on this Sunday, the first in the two-tiered departmental election process.   Some people prefer rugby matches to electioneering, some people love both. Winners, losers, jeers from one side of the stadium to the other, breathless and mindless updates on instant news platforms, plus endless commentaries. In it all, sorting through for those nuggets that set the stage for the appearance of the next character.

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