Whether I will add a garden gnome to the bathroom or not, I don’t know. Perhaps the rag doll Firmin le Clown will continue his watch next to the front door, unassisted. But the gnome remains in my thoughts now that yesterday’s third (or was it fourth) visitor to my new space stood in my bathtub while I bent down to look at my hair in the bathroom mirror.
Yes, I now live in a place where I am taller than whoever it was who installed that mirror. As for the bathtub, even my tall and very thin friend had no other choice than to stand facing the room and miming the awkward dance of showering in the narrow space left over once you take into account an overhang that eats up a full third of the space, lengthwise. We laughed which was an excellent thing, then proceeded on to the funerarium where laughing wasn’t on the menu at all. When aging parents take a break from the proceedings for a visit to the other son’s burial site across the road, you do your best to engage nieces and nephews in conversation so they can express what they understand of what’s going on. Then you come home, and concentrate on painting furniture as the days tick on toward back-to-school obligations.
The first of my visitors yesterday: a professional clown and close friend of the two brothers. Among his meandering tales: his recollections on a recent intro he had to improvise within minutes of taking the stage. Getting to the intro itself took awhile. First, he had to tell me several other things, including the advice of his teacher, circus performer/director Arlette Gruss. A clown act lasts a maximum of seven minutes, she used to say. If the clown doesn’t grab the audience in the first seven seconds, those seven minutes will stretch out into the worse seven years ever recounted in the Bible.
My writerly problem right now: when real-life people keep coming at me with such wonderful material, the fictional ones are at pains to keep up. I don’t discount the possibility of the characters rising to the occasion but between setting up house, dealing with the aftermaths of a friend’s death and sundry obligations to others, fiction flounders these days.
As for the Icelandic novel of murder and mayhem in Reykjavik, I’ve managed to turn one hundred and thirty-eight of its three hundred and ninety-six pages. Not that I’m addicted to so-called “page-turners” but when the prestigious Le Monde touts the man’s five million readers and irresistible story telling, I read on in an attempt to understand what keeps readers turning the pages when every one of them is a minefield of page stoppers. The kind of sympathique author you’d like to like but…
None of which is an excuse for not, at the very least, transferring some of my notes and scribbles into the body of the proto-draft, somewhere. Sense, order and better use of nonsense may have to wait a while longer.