First step toward back-to-school with scheduling, then purchase of school supplies this morning. My personal back-to-school moment last night: cracking open Vladimir Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature, delivered in a soggy cardboard box by a soggy mail woman yesterday. Imagined the experience of the lecture on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park in the classroom with Austen’s novel and the lecturer. In the background: my own sketches of downtown Hautvoir’s traffic patterns at this draft’s later telling of life there. In the editor’s preface to Lectures, I come across this quote: “Instead of perpetuating the pretentious nonsense of Homeric, chromatic, and visceral chapter headings, instructors should prepare maps of Dublin with Bloom’s and Stephen’s intertwining itineraries clearly traced. Without a visual perception of the larch labyrinth in Mansfield Park that novel loses some of its stereographic charm, and unless the façade of Dr. Jekyll’s house is distinctly reconstructed in the student’s mind, the enjoyment of Stevenson’s story cannot be perfect.” My thanks to the writer whose blog post sent me scurrying for more about Nabokov.
Be it for story or real life purposes spatial cues are key. Perhaps I needed the experience of my previous kitchen to appreciate all the charm of my new one. Not that the available space in it is extravagant. Once taken into account appliances and shelving, I’ll manage to add a small café-size round table for quiet meals while reading a book or mulling over a scene. All of which adds up to luxury when combined with plants on the window sill and a view out on a beamed brick house from the fifteenth or sixteenth century.
The street cleaner with Tourette’s walks by in the passageway below. Verbal outbursts in the loud, angry voice he has, almost strangled, when the bursts of words spew out of him. He’s a big, burly man, as gentle as a big burly Newfoundland retriever. When the fit isn’t on him, he stops grabbing papers with his pincers and asks about my dog or the size of Canada compared to present-day Russia. Demographics fascinate him also.
A small round table, fifty centimeters across or so. A map of downtown Hautvoir. Where does the traffic deviation begin? Where does it end? What is the status of the public square and of its surrounding buildings.
Rough sketches for the writer, while two characters drive into town.