Monday, September 28, 2009

A smattering of things that go on in my vaccuum cleaner head

That was the title of a poem written by a very enigmatic individual named Hyatt from back in my poetry workshop days at Rhodes. I remember it contained lines about his little brother dying after being "shark fed crystal meth," before any other normal person had ever even heard of that stuff. (He didn't really have a brother who died by meth, just so you know. Never trust a writer.)

That title, and its attached poetic body, popped into my head when I was thinking about how I should post, and how I really just had kind of a random smattering of thoughts and happenings to report. That set me wondering what happened to Hyatt and how old he really was and what his deal was. He seemed older than he should have been, and like maybe he came from a lot of money but chose to live in relative squalor in his strange, low-ceilinged, book-piled apartment in someone's attic and just go to school forever. Or maybe that's just my over-active writerly imagination. See what I mean about the trust thing?

Anyway, my thoughts wander like that. Want to go on a little ride down my stream of consciousness? Here we go! Row, row, row your boat...

Random current #1: I've mentioned to a few people that I'm re-reading The Catcher in the Rye, as I'm considering teaching it second semester. Since I now have two sections of eleventh-grade American lit after three solid years of nothing but the Brits, I'm kind of excited to teach a more contemporary novel later in the year. (It's hard to get that far in British Lit because, you know, it starts a few hundred years before America was even a glint in her daddy's eye.) And I've been surprised to have several people tell me they either hated the book or haven't wanted to read it because they think they will hate it. Um...what?? Okay, first of all, it's a great book. GREAT. And second of all, I was under the impression that this is one of the most beloved American novels of all time. We love Holden Caulfield. Don't we?? Chalk this one under reasons to lose faith in humanity.

Random current #2: It is the major paradox of my being that I am very optimistic and positive, but at the same time cynical and harshly critical. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but if you know me, you know what I'm talking about. The harshly critical part usually gets triggered by things that a lot of other people think are really cool. Yes, I know that's annoying and makes me basically an emo 16 year old boy. Whatever. The point is, I'm not real free with the praise of public figures or various pop culture what-have-yous, (except for writers, and I'll get to that in a minute.) The only thing that will make me come to the defense of a really popular figure is if they are currently the victim of a backlash. I'm a sucker for the underdog. But, but, and this is my actual point I'm finally coming to: when I grow up I want to be this woman. Because really, she just could not be any more badassed. So if you ever hear me doing what Stacey delicately called "laying the verbal smackdown like no other" on someone I deem to be stupid, and you wonder what it takes for me to just unabashedly geek out over a person's awesomeness, there's your example. She's not only smart, but driven and courageous. I think Diana Adams is so cool that I cannot even mock her coolness. That hardly ever happens. Chalk this one up under affirming faith in humanity.

Random current #3: I've been thinking a lot lately about writing. You know, like, a book. I have a couple of ideas for young adult novels. One is more fully-formed than the other. The characters are staring to knock on doors in my head. Partly they're telling me I have the wrong idea about what happenes to them, but we'll see. But then, at the same time, I just finished reading Wonder Boys. That Michael Chabon--holy crap! So I'd be reading, and I'd get smacked with one of those Chabon moments (when SAM and I had this conversation, she called it "a revelation of language," which seems apt), and I'd think "Oh right, THAT. That's writing. Damn!" Because you can't really get to that level in a YA novel. I think there is literary merit in a lot of YA lit, and I think it's a perfectly respectable thing to write, but when I read something like Kavalier and Clay or Wonder Boys, I feel like that's what I should aspire to. Like if I'm going to go to all the trouble to write a whole entire book, I should really write it, you know? So there's that. But I read a couple of Chabon's books before I figured out what all the fuss was about, so maybe that takes time. Even the freakishly talented don't hit that mark every time they put something out there.

There's a lot of other stuff running through my mind at any given moment, but this post is already long and attention spans are short these days, so I'll stop there for now.

9 comments:

Stacey Greenberg said...

I remember Hyatt. He did seem old, didn't he?

Shannon said...

i adore YA lit and would love to read a book in that genre that you write. ditto on the chabon. it would be hard to read his genius and even consider writing.

Mrs. Katherine said...

I love "Catcher in the Rye," but I think Holden Caulfield is a real tool. I could never name a child Holden because of him (not that I was thinking about it).

RJA said...

Oh Katherine, you break my heart! How can you like the book if you don't like Holden? Not like him like you'd want to be around him, of course, but like you understand his heartbreaking longing for innocence and a time before loss.

Sassy Molassy said...

Oops, that was me, not RJA.

Sweet Sassy Molassy said...

There was something about people saying "corn hole" in that poem too, which is another reason I've probably been thinking of Hyatt. But that reference was not about the game!

Chip said...

And to tie your #2 to your #3, wasn't it you who said, "I just can't get into Kavalier and Clay. I don't see what the big deal is."

I guess you could say I've read quite a bit of YA stuff lately too-- Slam (very good), Catch (very bad), the Dark Materials books (great). Summerland is next on my list. For some reason, I'm really drawn to intelligent, incisive takes on high school. (See: Prep, King Dork.)

And yeah, what crazy people don't like Catcher in the Rye?

Sassy Molassy said...

The first time I picked up Kavalier and Clay, I didn't think I'd like it because it was about boys and comic books. It seemed way more male than anything I'd normally enjoy. But when i relented to peer pressure and read it, I was blown away.

His Dark Materials are really great! Those are way up there on the complexity scale for YA. I liked Summerland, and C just read it and liked it.

warren said...

Chip, what you saying, Mark David Chapman is crazy?