Friday, February 3, 2017

4 to 1

I was reading Reviving Ophelia the other day, because I have a daughter and I want to get a jump on adolescence, because my eldest son is in it and it seems to be an important time. She noted that children's books with male characters outnumber female characters by four to one. I've been noticing that as I sweep up all the free children's books (Including Beatrix Potter's first one) in my poverty, I'm noting this is often true. My beautiful daughter doesn't really like to be read to these days, and has a bit of a destructive and masochistic streak at the moment, but she does like to turn pages, so cardboard books are the best. She really liked a book about baby faces. Nowadays she doesn't have the patience and walks away. There was a stage where she kept handing it to us, and then when we read she took the book away or walked away. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure if there are any females in that book. I need to get the one with girl faces around the world. I thought about my sons who don't pick books with female narrators. What if the gender was switched in the Potter books? A female Potter and Weasley, and a male Hermione.

Eragon became available from the digital library. I'll read it after I finish a book on the five hinderances.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Haruki Murakami + name dropping and the purpose of this blog

I'm on my 5th Haruki Murakami novel I've noticed some patterns. But what I want to say is that one frame of his fiction is to have a modern skeptical Japanese person, having many supernatural things happen to them, and they engage but they still are not so much converted, though accept their experience.

There's always unemployed normal people who aren't salarymen, they follow classical and rock and roll. There's always a young girl. The protagonist does not jump to sexual thoughts easily, though there are times when they are embarassed to, but not with the young girls.

There's an existential aspect to the characters lives, they riff existentially. They search for a self in a world where we have lost the village and religion. There are no convenient answers and often the contingent feeling of life makes one feel empty. And yet the protagonist tends to listen to their inner voice.

There's a kind of undercurrent of Buddhist thoughts, akin to a writer from a Buddhist country, they just percolate from his character's musings at times. (I love the idea of the blog Buddhist Fiction--she doesn't have him among the author list on the right and I couldn't find a way to search her blog), though I do get e-mails of every post.

Finally, even though the characters seem pretty western, Japanese culture seeps through. I've learned a lot about Japan following up google searches, and looking at the geography and maps. History as well.

I'm going to name drop as a sort of way of saying why I want to start this blog.

I've gone on writer binges, my last one was Octavia Butler, and my favorite authors throughout my life went in this order: Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, Paul Auster, Milan Kundera, Samuel Beckett, Philip Roth (Octavia Butler, Haruki Murakami). Of the newer writers I like Johnathan Franzen. I've also loved one off novels and not really gotten into authors. I was a philosophy major in college, but I've loved fiction since I grabbed Slaughter House Five out of a box of books that was being thrown away and it blew my mind. Science fiction is fun for me and I often go over the list of Nebula awards and Hugo awards, and I have to admit I've read a lot of Star Trek novels since I've watched and rewatched all the series and wanted more.

Authors I have seen read in public: Paul Auster. I can't remember others, though I've gone to more than one reading. Authors I have have met: John Saul is my stepfather's friend. I took a creative writing class with Renard Allen (who was compared to Joyce, Faulkner and Woolf in his book Rails Under My Back. I hung out with Laurie Colwin, a friend of my deceased uncle. Of course she died too early in her sleep. I went to school with the stepdaughter of Janet Shaw who wrote the adult novel Taking Leave. I've gone on small binges of some writers: John Updike, Carol Maso, Sherman Alexie. I recently read Alexie's young adult novel and quite enjoyed it. I've read books to my sons, and they stopped letting me read to them on the 4th Harry Potter. So I read the next two and I'm going to read the last one next. I loved Chaucer and Irish literature, Samuel Becket. I was named after a James Joyce protagonist, though I've changed my name. I've gone on binges of Hispanic writers, African-American writers. I had a friend who took a class with David Huddle, and I read a book of his short stories, The High Spirits.

I read history, graphic novels, young adult literature, children's books, psychology, psychoanalysis and the history of psychoanalysis. My favorite writers in psychoanalysis is Irving Yalom, Stephen Mitchell and Philip Bromberg (the last whom I saw at a talk). I have a blog that reviews Buddhist books, and charts my spiritual journey. I started a masters of English at Queens College but I think I only got through 2 classes before life swept me in other directions. I took a class with the chairman who edited a book on critical theory, who made fun of my wish to write about an Allen Ginsberg poem. (I saw Allen Ginsberg walking on the street before he died, I lived a block away from him on 12th street for a while) I had a little beat phase. I've gone on a major memoir binge. I know someone, an acquaintance,  who teaches nonfiction writing. I met an author at a party once, but I don't remember her name, I didn't follow up. I had a drink in the bar where O Henry was supposed to have written. I've read a fair amount of poetry and I have a signed copy of Tess Gallager's book of poems, when I went to a reading of her. I love plays, love Shakespeare, haven't gotten into the modern titans besides Arthur Miller and Eugine O'Neil. I saw Waiting for Gadot with John Goodman and another guy I've seen in a lot of movies, who's name escapes me. Had to write a paper in social work school about a play. I was a philosophy major and saw some famous philosophers, read many of them. Richard Rorty is probably the most famous. Read an article recently where, among many others, he predicted the raise of Donald Trump. My parents are into mysteries, and I've tried to read many, but the ones I liked most were Tony Hillerman and Kirk Mitchell.

When I came to NYC I hope to be a writer, but quickly changed tack and gave up. I gave my resume to Knopf at the doorway, but didn't really get an interview. I wrote short stories last in Allen's class at QC. I still fantasize about being a writer. I also sometimes pretend I'm Chuck Klosterman in another blog.

At the risk of starting another blog that vanishes into the void, I wish to make comments on fiction.