Friday, June 26, 2009


Reading Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, on Christine's recommendation. I'm enjoying it greatly. I read very few novels anymore -- it takes so long to read a novel! -- so this is a special treat. I'm struck, whenever I read a novel nowadays, by how my generation is now in the ascendent. I notice the same thing in crossword puzzles. The cultural references are to things I know about: the Beatles, Nixon, the Berlin Wall. It's not necessarily that the writers and puzzle composers are my age: it's just that these things are the common coin. In ten years, more and more things will be cropping up that I'm too old to have a feel for; in another decade or two I'll be groping, as I used to in my twenties, when I had to strain to catch echoes and guess what Fred Astaire meant or what the given name of Charlie Chaplin's wife might be; except that then the problem will be that the people referred to are too young.

Right now, I'm in the sweet spot, convinced that all of human life was lived specifically for my benefit. (Enjoy it while you got it, bucko!)

I suppose we have Garcia Marquez & his ilk to thank for the liberation of incident. Serious novels were so godawfully stuffy for a while: nothing actually interesting or diverting could happen, because that wouldn't be literary. God! Those agonizingly realistic novels, Irving and Roth and Fowles and Malamud and Bellows and so forth: dreary self-absorbed characters having dreary half-hearted affairs and shuffling sullenly along to their dreary suburban deaths. No wonder I stopped reading novels. It was supposed to be realism, but it was completely foreign to the real world as I experience it, which is rich, throbbing, brightly colored, absolutely improbable and absorbing, full of beauty and terror and wistfully funny. Murakami's world, now, like Garcia Marquez's, is like the one I inhabit. I don't even want to visit the world of those older novelists.

Thank you Christine!

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