Saturday, March 25, 2006


I woke early and understood everything, but came down until I found my thoughts scraping the bottom just like my kayak at low tide. I can get from here to there, but I keep bumping into obstacles, manouevre round, encounter another, and soon enough I'm not heading where I was going.

It is a wonderful morning, high tide, and the reeds are still low so the water is uninterrupted, just the little Oscar Romero bobbing at its dock. It was quite a storm last night, I got up and secured the swing seat, but the rain was warm, and maybe the Big Wet is over at last.

I have been thinking about the Ten Commandments, which I can only remember because of Arthur Hugh Clough. I find them uneven, so I need to think about them more. I can't detect a hierarchy but I am sure someone will enlighten me. For now at least, I much prefer Rabbi Hillel to Moses.

At this point I really miss David Dulley, because only he loved to nit-pick these issues as much as I do. It must be ten years now since he died.

This all brought on from reading Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. I am halfway through, a little sorry that the structure is intrusive but the language is beautiful. The protagonist is John Ames, several allusions there but they are not laboured. He is a good, honourable old man helplessly in love with his life, deeply enmeshed in his own doctrine and with glimmers of insight into his own irrationality - in fact I'm almost sorry there is any plot at all. When I finish this I am going to need something gutsy, Norma recommended Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

We are shooting more authors in ten days, but it isn't as exciting as it sounds. I feel a bit sorry for them, propped up behind a desk while people gush at them, although they all say one of the great benefits is getting to talk with other authors. The desire for signed books is insane. The only one I admire tremendously is Dava Sobel, but that didn't mean I had anything to say to her. The essence of an artist is in the art, meeting them is an intrusion for me, that is, I am intruding upon them.

The one I found fascinating was Jan Karon, who has written a long series of cloying books. She herself is a wily, gracious Southern lady who arranges her life to suit herself, perfectly. "I think people like to look you in the eye, shake your hand" she said firmly to the organisers, so while the other authors were getting writer's cramp writing meaningless dedications she simply handed out pre-printed book plates, smiled graciously and listened, and her readers left feeling deliciously flattered at no great cost to herself. Her manners, her skin, her hair reminded me of Raine, Countess Spencer, and she was powerful, that surprised me, a backbone of finest tempered steel. I wish I had enjoyed her books better!

So here I am, still not into the promised bacon and eggs at 10am. It was a long, gruelling and triumphant day yesterday so this is the sweet pause before we start the next one.


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