Hawking Up Hairballs

Thursday, August 18, 2005

This and That

Well, it's been a while since I've posted. It's not what I would have wanted, but it was a matter of visiting family and more frustrating problems with my phone line. I kept getting static that made a good Internet connection impossible. Fortunately I was able to snag the BellSouth repairman that they sent out and convince him that the problem was in the antiquated junction box leading into my house. He replaced it and I can now get online without worrying about disconnects and slowdowns.

In the meantime, I've solved a couple of the problems I've had with naming the characters in my novel. The antagonistic character who was named Joey will be Joey Canebrake. He's a "good ol' boy" who is a bit of a snake in the grass, and I feel that "Joey Canebrake" connotes that sort of character without being too heavy-handed. I've also got names that I'm reasonably satisfied with for the three cats in the circus' big-cat act. I'm using Sycorax as the name of the lead cat. Circe and Selene will be the names for the other two. Sycorax is the name of Caliban's mother in Shakespeare's The Tempest. I like the name because I can use "Syco" as her nickname, thus playing off of the word "psycho".

I'm about halfway through an intriguing novel by W.G. Sebald called Austerlitz. I kept reading about Sebald in the New York Review of Books and decided that it was time that I made a point of reading him. He's German, and since my German is rudimentary, to say the least, I'm reading him in translation. The book is the story of a man named Jacques Austerlitz and it is told from the point of view of another man who encounters Austerlitz from time to time. The book is told in the manner of a series of long monologues. There are no paragraphs, except at what I take to be the ends of chapters, and the narrator veers off in various directions to talk about seemingly unrelated topics, in architecture, the study of moths, etc. In addition, there are uncaptioned photographs in the text, indicating what the narrator sees or holds in his mind. It sounds strange, but it works. Sebald was apparently an admirer of Breton, and this is one of the few novels that I've encountered that uses the Surrealists' techniques, and manages to make them work.

As regards non-fiction, I'm currently reading Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy. It's a collection of essays by different historians about the classes that have historically ruled the USA. It's not one of those conspiracy theory books either. It's published by Harvard University Press, which pretty much puts it in the academic mainstream.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, I couldn't make it through The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions by David Ray Griffin. He raises some interesting facts that leads one to think that there is more to the story than we know, but a lot of what he claims just isn't plausible. For instance, he maintains that there was no way the two airliners could have collapsed the twin towers, and that the way they fell was characteristic of a controlled demolition. He even quotes a couple of experts on the subject who back up that contention. Griffin suggests that there were people in the government who were complicit in the terrorist acts of 9/11. That I find hard to believe, at least in the stronger senses of complicit. Word would get out. It just isn't possible to cover such things up. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if the Busheviks were complicit in the weaker senses of the term. I think it quite likely that they had credible intelligence reports that indicated that such attacks were coming, but that they ignored them. Given that the Busheviks are never inclined to admit they're wrong, they would go the great lengths just to cover up something like that.

I'm a man, so I guess it's obligatory that I make some comment on sports. I'm a Braves fan and, living in Atlanta, get all of their games on TV, and I must say that I'm enjoying the hell out of watchng Jeff Francoeur. It's like something out fo a movie like The Natural.

One final word, does anyone out there know of any good review sites where I might get suggestions for reading? I've found a few, but none that have impressed me enough to go back to them.


Blogger David Matthews said...

I've probably read the same NYR essays on Sebald that you've read. Sounds like he is worth checking out.

And, hey, Ive known women who are baseball fans. Being out here on the Left Coast and stubbornly without cable, I won't get opportunity to check out Francoeur until the playoffs. My loss.

11:02 PM  

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