Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I've spent time the last couple days at the library researching things for my stories and for the Ulysses paper I still owe one of my professors.

Things read for stories (and please don't think this is bragging; I'm slow and plodding and can't remember half of what I read - but, strangely the faster I go through something, the more I retain): The Elegant Universe, Life on the Mississippi, Audobon Guides to Wildflowers and Trees, Architecture of St. Louis (if I could find a street level architecture guide which in all probability does not exist, I would be ecstatic), The French Revolution (mostly the storming of the Bastille).

Okay, those are all for Bastille Day and I am aware that I can get myself in a rut by spending too much time going over all this stuff. But in this case, I know exactly what I'm looking for. Other times, I'll stockpile books that I'll flip through and forget reading because I don't know what I'm looking for.

The other order of business is Ulysses and my unwritten paper thereof. Okay. Malachi Mulligan is a gross materialist who does indeed have good intentions for Stephen Daedalus, but the self-serious bard cannot take the Buck's mockery. Stephen is his father's son; they are both wasting drunkards, yet Leopold Bloom wishes to serve as a surrogate father to Stephen. See the line on Rudy, "Me in his eyes." That whole section makes me really sad and gives me goosebumps. Bloom's humanism is what I keep coming back to when I hear other students or whomever say Ulysses is artistic masturbation, a scholarly program for masochists. Now, at about the same time Bloom is thinking of Rudy and if he had lived, Stephen, on Sandymount Strand, recalls that he has his father's eyes. Alright, enough, anyway. The eyes-business I got from James Joyce and Shakespeare. Anyway, this is all dizzying.

I had a new idea for a story, for the holiday series. It involves a periphery character who is based on a somewhat former acquaintance of mine. This man will be in his late 30s or early 40s and will suffer from a psycho-sexual narcissistic mania. The "star" of the story is a character named Christian, himself a narcissistic maniac, who has only appeared in one of my stories previously. The thing that I love about Ulysses is how real it feels. Of course, parts of it are completely told (Oxen, Sirens) and other parts are most assuredly not real (95% of Circe), but Joyce knew exactly where all of his characters were and what they were doing at all times. You can trace their actions by minor asides given by other characters. That's something I want to instill in my stories in this series, that these are real characters who are alive and active even when they aren't featured in the story. I'm striving for more interconnectedness - thus the pedant rock-crit editor Brian Porter puts down Tish surreptitiously and in another story is turned down and embarrassed at a concert by Tish's ex-girlfriend Erin. But I don't want it to be Porter telling Erin who he is, but rather, visual cues that we get from Erin match up with cues we get from Tish, even if their method of describing people (something I have tried to vary) are not at all similar. I won't say much about sexual mania now, what form it will take in the story, because it could and probably will change once I've written and revised the thing. I'm widening the series and making more characters the focus of the final five stories. The only one I no longer have slated is Thanksgiving, but even that I have a pretty good idea of - I think it will feature an awful faux-celebrity roast (I tried this before and it didn't work so well, but I'm gonna give another go, maybe with many of the same characters). The thing I have to do next is plot out the entire timeline, know what characters are doing and where they are even in stories they don't appear in.

My brother Jamie's ten year wedding anniversary is this year, in two weeks. It just occurred to me, though he has been an adult for most of my life, that he was my age when he was married. I feel like a third grader who just realized he used to think when he was in first grade that third graders were practically adults. I guess I'd be less chagrined if I hadn't just realized how the vagina works.


Blogger ashby said...

"if I could find a street level architecture guide which in all probability does not exist, I would be ecstatic"

Isn't that the secret to every young man's heart? Yes, it is.

And I hate to break it to you, but the vagina doesn't work. It just lays there, mocking me, pretending to be coy.

6/14/2007 10:35 AM  

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