Another perfectly paradisiacal day! I spent a large chunk of it in the garden attempting to read The Mirror and the Light.
The Mirror and the Light has come to symbolize the whole frustrating pandemic experience for me: I bought the book on March 10th, the day before the whole world went wonky, and I had really been looking forward to reading it ‘cause Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are like the most Perfect Books ev-ah! but I have been completely unable to read it: I just keep scrolling through the same paragraph over and over again.
Could this whole pandemic experience be some sort of protracted dress rehearsal for Alzheimer’s? It’s so hard to concentrate!
I dragged one of the camp chairs that lives in my trunk into the garden. On beautiful days like yesterday, the sun irradiates your eyelids, so that when you finally open your eyes again, the whole world is on dimmer switch, everything is a ghost of itself—not an unpleasant sensory illusion, though one I typically associate with being at the beach, listening to the receding sounds of the ocean.
I felt very good. Doing absolutely nothing!
So, I stayed in the garden as long as possible, leaving only when the sun drifted behind a tree.
The evening was very social.
First, the writing critique group I set up with Tom premiered on Zoom.
It’s a good pairing: Tom is right on my wavelength so far as the writing nuts and bolts stuff is concerned. Plus we both like speculative fiction, and the speculative fiction we like tends toward dystopia and horror.
The only short story I have on tap is the Eleanor Roosevelt story, which might charitably be described as Henry James attempts to write Stephen King’s ‘Christine.’
I find it incredibly hard to write short stories!
To my mind, short stories are far more difficult to write than novels, chiefly because you can throw anything at all into a novel but in a short story, you must be highly selective about details because compression!
But also, I think the best short stories have some sort of... pivot. The reader starts out believing certain things about the created world but by the end of the story, he or she perceives quite different things. It’s really an extraordinarily difficult medium to pull off, so I generally stick to writing novels.
Anyway, there is much to like about the Eleanor Roosevelt story but the denoument does not work, and I’ve never exactly been sure why.
“Well,” Tom said. “It’s because Alice never drives the car! You spend all this time setting Alice up to drive the car but then she never does. So, the circle isn’t completed.”
Lightbulb appears in comic balloon over head!
Yes, yes, yes. Of course.
Then Neighbor Ed called me up and we spent an hour or so, shooting the shit. Neighbor Ed and Pat are planning a party on their outside terrace where suitable social distancing protocols can be accommodated.
“Please!” I begged him. “Do it soon! I am going quite mad mediating my entire social life electronically!”
And then I proceeded to summarize the entire plot of E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, and he proceeded to pretend interest while artfully trying to change the subject.
Also one of my housemates took quite a fetching photograph of moi, which I include here not so much for reasons of vanity as for reasons of incredulity since I’d thought the days of fetching photographs of moi were long over:
Well. It is kind of blurry, isn’t it? Crossposted from Dreamwidth.