Saturday, April 17, 2010

Body Surfing & Loose Shoelaces

Day 67 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and I have to confess that my Internet access problem was solved by unplugging and replugging the adaptor. Sigh....

Laura is reading Body Surfing because Anita Shreve is one of her favorite writers, strong on storytelling and subtle truths of human behavior. Looks like this one returns to a favorite beach house setting for parts of it, and is more disjointed in the telling, perhaps matching a darker set of human interactions than in some of her novels.

I read The Pilot's Wife because many friends had recommended it (and so had Oprah, I learned) and Light on Snow, which I finished in the car, coming back from a winter holiday trip, with light on snow out the window. Perhaps I will read Body Surfing at the beach this summer, when I do plan 1) to try body surfing and 2) to ask random strangers what they are reading!

Likewise, Rebecca is reading more Connie Willis, one of her newly discovered favorite authors. Rebecca works at a library and claims that these books keep following her home.

I have mentioned that we cannot keep The Catcher in the Rye on the shelf at Babbitt's, but I did snatch up the little red cheap paperback copy that came in the other day, leaving the hardback for some lucky reader. This is a later printing of the same Bantam edition I read in high school. I will read it again soon, after we discuss Franny and Zooey at book group Wednesday night.

I was late to work two days in a row, by ten minutes, because I stopped to talk with my neighbor, Dick. Another day, I stopped to talk to him on the way home, when I can linger without being late for anything except making dinner, which I wish could just be carrot sticks, pita triangles, and spicy hummus. But that's another story, with loose shoelaces. And wine.

Anyway, Dick was telling me that he was unable to finish a painting he's been working on. He's a retired art professor, finally has time to paint, and can't get this particular painting to work and keeps painting over it. Hey, so did Picasso!

To comfort him, I brought up the famous comment about works of writing never being finished, only abandoned. He said he was just reading in a magazine about a guy who only wrote one book and nothing else because nothing after that ever satisfied him. "He kept writing," said Dick, "but he never sent anything else out to be published. And he just died."

"J. D. Salinger?" I asked.

"Yes, that's the guy."

I believe I was breaking in my new red high-tops on these recent walks to and from work and these chats with my neighbor. The red high-tops were a big hit last night in the lobby of Heartland Theatre, where I went to see a sweet & funny & charming production of The Trip to Bountiful by Horton Foote, who also recently died.

My dad is the sheriff in the production, a good guy! My dad is a retired theatre professor, a great director, and a playwright.

Here's a question for you: Are you able to read plays and get a good sense of them on the page?

I confess I am usually not able to get everything I need from the page. I get a lot more from seeing a production. This does not hold true with George Bernard Shaw--fabulous "stage directions" which are philosophical and/or humorous riffs--and Sarah Ruhl--over all poetic construction & stage directions--two playwrights I do love to read!

Soon I will reread Endgame, by Samuel Beckett, and soon also see the Steppenwolf production in Chicago.

And now I have untied many more shoelaces than I have tied up, and must now...fall over.


SarahJane said...

It takes a lot to get me into a theater, but I have read many plays and enjoyed them, including all of Eugene O'Neill. I've seen some of his plays on stage, too, but if you asked me now if I'd rather see or read them, I'd rather read them! I feel kind of trapped in a theater.

Kathleen said...

Fascinating! Oh, there are times I have felt trapped in the theatre, that's for sure.

Yes, I love O'Neill, and also Arthur Miller was as good on the page as on the stage for me. And Tom Stoppard blows me away on the page. I wish I could see more Stoppard on the stage! Arcadia!

But somehow I can't picture or receive the nuance in many plays, unless I see the actors communicate with each other. In a novel, I am not necessarily picturing everything, anyway, but I am receiving something rich and full. And with poetry, I take my time. I breathe and re-read.