Sunday, January 27, 2013

Still Howling, Still Weeping

Today I finished The Bay of Noon, by Shirley Hazzard, because I could not put it down. It was cold outside, and I was wrapped in a sherpa (cozy, very soft couch blankie, a Christmas gift), lost in the world of love and Naples and fine, fine writing, acute observation of human nature, humans still traumatized after a war (as humans always are, since we keep warring). Shirley Hazzard is a genius, and I wept.

And tonight is the official (by some calendars) full Wolf Moon. I hope we can still see it through cloud clover, when it rises, as it's raining.

By chance, I heard the tail end of a RadioLab story, Paul Auster (of Winter Journal, Smoke, Lulu on the Bridge, etc.) talking about how we can't know our story as we move forward, only as we look back, which seems obvious yet turns out to be subtle and miraculous. I've mentioned some of Auster's screenplays here because one of the characters in The Bay of Noon is a filmmaker and another a screenplay writer. This book was first published in 1970, though I am only reading it now, as Picador put it back in print, no doubt because it was up for the Lost Booker Prize in 2010. It has Naples in the foreground, Mt. Vesuvius necessarily and prominently in the background.

Not everyone will like this book, or its kind, but I do. And today, a Random Coinciday in the blog, I connect it to Paul Auster, saying we can't know the narrative of our lives till we look back on it and see it making sense, and to a reflection on water that I heard this morning. Here's Hazzard on the search for water (and sense-making narrative):

"We are like those early explorers of Australia who died of thirst on expeditions to the dead centre of a continent, always thinking they must come ultimately to water--to an inland sea, to a lake, a river, a cascade. Deceived by salt deposits, by rivers that flow inland, by the fossils of seashells, they were driven on by incredulity as well--by disbelief that one could come so far without drawing nearer to what one sought."

There's more, but I've spent enough tears; there are salt deposits on my cheeks. I am a perpetual seeker, and to know this is sometimes very hard.

9 comments:

Along These Lines ..... said...

Haven't read the book, but will be howling at the moon tonight.

Collagemama said...

For the Wolf Moon this is also Wolfie Mozart's birthday, with reasons for tears.

Kathleen said...

Oh, Wolfie! Thanks, dear howlers!!

seana graham said...

You are making me think I should read some sort of werewolf tale tonght. Well,either that or listen to some Mozart.

Anne McGravie said...

Because I have spent many winters with my family in Melbourne, Australia, I am fascinated by Aussie history. Among books I have read are a history of the early women settlers from Britain telling how some ventured into the bush and then wrote home letters describing the utterly amazing plants and animals they discovered there. One woman made friends with native women and learned their ways.

Kathleen said...

Reading a wolf howler sounds good, Seana.

Anne, I would love to see the plants in Australia. We have now tiny versions of the lantana for gardens, but I hear it takes over the world there.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Lunar and salty love :).

SarahJane said...

Well, I will have to add that to my to-read pile. We miss you at Good Reads!

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Hannah. Recently, it's foggy love... I miss you at Good Reads, too, Sarah, and hope to get back. A weird, scattered, busy time here.