One of the perks of being unemployed--besides the obvious plus of no pain-in-the-ass bosses--is the surplus of free time I have. By "free," I mean disencumbered, as in spare time, though a case could logically be made that "free" simultaneously refers to my not making money.
In my unemployment, I've questioned a bunch of stuff that people hold as true, but upon reflection, isn't. Turns out, for instance, time isn't money. Also, despite the often bandied about expression "it's a free country," truth is, it's not even moderately priced.
That said, perhaps I could use this time more productively had I money for the luxuries like food & a roof over my head, but ever the optimist, I appreciate the "freedom" I have to go to the public library, log in to update my blog--you're welcome--& of course, read great authors such as John Steinbeck. Did you know he believed the American Dream is mostly unattainable?
For those who wonder, yes, I have a card. I hope you don't think less of me if I let you in on my minor deception: I gave the library a fake address in order to secure it--96 Riverside Lane (a half-lie, actually, because I live in a '96 Kia by the river).
Here's hoping you'll forgive my peccadillo when I tell you that over the past year I've read over 100 books, some at night, the riverbank lit by fireflies. Some may wish to denigrate my accomplishment by reminding me that half of those books were poetry. To which I smugly reply, despite my creeping case of scabies: "More than half." Those of you who follow my blog doggedly know that to be the case, given the reviews & remarks I've posted. However, I've also read my fair share of non-poetry over the past year, including the following:
2. The House of Seven Gables. Can seven Gables live together under the same roof without driving each other crazy? Also, what about young Ned's incorrigible sweet tooth? Weaved within the story is a fairly accurate depiction, one assumes, of the lifestyle of early 19th century poultry.
9. Letters to a Young Poet. Each letter doles out excellent advice that, sadly, given my age, no longer has any application for me.
12. Pnin. The story about an eccentric middle-aged professor (whom students like but administrators don’t) hits a little too close to home. At least he has a job, I thought, but then--spoiler alert--he lost it. We never find out what happens to him–just as I don’t know what happens next for me.
19. The Dharma Bums. Everything is empty. Life is a dream, so you may as well live in a shack way back in the woods, drunk, penniless, homeless, yab-yumming & writing awful poetry. (Sorry, Japhy Ryder--or should I say Gary Snyder?) In this subjective reality, everything is beautiful, every morning the best morning ever, every meal the best goddam meal ever, every biscuit made with Buddha’s flour. Richard Scarry is the best Buddhist ever!
25. Cubism. Unfolding like an umbrella dipped into an overflowing Picasso of light, the bowl turns into a moon, an idle moon. A smudge marks the place where something was, a negation insisting on the existence of Braque, Leger & Gris.
32. Sputnik Sweetheart. "What's profoundly sad," the poet writes "is often beautiful." I'm that poet & I could have been writing about this novel. I wasn't, but I'm just saying.
39. Whatever Happened to Gloomy Gus of the Chicago Bears? I like The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Harry Waugh, Prop. better, but I like this book's discussion of sculpture, obviously a synecdoche for art in general–or should I say "at large," given the size of his gigantic metal Gorky. Is that a metaphor or are you just happy to see me?
43. Introduction to Postmodernism. The book begins with interesting dinner table talk of Baudrillard & Saussure & semiotics, but devolves into parody or pastiche with the sudden injection of Madonna, Beavis & Butthead & MTV. My main complaint is that this book contains no dominant narrative, but only lots of micro-narratives, none of which legitimizes or explains the others.
47. Moby Dick. I'd heard this was a Scaife publication about how in the early '70s the liberal media--this close to making us lose the Vietnam War--concocted a scandalous story about Nixon's presidential re-election campaign in order to ruin him politically & personally, but it's actually an explicit narrative exploring the relationship between seamen & sperm whales. Rather than Googling "sperm lovers," which I'm guessing it won't be what you expect, read this book.
52. Tess of d'Urberville. After reading this novel, which hammers home that double-standards are vastly unjust, I penned my parody, Bess of Tuberville, in which our heroine falls big time for Frisch, the Boise chapter president of The Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet, but will his digging into her past unearth her dark secret? Do potatoes have eyes?
68. Ethan Frome. Moral: If you want to kiss your sickly wife's fetching cousin, well sir, I reckon you ought to get about doing it while there's time enough. After, I reckon, you can tend to the horse.
71. Dali. Sleep, a heavy monster "held up by the crutches of reality," turns the knob & collapses like a dancer, tall & slim, against the summer sky, dissolving into an empty landscape. Based on The Matchmaker, the musical features the number one hit song by the late great Louis Armstrong.
82. The Aeneid. Ok, I'm know this is poetry, but I just wanted to comment quickly that I'm sorry Vergil met an untimely demise, but if it kept him from revising the totally awesome ending, then so be it.
90. Autopsy on Surrealism. The body was that of a normal art movement with no lasting effect. The eyes belonged to Marquis de Sade. Irises sang like blue milk. Removal of clothing promoted a near dream state. Breasts were the palpable stuff of noir, abdomen a socialist map unfolded, genitalia that of an exquisite corpse remarkably intact.