The last time I was on Coventry I bought 4 books at Mac’s. I keep moving them around the house because they keep getting buried in mail and bibs and washcloths, which is what seems to be covering the top of the piano at all times. At least I think there’s a piano under there. Actually I only bought two at Mac’s, the Bradbury and the Wolfe — the one about loneliness I bought at the The Strand, and the one about LA architecture I snatched from my in-laws’ garage before they moved.
It’s impossible to justify bringing any more books home. We have so many all ready. Yet, I see no reason to lose any. They are less books to me at this point than pleasant visual memories. It’s not that I have NO TIME to read; it’s just that at some point about 10 years ago or so, I got addicted to the glow of a screen/priorities changed. It suddenly seemed more inportant to build an attractive representation of who I was on social media than actually do something. It was impossible and maybe even dangerous not to put myself in the position of a possible internet addiction; would I say no and simply let popular culture slip away? What have I saved out of 14+ years of surfing the web and trying to create a digital persona? Is the world offline the red pill? As a younger man I always dreamed of letting it slip away; in college while shuffling along sidewalks lined with late winter slush I assumed I’d be a mountain man at some point in the future, a fire watch like Kerouac or a writer quietly living in Denver. Either way, a person unencumbered by the frightening noise of the world. That seems so quaint now, though the romance of the West is still attractive. Give me the desolate forests in the mountains of New Mexico! But why cut, split and stack firewood when propane is so easy? My grandfather said cutting wood made you warm twice — once when you did the processing and a second time when you burned it for heat. But even while sitting in the nightly glow of a fire outside I can’t help wanting to know what jets are overhead and are the people on them happy?There came a moment some time ago when I was voraciously consuming a Wikipedia entry, and I had deja vu — I realized I’d read the same entry years ago, probably while following the same thread of interest.
Now I just don’t know how to fit back in to my life, really. My thoughts of starting a project, be it a guitar, a drawing, a song, rebuilding a carburetor, are more theoretical ideas than anything real that I have a vision for and put serious work into. My excuse is: too many interruptions. I’m more into setting up the workshop and buying materials than doing the work, and that’s always a bad sign. But the lack of focus or quiet time is worse- our phones are always on in case of emergency; despite our fear rarely anything bad happens, and anyways once you‘ve made yourself available 24/7 it seems impossible not to be available 24/7 ever afterward, like creating a Facebook profile and disliking the experience yet feeling uneasy about deleting it. It’s a weird mix of expectation, FOMO and loneliness. But to be anxious about potentially missing a phenomenon that itself creates unhappiness and anxiety!
Back to the books. Most of the recent acquisitions I have now were bought online. Some are from college. Some I bought with good intentions but will never read. I don’t think any of these books could ever have been created in today’s “So -you-want-to-be-a-writer” climate. (Oh, there’ll be more on that later).
About all I read in college was Kerouac and Raymond Carver. I remember struggling through the beginning of Kerouac’s Desolation Angels during Kent State’s “Seven Ideas That Shook The Universe” course. I remember it was spring semester. Also the first time I saw someone talking on a cell phone in public. I hated the 90s when I came of age in them but now I can shrug and smile at the memories (more on that later).
Got the Noodling For Flatheads book while working at a bookstore in Santa Clara, CA in 2003… Low paying job with some real gems in the stacks. Plus I worked afternoons so I basically stayed up all night every night. Railroad Semantics I got during a more recent personal “modern hobo” craze. Those folks are definitely taking the red pill.
Some nice ones in here. You can’t go wrong with Bobbie Ann Mason. Getting By is by Bottom Dog Press, out of Huron, Ohio.
Pavement — what’s there to say, really? The music says much more than any bland bio. West coasters go east (interesting how Weezer geographic trajectory somewhat similar), get famous, they kick out the crazy drummer, they get burned out from touring and recording. The end. Always sad when a band cancels itself for individual survival. Also sad when a library book is cancelled — at some point people stopped wanting to read about Pavement?
Thanks for checking out some of my books.