The Sun

During my long time away from the blog (and I am afraid it might soon be even longer, since I am about to leave the country for locales of spotty internet access), I have added to my fame with a number of accomplishments, as of yet unrecorded in the annals of blogdom:

1) I have made it halfway through a number of books, including no less than three (3!) New York Times Notable Books, before either having to return them to the library or having to leave them on one coast or another as a traveled across the country. Special apologies my compatriots at the NYTNotableBooks blog where I have been so silent that many of them must suspect I have undertaken some kind of sinister covert identity. At any rate, I have gotten myself in a tangle of books, all halfway completed, but with little prospect for finishing many of them before I head off to a conference at the end of the week, and from there flit off to parts foreign. The New York Trilogy, Martin Chuzzlewit, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Something Rotten, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Last Dance, Twilight of the Superheroes, Beasts of No Nation (and this one's only 142 pages long! What's wrong with me?), The Underpainter, and Joe Penhall's Plays have all been suspended in reading limbo. I have fallen behind in ALL of my reading groups, and yet I seem to be reading ALL THE TIME. This is just not right. When I return from abroad in five weeks, there will have to be a serious book-finished reckoning.

2) I have become addicted (in the last couple of days) to the witty, strange, and free online game, Kingdom of Loathing. There is very little that I can say that will prepare you for its delights, but how could I resist the opportunity it offered me to become a professional Turtle Tamer. Or to be accompanied by a familiar who is a 7-pound mosquito named Trort? If you have already entered the world of the game, or feel tempted to (it is quite easy to get sucked into - be forewarned. You need have no background in gaming.), drop me a line via "messages." My name is quite easily deduced from this blog.

3) I have been traveling. A great deal. Here, thither, and yon. The most charming moment of my travels was probably when I sat in LAX airport, reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and a school group passed by me. Amidst a gaggle of giggling friends, the voice of a 12-year-old boy piped up. "I liked reading too," he said to me, and then walked on.

4) I have been charmed by ANOTHER indy magazine out of Chapel Hill (Bookmarks was the first). I must admit that I have a significant soft spot for these products of my old college town (let us never speak again of how March Madness ended for the Tar Heels. My long absence from writing is in part the result of a lengthy funk I entered after that game.), perhaps because I harbor a secret fantasy of the alternate life in which I graduated from college and stayed in town, going to work for a charming small magazine. At any rate, this one is The Sun, a politically progressive, spiritually New Age (but only very lightly - I must admit that I have a very hard time processing religion at this point in my life) collection of essays, short fiction, photographs and poems that will now arrive monthly on my doorstep. In the first issue I received, a photograph shows a weathered statue of a classical warrior, scarred with a mossy plague that skims over his perfect shoulders and outlines the bristles in his crest. Out of the top of his helmet, like Athena from Zeus's head, leaps an odd, spritely female figure. It only dawns on you gradually that she is not leaping, so much as emerging from her own prehensile serpent's tail. In a series of vignettes from his travels in Syria, Kevin Patterson relates this incident:

Me: Take me to the Meridien Hotel.
Taxi Driver: Inshallah [God willing].
Me: It's only across town.

Elsewhere readers from a remarkable array of backgrounds recount their experiences with friendship (every week readers write in on a different "theme," very broadly conceived), including a number of residents of drug treatment facilities and prisons, to which The Sun sends free subscriptions. Susan Davis writes an article about her father's inexplicable rejection of his family after a divorce; his behavior seems totally out of keeping with his character and their relationships, and comes into focus only after he is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Painfully honest self-scrutiny seems to be the hallmark of the writing. Many of the articles deal with travel, and present guilty liberal solipsism warts and all (I should quickly add that I consider myself a liberal). Others deal with loss of loved ones, or the attempt to come to terms with selfishness and disgust in your dealings with those around you. The tone of the magazine is melancholy, but hopeful. I admit that I wept through the entire first issue. Openly. On an airplane. Sigh.

3 Responses so far.

  1. kookie says:

    We will miss you, Ariel, and we'll look forward to your return. Check in when you can, so we don't worry that you've been kidnapped by some shadowy underworld agency, will you?

  2. Those are the only books you have that are half read? You're doing well, lol! I hope you have a wonderful trip.

  3. Kailana says:

    I have lots off books half read, it's a bit of a bad habit... I finish them eventually, though.

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