In other news...

D's roommate became my hero of the day by walking up to me and handing me her copy of the new Harry Potter, which she had just that moment finished reading. I had been thinking I would hold out until August to read it, since I have such a backlog of July books left to read, but now that it is actually here, in my hands (well, not literally, since I am typing right now), it is working a one-ring-to-rule-them-all type spell on me. [Update: I am now a hundred pages in. It is a good thing the Fellowship didn't send me off to Mount Doom.]


Angelina Jolie is going to be Grendel's mother. After the year I spent with Old English (I have to repeat this fact to myself every so often, because I can't believe I actually did it), several months of which was with Beowulf, I find this image impossible to reconcile with my idea of the text. So I am sort of looking forward to it. More entertaining than the movie, however, would be footage of the pitch meeting where this film proposal was discussed with studio execs. I can only imagine how they reacted. You can read some early gossip about the film at First Showing.


I have decided, thanks in large part to Loose Baggy Monster's poetry and short fiction resolution, that I don't read enough poetry. I was thinking that next year, I would institute a project along the lines of my 52 Weeks/52 Plays project, trying to make poetry a daily habit (in as small or as large a dose as I can muster on any given day).

But then I thought, to hell with that - there is no time like the present (and nothing quite like an impulsive decision that will help me put off work on my dissertation). So today, I had my first daily encounter with poetry, a strange toying with conventional verse by Rachel Hadas that begins:
As months and years accumulate
I miss you more and more.
Forgetting where I put the key,
I sometimes find a door.

The poem, "The Cold Hill Side," only three stanzas of lulling singsong rhythms and evocations of Hallmark emotion and chivalric isolation, comes from last week's New Yorker (July 23, 2007). It has a strange quality (I have not decided, and I doubt whether I will be able to, if it is successful or not - I have a strange aversion to making holistic or "objective" evaluations of art), flirting with sentiment while unfolding the possibility of a conventional image - the door, for instance, that is found only in the search for the key which makes it inaccessible. The loss that only becomes coherent, or present, when examined.

Most odd is the final stanza, which abandons the nursery rhyme scheme for a parallel between words that, though visually similar, would have to contort themselves even to be called a near rhyme:
bewildered and alone

as the knight, kidnapped and released
to a dim world, who said
And I awoke and found me here
on the cold hill side.
Why break with the convention represented by the rhyme scheme at the moment of direct quotation from Keats?


I didn't expected to be as utterly enthralled by Sonya's People Reading project as I am. She goes around San Francisco, photographing and interviewing people she finds reading about why they chose that particular book, what they normally read, and what they themselves would write, given the chance. There is something so monumentally fascinating (the monumentality of the quotidian) about reading as a public act to me, perhaps because I am that person who reads during meals, reads while walking along the street (podcasts have now made my life significantly safer, I have to say), and expects D to give me constant updates on any thing he is reading WHILE he is reading. I also enjoy how forthcoming people are with a total stranger, and how revealing our relationship to the written word can be about our identities.

Sonya's even more fascinating current project, Dogeared, is a trip around America by Greyhound bus, asking people about their books. A recent post describes how she was asked to leave Temple Square in Salt Lake City after she asked (she is always superhumanly polite) readers there to talk about the Book of Mormon. Some things just don't make any sense (sigh).

Check her work out.


So, D and I are tag-teaming Deathly Hallows (since he has to work all day, he gets dibs when he is home, but I keep thinking up chores and minor errands around the house to send him on, and snatch our one copy up as soon as he is out of the room), and making our way through the second disc of The Shield's Season Two (still a bit lackluster by comparison to the first season). Harry Potter came between me and the start of The Bone People, I am sad to say, but I am persevering (at a fevered pace, no less) with David Copperfield, largely through a strategy of reading one chapter of Dickens after every chapter I read of Rowling. I may, even, I blush to confess, have referred to David Copperfield as "the Harry Potter of his day" in conversation with D, who would probably have given me a skeptical look if he had been able to tear his eyes away from Deathly Hallows.