Some kind of blogger I am-- no posts for nearly a month-- that’s like founding a goldrush town in the Wild West in the 1880s, and then instantly turning it into a ghost town, the wooden doors to the saloon hanging by juicy, loose hinges. But, I have an excuse. I do! I slipped and fell. (Make a sad face now). Yes, yes, it was painful, I could barely see, swept away in the current. See, I was standing on the bank of a river when I put all of my weight on a very slippery rock and fell right in. Oh wait, no, I was standing on a ladder, on that “this is not a step” step, while building an ancient wall, when I leaned forward and(bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-
Yes, I slipped and fell into Finnegans Wake.
What’s that? What possessed me to want to read Finnegans Wake? Well, I was trying to summarize the book, which I can honestly say is the literary equivalent to a suicide mission. Something in me has definitely died, only to be reborn, an alien stranger. I have heart palps, I eat strange food, I periodically stumble through my tiny kitchen shaking my EMPTY stainless steel flasks (yes, I have two-- one that is the standard sized, and the other, a small, 1oz. vessel fitted with a keychain loop) crying out, why . . . WHY??
As fate would have it, I found a pristine, old copy of A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake by Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson, written in 1945. It was just sitting on a shelf at a moldy, used bookstore. Needless to say, the key doesn’t quite fit.Joseph Campbell is involved. . . the "key" is just as maze-like as the Wake. I go back to the store to complain to the management when James Joyce himself comes strolling out of the bathroom.
Is there a problem?
Yes, the book doesn’t work. I need a key for the friggin’ key.
Would you like to borrow my spectacles?
James, you’re blind.
So are you, my dear, so are you. . .
He tipped his hat to me and walked back into the toilet.
(Elements of this encounter are true.)
James Joyce did not write Finnegans Wake as much as he gave birth to a sentient being made of text. The novel is a chimera that shifts and changes in meaning, EVERY TIME you look at the book. The cover is the lid to Pandora’s Box. Are you willing to accept an unmoored journey, adrift on a rocky and unrelenting sea of human history, from fall, to resurrection, and rebirth with the emerging and transfiguring “main character” the timeless Everyman, Finnegan. ARE YOU??
Just get out!
I need to shop. . .
If you’re like me, and you're feeling a little weary of the dark, and books that bite, you might want to grab a nightmare journal from Spiderbite. This particular journal’s name is Winston. SEE what I mean about sentient? I love Spiderbite’s journals: they are scary, fuzzy and strangely comforting and FIERCE. These Nightmare Snatchers™ are grizzly protectors of your secret truths. Scribble your fears, your gripes and your bizarre dreams on Winston’s tea-stained pages. Need a bodyguard for your words? Winston is your man.
SIX AND ELM
Lovers. . .
Lovers write letters. . .
Can’t just leave your lover’s letters on the kitchen table now can you?
Tuck your treasures in lovely wooden boxes burnished by the Toronto-based by Six and Elm. The details on these boxes are deeply gorgeous, and flawless as Halle Berry's complexion. Want a custom piece created just for you? Six and Elm is happy to oblige.
Speaking of love. . .
I slipped on another rock and found the box set of Black Books-- a BBC show co-created by Irish Comedian, Dylan Moran. Moran plays Bernard Black, a miserable bookshop owner in London who's perpetually, hilariously pissed AND pissed-off and so not interesed in selling books. He is buttressed by his tiny circle of friends, (I mean, the only two people in the world who will tolerate him) Manny (Bill Bailey) and Fran (Tamsin Greig).
There’s slapstick, hair-brain schemes, drunken stupors and surrealism-- what more could you want in an entertainment experience?
How did I not know about this show? HOW?! I love Black Books, I feel like I know these crazy people, I LIVE in that bookshop, tomes piled to teetering heights, bread with jam stuck to the ceiling. The show last aired in 2004. Better late than never, I guess. Black Books would have been a hard sell for US television studio execs (excluding some cable shows) you can’t be drunk, depressed, mad and grumpy, unless you f-ing murder someone, hence all of the spin-offs of CSI and Law & Order, in perpetuity.
I’ll take Bernard Black miserable, irritated and hating it, any day of the week. That’s more authentic to me than all the fake hellos and how are you goods, we are socially obliged to say in real life. Makes me feel better about not suppressing my own not-so-sunny outlook that is more than occasional. Happy drugs from a doctor? Oh, that’s okay-- I’ll just keep drinking my drugs in the water from the tap. Thanks.