In November, I watched the National Book Awards ceremony via an online broadcast. A U of Michigan alum of 05′, Jesmyn Ward, was nominated for her novel Salvage The Bones , and if she won, I wanted to witness it. Of course, my impulse to watch the awards was a self-involved, highly illogical one: that if I am a U of Michigan MFA Fiction student and she is an alum of this same program, then I might be able to produce a work of similar notability and talent. When she won, I was surprisingly elated. As if I had won too. I bought her books, the hour after, not yet critical of why it hadn’t occurred to me to buy them before. Later, I realized I’ve become a complacent reader.
If you believe the Times, and why not believe them, Google is developing everything from robot drones and driverless cars to a space elevator, which, so far as I can deduce, is a kind of hybrid, Wonkafied rocket-cum-slingshot.
I say appearance, rather than reading, because the reading portion of the evening (voice and text and presence and performance) seemed if not beside the point then certainly a second-tier attraction. People came to gawk or moon, they came to get their galleys signed or to soak up the air conditioning.
In the arts, repetition put to smart use bears fruit almost instantly. Take a phrase of music or a line of poetry and read it, hum it, then repeat it. Again and again. Crack the circle open and you find a spiral, spinning, a single pattern among many.
Tonight I will be home by ten. If I’m lucky I’ll finish this post and still have time to read another chapter, maybe two, before my mind begins to melt. I’m 25, unwed, no kids, and except for the meeting across town I’ll spend nearly the whole day in my neighborhood.