Monday, July 20, 2009

back on the air

The city has been considerably less muggy & unbearable than last summer – less, that is, like Florida. That hasn’t kept me from being in a state of almost savage torpor, sitting in the sun & reading book after book. I have now joined the 200 or so members of the Have Read All the Way Thru Fors Clavigera Club. The last half-volume or so rather sombre stuff; Ruskin returns from his penultimate bout of lunacy annoucing that from now on Fors will renounce its rage and contumely, that he’s going to clean up his act & stop digressing all over the planet, & that he’s generally going to be nice. Of course, he can’t keep any of those resolutions, but he tries to hold to them staunchly enough to quell much of the flame of the book. His mind is elsewhere, on the genial autobiography Praeterita which he’s already writing.

Far more fun are the 10 or 12 volumes of Guy Davenport’s I’ve brought along with me. He’s always a pleasure to revisit, if only on the basis of style (heaven knows he can be enormously off base when it comes to the fiddly business of facts). Even Objects on a Table, the book on still life, has paid off more this time around than the first time I read it.

Little Women, which I was reading (ashes of shame upon my head) for the first time, ended satisfactorily. If Alcott felt compelled to bow to readerly pressure & marry off Jo, rather than preserving her as an independent writing woman, then I approve of marrying her to a portly, bearded professor-type. Mark well: only portly, bearded professor-types can truly satisfy a thinking woman!
And the occasional bouts of “culture.” I went to see Godot on Broadway, in a production with brilliant Bill Irwin as Didi, Nathan Lane hamming it up as Gogo (one wonders what he’ll do when there aren’t any more Zero Mostel parts to reprise – if he doesn’t go on the South Florida borscht belt circuit with Fiddler on the Roof), & the hulking John Goodman as Pozzo. Surprisingly good, actually, tho I kept feeling like I was attending Old Home Day of my kids’ favorite actors (Irwin in “Mr. Noodle” on Elmo’s World, Goodman Sully in Monsters Inc., Lane the warthog in Lion King): audience members without small children no doubt had entirely different associations for each of those worthies.

The real prize was Krystian Lupa and the Narodowy Stary Teatr’s hour stage adaptation of Thomas Bernhard’s novel The Lime Works, under its German title Kalkwerk & performed in Polish. Devastating. As I described it to J, it was a cross between Wozzeck and Endgame, only spread out over three & a half hours, and punctuated with ear-splitting dissonant music. Certainly a limit-text for traditional theater.

Oh yes, and Janet McTeer in Schiller’s Mary Stuart, a full-blown Romantic reinterpretation of the all the old Shakespearean dramatic moves – but nonetheless quite compelling.
Weeekends have been spent on Fire Island, where one kills mosquitoes at night and horseflies during the day (sorry, Buddhists), and the worst traffic noise comes from bicycle bells.
100 poem-books shortly (I hope) to recommence.


Archambeau said...

All glory to the portly, bearded professor community.

Anonymous said...

Lane was not reprising Mostel in Godot nor did he in Dedication, Odd Couple, Frogs, Butley...etc. He has built his own career and is one of the biggest draws on Broadway.

I have seen numerous revivals of Godot and found this one to be accessible and all actors were well received in their roles.