Tuesday, August 24, 2010

words on a page - comma - other peoples'

Dear sister,

I’m taking a break from working on my thesis to write back to your blog post. I know – look how much time that didn’t take me! It’s because:
1. I’m trying to, you know, fix my thesis. (John Green alert: split infinitive.) Which is frustrating, and thus requires frequent breaks.
2. Thanks to my daily (or, nightly) overnight baking shifts at PiTS, I keep losing feeling in three of the fingers on my right hand, mostly when I do things like hold a knitting needle or a pen too tightly. I think it’s got something to do with how I hold the rolling pin … anyway, typing on a computer seems to loosen my hand back up so I can back to whatever I was working on. Hooray for you, because it means more frequent blog posting. (Boo for me, but oh well. First I’ll figure out how to get health insurance, and then I’ll fix my hand.) (Also, don’t tell the parentals, ok?)
3. As you mentioned to me yesterday, blogging to each other seems really silly this week since we’re, you know, at the same house. But, last night I went back to Grandmother’s, and next week you move to Boston. And besides, I think it’s important to keep up the effort even when it seems counter-intuitive. As we have now learned from our new-but-late-to-the-party love affair for the vlogbrothers*, sometimes you don’t know what it is you’re doing until you’re almost done. So it can be important to keep going even when it doesn’t feel like it’s all that important at all.

But since not much happens in my life these days (see above: 6 weekly shifts of overnight baking), I don’t have much to say about life right now. I wasn’t there when the Secret Service came in, because who comes in for a sandwich at 3am? Well, drunk people. And sometimes fishermen. But other than that, there’s not much excitement on my shifts. (Except for the occasional skunk.) So instead I’m just going to tell you a little bit about the box of books I dropped off in your room yesterday.

This book is kind of the Buddhist version of Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince (as much Buddhist as Little Prince is Christian, anyway). It’s a beautiful tale about friendship, childhood, and death – a clause I would also apply to The Little Prince – and it’s short. If you do read this version, just know that the names are wrong. They’re originally Italian names, to enhance the story’s sense of time-out-of-place-ness with crossed cultural references, but for some reason these editors decided that English readers would be fine with Japanese names. Having looked at both versions, I disagree with them but, also, I digress.

Here I’m biased because Dara was one of my favorite teachers from undergrad, but I do think you’d especially like her second novel, The World to Come. You can’t read her third novel yet because I’m still in the middle of it. Well, you can read it, I suppose. You just can’t have my copy.

This is a depressing book. It’s also insanely beautiful. And, you should read it instead of – or at least before – seeing the movie. McCarthy employs a rhythm and a tone for his writing that really can’t be copied for a visual medium, though I suppose it could be recreated, if the movie is made well. Or well-made. Anyway, read before watch.

I wouldn’t choose this as my top Yiddish lit novel to lend you, but the ones I think you’d like the most I only have on my computers; they’re either not-yet-published translations or out-of-print editions, and they’re a bit bootleg either way. (The world of modern Yiddish literature? Not all that big. Especially compared to what it used to be.) But this is a beautiful book – a little bit Virginia Woolf, a little bit … well, I guess just a lotta bit Virginia Woolf. It’s a good story, though, with interesting characters and again, a brilliant use of language to convey emotional development. It gives you a sense of what middle class Eastern European Judaism went through when the modern world came head to head with the traditional one. In case you were wondering, which I often am.

More “reviews” to come later. [I know, these were more like … comments. Or, verbal spewage of my thoughts. Well, not verbal … virtual-verbal. Typed. Anyway…]

your didn’t-read-all-the-books-she-had-to-buy-for-grad-school-but-here-are-some-she-did-and-liked sister

*love affair in the sense that we both like to watch their videos when we’re feeling crabby, because they make us laugh. Not love affair in any other sense, not that it would matter since we’re both technically single right now, but it would probably matter to them – and to their wives. Also, isn’t it funny how we didn’t know it but came up with a similar idea – to use internet technology to stay in communication with our adult siblings – even though they’ve been doing it longer, and with more consistency, and with a vlog instead of a blog? (And are more successful, also.) Funny-odd, I mean, not funny-ha-ha. They are funny-ha-ha, though, that’s for sure.

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