Turning tricks into men

07/06/2013 at 21:15 (Personal, Reviews) (, , )


When I was a kid, I could juggle. Self-taught, with those easy-grip peabag things that mothers buy kids with twitchy fingers, liable to be stuck in plug sockets if not otherwise engaged, I could manage upto three at a time in both hands, two in one grip. The latter, strangely enough, was easier. Perhaps my brain had problems bisecting its concentration for a tri-coloured blur between both hands.

So it goes today. I am far more accurate, in the present, when poised upon one train of thought, all fixation dialled down to the details of a single project. The thrill of being in control, riveted by numerous ideas, is sometimes outweighed by the burden of knowing I will eventually drop something. I like to be distracted, don’t get me wrong; to find newness in the old, the 60watt inside the dusty lampshade. Yet still there niggles that fear of not Doing my Best, if strung up between several projects.

I guess I have allowed perfectionism to hold me back in life.

Now take my favourite new author, Tim Gautreaux. Born of the Deep South, writing from its expansive heat and broken lives, the beauty-in-mundanity of trailers and bayous and oil rigs, locomotives and the dry thump of sun-baked irrigation systems, he is still somehow a breath of the ol’ fresh. To read his short stories (I am currently spiralling through ‘Waiting for the Evening News’, a 2010 compilation) is to find yourself immersed in Capote’s language and dream-lucidity, Joyce and Orwell’s frankness, Alice Hoffman’s sequential paradox-terms that can turn dust into gold sparks. Gautreaux is a man of balancing acts, between the hairline-mawkish and the serene, the greasy pan and the scourer. Where there is baseness, he will find grim strength born of primal instinct to survive; blurring the portrait of the South’s most unappealing characters, so they appear at least stoic. Likewise, the grace of the Southern belle is found with fractures of her own, waiting for the poison to seep free. His children, curiously (and perhaps, fittingly) make up his most neutral and unassuming voices.

If I find myself in a writing rut, where all lines trot out as systems of ordinariness and I am steering a dying car, I will pick up books like his, as well as Capote, Jeffrey Eugenides and Hoffman. They are the equivalent of squeezing the dear little sponge of a vaporizer, sifting Essence of Creative Freedom into the brain.

On another note: One sense of humour, still lost. If found, please return to this writer, along with her longstanding knack for survival, and some blueberry gum.

Ok, the last will be listed as a favour šŸ˜‰ gratefully received.

It rains, the wind blows, umbrellas turn into teacups; and I am dark inside as out. I wish the sun would shine again.

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