Monday, 4 February 2008

Diana Slickman 2008

Monday! Busy. Cold, windy, rainy. Winter in Chicago! My standard MO on Hoban Day is to open a book and see what presents itself. The Medusa Frequency being at hand, I opened it up and here's what it yielded:

Dr. Carnevale looked into the room and called my name and I followed him into his office. 'Pains in your chest and left arm?' he said.

'Yes,' I said. 'At first it was like an iron fist, but now it's as if I've swallowed an iron box. And my left arm feels leaden.'

'Let's have your shirt off.' He unlimbered his stethoscope. 'Guess by now you've finished the novel you were working on when I saw you last year.
Breathe in.'

'No, actually I haven't.'

'Breathe in again. Very stressful occupation, novel-writing, so I'm told. Do you happen to know Rupert Gripwell?'

'No. Is he a novelist?'

'Undertaker. He says they don't last as long as journalists.'

'Undertakers?'

'Novelists.'

'Why is that?' I said, as he took my blood pressure.

'Says they drink alone too much. People drink faster when they drink alone. You drink alone much?'

'Well, I can't be bothered to go looking for people every time I want a drink, can I.'

from The Medusa Frequency


This I copied out on to yellow paper and took with me to the grocery store. Monday nights I play cards with a group of interesting and intelligent women; February 4th was my night to host; hosting means making dinner. And so to the store. I slipped this, folded, between two bottles of Sauternes, which seemed fitting.

At lunch time, I opened up the book again and this is what I copied out of it this time:

"Being is not a steady state, but an occulting one: we are all of us a succession of stillnesses blurring into motion with the revolving of the wheel of action, and it is in those spaces of black between the pictures that we experience the heart of the mystery in which we are never allowed to rest. The flickering of a film interrupts the intolerable continuity of apparent world; subliminally it gives us those in-between spaces of black that we crave. The eye is hungry for this; eagerly it collaborates with the unwinding strip of celluloid that shows it twenty-four pictures per second, making real by an act of retinal retention the here-and-gone, the continual disappearing in which the lovers kiss, the shots are fired, the horses gallop, rrks?"

from The Medusa Frequency


Out I went, to get some lunch and to find the right place for the yellow paper. I went into a book store: big, impersonal, lit like an operating room. I walked purposefully about, but I didn't know where I was going. Then I saw a book of movie posters from the 1930s on a shelf-end display and flipping through found a spread of two King Kong posters. I slipped my yellow quote in between them and replaced the book. Up the elevator to the fiction and literature shelves. "H" went straight from Hillerman to Hoeg. I went back to work.

On both of these pages I cited the work and the author along with my standard tag line, something along the lines of "February 4 is Russell Hoban's birthday. By finding this yellow paper and reading it, you are involved in a worldwide celebration of the day."

Happy birthday, Russ!

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