I finally finished “Bleak House”, by Charles Dickens, this weekend. This book flattened me. It flattened me out like a pancake. I was a pancake and “Bleak House” was a heart-wrenching, delightfully satirical asphalt paver. That Dickens! He can spin a yarn. Where were you in my literature classes, “Bleak House”? Why did my professors never say: “Go, and read “Bleak House”, if you be a God-fearing woman”? I didn’t want to do anything, after a while, but read “Bleak House”, and drink it and eat it and breathe it. I became frustrated when my actual life intruded upon finishing “Bleak House”. I became angry with myself one evening, reading it, because my eyes–despite all of my efforts to the contrary–refused to stay open. “D UP,” I said to myself. “JUST A FEW MORE PAGES AND MR. TULKINGHORN WILL REVEAL THE SECRET OF LADY DEDLOCK OMG.” “I AM EXPERIENCING ORGAN FAILURE,” responded the rest of my body, and the rest of my body won. This book made me weep and weep, and cry out, “Oh-no-you-did-not, Charles Dickens!”, and laugh, and clutch my heart to bursting. My mouth was this shape, while reading this book:
And, as ever, Dickens rolled out name after wondrous character name. Dickensian names are half the fun of reading Dickens. Where did he GET these names? Only Dickens knows, and he’s not telling. Here follows a sampling of the surnames used in “Bleak House”:
And my personal favorite:
I advise you to read it, if you’ve a mind to. I truly, truly do. Dickens has completely wound himself in my heart-strings unto the ending of my days. I read “Great Expectations” when I was 13ish, and I believe I read “Hard Times” in college, but it wasn’t until I read “David Copperfield” last summer that I was plunged into the fervor of the true convert. I mean, “David Copperfield” REALLY broke me into six pieces. My dilapidated, hilariously ugly copy of “David Copperfield” scorched my soul like a marshmallow, and I don’t even LIKE roasted marshmallows. O Dickens! Betwixt yourself and George Eliot, I have spent many a sleepless night. They knew something about people’s hearts, those two; and reading them now, over a century after their books were published, is always wonderful in a deep-down way. There is nothing wrong with contemporary authors. But I have a secret preference for the writers who had it all figured out a long time ago.
I started reading some of the work of the poet Anthony Hecht last week. I was looking around for some of his work in a happenstance way, and came upon his poem “A Letter”. It is staggering to begin the act of reading such a thing with an essentially neutral level of interest, and to end it by gasping for your life’s air. Read it here, if you like. Read, too, “Third Avenue in Sunlight.” There is so much to know, in the world; I know .000000000000000000 of it, and I certainly did not know Anthony Hecht. I am sorry, Anthony Hecht. I am sorry.
Finally: last week, I was a hair model for an in-house show at a salon. It was an experience that spanned several weeks of my life. I had intended upon writing about hair-modeling today; how I felt about it, what happened, how I wore false eyelashes which made my eyeballs appear large enough to land aircraft upon. But I decided that I couldn’t. I thought: a blog about hair modeling would not only turn my own brains into bolognese sauce, but the brains of others as well. So I will simplify matters thusly.
This is what my hair looks like now [I’m making that face ON PURPOSE–GOD]:
This is what it looks like when I wake up in the morning:
Seriously, it’s all over the place, mornings.
A Boundless Moment
He halted in the wind, and–what was that
Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost?
He stood there bringing March against his thought,
And yet too ready to believe the most.
“Oh, that’s the Paradise-in-bloom,” I said;
And truly it was fair enough for flowers
had we but in us to assume in march
Such white luxuriance of May for ours.
We stood a moment so in a strange world,
Myself as one his own pretense deceives;
And then I said the truth (and we moved on).
A young beech clinging to its last year’s leaves.