Monday, October 29, 2007

Bloor Line, standing in the middle of the platform, back to the track.

Caucasian male, early 40s, wearing a blue checkered shirt under a collared sweater, his eyes a little tired, a little red.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, J.K. Rowling (Raincoast)

Page 212:

Fight it, he told himself, but he knew that he could not conjure a Patronus here without revealing himself instantly. So he moved forwards, as silently as he could, and with every step he took numbness seemed to steal over his brain, but forced himself to think of Hermione and of Ron, who needed him.
Tonight his children will eat with their mother alone. She's promised a take out bucket of chicken, creamy coleslaw and, if they've finished their homework, a trip for ice cream, maybe a whole banana split. The futon has been pulled out in the guestroom, ready for his return home, back from his father's who will not have understood at his age of 78 how his son, his only child, could be a pervert.


awdּball said...

hey julie... i always loved the public aspect of what you do here - celebrating the bringing out of books from the bedside to the subway/street corner/cafe; celebrating the communal activity no one knows they are partaking in because their noses are always in books; celebrating the books people read, the people who put them out there, the whole apparatus that makes it possible for us to have these wondrous stories in our hands everywhere we go; creating a space for interaction between the reader, the book read, and the watcher/writer. i love all of this.

AND/BUT. it just occurred to me now, for some reason, (and i'm irritated this interest didn't present itself so clearly to me before [or maybe i'm appreciating this aspect anew and excitedly]), what the personal process might be for you. the watching of people and the gradual long-distance learning of their habits, gestures, reactions, etc - the weird intimacy of your watching, the silent community you must feel with those watched. also, the immense book knowledge you accumulate through committed investigations of the books you see people reading daily.

(i like to imagine you popping into bookstores and the library up the street to look up books you don't know or have already. i like the idea of those booksellers/librarians recognizing you and maybe not knowing what your intentions are, and then making up elaborate or simple stories about you and your bookishness based on your habits, gestures, reactions, etc. the watcher being watched.)

i think your commitment to this blog is amazing, with all the scraps of paper you've accumulated, the constant writing on the hand, the book investigations, and of course, the writing. it's a lot of work and demonstrates a great love of literature and of others who love literature. amazing.

so after all this... my question for you is: how has keeping this blog changed your life? your ideas about people, about reading, about writing? how would you characterize the personal aspect of this journey? i'm so curious.

keep doing it all. you fill such a void; your eye is keen and your voice so unique. thank you.

Julie Wilson said...

wow. thanks a. this is such a thoughtful response. can i quote you directly? ;)

seriously, though, i'd like to bring it down a little.

you understand my process very well and inspire me to think about it more, to revisit it from a critical perspective. the impulse to do this originates in a desire to play, briefly, a variety of characters, try on a new skin. the fact that my "assistants" are readers is two-fold. i really do love books and the people who read them. such a private, fierce joy, the fight for alone time. (don't you sometimes feel like you're cheating on your world with another?) but i also have such easy access to all this inspiration. i really don't know how not to consider the lives of the people around me. and this seems a less intrusive form of engagement than tapping someone on the shoulder and asking, "what's your business here? in this world, i mean? who are you? why are you here? in this world, i mean?" someone would surely hit the yellow alarm bar on the train and id' make everyone late for work. i don't want that to happen.

and you might be interested to know that i've started formally packaging my "responses" into a collection of flash/mirco/postcard fiction that i think would make a delightful small objet, something that one day, sooner than later, i'd very much like to see someone reading on the subway. holding it, considering it. cheating on his/her world with mine.

awdּball said...

"i don't know how not to consider the lives of the people around me": this is such a simple and beautiful statement and speaks to how your humanity and creativity overlap. i know the impulse to tap on the shoulders of strangers and ask those questions. (last year, i got to: surveying women about their worries, i had access to intimate details i never expected to hear. it was amazing; i'll tell you about it sometime.)

i am reminded of a few lines from "the lives of animals" by j.m. coetzee. "There is no limit to the extent to which we can think ourselves into the being of another. There are no bounds to the sympathetic imagination." in this text, coetzee's character is giving a lecture on animal rights, but the lines, in a very general sense, are so beautifully humanist. your interest in characters - real and imagined - comes from this place, too. quite possibly for a large majority of writers, actually. i do love those lines.

anyway, congratulations on the assembly of your pieces into a little book! how meta-experiential - you watching someone on a subway read a book about you watching people reading in public - i love it! i love the idea and am very excited to hear more about it when you're further along.