Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Green Magic and Solid Objects

In a perhaps doomed effort to stimulate myself to post more regularly, I am going to undertake to enrich the lives of those hapless few who find themselves dallying here, by suggesting certain nourishing literary endeavors. 

Hrrumph. Sorry. I have been reading Jack Vance again. It is, of course, impossible for anyone who is not Jack Vance to write like Jack Vance, but it is also impossible to resist attempting to do so. Clearly, I have failed on both counts. 

Those of you who have read more than a few of my books may have noticed that one of the recurring themes in my work is the careful examination of my own navel.* That is, I like to write about the thing I am writing about in a manner analogous to a painter painting an image of a painter painting. Allow me to avoid making myself clear. 

Two short stories that I love, and revisit often, are “Green Magic,” by Jack Vance, the tale of an ambitious magician who seeks to expand himself beyond his mortal capabilities, and “Solid Objects,” by Virginia Woolf, a story about a young politician whose life is changed by the discovery of a lovely lump of driftglass. Essentially, they are the same story seen through different ends of the telescope. 

Both are allegories concerning the creative process—at least as I read them. Both are brilliant. Both are available free online: 

Green Magic 

Solid Objects

 *Speaking of navels…on the morning after after our first date, Mary Logue called her sister to make a report. “He has an Audi,” she mentioned, referring to my car. Mary’s sister, hearing the word outie, said, “You learned that on your first date?”

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