Thursday, March 11, 2010

Well, I finished my commissioned Blake essay yesterday and launched it out into the aether. We'll see what the editors say when they get around to reading it. All I can say is that it was a beast to write, a growling and slavering beast. In the meantime, I received two giant fellowship rejections, one right after the other, neither of which I'd actually expected to get but that doesn't mean I'm not disappointed anyway. It's really not possible to apply for this stuff without clinging to a measure of optimism. And since I never apply for any fellowship that costs me money, I haven't had the chance to build up those tough mental calluses that I find so indispensable when I'm submitting unfashionable poems to literary journals.

On the bright side, I got invited to read a poem at the governor's house, and I've been immersed in the bound galleys of a really interesting novel: Time among the Dead, by Thomas Rayfiel, whose essay on Compton-Burnett is the one I wish I'd written. The book is short and entertaining, with a very appealing central character, the dying, cantankerous, and accidentally charming Lord Upton. But what I enjoyed most was how Tom's prose and imagination entwine so elegantly. He's a very good stylist, not spare but concise, with a main character who asks lovely, blind-sided questions about the future such as "[Will you] float in your aeroship to some distant galaxy for tea?"

This is not Tom's only novel. According to the cover copy, his previous novels have been reviewed favorably in not only the New Yorker but People Magazine. Think of that! (Although the more I do think of it, the more I notice how similar those magazines are, at least in terms of where I read them: other people's bathrooms, dentist-office waiting rooms. . . . )

Dinner tonight: hamburgers, fresh bread, roasted onions, potato and caper salad, radishes. Possibly you thought I'd stopped eating for the past several months, but I continue to be well fed. Merely I have been bored with my cooking, a common late-winter, sated-with-dull-grocery-store-vegetables sensation.

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