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At a birthday lunch in Oakland.

February 6th, 2003

But So What?
Head full of cement, this morning, but it's gottem better, and now I sit this late afternoon ready for breakfast. Except, and this appears to be true, I did have breakfast this morning, followed by lunch. Um, yes, well. Perhaps we should start anew.

I think we should.

I received the new Norman Mailer book, The Spooky Art, from Amazon this week, along with Hunter S. Thompson's Kingdom Of Fear. I've only read the first forty pages or so of each, but so far so good.

I'm not sure what anyone thinks of Norman Mailer anymore. The review of this book in the Sunday Chronicle was short and less than enthusiastic. Still, I'd read something about it in The New Yorker and what I read sparked interest. His first book best seller, The Naked And The Dead was published when he was 23, "the big book about the Second World War", and he's won the Pulitzer for both The Armies of the Night and Executioner's Song. I realize from reading the bibliography he's written three books since Harlot's Ghost, the last book of his I've read, but then again, I haven't been reading these last two decades and Harlot's Ghost, all 1,200 pages, was published in '91. He can write. He can write a sentence and a paragraph as well as I'm able to understand such things can be written.

I remember reading Executioner's Song, another big book, and then reading he'd written it in eighteen months. He seemed a little smug when he said he'd written it in eighteen months and I remember thinking he had every damned right. Beautiful writing all the way through. It would have taken me a lifetime, maybe two, maybe never, making, of course, the gross and unlikely assumption I had such a book in me. Some dismissed Executioner's Song at the time as a beautifully written book, yes, but it's about twisted low life killers, not quite the subject of high art. Right. So, whatever his biography, whatever his bibliography, when Mailer writes a book subtitled Some Thoughts on Writing, you pay attention and you read the book. So I'm reading the book.

I'm also taken by the photograph of Mailer on the cover. I want to say it's the image of a man who's swallowed the canary, but that's not quite it. A look of conspiracy, perhaps, just us guys, "us guys" here including the ladies, you understand: Just us guys, "wink, wink". Nice.

Is this scattered enough? Two books purchased, not yet read? Yeah, but so what?

The photograph was taken at a recent birthday lunch in Oakland.