Wednesday 1 October 2014

This must be the last of the pond moments (I've thought this for a month), last of the sun at the start of the (school) year;  not the last of the roofers, who start appearing from 8 a.m., all eyes on the 60 feet by 18 times 2 of the roof (of my life) which they are re-slating. I go past with a box of eggs, a bucket of apples or an outsize package of paper (Munken Lynx rough, 150gsm).  One of them asked what the straw in the shed was for, so I explained about the horses down the road and how the straw came back as manure. He also asked about bees, elderberries and the sedum roof on the shed. As they are roofing I am watching a small bumble bee on a blue scabious flower and working my way towards writing about Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star.

From her name to her spiky vigour on the page, I am completely seduced every time I open the book. As I was at first by Marguerite Duras in her later more talky books. Duras came into literature from foreign lands (Indo-China); Lispector (may I call you Clarice?) from Ukraine to Brazil, via international diplomacy and jewishness. Savage women wresting words out of difficult lives.

The Hour of the Star is a short book, the endgame of a writing life, with enough narrative to float compassion for this creature/character called Macabéa from the northeast of Brazil, displaced & inadequate, outlandish & naive in Rio de Janeiro, her naiveté her only strength, her life and her death.

I have misgivings about narrative as I have misgivings about poetry, yet feast off both.

Read this: 'I am a typist and a virgin and I like coca-cola'. And sigh. (Small bang). The first time I read  The Hour of the Star, the bang/small bang moments, both ironic and childlike, made me catch my breath. As well as the hesitancy, the diffidence, the assertions: 'What troubles my existence is writing.' Existence is already what must be wrenched into being. Not just Macabéa. Me. You. The small bumble bee. The roof (of my life).

What is the truth about my Maca? It is enough to discover the truth that she no longer exists: the moment has passed. I ask myself: what is she? Reply: she is not.

I like writers who make me feel that what I am reading has brought them, and me, into existence, golem-like, relentless, scattering powers to the four winds.

And now – now it only remains for me to light a cigarette and go home. Dear God, only now am I remembering that people die. Does that include me? 
Don't forget, in the meantime, that this is the season for strawberries. Yes.

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