A Perfect Reading
I went to the reading after all last night, and am so glad that I did. It was held at the Silverado Winery, up a winding road, with absolutely heart-stopping views of the entire Napa Valley.
The first reader, a poet, was named C. Dale Young, a full-time working physician and poet. He was engaging, moving, and his work was just spectacular. I have a total weakness for medical literature, and for writings about the body. His final poem, about stitching up the face of a patient who had been slashed by a knife (referred to by his supervisor as "the faggot in bed 16") and reflecting on the fact that there will always be a knife, a bat, for "his kind," but when those people who slash gay people come into the ER with their own wounds - well, he will be there with his needle and thread, and he will stitch them up.
OK, I'm not doing it service here, but it was breathtaking. There was total silence for a nanosecond after he stopped, and then wild applause. He only has one small book out right now, but keep your eyes open for this guy. He's incredible.
Claire Messud is gorgeous, and elegant, and funny, and just an amazing writer. She gave a five minute prelude, making all kinds of comical excuses for what she was about to read, and how she would "tell myself not to read this," but how her husband convinced her to, and that well, here she was. It was from a novel just turned in to her agent, just finished, and wow it is a stunner. It's set in NYC in 2001, and, well, that was why she thought she shouldn't read it, but it was gripping, and true, and from yet another completely original perspective. And her SENTENCES! They were complex, and layered, and just went on and on in absolute perfection. I am mourning the fact that I know I will probaby have wait a year, or probably much more, to see this book in print. I think she said the working title was The Emperor's Children. Anyway, I bought one of her books - I hadn't read her before - and am eagerly waiting to immerse myself in this impossibly beautiful language.
It's been good to have this little reprieve, this reminder of why literature is important, why it IS important to try and do it all. I've had my walk in the vineyards and it's almost time to pack up and go back home. I'm refreshed, inspired and ready.