It was a bit fraught writing this review of Haywire by Thaddeus Rutkowski for the The Nervous Breakdown seeing as it was ultimately a mixed review (excellent beginning, worth reading just for that) but overall I think it was a good exercise; I’m more used to reviewing movies rather than books. I’m hoping to review more in the future and especially to try my hand at nonfiction next.
Today is Nina Simone’s birthday and in honor of it here’s a song too apropos of the times.
June’s newest assignment was a story about identity theft. She felt bad about how repugnant yet disarming she found some of her sources. (Yet it was like a sorbet after all the charming people she’d been around.) While a sophisticated endeavor, it attracted the congenitally lazy. Being lazy, they did no advance research of the industries they tried to infiltrate, opting to pose as underlings of C-Level executives. Outside of their clandestine circles they took relatively innocent behavior from those outside of them as suspect, presuming someone quite innocuous might just be a master criminal from a different neighborhood, with slightly different procedures, newly revised perhaps. It was merely because the master criminals they knew were righteous, just righteous by the code of that world which sat upside down from the rest.
Here’s an article I wrote about the Langston Hughes photo cardboard cutout taken from a restaurant and bookstore in DC.
It gave me food for thought about how the romantic day job for creative types causes such conflict within some circles. It would be ideal for everyone to be able to make a living doing exactly what one wants and is good at (in my Utopian idea version of the world) but then for writers what would we have to write about if not for the more interesting career/jobs we take to subsidize our arts?
Here’s a poem I’ll speculate was inspired in part from Hughes’ work in a restaurant:
Sometimes a crumb falls
From the tables of joy,
Sometimes a bone
To some people
Love is given,
In the movie version of Graham Greene’s, The End of the Affair, the heroine asks her lover, whose life with a prayer she’s saved, and thus sworn off in that bargain with God, “Does love end if we don’t see each other?”
“No,” her lover tells her factually, with care, as if lighting a match that will fire a slow-burning candle in church. And with his fuse of solace and sentence, she turns from her lover.
Later, risking a return to him, fate, chance, perhaps the wrath or whim of God, thwarts her, keeps her from her one worldly desire, her true love. Yet as promised, love for her does not really end but merely changes as if from fluid to gas.
“If God exists, why not give us a sign?” he asks after the movie.
“Believing in God is like believing in your parents,” June says.
She tells him she believes that the dead will exist in the universe as dispersed energy.
Del says “If we both died right now I guarantee we’d both end up in the same place.”
“I didn’t mention heaven or how we might get there.” She smiles while a very serious look settles from his brow on down. Up top there are wrinkles as if it’s the mechanism he’s using to control the rest of his face.
*cannabalized another poem of mine for my novel-still-in-progress
“Julia was twenty-six years old. She lived in a hostel with thirty other girls (‘Always in the stink of women! How I hate women!’ she said parenthetically), and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly in running and servicing a powerful but tricky electric motor. She was ‘not clever,’ but was fond of using her hands and felt at home with machinery. She could describe the whole process of composing a novel, from the general directive issued by the Planning Committee down to the final touching-up by the Rewrite Squad. But was not interested in the finished product. She ‘didn’t much care for reading,’ she said. Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.” — Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Never saw any live production of Hair, that hippie-dippie, feel-good, racially-harmonious*, we-are-or-could-be-one (but let’s be real, the Vietnam war is going on) musical, but the ending number from the filmed adaptation directed by Milos Forman (of all people) makes me wish I had, if only to see if it matches its emotional intensity.
*I did flinch at some of the racial representations which seem dated and in the name of progress of the era(s) [play: 1967, film: 1979], probably intentionally provocative.
Treat Williams (of all people) sings, Flesh Failures(Let the Sunshine In), now one of my favorite movie musical interludes rivaling Easy to be Hard, also from the film, winning that particular sing-off because of the genius plot twist compacted into the last few minutes of the movie.
Major spoiler alert: This is the end of the movie and it differs from the play and it is the end, folks, so don’t watch unless you want to reduce its power from the whole.