I'm moving even more slowly than I was because of this stupid arm. I'm going to Winnipeg tomorrow but I'll take you with me and see what I can manage. Right now I'll do a short cut with a treat for me and I hope for you.
I have one special bookcase in my office that holds what I call "seed beds" - books that serve me as greenhouses or Petrie dishes or potent elixirs. I'll tell you one (two) of my favourites - one author, two books. The books look like hedgehogs, bristling with post-it notes sticking out of the pages, and I have marginalia scattered throughout. It's not defacing the books; they are more valuable to me with my notes. I'll leave them in my archives.
I'll tell you the titles and the author and I'll do what I can to show/tell you how excited (still!) I am to browse and cherry-pick.
The Secret Heart of the Clock: Notes, Aphorisms, Fragments (English translation 1989) was my first encounter, and Notes from Hampstead: The Writer's notes: 1954-1971 (English translation 1998) my second, obviously because of the chronology of their publication in English. I had never heard of the author; I picked up Clock because I read a review that interested me.
Elias Canetti (1905-1994), winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for Literature, was Bulgarian (born), British but he wrote in German, hence my need for translations. He was (is) considered on the of the prime intellectual figures of the 20th century. Clock is gloomy,about ageing and death, but it is what I clued inspiring but the book jacket calls 'nourishing".
I'll just whip through the books and drop a few cherries, not sure for how long. I'm having a guest for dinner.
"When you write down your life, every page should contain something no one has ever heard about." [Me: I think this will be increasingly difficult as people spread themselves out in blogs and FaceBook.]
"The certainty of first encounters: enthusiasm or condemnation. I cannot feel lukewarm or cold toward any new person. The encounter is my volcano/" [Yes!! Fewer of them as I grow older. They've left without me.]
"It will never be the same again now that the stars have been touched." [When the first moon shot revealed the other side of the moon, I was hoping it would turn out to be a set, all front and props behind holding it up. Such a disappointment!]
"And what if you were told: One more hour?" [I wrote a play (a monologue) in which the character discovers she has four more minutes.]
Okay, that's four from Clock. Writer's Notes next.
"A labyrinth made of all the paths one has taken." [I'm writing a series of "Elder Tales". This would be a good one. There are others in these notes for tales I want to write. Seed beds!!]
"People I haven't seen for a long time: I forget that they have died." [It took me a long time in my dreams to remember that my husband had died. Now, when I think of someone I knew at school or long ago, I'm afraid to look.]
"Writers who only exist because they became known so late/" [I hope so!]
"Burn your old clothes, discard those phrases. No more defences - leave the old and find out what you are now." [Any day now.]
It's a good thing someone's coming or I'd be here all night. I have to make a salad.