Monday, March 19, 2007

an american pastime (pastoral?)

Dream world: An Americana class (lit & song) taught by Don DeLillo and Tom Waits, the latter at a piano, the prior at a podium. The auditorium packed with students, and I’m stuck with a broken seat, warned of its danger by my childhood nemesis, sitting beside it. "Thanks," I whisper, and perch on the floor. The lecture is amazing.

Real world, precipitating events: Falling asleep reading DeLillo, thinking about how he weaves reality into Underworld; it’s not exactly deft, that’s just the word that pairs with weave. To expand, it’s well done, but almost a cheap trick, the way the drama pulls us along not because we wonder what will happen, but because we know. The Giants will win the pennant, and the world will explode with joy and wonder and defeat, all at once. A little boy will steal a baseball, and a bomb will drop.

He wrote (all this, in 1997) about the building of the World Trade Center, the way the towers felt joined and inevitable, about a plane flying past. It’s in these scarce and scattered moments that the trick is revealed, all the more because he was unaware of it. They read as something more final, more important, more clearly implicating all of us in their collapse, than they could possibly have felt or been at the time.

TV world, an aside: I don’t follow baseball, and I never would have read the opening pages of this book this way were it not for Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night.

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