The Kundera stopped dead in its tracks, I’m afraid. But then the long-languishing song from Sharyn McCrumb’s THE ROSEWOOD CASKET kept nagging at me and, late one night about ten days ago, finally broke through and finished. You can’t imagine the relief and you shouldn’t want to. It took me two days to be sure I wasn’t crazy. I’ve played it once in public now, where it was well-loved. A rare piece of bluegrass for me, albeit complicated with what one friend calls “Dudley chords” that will, no doubt, throw musicians who expect to settle into a full-on traditional groove. Typical for me, but who cares? The song finally carries the complexity of the emotion without losing the emotional propulsion.
Meanwhile, I just finished Norman Mailer’s THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, and nothing is coming out of it for me. I liked it quite a bit, in a sort of trying-hard-to-be-an-American-Tolstoy way. But once it was over there was nothing going on between me and the book, no extra reverberations that needed to be filled. Still, it was good to read and finally understand why people liked Mailer. I’d only read his essays, and thought they were pompous and ridiculous the way an over-bright college sophomore’s would be if he did too much coke for way too long. Sez me, anyway.
I have failed for weeks now to pick up the Kundera and the Chekhov again from the library or the book store. I am filled with shame. Still, I scribble odd phrases whenever I think about the Kundera. Is it better to base what I’m doing on 15 year old memories? That’s certainly one kind of experiment.