RIDE OUT BOY AND SEND IT SOLID. FROM THE GREASY POLACK YOU WILL SOMEDAY ARRIVE AT THE GLOOMY DANE.
This was Tennessee's telegram to Marlon Brando on the opening night of A Streetcar Named Desire. I was watching, tonight, Brando as Mark Antony in 1953's Julius Caesar, standing on the senate steps over Caesar's body and seeming by his very vacillations to manipulate the crowd into revolution. And then he cries:
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men's blood.
The irony was stinky. There was a Caesar. When comes another? It's the rage in his face, and the pleasure in his power, and his sophistication and the way Brando gets that Mark Antony is a great rhetorician and aware of it and even skeptical of it, his own gift, and aware that to be a great rhetorician he must also deny it ? it all got me thinking of the unkindest cut of all: not getting to see Brando do Hamlet. Can you imagine it? Circa 1954? When in possession of the most beautiful male body of the twentieth century?
To quote David Bowie: I would give someone else's left arm to see that.
It's been a hell of a week. Carlshuker.com is live and updated and though small, looking superb. The cover image is used in part on the cover of The Lazy Boys and is the work of a genius Russian photographer named Yuri Kozyrev, who is right now in and out of Iraq, and was in Afghanistan, and Beslan as it happened. The photo was taken in a Russian prison for a story on overcrowding, and I've been in love with it since 2000. It is now framed and on my wall. The video on the Method Actors page was directed and edited by a friend mentioned yesterday, Ryan Skelton, a filmmaker living in Tokyo.
It features some method actors from around the hood, so a shout-out of thanks to Anna K., Ryan, Anna S., Jun, Blake and Steve Ryan, who all read therein. If you have incredibly sharp eyes, you might detect your author holding a dark rug behind the readers as they read, which is perhaps an apt if slightly unpackable metaphor for a novel writer.
A lot of author web sites are goofy. So sincere and ugly, like it's a badge of authenticity. Perhaps more likely poverty. Some are unintentionally amusing. Clivejames.com has a brilliantly titled video section: "Talking in the Library." But he means what he says. Clive and a guest, erm, talking. In his library. As Clive confides:
Our production facilities, incidentally, consist of a couple of digicams hired for the night and an editing suite that fits under a bed. Guests are paid with a takeaway Chinese meal.
Actually it's rather good, especially the Martin Amis, who's one of the great conversationalists.
Not to mention, all other items listed on Monday's to-do list have been completed. For every wild mood swing the new book is showing hints of a final shining form. Have drunk and not drunk to excess. I have booked flights to St. Malo for new year at which time, God willing, I will collapse with a completed manuscript, sip cognac, and watch the storms.
And the mention of storms compels me to bring to your attention the fact that a tornado hit London this morning. A tornado, for crying out loud. Coming from Tokyo, and a fourth floor apartment built before the earthquake laws were put into effect, I have only now relaxed from the sort of eternal hypervigilance/constant superanxiety the frequent earthquakes and typhoons engendered in me the second time around. I was expecting a stolid, damp, and bracing England winter. When first in Tokyo, every earthquake was just exciting. A great surprise, like storms are. Then I gradually came to realize just exactly how stoic and fatalistic Tokyones are about the Big One. How the whole city is predicated on the fact that the Big One (sigh) is inevitable, and massive fatalities (shrug, helpless grin) are inevitable, and let's just accept that and stop whining. That's part of what it means to be a Tokyo-ko, or Tokyo child. Three generations born and bred and utter contempt for fear of death. In the aforementioned apartment my heart would pound every time the wind rattled the windows. But tornadoes! (An interrobang is warranted really, but I can't find one.) In London? Kensal Rise? Does this not sound alien? The BBC then says confidently, tornadoes are actually common in England, citing one in Birmingham a few years ago, another somewhere else. Also a few years ago. Freak weather occurrences in the last few years therefore warrant the adjective "common". Don't read of many tornadoes in Dickens through, do you. The whole world is the United States of Amnesia.
Apparently, Brando told Johnny Depp that by the time he had got to the point where he felt he could do Hamlet, it was too late. So he said, "Do it now, do it while you can."
So to sign off, I'd like to thank Powell's for their indulgence and their invitation to blog and say do it now, do it while you can.