Today is Bloomsday, the day when Leo Bloom made his historic walk around Dublin as depicted by my man Jimmy Joyce in his collection of words....er...novel, Ulysses. I'm celebrating by trying to finish Ulysses. It's going on three Bloomsdays and I'm still reading this shit. I'm almost done though. I just got to read that long ass sentence that ends the book. (I have nightmares that they'll take back my MFA after finding out I never finished Ulysses).
Actually, I lied, I'm not reading Ulysses today at all. I just started Cormac McCarthy's The Road and I'm re-reading Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. The Road, I'm undecided about at this point, but re-reading Ralphie's book proves to me that it is the best book I've ever read. This is despite his numerous shortcomings as lovingly detailed by Arnold Ramersad in his wonderful Ellison biography. That thing really had my brain churning.
Today is also Tupac's birthday. I'm going to find the first disc of All Eyez on Me and listen to it over and over...maybe I won't. Maybe I'll just watch this.
On Thursday, my friend, arch-nemesis and personal hero Ryan Call will be reading at the Cheryl's Gone reading series at Big Bear Cafe on 1st and R streets in NW, D.C. More info here, here and here. He'll be reading with Mel Nichols and Joel Dias-Porter a.k.a DJ Renegade. Also, DJ Panic will be on the ones and the twos. Later, I'll update this post with an introduction I did for Ryan a while back. Update: Here is a introduction I did for Ryan when he read at Mason a few months back. I improvised and changed stuff around when I was up on the mic, but here is what I prepared beforehand.
I think it’s appropriate that Ryan Call is reading to us on a day when the remnants of a snow storm still cover the streets, the grass and the rooftops and the sky are shrouded in a dark gray. So much of his work concerns inclement, even malevolent, weather—abrasive sandstorms in distant countries ripping away clothes, flesh and organs, leaving just bone; an angry cloud snatching away a father as he attempts to patch a roof.
It’s times like this, when the weather is bad, that it’s hardest to pretend that we don’t live in the world Ryan Call describes in his work. See, his stories are often terrifying and seem far from our reality, a place where fantastical things happen, such as a flock of birds who have just relearned to fly, soaring above a family acting as shelter for them—let me tell you, that’s a surprisingly moving image. The reality he describes—a place where the people are mired in fear and under siege, battling forces such as the weather that they can’t control or understand. There is always a war waging against a faceless enemy. And did I mention the fear? The fear’s palpable. Sound familiar?
I’ve told you about Ryan’s work, but before he reads, let me tell you a bit about Ryan the man: He’s young—just 25 years old and still many of us nearing our thirties and many well into that decade, look up to him. I imagine he’ll always be young, something akin to Casey Kasem. He has an old soul and is often known for his simple wisdom, which you’ll see in his work. This probably stems from the fact that he’s read every piece of fiction ever written in the English language. No really he hasn’t, but it seems that way sometimes. His characters rarely have names. His amazing story Age Hung Us Out to Dry can be found in the latest issue of Hobart and was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I hope he wins. He’s read the Aenied. No bullshit, Ryan has read the Aenied. He has an incredibly generous spirit, going above and beyond in critiques and counseling friends on where to submit stories to. We’re in for a treat. My arch-nemesis and hero, Ryan Call.
I read this article in the Washington Post over the weekend. It really saddened me. If the sentence dies, we all die.