Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow Day Diversions--and Aimee Nezhukumatathil reads in South Florida tonight!

On this day, in 1977, snow fell in the Miami area; it hasn't happened since.

I say that snow fell, but really, some flakes drifted by.  In many ways, that's the kind of snow I like best.  I've spent almost all of my years in Southern places, where snow of any variety can shut down the place and falling limbs can cut electricity.

A snow day is no fun without electricity.  Well, it's fun for the first hour, and then it gets chilly, dark, and perhaps smelly.  And then, it gets cold.

I'm trying not to be jealous of the Pacific Northwest people who are enjoying a snow day today.  After all, what would I do with a snow day?  I'd probably watch old television series. 

You may remember that during December, I watched all of season 1 of The Walking Dead (see this post for more).  I'm eagerly awaiting season 2.  On Sunday, after being surprised by seeing Bryan Cranston in the movie Larry Crowne, we cued up Breaking Bad.  I'd heard so many good things about this show, and I was prepared to like it, even as I worried about the fact that the show has been on the air since 2008, and we don't really have that much free time.

Well, compelling as the first several episodes of the series are, I doubt we'll be watching many more.  I can't tell which horrifies me more, the main character's descent into amorality or the depiction of his cancer treatments.  Periodically, I had to walk away from the living room to remind myself that I am still on the lawful side, that I do not have cancer, that I am O.K.

When I was very young, I avoided reading books in the first person because I found them similarly intense.  I would feel more and more anxious as I was reading until I had to put the book down.  Now, books rarely have that effect on me, but filmed narratives still do.

Breaking Bad is a masterful work, don't get me wrong.  It does amazing things with scenery and with symbolism.  Bryan Cranston deserves every award there is for the way he inhabits this character and makes you forget about his performance in Malcolm in the Middle.  But I know that the story, already dark, is going to get darker and the violence more brutal.  Will there be even a breath of redemption?  I doubt it.

Maybe it says something about me, that I need some hope or I walk away.  I think about those literary theorists that I read in grad school, and I know that they would sneer at me and deem me a naive reader or hopelessly unsophisticated.

But real life can be pretty grim, and some days, I spend a lot of time wishing/praying/hoping that it doesn't get grimmer.  I don't need complete escapism--for that, I would turn to something different.  But I do need just a whisper of hope or a teaspoon of joy or something that explains to me why the characters don't just shoot themselves and get it over with.

So, if you're lucky enough to be enjoying a snow day, I wish you good reading, compelling viewing, and some ice cream made of snow. 

If you're in the South Florida area, you might be in the mood for a poetry reading.  Of course, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival is going on up, but if you want a free reading, head to Broward College, the South Campus (intersection of Pines Blvd. and 72nd in Pembroke Pines).  At 7:30 tonight, Aimee Nezhukumatathil will read--and it's free.  If you plan to buy books, remember to bring cash or your checkbook.


Karen J. Weyant said...

Aimee teaches in my "neck of the woods" so to speak! She's a great poet and reader. I hope you get a chance to see her!

Wendy said...

I want hope, too. I wonder if it's part of the Christian world we inhabit. Hope is inherent in my world view. Easter happens, and everything else, even that which horrifies me (and I've been dwelling on the horrific as we try to put a safe church policy into place) can't escape from that hope. So, yes, I want hope and redemption in my Art. It's why I loved Lost (the TV show) so much. Redemption. Hope. Love. I won't escape it.

But I'm a lousy theorist. And I want my narratives to have a plot and structure. And I want to like the characters even if they are somewhat unlikable. So I ask for a lot from my fiction. (Again, Lost is my clearest example. I ended up at the very least sympathizing with just about everyone even if they were really annoying to begin with.)