Howdy y’all. I hope you remember me and have good memories about my previous posts. You may wonder where i have been all this time? What has happened to me.
“Writer’s block, i thought. How did i become such a fucking cliché?”
What a great excuse taken from a book I was soaked in two days ago.
i remember i like this song. A lot. It reminds me of the Palladium club. I went there with my friend to see that band live.
Memories. Sometimes we see something or somebody and we say “oh, it or he/she reminds me of …”. Sometimes when we are in some kind of situation we say “oh, it is almost like …”. It may remind us of small and insignificant facts of our life. It does not have to be anything spectacular. In general it brings back memories of any kind and meaning.
Sometimes memories take us aback and just display unconsciously in our mind. Just out of the blue. Any kind of memory. Good one, bad one or of no importance. I tend to remember footling situations. People keep saying to me “how come you remember this?”. I really dunno! Am i mental? Or supernatural? I like to believe i am the latter.
Lately i have resurrected my Kindle. Thank you covid-19. You make me cook, clean my apartment quite often and devour books. Reading is fun. After few digital novels i dove into my bookcase. I do not collect books in general. If i read it, i circulate it. Sometimes i gift my friends or my neighbours have unexpected Christmas (few times i took books that somebody had left in our staircase).
Of course some books stay with me for ever (for now). Once in a blue moon i sell it on-line. However dealing with prospective buyers is a real pain in the arse. Pardon my French … again.
So i browsed my book collection. This time my new reading pleasure is Before I Go To Sleep (BIGTS) by S. J. Watson. It was picked on purpose. I really wanted to read something in English.
I remember my first book read in English. Well, read is rather an euphemism. Back then i only read magazines and watch tv in English. Books were the next and obvious step forward. I gave myself a chance. Armed with a pencil and Oxford English Dictionary i sat at the table and started … examining and leafing this book. Font was ok, dialogues were there. So far so good – I thanked myself in my mind. Only number of pages seriously worried me. No way i am going to get thru this? – i stated. It was The Client by John Grisham. It is about boys who, while smoking cigarettes in the forest, encounter a man trying to commit suicide by piping exhaust fumes into his car. He is a lawyer, trying to avoid the local thug and head of the Mafia. He later shoots himself. I will not give away the plot. One of the boys is in danger as two mafia operatives are dispatched to see what that boy knows.
So, i was eager to read my first book. I decided that if i did not know a word i would check it in my dictionary and write the meaning down above that word in question. It took me half an hour to go through the first page. There were more penciled words than printed ones. I was devastated. I was more focused on finding the meaning of the words than on the plot of the book. I gave up reading that novel. I failed! And i still remember that. Bad memory.
It was soon after when i borrowed The Beach by Alex Garland. I decided to face this challenge without any aides (pencil and dictionary). I am going to read it and try to figure out the meaning of the mysterious words from the context – that was my solid resolution. And i did pretty good! Success! I remember i loved this book. I only had one problem with the word “clearing”. But i was stubborn. No dictionary means no dictionary. But not knowing what the clearing was bothered me genuinely. I laughed at myself when, after finishing the book, i found out what it was (the action takes place in a jungle/forest with lots of clearings).
I even watched the move later (i loved it too, but i enjoyed the novel better).
Two days ago i reached for the BIGTS on purpose. I wanted to read something in English. Or was this book calling me? Did it want me to discover something and evoke a memory? A good memory?
Reading in English is bit hard for me. I have to be more focus than reading in Polish. I noticed i read twice as slow as in my mother language. But in general, English books are extremely beneficiary for me. I learn lots of new words and expressions.
A woman wakes up in the morning and finds out that she is 20 something years older than she (thinks she) should be. After an accident she loses her memory. She tries to find out who she is. After a deep sleep (so it is 24 hours cycle) her brain deletes everything she has learnt while being awake. She gets help from a neuropsychologist. He tells her that her case is unique. She has not lost her memory. She is able to transfer things from short-term to long-term storage perfectly well. All her memories are there. However she cannot retain them. So her condition and her efforts for getting back her memories is one thing. Her “regular”, or i should say, literally every-day life is a completely different, but also intriguing, story. I swamped in this book from the page one.
BIGTS became a real hit. Sunday Times and The New York Times bestseller. The list of accolades is long.
The book got positive and enthusiastic reception all over the world (LA, NYC, London, New Zealand, Tokyo).
…pure page-turner – NY Times
… it drags you down into deep, dark, and disturbing waters … – LA Times
I told my Texan friend that i was really enjoying this novel. I asked her not to spoil it (if she happened to read it before). Thankfully she denied. The following day, before i went to sleep, i saw a text from her – watched it, good one.
I checked BIGS movie on Wikipedia. And i was awe-surprised. The picture was met with negative reviews from the critics. Rotten Tomatoes – rating of 37% (based on 118 reviews), average ranking 5,03 out of 10. Oh-no! On Metacritic the film has a score of 41 out of 100, based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. Oh-no even more.
… storytelling is here just a gimmick. It’s shallow, it’s silly, it’s pat. It’s… forgettable,” wrote the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
… is filled with far too many contradictions and implausible situations,” wrote The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Conclusion. I am going to finish the book as i cannot take my eyes off of it now. However, i will lose the movie. Although i remember i enjoy B films every now and then. It is my guilty pleasure.
Getting back to BIGTS book and memories. After few seconds with this novel i saw something flying out of it. The size of a banknote. A 100$ bill! – i shouted or rather hoped. You know these little moments when you put your long-time-not-worn pants, skirts, cardigans and other piece of clothes on, you reach into your pockets and you find a small fortune. Sometimes you hide money inside your books. For a rainy day or just in case. A spontaneous pizza or sushi? You want to pay and tip the delivery person and … bam! You are out of cash. Money are nowhere to be found in your apartment. Then you happily reach for those books, pay, tip and enjoy the food. Win-win situation. But that was really then. Now everything is plastic money or on-line payment. Especially now, during pandemic.
In my case it was not a 100$ bill. Damn! What was i expecting as i do not hide money anywhere in general? It was just a receipt. From the Strand Book Store in Manhattan.
All of the sudden i am in the middle of a concrete jungle. I remember that day. Vividly! I was wandering the streets of New York. It was hot and sunny. May 2018. Time flies. Whenever i am in East Village i always pay a visit to the Strand Book Store. I see nothing but the thrust of the shelves brimful of variety of books in there. Sometimes i buy something, sometimes i just browse books and leave empty-handed. The bookstore is always shrouded in a thick fug of wisdom, literature, ink and print. On May the 4th, 2018 i did not buy anything there. I moved on inside the island. On Times Square there was a stand filled with books. The Strand decided to sell outside the bookstore, outside East Village. Of course there was a promo, there is always a promo in USA. Buy one, get the second for 50% or Buy two, get the third for free. It is almost a law in an American trade, i think. I like that kind of laws. It took me some time to pick my gems. It was a struggle. If i did not know the book, i just judged it by the cover. Or by the reviews. My solid choice was M Train by my beloved artist Patti Smith. I loved her Just Kids from the first page. She wrote about her life, her career, her life in NYC. She spent some time in the Hotel Chelsea. It was a very significant place for artists and for modern art in general.
2001: A Space Odyssey was written there. Poets stayed there (Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg to name a few). Who else left his/hers print there? Arthur Miller, Jack Kerouac, Madonna, Alice Cooper, Edith Piaf, members of the Club 27: Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix. The list is simply long and packed with famous names.
So M Train was an obvious pick. I just had to have this book.
The problem was with the second choice. 50% off people. It is a real bargain. At some point i had extra 4 or 5 books in my hands. Judging began then. The sieve was ruthless. Conditions were strange and contradictory. Boring title? You are out. Small font? Thank you, next. Too many pages? Bye-bye. Finally i handed the clerk two books – aforementioned M Train and Before I Go To Sleep. It was a good day. I remembered it well. It brings back pleasant memories. It was brought back by that little piece of paper, by an almost faded-out by now receipt.
I think i miss New York again. Yesterday i heard on the radio that my beloved City is on the verge of bankruptcy. Damn you covid-19.
I hope i will remember to write more … regularly.
All the crazy shit I did tonight
Those will be the best memories
I just wanna let it go for the night
That would be the best therapy for me