I'm feeling like a cat in a small house where someone is vacuuming in another room. It's been a trying week and the next few weeks promise to be trying too - emotionally, physically, mentally. I don't anticipate even a bit of relaxation until I get on the plane for Vancouver. Today I will deal by pottering through the packing and perhaps organizing which books to take, which books to leave, and which books to ship. I've already organized which books to ditch:
1. Robert Hughes, Things I Didn't Know. Sometimes it doesn't pay to meet your heroes and it rarely pays to read their memoirs. Three words: wah fucking wah.
2. Retro Food Fiascos. Two hundred pages of graphic proof that office Kris Kringles are a bad idea. Looking at this book hurt me.
3. Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda. I have started reading this book three times, and never finished. It has defeated me, which is annoying, because by objective measures I bet it's good, and it reminds me of Ralph Fiennes looking vulnerable.
4. Irene Nemirovsky, David Golder. Promises great things from the writer but on its own doesn't call for a second read and wouldn't have called for a first one if it hadn't been a free advance copy, which I'm incapable of resisting, like being told a secret.
5. Bill Clinton, My Life - The Presidential Years. He talks so pretty; why couldn't he have got his speechwriters to ghostwrite? Tedious mess.
6. Max Lenderman, Experience the Message - Book given out at ad conferences by one of those faux-iconoclastic "guerrilla marketers" who talk too loud and swear not just gratuitously, but labouredly.
Among others. Not very many though. I tend to fetishize books and find it hard to part with them if I like them even a little bit, although I do enjoy giving my books to people I care about. I guess that comes from family expressing their love at Christmases and Bidets by giving books instead of toys.
In less navel-gazing news, go see the Overcoat while you can. I can't think of a dance production I've seen that I enjoyed for itself as much as this one - of course I get an umami-like warm feeling from the Nutcracker every Christmas, but that's more despite than because of the National Ballet's staging. Categorizations aside, this was the closest production I can think of to perfect that I've seen since I saw the Barber of Seville on mushrooms, which gave it an unfair edge.
The story is predictably Russian. That having been said, I went to the show depresses and though it touched me deeply it didn't make the depression worse. It's the story of a much put-upon civil servant in a gross, alienating, cruel (Russian) urban world who nonetheless has the inner equipment to be reasonably happy, and whose uneasy equilibrium is shattered by a beautiful new coat. Until he gets a new one, that is - the ballet is based on a delicious story by Gogol but has some twists of its own. I won't give them away, but I WILL say there are no corpse-ghosts in this one.
I can hardly start to say how great the production was. The dancing was completely evocative of the plot's reality and completely evocative of the fantasies and imaginations of the characters. And characters were perfectly established through their movement without the proceedings descending into mime. The whole cast was great, but . . . I'd been telling the F-word earlier that same day I couldn't think of anything more viscerally emotionally touching than the sight of crying Korean men; the lead character of this play, as danced by Peter Anderson, gave that a run for its money. The Man was not a completely sympathetic character, but I sympathized with him completely, if you'll allow that abuse of language.
And of course it was all set to Shostakovitch's music, which I love more and more. This is the third or fourth Shostakovitch event I've seen in Toronto in the past little while, which is nice. I wonder why he's suddenly everywhere, though. How about a Rimsky-Korsakov revival too?
I guess this has been as long as I can excuse not packing, so I am off.