I'm pleased to note this is the 500th post here on A Beast in a Jungle. I've been pondering for awhile what it should be about and wanted to acknowledge that I consider this blog to be about performances which take place on stages and off. Even the writing of it is a performance of a certain kind. In that spirit I considered revealing the true nature of my involvement with Penelope, the Femme Fatale, Isabella and the other women threaded through here. Three drafts sit in the queue.
However, I couldn't quite wrestle that beast under control- the subject remains a convoluted tangle of threads in reality, never knottier than its current state. In the end I thought it best to leave the subject behind the curtain. Instead, I've decided to engage in an unconscionable act of self-indulgent flattery and publish two "fan letters" to mark the occasion.
From Edith W.:
So I stumbled into the vortex that is your blog just now and had to extricate myself immediately 1) because it's brilliant and reminded me of what makes you "you," and 2) because where I stumbled was the post about running into your ex fiancé. it made me paranoid (because yes, I am self-centered) and wondered if all of your ex-es are like characters in your head. then again, maybe that's the Marcher reference.
I think I told you this in an email some time ago, but last year I taught a course on Henry James for retirees at the senior center....we read The Ambassadors and Wings of the Dove. This September I agreed to return and work through Ulysses. I realized pretty quickly that this little side-gig could easily be called "books that remind me of Mark." I remember like it was yesterday...being in your attic apartment in Berkeley and your copy of Ulysses on the night stand. Did you know they haven't made a newer edition since that horrible art-deco looking cover?
Anyway.... about the blog. Your brilliance never ceases to inspire (and excite)....as it ever was.
From R. S.:
I should have written long ago to say how much I liked your post on whispering in public places (great title). Everything since then has been great, too. I'm starting to think you're piecing together a novel here, bit by bit. I've been thinking about a few novels I've read that combine serious engagement with music and interesting plots. I was slightly acquainted with this NYC novelist and opera fanatic named Richard Brickner who wrote a novel in the 70s or early 80s called Tickets, all about attending the Met and the social relationships that surrounded that. What I like best about your posts is the restraint and the mystery--there's intense stuff and it comes across powerfully, but you always leave the reader wondering and wanting to know more. I find that withholding quite addictive, and it does indeed resemble my very favorite thing about reading HJ. Last month I finally read The Beast in the Jungle and it certainly works that way.
... I really like this notion of acting like a character in a novel. Personally I've always thought of myself as Isabel Archer, which I certainly should have grown out of by now, but haven't.
And there we are!