I drank down all of Kate Atkinson‘s Life After Life Monday night, so absorbed I didn’t notice the clock had ticked well past my day’s usual closing time. I paid the next day with a condition Engineer Hubby has dubbed “book hangover.” An achy, tetchy state of being that’s unpleasant for innocent bystanders but that provides the sufferer with an itch for some hair of the dog, as it were — a reminder of the joyful abandon I experience when I sit for an entire evening at a novel’s long, elegant bar, sipping whiskey tumblers full of fine prose and excellent plotting.
I treated my hangover with shorter essay-reading, and refer you here to what cured my headache (or, at least, helped me forget about it): Paige Williams’ article in the August 12 & 19 (2013) issue of The New Yorker, about Bill Arnett, a “seventy-four year old white man” who’s a curator-collector of “the world’s most comprehensive collection of art made by untrained black Southerners.” It costs $ to read the whole thing from the New Yorker website, here, but it’s worth perusing if you have the interest and some $ to spare.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Arnett is a controversial figure and like many controversial figures, he’s writing a memoir. The last lines of the article cite his words:
It is my nervous and trembling, but history-based and always optimistic, prediction that great culture will outlast corrupt bureaucrats and their heavy-handed abuses of power, and the greed-driven, callous and destructive tactics of bloodless profiteers. So, metaphorically speaking, I am betting on Art.
Coincidence that all my (grasping?) analogies have to do with drinking and gambling? I don’t think so: you have to be slightly inebriated with a love of the world to try to sit down and share that passion with others via words. The whole undertaking is a crapshoot.
Down your tequila, draw your cards, go all in: set your butt down at the bar, write like it’s five minutes ’til closing time and you hold all the aces.
I have that book, Life After Life, on my to-read list. Sounds like I should push it up the list.
“Great culture will outlast corrupt bureaucrats.” What an inspiring thought. I loved this essay, Les.