In all likelihood you will be reading this at the same time that you read yesterday’s post. This is because the internet at the Henry Miller Library is so.incredibly.slow these past few days. I haven’t been able to upload my posts lately, so I assure you that if the internet doesn’t come back to life before 6pm today, I’ll head over to the Big Sur River Inn for a post-work cocktail and uploading session (oh, what a hard promise to keep). This is my public plea for high speed internet at the Henry Miller Library. I understand that there is a roadblock in the process of obtaining high speed on this particular section of the coast, but I do not understand why. I will completely admit that I’ve never spent too much time trying to find out why we don’t have high speed, and this is entirely because I am surrounded perpetually by tech-heads who I trust want high speed even worse than I do. I know that Magnus is daily trying to figure out a solution to the turtle-charging-through-molasses-with-a-bum-leg-after-a-big-meal paced internet. The poor guy gets so frustrated with the satellite internet here that he stays home frequently and works on his dial-up because he knows that if he waits 20 minutes for a page to load that it WILL actually load, whereas at the library we wait for 20 minutes and then get a page spitting at us some jargon about a satellite linkage failure and says, “refreshing the page may solve this problem.” It’s days like today, when I cannot get a single webpage to load for an hour and a half (a problem I surmise will continue until this evening), that I think that refreshing the page won’t solve the problem; but putting the satellite dish through my landlords woodchipper just might.
I think our unnamed satellite carrier got a hold of the library’s motto and thought it might be funny to carry it over into our internet. The Henry Miller Library. Where nothing happens. I’ll tell you what, satellite: no one’s laughing.
The satellite unpredictability just stands to remind me that there is nothing more reliable than a book. As long as there’s a little bit of light you can enjoy a book. You can read when the power goes out, you can read on the beach, you can read if you run out of gas and you have to wait for someone to drive by, you can read on a bus during a busy commute, you can read while you cook. You can read on a cruise when the economy is booming, and you can read at home listening to the news of the recession. If you read enough, you don’t even have to know a damn thing about the economy.
Eric and I had a wonderful chat about books again this morning, we discussed a few of our favorites with each other, and different ways we had been asked to write about books in school. Eric shared with me the crux of a 20-page paper he wrote about a comic character as it related to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I told him about the blessed professor I had my senior year at Smith who, after reading a paper I had written him on Allen Ginsberg and Henry Thoreau and giving me a (much deserved) bad grade, he asked me to write him another paper in the form of a special studies the next semester. Eric told me about how he discovered Milan Kundera in Prague and how he quickly became his favorite author. He told me about his favorite novella of Kundera’s found in Laughable Loves that is about lovers on a long drive who run out of gas and when the woman returns with a gas can, they make a game out of pretending they are strangers and in the process realize they more or less are. I told him about when I read Alice in Wonderland as a student in a comparative literature class and applied to it Freud’s theories of jokes (which is the only set of ideas of Freud’s that are worth a serious look, in my opinion. You should absolutely look at Freud’s Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious).
I am sure you are all familiar with those times when you’re in a good bookstore with a good friend and you’re talking about this book and how it made you read that book and you were on vacation when you discovered so and so, and she’ll always make you think of that place and so on and so forth. It’s the best part of being in a bookstore, it’s why a bookstore is best if it serves coffee and tea. It’s why shopping online for books is simply not the same. It’s thumbing the pages and selecting a random page as a litmus test for whether or not you want to read more. It’s looking across the room at your friend who is doing the same thing. Now I hope you’re all thinking about being in your favorite bookstore with a good friend. I get to do that everyday.
All of these nice conversations came about so that we could select new staff picks. However, because the internet is so abysmal at the Henry Miller Library, I can only share with you my own staff pick. When email once again works at the library, I will share with you Magnus and Eric’s picks.
I’d like you to look at Henry Miller’s Smile at the Foot of the Ladder. It’s the only work of true fiction that Miller ever published. It is a short story about a clown, and stands in stark contrast to his longer more lurid works like the Rosy Crucifixion or the Tropics. It is not lacking in Miller’s ever-present philosophical musings. It would be a nice morning with this short work and a cup of tea.