A Veritable Feast OR What Would Diebenkorn Do?

"Readers who prefer clueless heroines, pointless gore and evil mumbo jumbo will find a veritable feast in Littlewood's debut."-- Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2013 issue, page eighteen.

Next to black coffee and a breakfast burrito, nothing kicks a day into gear like a Kirkus. I got all deja voodoo like you do so well when I read of a poet obsessed with the word "garbanzo" in Nicholson Baker's novel Traveling Sprinkler, due out in September.  The Kirkus review of this book won't go online to nonsubscribers for another month, but the Paris Review has added to my anticipation:

Why aren't there more novels about Quaker worship?  It's inherently dramatic, people sitting in silence and waiting for God to speak through them. Dramatic--and really, really funny. For proof look no further than Nicholson Baker's forthcoming novel, Traveling Sprinkler.

I just read a novel about Quaker worship, Tracy Chevalier's The Last Runaway, but that novel lacked garbanzos. Speaking of lacking garbanzos, my sister's Bethesda grocery stores lack Sabra Luscious Lemon Hummus, my current favorite. I have only found this flavor at Market Street grocery stores, but it's worth a longer drive for a fix!

For a Quaker moment I've spent time in James Turrell's Skyspace "Tending (Blue)" at the Nasher Sculpture Center. That experience has been ruined by the hot glare reflected off a new mirrored luxury condo skyscraper next door. Sadly, you can read about that in the New York Times:

One of my favorite Turrell pieces is the Skyspace “Tending (Blue),” which is inside a small stone building behind the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. To reach the piece, you pass through a Renzo Piano-designed building filled with northern light, then you cross the clean, clear lines of a landscape by Peter Walker. By the time you enter the Skyspace, the city of Dallas is long forgotten. I once lost the better part of a day inside, staring up as clouds lofted and flattened against the ceiling. But last year, a mirrored skyscraper went up nearby, reflecting glare into the building, killing plants in the garden and looming into view of the Skyspace. The museum had to close it.

As the battle continues, getting nearer and nearer to, gasp, litigation I wonder why tent dresses and muu-muus haven't been considered. That look is working for the Washington Monument during earthquake repairs. As my plane landed at Reagan National a few weeks ago the monument looked sort of chubby and gray on a rainy day. Maybe I needed my glasses adjusted. But no, the monument is draped with fabric over the scaffolding, and lighted to create a limited-time-only tourist attraction.


What is a "veritable feast"? Once it meant the feast was worthy of the name, a major banquet spread with or without national holiday status. Now the "veritable feast" is under a snarky dome of rhetorical affected tone.

On the way to a dental appointment, I was hypnotized by an NPR interview with Anna Badkhen, author of The World is a Carpet. Now I am under the spell of her sensuous writing. Got the book at my beautiful library. For beautiful libraries, check out this online list. It's a veritable feast of literary luxury.

Above the library the town hall reconstruction goes clonking and BAMMING along. Down below, we have our reflexes tested and thank heaven for each survival. I feel like the roadrunner racing below the falling anvil while working the circulation desk. On a tour of the construction area I thought of Richard Diebenkorn. What would he do? He would take the construction lines and the colors of the early evening clouds to build the monument. Then he would drape and erase his construction, not with mumbo jumbo, but with a clear conviction to erase the precious and push himself to a new solution.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder


seana graham said...

I first learned about the reflective glare problem from these shiny buildings when researching the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A. for a trivia book I was hired to coauthor. Gehry's company solved the problem by using computer analysis to figure out which panels were causing the glare and lightly sanding those particular surfaces. Of course, this was metal not glass, so that would not be a solution in this case. (I didn't actually remember all the details, but had to look it up on Wikipedia.)

Collagemama said...

Thanks for stopping by, Seana. I wonder if the Eisenhower Memorial committee is thinking glaring thoughts about the National Mall.