30 November 2008

Letter 4.36

(The next -- the last -- tape Bob sent I didn't reel between my thumbs and complain but took straight to the friend's tape-recorder -- and complained. If anything it was poorer quality than I imagined the first tape to be. In fact, it looked like a type-writer ribbon spool with the ribbon itself made out of bits of paper scotch-taped together and would around the spool. I even imagined there were words typed on the ribbon. Fortunately, a second after I put the tape on the recorder and switched it on, I had an uncanny premonition that in two seconds the splices would break and bits of tape would fly apart, so I switched off the machine and was content to reel the 'spool' between my thumbs imagining I was listening to -- or reading from -- a real made-in-Sri Lanka cassette. -- Hūm)

Wow, thanks for another tape. I really enjoy hearing your voice. The reading of your new novel shows a marked shift in your style, out of the jungle, so to speak, and into the garden. There are many kinds of gardens, both formal and informal. In yours there are many pollen-gathering insects busying around, and all of them are going, 'Hummmnmn, Hummmmmn.' Hmmm. The section you read was actually interesting and enjoyable, and didn't take that great effort of will and concentration necessary to pick my way through your earlier stuff, tripping over vines and long words, a dictionary for machete, never sure whether I was heading right and lacking a guide. Now I feel like I'm on a well-conducted tour: hey, look at the bougainvillea, watch your step around the hollyhocks, and now we're coming to the secret jewel of the scarab beetle (or is it the dung beetle?), and just ahead... What I mean is, I could understand the situation, I could understand the trip your protagonist was on, it was all vivid. Good stuff.

Yes, you are right, there isn't much to say, and a blank 60 minute tape is sure a way of demonstrating it. Still, we keep finding new ways to say it, don't we? And, I suppose we'll keep finding new ways until we get it right.

By the way, how do you like my latest invention? A tape that doesn't need a machine to play it? If I can keep coming up with 'em like this, the world will surely (or is it surly)? beat a path to my door, and then I'll have to beat them back. (I could never understand why anyone would want to trap better mice.)

Flash: this is my favorite time of the year: sun basking warm, light breeze just chill enough to offset the sun, sort of tactile sweet-&-sour, a real tropical pineapple sun instead of the northern white sugar type. Nights blanket-bundly steamy-breath cool. This season lasts about a week, if I'm lucky. If it lasts less, it's not enough; if it lasts more it gets boring. A week is just about right. And this is the third day.

A copy of Clearing the Path has gone off to you, and should make its appearance in Spring, along with the daisies, artichokes, hay fever pollen, brambles, and Spring. Actually I suppose it should make its appearance in Sooke. I'm not sure where Spring is. (The daughter, Alice, has immigrated to Australia, I'm told.)

And now I'll read you part of my latest work. It's called 'The Silence'. Just keep turning the spool and you can hear as much of it as you like. Meanwhile, love you. Other side of this tape is blank -- use it if you like. The Silence:...

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