It can’t be said any differently.

April 11, 2011

The next few weeks will be frenzied: home renovations and the finishing of freelance projects and two stories, and meanwhile I will be staying with my parents in Flushing. During breaks I’ll be reading To the Wedding, though I have yet to buy it*; instead I’ll read the teaser pages online. I don’t mind. There’s no time to want anything more than that, not when my new six or seven large notebooks, two Moleskine and the rest Muji, accompany me everywhere, getting filled in day after day.

To the Wedding. So far: so yes. The first paragraph made me think of David Albahari’s Bait, though the only thing the two novels have in common, at least from the first few lines, is that a respect for storytelling is involved.

*

To the Wedding, John Berger

Wonderful a fistful of snow in the mouths
of men suffering summer heat
Wonderful the spring winds
for mariners who long to set sail
And more wonderful still the single sheet
over two lovers on a bed.

I like quoting ancient verses when the occasion is apt. I remember most of what I hear, and I listen all day but sometimes I do not know how to fit everything together. When this happens I cling to words or phrases which seem to ring true.

*

Bait, David Albahari

“Where should I begin,” says Mother. At the same moment I reach out my hand and press the button on the tape recorder. The tape recorder is old. For days I looked in all the stores and inquired where I might purchase such a device; the brand wasn’t important. The salesmen were kind; they smiled, they shrugged their shoulders, they showed me the latest models of cassette recorders. One of them, in a shopping center in the northern part of town, admitted to me that he had never seen a  tape recorder. He believed, though, that his father, actually his stepfather, had owned such a “gadget.” He didn’t have a better word for it, he said, because in comparison with today’s devices, he said and touched the row of new Japanese models, it can’t be said any differently.

* Nope, I bought it today, April 13.

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2 Responses to “It can’t be said any differently.”

  1. Parmanu Says:

    Bait, from the extract you’ve quoted, seems like something I’d like to explore. I had never heard of Albahari, so thank you wm.

    • wmc Says:

      I had to stop typing at some point, otherwise I could have copied that entire passage, which runs on for pages. You will enjoy Albahari, P, I know it. Read Bait, and also Snow Man, another novella, and Words Are Something Else, a collection of wonderful stories. A new novel is due out later this year, I believe.


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