Mostly, it's just a way to find things I've not heard of for a while. Other times, it's just an excuse to sample something I'd heard of a long time ago. For example, I read most of Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon during the week, which isn't so bad, though the structuring of it is flawed, especially at the start. It's messy, in short, and the edition of the book has this long introduction from Erikson about how he doesn't info dump, and then proceeds to do just that. I'm fairly sure that at one stage one of the characters says, "As you know," when discussing the magical system that is floating around in his world. But, it's not so bad. It's literary junk food, basically, with nothing to hugely recommend it, but every now and then I'll find myself eating McDonalds and digging it. Erikson's book was that.
Later, I stumbled across Lucia Perillo, whose latest collection of poetry is called Inseminating the Elephant. Her website says that it was nominated for a pulitzer prize this year, but I was mainly drawn to the fact that she's a wheelchair bound zoologist, and these are reflected in her unsentimental poetry. Well, that's what they called her poetry. I'm not sure if I would say that it was unsentimental, or even that I liked it as much as I liked the title to her work, but this piece, 'The Body Mutinies' as something that I found upon the web, and it's not so bad--though I don't think I quite loved it:
When the doctor runs out of words and still
I won't leave, he latches my shoulder and
steers me out doors. Where I see his blurred hand,
through the milk glass, flapping good-bye like a sail
(& me not griefstruck yet but still amazed: how
words and names--medicine's blunt instruments--
undid me. And the seconds, the half seconds,
it took for him to say those words). For now,
I'll just stand in the courtyard watching bodies
struggle in then out of one lean shadow
a tall fir lays across the wet flagstones.
Before the sun clears the valance of gray trees
and finds the surgical-supply-shop window
and makes the dusty bedpans glint like coins.
Drift, drift, drift.
I ended up reading some of Ron Hansen's first novel, Desperadoes. Hansen is probably more well known for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Mariette in Ecstast, but for a first novel, it had a nice command of language in it, at least at the start. I was quite taken with the idea of an old Emmett Dalton in Hollywood, making a fortune of selling his stories of the Dalton gang there for films. It had a terrific opening about how the bodies of his brothers were treated differently to that of the marshal, Frank Dalton, who was shipped to Kansas in a coffin filled with ice. It's a nice little detail, the ice, something that draws me in.
Lastly, towards the end of the night, I ended up the DVD collection of season one of Steven Seagal Lawman. I'd never actually buy such a thing, but I drifted down to the Amazon reviews, and this made me laugh:
I'm not sure what I was doing to set off his Zen psychic powers, but I got pulled over by Officer Seagal once. I was coming back from Hong Kong market on the westbank with several small Banh-Mi sandwiches and groceries and some Asian sweets. Running toward the car with what appeared to be a severe purpose, he started yelling "Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo! STEP OUT OF THE CAR, YO?!" and things like that. So I get out, and before my heel can even touch the ground I find myself in an ankle lock with him screaming at me about compliance. Several excruciating moments later, he gets this thousand yard stare looking at my car and sniffing the car uncontrollably as he pat me down. He put his hands together and bowed the way Japanese do in more formal moments, and said "Yo, Im' gonna hafta search the car, yo?" I had six Peking ducks in the backseat, and he said I was "way over the limit" as he started chowing down on my chicken liver Banh-mi. He gave one of the ducks to Colonel Fortunato who proceeded to swallow it whole, feet first. For the next half hour they just kept eating all my food and high fiving each other, right there on Gen. Degaulle Dr! Then he turned to me, jiggling his cheeks as he shook his head and said "mmmpph well das enoughmpph you kin gompph" I went home with a car full of crumbs but I swear to God, I'm lucky to be alive!
I clicked that yes, it was helpful.