Monday, December 08, 2008

a snowy surprise, a well-mannered storm

My cats are viciously attacking me. Why won't you let me sleep?!? My alarm clock loudly blares. All hopes of falling back to sleep are lost. I look out my window and discover a snow covered roof. That does not bode well for my trek to work. I climb out of bed. I am so cold. I walk to the bathroom. The toilet overflows. This is clearly not my day.

With the first big snowfall, the subway is packed. I stand with my elbows tucked in tightly at my sides. Stop by stop, the car pushes past capacity. The many scents meld together to create one smothering situation. I arrive at the Foundation in a less than perfect mood and throw myself into my chair. A little brown package catches my eye. A present? For me? I tear open the wrappings. "A Well-Mannered Storm: The Glenn Gould Poems" by Kate Braid. Inside is a little card: "Hi Liz: Enjoy! xo Aunt Ro" Quickly all my struggles are forgotten. What a nice surprise on a cold and snowy day.

Fast Forward: two weeks later...I have finished the book. A Well-Mannered Storm consists of an imagined exchange between Mr. Gould and an admiring fan named "k." Mr. Gould does not answer k directly; instead his responses are expressed through poems capturing his spirit from childhood to old age.

Having forgotten about the lost art of poetry, I enjoyed rekindling my love affair with this unique take on Mr. Gould. (I used to be a master writer of angst-filled poems back in high school. You didn't want to scorn me!) I enjoyed the unique concept but I suspect much was lost on me. Perhaps it was too soon in my quest to know Mr. Gould for such an abstract piece. Perhaps I lack the musical knowledge needed to fully appreciate all of the references and nuances.

What I did understand was how absolutely human and relatable Mr. Gould was (and is) to his adoring fans. k. is going through a challenging time with the loss of hearing in one ear. She is comforted by Mr. Gould in such a strange and beautiful manner. He seems capable of establishing an almost intimate relationship, through his music, through his mannerisms, through his words, with total strangers. That is power. That is beauty.

I might need to revisit this book after I have further honed my skills. True to my own strange personality, after finishing the book, I am stuck on one thought... how did Mr. Gould manage to have a non-deodorized pet skunk!?! I want to know more.

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