~my own best fiend~

December 6th, 2008

Today I’ve been thinking about The Monster at the End of This Book, a Little Golden Book of my childhood featuring the neurotic but lovable Grover (and somehow in my mind, Klaus Kinski).

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In it he pleads with the reader in increasingly hysteric tones to not turn the page, in a foiled attempt to avoid meeting the monster at the end, which in a lovely philosophical twist, turns out to be Grover himself. Apparently he was familiar with his inner demons.
It was a favorite childhood read–I mean back when you could still convince adults to read to you. This book requires a real performance.

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Alfonso and I reinstated bedtime stories when we lived at the north end of Prospect Park and I frequented the lovely main branch of the Brooklyn Library. I found the limited space in the stacks frustrating (I like to browse and handle my potential selections) but I loved putting the request slip in the pneumatic tubes and watching it get sucked away to some netherworld wonderland of books.

Two bedtime reads from that era I recall being especially good:

Of Walking In Ice, something of a travel diary recounting Werner Herzog’s walk in a blizzard from Munich to Paris (about 500 miles) at the end of 1974, to save the life of his friend Lotte Eisner. (the logic being she wouldn’t die until he visited her on her deathbed. Eisner indeed went on to live another eight years.) I remember the book (this is seven years ago) as an interesting, sometimes exasperating, sometimes thought-provoking journey. In other words, a journey with Hertzog.

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Though that book was extremely quotable, it could not touch the season’s favorite: All I Need Is Love, the 1988 autobiography of Klaus Kinski (aka Ich bin so wild nach deinem Erdbeermund, or I’m So Wild About Your Strawberry Mouth.)

This book is filled to overflowing with recounts of his endless hedonistic exploits–particularly sexual conquests–in such ridiculous detail the veracity is not even doubtful, it is dismissed outright. I recall something about a seven foot tall Indian prostitute he called my giantess

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Well. I have been having not writer’s block, but writer’s total avoidance. I am simply unable to concentrate on my book for more than a nanosecond, though I know it is the thing that will bring most joy to my life.

Nearly five months ago I left the manuscript in a shambles, I mean 3/4 of a draft, but not sure where to go from there and not meaning to leave it at all. Wedding planning simply took over everything, it was not a matter of “setting it aside for a while to get a fresh perspective.”

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And now I am afraid. It is a totally unfounded fear, which is what led me to think about Grover’s Monster. The thing to do is ruthlessly turn the page, no matter what obstacles I put in my own way or what perceived dangers lurk beyond, and hum one of Grover’s ballads of profound self-acceptance: Monster In The Mirror, My Furry Little Shadow, or I Have Feet.

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