Monday, March 15, 2010

At Finnegan We Begin Again


I have to highlight my Forum exchange with John Berbrich earlier this morning. For those who don’t know, John and his wife Nancy publish and edit the literary quarterly Barbaric Yawp in upstate New York. Way back in 2001, John interviewed me for the magazine, and then in 2002 I interviewed him. Ever since, we’ve continued our conversation on my main website — the source of my frequent Forum updates.

Last night, I pointed John to the wonderful portrait by Cassandra LaMothe I posted recently. Here’s what he had to say, followed by my reply:

JB: Wow, that woman can really draw. The picture makes you look solid & kinda mean. Certainly formidable. Could be an author in a remote century, sitting in a garret or a dungeon, your face illuminated by a flaming torch. You’re wearing scratchy wool, & I can hear people outside calling sheep & tramping through the mud. Someone’s preparing gruel for supper & there’s a religious earthquake about to start shaking things up somewhere to the east. But you’ve got your literary & philosophical work to do & can’t be bothered w/ these mundane happenings. Am I close?

WM: Closer than you might imagine. Because now I have a confession to make: this is actually based on a photograph of my great-grandfather, Lev Mikhailovich Wilstoy, an obscure writer and philosopher who babbled and wrote nothing but gibberish the last three decades of his life. He was so hard to understand, in fact, that some say he was a precursor to Joyce.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been carrying on like this almost every day for over seven years. It explains a lot, I think. Maybe too much.

15 comments:

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

Hi William!
reading this I would say simply that life is a wonderful thing, and these things remind us in case we sometimes forget there

William Michaelian said...

Laura, I love your response. I feel the same way.

Caio Fernandes said...

it explains enough .
a Joyce's precursor , hein ....
just his name is quantic fisic for me alread .

this post is a really good idea .
really nice to read .

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Caio. If you put his name in a large glass of water, stir it vigorously, and then drink it, you will get an idea of why I look this way.

~im just only me~ said...

Wilstoy bwhhahahaaahahaaaaa

William Michaelian said...

Rascal. Would you prefer Wilstoevsky?

~im just only me~ said...

Well, Spearetoy does sound a bit dangerous, doesn't it? By the way, I'm going to be laughing to myself all day about this post, someone is bound to think I've gone round the bend...

William Michaelian said...

Well, that’s hardly breaking news. In the meantime, I’ll make a list and Chekhov the other names possibilities.

don't be emily said...

lol you two weirdos.

William Michaelian said...

I’m not weird. I was just pretending to be weird so Cassie would feel at home. By the way, I am tormented by that “s” in “names” in my previous comment.

don't be emily said...

I won't lie, I was trying to come up with a clever one to put in my comment as I wrote it.....my mind never has worked that fast...come up with any yet? :)

William Michaelian said...

Sure. How about this one: Honoré de Bilzac.

~im just only me~ said...

I was intent on using Pushkin... but Hugo and steal all the good ones.

William Michaelian said...

Well, don’t feel bad. Now that Easter is upon us, I’ll send you some Pepys.

~im just only me~ said...

Well, if Pushkins to shove (weak!) I will accept them, even if they are sort of horrible -- my mum happens to love them.