Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air

I've been reading the obits for Norman Mailer this morning, and first of all: what a badass. A fiery tumultuous unpredictable complex difficult mix of a man. And feeling the need for more people like him - rather, more writers like him - who are controversial and messy and not easy to toss into categories. So much of the pop media coverage right now, book-wise, seems to be all Dan Brown and Oprah's Book Club and blah blah blah soft safe cozy writers, and man, does Mailer's death remind me of the need for outrageous shit to shake up the publishing world.

I sometimes feel like it's all been said and done; for instance, I wish upon wishing that it were 1973 and Erica Jong hadn't yet published Fear of Flying, because dee-amn, would I like to have written that one first. But it's there and it's been there for thirty some years and yet, there are books like that that, on reading, one would think the whole world breathed differently after their emergence, and yet, few people, really, are changed at all...

Thinking a lot about books lately, writing, what's the point of it all, really, and wow, this tranquil haven that is reading in a world that is so consistently screaming NOISE NOISE NOISE white noise mental pollution constant chaos. And what a refuge they are proving to be; what a refuge they were to me as a kid (hello, Laura Ingalls Wilder), what a companion they have been in my life, especially at moments when I've been thousands of miles from any human companions, and what a friend, a dear dear friend, they continue to be. And I'm sorry, iPods and DVDs and blah blah blah are all great, but they're not the same, they're not the same withered copy carried in a bag ten years ago that opens itself up to you with scribbling in the margins and a crumpled receipt from some store in Venice for a bookmark and dog-eared pages that you meant to return to and didn't.

And that is the love song to books that was lilting though my head this morning as I sat here watching the sun come up through the fog listening to the parking meter collector empty the quarters into his little wheelie machine at 6 am.

NYT Mailer Obit


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