Thursday, April 23, 2009

My hero of the day

I have mentioned this author before, and I can not recommend him enough. He is Sandor Marai, and he is fan-fucking-tastic. Reading him is a lesson in humiliation. Even in translation (he wrote in Hungarian, and mine is a bit rusty), he makes sentences that make you want to cry. He weaves a paragraph like a magic spell, and lures you into his world, the Hungary of the 1930's, 40's, and early 50's with astounding ease. I generally read very quickly, and I read a lot. I just read about three pages of his "latest" book; THE REBELS, and had to put it down because it is so good I don't want to finish it. Also, reading it has "inspired" this blog post. I have not read enough of the book yet to get a good sense of the story, but right now I do not care. It is not the story, but the way he recounts everyday things like a conversation between a cobbler and a new graduated military cadet. It is sickeningly good. It is so good that you forget to breathe. It is better than chocolate coated sex with Nicole Kidman. Not that I would know mind you, and I might be exaggerating a bit. You could not give this book to young, aspiring writers, it would make them give up in despair, and become ditch diggers. It is truly a work of art. It makes me want to delete everything I have ever written, and hid my head in shame. I have been told I write well by a few people whose opinion I trust, and grudgingly I took that compliment as a sign of progress in my intellectual development. Maybe, just maybe, I do write fairly well, and am not churning out complete mindless drivel after all, but reading Marai is like a kick in the crotch. On my best days with the help of a hundred editors, and Shakespeare himself I could not write something half as good. It is a lesson in humility, and a painful one at that. It is amazing how he takes something as simple as words, and turns them into something transcendent. It is almost scary when you read it. It is like he says to his reader "here is my genius, here is my soul, here is my art, enjoy it you unworthy bastards." I feel like I am in an art class, and I have just drawn a pretty acceptable stick figure complete with stick pet, and stick children, and the bastard next to me just did the Mona Lisa. How, for fuck's sake, am I ever going to compete with that? Of course the truth is I can not, and I would be a fool to try. After all, a man has got to know his limitations. Just like I am not going to challenge Michael Jordan to a slam dunk contest, or take on Albert Pujols in a home run derby. I might as well learn to fly while I am at it, I will have just as much luck with that as I would with trying to write like this guy. I highly recommend staggering to the nearest bookstore, or library and finding everything this guy has ever written that has been translated. He almost makes me want to learn Hungarian because most of his stuff has not been translated, and the wait is painful. I guess I should thank the dead bastard for showing me that progress or not, I am not worthy of holding his pen. That is a hard lesson to take, and sure a lot of authors give me the same feeling. However, there are a lot of books that you read, and have to think "how in the blue fuck did that dross get published." That will not be the case with Marai, you will more likely think like I do "how in the blue fuck can I ever write again without feeling like a midget standing next to the Jolly Green Giant?"

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