NOW READING: Cuba and the Night by Pico Iyer
Well hello my little literary chickadees of the blogosphere. Where have I been? Oh, you know, just all over the place. Looking for an apartment, attending classes, commuting, drinking, entertaining people, entertaining myself, reading law case books, learning, working...the usual. I have, however, embarked upon my 'I' author and read all of 78 pages so far. (Are you thinking this is going to turn into a two-year rather than a one year project? Yeah, me too.)
Let's talk about Pico Iyer. He is a bit of a different choice from some of my previous alphabet author choices, as he is not primarily a fiction writer but a travel writer. Then again, travel narratives are very novel-like, and Umberto Eco writes in many genres, and all that. I'm not being exclusive about it or anything. Anyway, the 'I' pickings were kind of slim, and my other main choice was Washington Irving's Sketch Book, which is also part travel narrative-like and part short story.
Speaking of previous authors, everyone who's anyone has surely already read this FABULOUS New Yorker article about my 'D' man Philip K. Dick. Trust me: whether or not you've read the PKD, this article is a gem. If you are a fan, so much the better. Go. Go read it. I'll be here when you come back.
So anyway, back to Pico. And by that I do not mean the street in Los Angeles. I first came to know about Pico Iyer when I worked for the now defunct public radio show The Savvy Traveler. He was one of the many thoughtful travel writers we interviewed and often invoked, and I had the pleasure of cutting the tape of his interview, in fact. He said many inspiring things, among them his noting that we just have an unexplainable affinity for certain places, the same way we have an inexplicable affinity for certain people. The one to which he referred at that moment was Japan. He grew up lots of places in the world, but when he showed up in Japan one day it just felt different and more a part of him in a way he had never known. I totally got what he was saying because I've felt it before about Cuba and New Orleans, for starters.
Pico Iyer was one of the things my fellow Savvy staffers, who were all older and wiser than was I, would go on and on about, showing just how intelligent/literary/NPR-like they were. Then they would cast sideways glances across the editorial meeting at me, the 22- or 23-year-old upstart who was like, "Uh, Video Night in Kathmandu? Never read it. Moscow? Never been there. Architectural Digest? Why the hell would I subscribe to that? Who? What? Where?" etc. They really knew how to make a lowly p.a. feel ... indoctrinated. Actually, I'm mostly joking. My two good friends, the producer and assistant producer, never made me feel bad about my naivete. Only a certain other staffer who shall not be named. But he secretly respected me, too, for at least having up and traveled to Cuba.
And that brings me back to the point: Cuba and the Night. This is Pico Iyer's novel. And by novel I mean thinly veiled travel narrative. Which, as you may know unless you live under a blogless, MySpace-free, text-message-lacking rock, is exactly what I've been writing (for years): a thinly veiled travel narrative about my time in Cuba that from time to time I call a novel. So you can imagine how much fun it is to read Pico Iyer's.
My edition is ISBN 0-679-76075-X.