I am studying up on my hiragana and katakana again. Tonight I bought a workbook, and as soon as I started writing the characters, the sounds began to situate themselves in my mind. There's a connection of some sort between making the symbols and recalling and memorizing the symbols and their sounds. That's how it worked last time I studied this language, and it's how it's working again. I studied French for a while too, but it wasn't the same because it used the same alphabet for the most part. I didn't feel like I was dealing with anything that foreign really. Learning Japanese feels like I really do have to go through a translation process, not just from word to meaning, but before that symbol to sound to word to meaning. As if there's an extra step in there that wasn't with a language like French.
I'm reading David Mitchell's novel, Ghostwritten, which is absolutely mindblowing. I'm asking for other people to pick it up and read it too. I want to talk about this book with people, and also his other novels. After I finish this one, I'm on to his second book, number9dream, which was shortlisted for the Booker. And then I'll probably order his third book, which just came out in England, called Cloud Atlas. This man seems to be able to write a novel with multiple narrators, none of which return, that only have one chapter to speak, but somehow it all feels like a novel and totally threaded together in ways that make it inevitably a novel, but like none I've ever read before. The closest I can think of is China Mountain Zhang, by Maureen McHugh, but in that book, one character returns to keep the thread, his voice is the thread of the book, and that's not the case in Ghostwritten. In fact, the thread of Ghostwritten that ties everyone together is a sort of chaos theory that lies behind our everyday banal lives, bringing us together in a really global way, a small world for sure sort of idea. And he blends genres as well. The mystery, the ghost story, folktales, and mysticism. It's quite amazing stuff. So please, if you've read this book or will read it, drop me a line.
I'm dilly dallying with revising a couple of stories and trying to figure out what to work on next. I have a new novel that I want to start working on, but something is telling me to hold off on beginning it in earnest for a little while longer, to focus on revising these two stories that are nagging at me with their ailments, and then to maybe even write one or two more stories before diving in to another big project like a book.
Has anyone noticed the new proliferation of cool kid literary magazines that are being started up lately? I hope that's good news for the short story.