Chimera Song Mosaic
Monday, September 25, 2006
People keep telling me that they have just moved to Houston after never having visited before, having heard bad things about it, and being pleasantly surprised (and relived) to find so much art and culture and "so many readings!" See. Give things a chance.
Not sure if I mentioned that I've joined a memoir workshop, lead by Laurie Clements Lambeth and through inprint and the University of Houston. So far, it is going great. She is generous, warm, and precise. So I have been reading all the memoirs I can get my hands on (with a credit card and a willing recommender, this is no small number). I will be listing and reporting on those to the right. Laurie is a poet first, and this is why I wanted to be in her class. I especially like to read memoirs by poets. Any recommendations are appreciated.
Yes, and I found one of these trivial payoffs that I was saying never happens! Well, it’s not exactly a payoff, but I’m thinking that the way this would work is you, after having spent much time studying something bizarre, would suddenly find yourself one day in a position to say, “Hey, I know a little about that!” (Or whatever you would say in such a situation, depending on your level of smugness.)
So this sort of happened to me the other day at Brazos Bookstore. I was picking up some stuff I wanted, and I happened to see stacks of Ali and Nino displayed prominently on a table. Ali and Nino! What? I have been wanting to read this novel since this summer when I read all about the author, Lev Nussimbaum, in Tom Reiss’s The Orientalist. Though this 1999 reprint lists the author as Kuban Said, though the Austrian PhD in the back explains that this was a joint effort between Nussimbaum and Baroness von Erhenfels, it’s really just Lev Nussimbaum. Well, probably. This is someone I know all about (well, all that can be known, I presume, since Reiss did extensive research, and the book is still strangely sketchy for a biography; Nussinbaum often went to great lengths to obscure his identity). So I told the woman checking me out, who happens to be on the writing faculty at U of H, “Hey! I have been looking for this book,” and I told her a little about The Orientalist. She said she has heard great things about the novel (Ali and Nino).
So I’m going to read it right away. (Well, when I finish reading this memoir and grading some papers.) I don’t know where I’m going with this. Another thing that happened at the bookstore is that at first I didn’t get the student discount because I didn’t know teachers—or professors—could get it too. Then I was able to get it by showing my school id. This lady behind me in line, with a Rice faculty id, said, “Is the discount just for high school teachers, or is it for college professors, too?” So she outed me as a high school teacher. Except that I’m not. Even though this annoyed me, I didn’t correct her. Really, how would that go? “Excuse me, but I don’t teach at a high school; I teach college English.” That seems petty, even for me. I’m ashamed to be such a snob, and she should be too. On the other hand, I’m burning this denim skirt, least I be mistaken once again.